Outrageous Oral at S4

Outrageous Oral 11 took place at S4 on Jun 26.

Alpha Thomas spoke about working with child protective services to adopt her daughter in 1991 and now being a grandmother.

Sister Polly von Acocker spoke about the history of the Sisters and finished by reading a letter from someone thanking him for taking the time to speak to him, saving his life.

Master Z spoke about getting into the sm lifestyle, being in a power exchange relationship, losing a partner, becoming a Buddhist and lots more.

Pam Curry told stories about her life as a trans activist that began with defending a Muppet.

—  David Taffet

Couples begin marrying in Indiana

IN_IS“Governor Pence supports the Attorney General’s efforts to appeal the federal court’s ruling and defend Indiana’s right to define the institution of marriage for the residents of our state,” said the governor’s press secretary. “Because the Governor believes in the rule of law, the State of Indiana will comply with the federal court’s order as this case moves through the appeals process.”

No stay was issued with the ruling declaring Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional, so county clerks began issuing licenses. The state has requested a stay and one couple who filed the original lawsuit filed opposition to the stay.

In Indianapolis, 186 couples married on the first day of marriage equality, according to the Indianapolis Star.

—  David Taffet

Dallas celebrates Pride at City Hall

Pride City Hall

The city’s LGBT Task Force celebrated Pride at City Hall today and gave three Spirit of Equality awards.

Councilman Jerry Allen was given the Leadership Award. Allen guided the city council’s recent equality resolution through committee.

Councilmen Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston won the Ally Award. Both have worked closely with the LGBT community during their terms in office.

The Rev. Jim Mitulski accepted the Community Award for Cathedral of Hope. Task Force member Cd Kirven said the church stepped up when support was needed to help pass the resolution.

The resolution instructs city offices to make sure policies are equal and inclusive of everyone including the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

Cantrell absent from Pride resolution

ResolutionWhen County Commissioner Elba Garcia presented her Pride month proclamation to the LGBT community last Tuesday, Commissioner Mike Cantrell quietly got up and left the horseshoe.

On Friday, Resource Center Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell went to the county office building to pick up the proclamation. Three commissioners and County Judge Clay Jenkins signed the proclamation. Where Cantrell’s signature would have gone, the document is marked “absent.”

Funny he wasn’t absent five minutes earlier when the court honored an 18-year employee who was retiring from the county.

McDonnell checked on an earlier proclamation recognizing Resource Center’s anniversary. His signature appears there. Maybe he was just a little bit confused and thought Resource Center is where the gays went for their reparative therapy.

Or maybe he’s just the Vonceil Jones Hill of the commissioners court.

—  David Taffet

Wisconsin couples continue to marry after judge denies stay

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

Same-sex couples continue to marry in Wisconsin after a judge refused to stay her decision declaring the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

Clerks in 41 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have begun issuing marriage licenses. Many have waived the state’s five-day waiting period to marry.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and the district court that issued the ruling to put a stay on its decision.

“A stay is necessary in this case to avoid confusion and to maintain the status quo,” he argued.

He didn’t say what was confusing about same-sex couples getting married in his state as they can in 19 other states.

Judge Barbara Crabb, who issued the ruling on Friday, refused to stay her decision today. Marriages will continue in Wisconsin at least until the attorney general asks the Seventh Circuit to stay the decision through its appeal process.

Despite Crabb’s announcement today that she would not stay her decision, Hollen said marriages licenses should not be issued because Crabb did not enjoin enforcement of the marriage law. Crabb said how clerks interpret marriage law is outside the realm of the lawsuit in her court and she would not issue instructions to them.

—  David Taffet

This week in marriage equality

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Pam Bondi, Florida’s oft-divorced attorney general

Marriage equality went statewide in Illinois this week. One Texas case advanced, and Colorado is having a wedding cake problem.

And Florida’s thrice-divorced attorney general, who travels abroad with a man she’s not married to, thinks same-sex marriage would harm The Sunshine State.

Illinois

Sunday marked the first day of statewide marriage equality in Illinois.

The Legislature passed a marriage equality law last fall that set June 1 as the start date. A Chicago couple sued for immediate implementation of the law because one partner had a terminal illness. A U.S. district court declared Illinois’ ban unconstitutional so Cook County, which includes Chicago, began issuing licenses in February. Since then, 16 Illinois counties have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As of this week, couples can marry anywhere in the state.

Texas

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set July 9 as the day it will hear an appeal in DeLeon v. Perry, a Texas marriage equality case. One of the couples, Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes are from Plano.

In February, a federal judge in San Antonio who heard the case declared the Texas marriage ban unconstitutional.

This will be the first Texas case to reach the 5th Circuit. The Texas divorce case was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. No ruling has been issued in that case that was heard in November.

Florida

Unlike attorneys general in Oregon and Pennsylvania, Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi is defending that state’s marriage ban.

She said recognition of out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples would impose “significant public harm” by interfering with Florida’s current marriage laws.

Bondi, who has been divorced three times, was in Cayman over Memorial Day weekend, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The paper reported she was supposed to marry husband No. 4, but she returned to the U.S. unmarried and said the wedding was postponed a few weeks.

In her brief in the marriage equality suit, Bondi claims “the state’s assertion that the harms to same-sex married couples aren’t significant enough to warrant relief.”

Then why is it important for her to get married — for a fourth time? And why is it OK for her to travel abroad with a man she’s not married to but gays marrying once is bad for Florida?

Colorado

Those poor wedding photographers and cake bakers.

The latest complaint is against a Colorado cake baker who refused to bake a cake for a civil union.

On Friday, the Civil Rights Commission in Colorado ruled that religious objections do not trump the state’s anti-discrimination statutes.

The cake shop owner, Jack Phillips, said that the decision violates his First Amendment rights to “free speech and exercise of religion.”

The ruling doesn’t interfere with his religious beliefs and only affects his business practices. A store must serve anyone who comes in.

“I will stand by my convictions until somebody shuts me down,” he told reporters after the ruling.

He said he’s been so overwhelmed by supporters buying cookies and brownies, he doesn’t make cakes anymore.

Yes, we know what goes into brownies in Colorado. I’m sure his business is booming.

—  David Taffet

In a surprise move, Exxon shareholders vote down nondiscrimination for a 15th time

DiNapoli.Thomas

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

For the first time in years, I missed the ExxonMobil shareholders meeting, so I didn’t get to learn about the latest in underwater drilling technology, how hydraulic fracturing is environmentally sound, what the company is doing about global climate change or how they hate gay people.

As a company, ExxonMobil has evolved since the 1999 merger between the two oil giants.

In the early years after the merger, anti-Exxon environmental and equality protesters were met with company-paid counter-protesters carrying signs like “wind energy kills birds.” A few years ago, the company decided to stop counter-protesting as the number of protesters dwindled.

Shareholders rarely saw any of the protesters, because the meeting is held in the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center with direct access to the lobby from the venue’s underground parking lot.

They’ve also evolved by beginning to offer partner benefits. In other countries where offering those benefits is required, it’s something they’d already been doing. And states like New York and California were considering lawsuits against the company for violating state laws. New York officials have said a company doing business in the state doesn’t have the right to decide which of its marriage licenses to recognize.

For the past several years, New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has filed shareholder resolutions on behalf of the state’s pension funds that own about $1.5 billion worth of Exxon stock. The resolution implores the company to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its equal opportunity statement.

So why not just add a few simple words to the EEO policy that reflect the reality?

The only answer is stubbornness. Exxon thinks of itself as a sovereign nation whose gross national product is larger than most countries around the world. No elected official or shareholder controlling a mere $1.5 billion in company stock is going to tell Exxon what to do.

Because of Exxon’s stubbornness, Human Rights Campaign maintains the company’s negative-25 rating, which Exxon wears as a badge of pride as the only American company to earn such a distinction.

The last time I spoke to DiNapoli’s office, they were unsure whether they’d file the resolution with Exxon again. They were determining whether it was worth the time and money. The cost involved is incurred when the state sends a representative down to Dallas to speak on behalf of the resolution.

DiNapoli’s office did decide to file the resolution, and Exxon buried it, so it was unsearchable on its website.

His office has done a world of good for LGBT employees. More than 30 companies have changed policies, either because his office contacted a company as a concerned shareholder or by filing resolutions. Exxon remains the sticking point.

The resolution failed again Wednesday garnering just 19 percent of shareholder votes.

Here’s what I missed by not going to the meeting: a morning of complete paranoia.

Press check in is at the door of the Meyerson. One person walk would walk me from the curb on Flora Street to the desk. Another would walk me from the desk to the metal detector. Another — usually a police officer — would walk me downstairs to the press room. More police were roaming the lobby of the Meyerson than shareholders. I figured one officer per expected shareholder was hired.

Once downstairs, I would mingle with oil industry journalists who usually have just gotten off a plane from Dubai.

“Oh, I took DART,” I’d tell them. “And I’m just here to see if Exxon is going to continue discriminating against its gay employees.”

Most of the reporters remained friendly anyway.

If I got up to get coffee or danish — Exxon provides a magnificent spread for the press — a police officer would accompany me out of the room to the table. If I needed to go to the bathroom — five steps farther than the buffet — another officer would accompany me there.

Once the meeting started, we watched on large screens. (We were allowed on the main floor, but not with laptops and other equipment).

One year, once the meeting broke, I met with DiNapoli’s representative. We started talking in the lobby but each place we sat, people shadowing us moved with us to remain within ear range. When we moved, they followed. It was like a bad spy drama.

So we walked out of the Meyerson and sat on a bench in front of the Winspear to chat.

This year, I missed the Exxon meeting, but that’s OK. I already know more about deep water oil recovery than any member of the gay press really needs to know. I don’t think I really missed anything.

—  David Taffet

Opponents threaten Parker with recall

Houston City Council

Houston City Council. Mayor Annise Parker in red front, center.

The debate on the proposed nondiscrimination ordinance in Houston just got nasty.

Mayor Annise Parker’s perennial adversary Dave Wilson said he’s planning a recall vote against the mayor and several council members, according to CBS affiliate KHOU.

Recall in Houston isn’t easy. Signatures of 25 percent of voters who voted for the official must be collected in 30 days. Reasons allowed for recall in the city charter are incompetence, misconduct, malfeasance or unfitness for office. Wilson claims passing an ordinance that contradicts state law amounts to incompetence.

Houston is the only major city in Texas with no nondiscrimination ordinance and the only major city in the U.S. without one.

According to KHOU, more than 42,000 signatures would have to be collected to a recall of Parker up for a vote. Some council members could face recall with less than 2,500 signatures.

Wilson was elected to the Houston Community College District Board of Trustees in a majority black district by insinuating he was black in his campaign literature.

Former Dallas City Councilwoman Veletta Lill who served when Dallas passed its nondiscrimination ordinance more than a decade ago commented on the controversies in San Antonio and Houston during her appearance on LGBT talk show Lambda Weekly last week. She said when Dallas debated its ordinance, several people did voice opposition and concerns. She said those concerns were taken into consideration and addressed and the ordinance passed without controversy.

—  David Taffet

Dallas celebrates Harvey Milk Day on Cedar Springs

About 150 people joined a Harvey Milk Day celebration that began with speakers and performers at the Legacy of Love monument on Oak Lawn and was followed by a march down Cedar Springs Road and a reception at Sue Ellen’s. The event was organized by Hope 4 Peace & Justice.

—  David Taffet

SMU students will vote again on LGBT Senate seat

SMU1

Spectrum’s Kathrina Macalanda solicits a signature from Ryan Patrick McLaughlin

Over the weekend, Southern Methodist University students collected enough signatures to get a revote on whether to add an LGBT Student Senate seat.

After the Student Senate voted in March to add the seat, the student body needed to pass the measure by a two-thirds vote. Only 53 percent voted April 3 for the amendment to the Student Constitution. To get another vote, supporters needed to collect signatures from 10 percent of the student body, which is 1,053 people.

“I am excited to report that we actually surpassed that goal,” former Spectrum President Harvey Luna said. “We collected about 1,400 signatures.”

Normally, the issue would be put to students this week, but faculty is using the website link this week for their own elections. Instead, the amendment to add the LGBT seat will be put to students next week.

“In the meantime, we are going to begin strategizing on advertising the issue on campus — tabling, flyers, buttons, etc.,” Luna said.

 

—  David Taffet