UPDATE: Speaker and PFLAG display banished from Tyler library

Smoot

Lou Anne Smoot

The Tyler Public Library invited author Lou Anne Smoot to talk as part of the library’s summer reading program. Smoot, who’s from Tyler, wrote A Christian Coming Out: A Journal of the Darkest Period In My Life.

Tyler City Manager Edward Broussard, however, canceled the appearance and ordered the PFLAG display that Smoot and Brenda McWilliams just put up in the library removed.

“The reasons given to us for these actions were that the talk and display were political and that children might see the display or attend the talk.” McWilliams said. “I suppose taking the display down is not political.”

McWilliams pointed out in a letter to Broussard that PFLAG is a non-political 501(c)(3) organization that provides support and education, mostly to parents of LGBT children. However, the actions of a political appointee to block a library from distributing information and stopping an author — one whose book appears in the library’s collection — from speaking certainly is political.

Keeping the level of discussion appropriate shouldn’t have been very difficult for Smoot, who taught Sunday School class at Tyler’s First Baptist Church.

Tyler’s head librarian invited Smoot to speak as part of its summer reading series. In conjunction with the talk, she invited PFLAG to put up a display that consisted of pamphlets, books and other informational resources. After all, libraries are usually places where you find information.

The display was up on Monday (June 1) along with posters advertising Smoot’s appearance. By Wednesday, the display case was down along with the fliers about the author’s upcoming talk.

The librarian said one of the calls she received complained that taxpayer money shouldn’t be going to promote events like this. The librarian explained no taxpayer money was being used — Smoot was not charging for her appearance and the library would already be staffed with the lights on, whether or not Smoot spoke.

McWilliams said another complaint was that the display was too close to the children’s section.

McWilliams wondered why the display wasn’t just moved then. But she also commented that if the display caused children to ask their parents questions, that would give parents the opportunity to give their children the answer they wanted them to have. She called that “parenting.”

On Thursday, Smoot was told the talk can go on, but the library can’t promote it and the PFLAG display remains off the library floor, by order of the city manager. How does the library have an author speak without telling anyone that author is going to be there?

UPDATE: PFLAG got word this afternoon that the display can go back out.

Seems the whole thing was “a big misunderstanding.” In fact, now the city is allowing the library to give Smoot the auditorium to speak in. (That way, it’s behind closed doors).

The city’s still not a sponsor as they are for every other author coming to the library to speak.

—  David Taffet

Ireland’s Vote for Marriage Equality

by Vice President Joe Biden

Biden.Joe.VP

Vice President Joe Biden

Last weekend, more than 1.2 million Irish voters took a courageous stand for love and family when they overwhelmingly chose marriage equality.

They recognized the fundamental truth that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, and that there can be no justification for the denigration or persecution of anyone because of who they love or who they are.

I want to thank my good friends Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Tanaiste Joan Burton, for their forceful leadership and eloquent advocacy on this critical issue.

I cannot improve upon the perfectly Irish statements they made following this historic vote, but I can echo the Taoiseach’s words when he described the Irish as “a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people,” and that their choice will be “heard loudly across the living world as a sound of pioneering leadership.”

In 22 years, Ireland has gone from a nation where simply being LGBT was against the law. Now, it is a nation where the people resoundingly stand for equal rights.

And here in the United States, in just the past three years we’ve gone from six states recognizing marriage equality, to 37 states, comprising 224 million Americans. It’s about love. It’s about equality. It’s about dignity. It’s about our most cherished values. That’s what this is about – it’s all it’s ever been about.

There is still work to be done. There are still too many nations that deny people even the right to be safe from violence and severe discrimination, and too many states here in America that allow a person to be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual.

But the progress is undeniable. As advocates in Ireland, the United States and around the world have proven time and again, where there’s passion and commitment, there is opportunity.

I continue to believe that in every corner of the world, people want to do the right thing. You should never underestimate the epiphanies that follow when a culture makes a breakthrough of conscience.

But it takes leadership. It takes courageous individuals who are willing to step forward, to turn adversity into positive change, and to truly live the words of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats:

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.”

—  David Taffet

Greenland parliament votes unanimously for marriage equality

Nuuk

Greenland’s largest city, Nuuk

Greenland’s parliament has voted unanimously to legalize same-sex marriage. The country has had civil unions since 1996.

Greenland, the largest island in the world (Australia is a continent, not an island), is a self-governing country with a population of 57,000 within the Kingdom of Denmark. Denmark was the first country to recognize same-sex relationships when it passed a civil union law in 1989, but didn’t offer marriage equality until 2012.

The marriage equality law comes into effect Oct. 1.

This has been a good week for marriage equality. On Saturday, Ireland passed a marriage equality referendum with 62 percent of the vote in an election with heavy voter turnout.

Although there are only 16,000 people in Nuuk, they celebrate Nuuk Pride. Here’s a video from 2014 Nuuk Pride:

—  David Taffet

An Irish man describes how it felt to live in Ireland when marriage equality passed

Ollie MorganAlthough the results of the Irish election legalizing same-sex marriage on May 23 were expected, it was still an emotional day for Ollie Morgan.

A total of 62 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of marriage equality, and that was with a 60 percent voter turnout. Irish law requires a three-month notice for civil marriages, so the first same-sex weddings won’t take place until fall and the Parliament must still pass a marriage bill that will become part of the Constitution.

But that necessary wait didn’t dampen the emotion for Morgan, who lives in Dundalk, a city on Ireland’s east coast near the border with Northern Ireland. He is a former Independent (as in no party affiliation) Dundalk town councillor.

“I never stopped crying all day here on Saturday watching TV as the results came in,” he said during an online chat with me today (May 26).

Morgan called it a great weekend for progress in Ireland. “Opinion polls were consistent from the start of the campaign that the ‘yes’ side was going to win,” he said.

The Labour Party, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, pushed for the referendum that was supported by the ruling Fine Gael party and opposition parties. Only six Independent parliamentarians opposed it.

“A lot of people voted for Labour because of this,” Morgan said. He credited young people with affecting the victory. “The amount of young people that turned out to vote and came home from abroad to vote yes had a huge impact on the outcome of the result,” he added.

Surprisingly, a number of priests defied the official position of the Catholic Church and supported equality.

The Irish Times quoted the archbishop of Dublin who the Catholic Church needs a reality check.

“It’s very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people, then the church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and to get its message across to young people, not just on this issue, but in general,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said.

Morgan said he wasn’t surprised priests stood on the side of equality. He noted that he lives next to a Redemptorist community, the order where most of the supportive priests came from.

“One in fact used the occasion to come out as gay, I believe,” he said. “A former member of Parliament said that he recognized two priests in the courtyard of Dublin Castle waiting for the result to be announced.”

He said he hopes the vote has a positive effect on gays and lesbians in his country beyond the right of marriage.

“I am hoping this positive result will help gay men who are afraid to come out in the near future,” he said.

—  David Taffet

VIDEO: Harvey Milk Day celebration in Dallas

IMG_1720The LGBT community gathered at the Legacy of Love monument in May 22 to celebrate Harvey Milk’s birthday. Photos from the evening are here.

The event was sponsored by a number of LGBT groups and coordinated by Todd Whitley and Hope 4 Peace & Justice.

William Dockeray recorded the event.

—  David Taffet

Luxembourg’s prime minister marries

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married Gauthier Destenay today (Friday, May 15).

Bettel announced earlier this week that Destanay proposed and he accepted.He said they would have a low-key ceremony.

The ceremony was held at City Hall in Luxembourg City and was attended by the Belgian and Estonian prime ministers, who are straight.

Luxembourg became a marriage-equality country in January.

Bettel has been Prime Minister for 18 months.

Here’s a report from Wochit News:

—  David Taffet

Articles written by out of state pundits mostly show they have no idea how Texas politics works

CapitolOn my Facebook page, I asked friends to stop sending me articles written by out-of-state pundits about what’s going on in the Texas Legislature. They don’t understand how the our legislature works.

Here’s an example of a New York writer who has no clue what’s going on behind the scenes this week in the Texas Capitol:

“Any of the more than 20 anti-LGBT bills that get out of committee in either legislative chamber — and a few have — will easily pass in the Republican-dominated conservative legislature and be signed into law by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott,” Michangelo Signorile wrote in Huffington Post yesterday (Wednesday, May 13). That story was the bold banner headline in the Gay Voices section.

Actually, one bill got out of committee and onto the House agenda. Several got committee hearings. A few passed out of committee. One made it to the House floor. ONE.

The other 20 are dead. D-E-A-D.

That one bill that made it to the House floor must pass by tonight or it, too, is D-E-A-D dead. After that, we need to watch out for insidious amendments.

Rep. Celia Israel, backed by the entire Democratic caucus, is trying to kill HB 4105. Equality Texas and former Rep. Glenn Maxey are working closely with her today. They’ll use a number of maneuvers and tactics. No need to tip anyone’s hand. But the idea that any bill that gets out of committee will “easily pass in the Republican-dominated conservative legislature” is nonsense.

If that bill passes, it will only be after as much effort on the part of LGBT opponents as the work being done by LGBT advocates.

And if the law passes, it’s so unconstitutional, it will never go into effect.

The law attempts to protect Texas from having to obey a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. Well, if you have to throw out some red meat to the tea party, you might as well toss them this one — the most outrageous bill they could come up with, even if it’s completely illegal.

If it comes to this, the question that the Supreme Court will hear will be whether a state can opt out of a Supreme Court ruling by simply passing a law. The LGBT-rights issue behind it won’t even be a factor.

Signorile concludes his story by saying, “What we have in Texas is a five-alarm fire ready to engulf its LGBT citizens and threaten their rights for years to come.”

In Texas, we’re even more anxious about the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage than people in 37 marriage equality states — but wow. I’m about to be engulfed in flames, huh? Maybe Obama should invade the state and put us under U.S. law.

—  David Taffet

Cuba and other places making bigger strides than Texas on marriage equality

Castro.Mariela.2010

Mariela Castro

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, will hold a “mass gay wedding” as part of the island country’s LGBT Pride celebration,s as a way to draw attention to the lack of legal protections for same-sex couples and transgender Cubans, according to Reuters.

Castro told Reuters, “We can’t do a wedding, but we wanted to have a very modest celebration of love with some religious leaders. In the future we’ll see what more we can do.”

CYPRUS

The cabinet of Cyprus has approved a “civil partnership bill” that allows same-sex couples to register their relationships with the government, granting all the same benefits of full marriage, except for “joint adoption.” The bill now heads to parliament, where the body can deliberate and put the legislation to a vote, according to Gay Star News.

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s Supreme Court ruled that all professional associations must treat same-sex spouses the same as they would treat opposite-sex couples. The ruling comes after a lawsuit was filed against the Costa Rican Doctors and Surgeons Association, which refused to extend membership benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian members.

Gay Star News notes that earlier this week, President Luis Guillermo urged lawmakers in Costa Rica to pass a new bill that would extend civil unions to same-sex couples, saying that doing so is an “ethical and moral obligation” to the country.

—  David Taffet

God is suing you

Screen shot 2015-05-06 at 10.05.40 AMProcess servers in Nebraska will be working overtime serving every gay and lesbian. Plaintiff Sylvia Ann Driskell Ambassador for Plaintiff’s God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ filed the lawsuit. She listed as the defendant in her suit: “Homosexuals, Their Given Name Homosexuals, Their, Alis Gay.”

Not clear is if she is just suing Nebraskan homosexuals, U.S. homosexuals or all homosexuals around the world. I guess only American homos are being sued, since she bases her claim on a U.S. statute. Bisexuals are apparently safe, because they’re not named.

Listed as the nature of the suit is “Civil Rights: Other” and Cause of Action: “42:1983 Civil Rights Act.”

That section of the Civil Rights Act states:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

Apparently, the gays are depriving her of her rights. Also, isn’t it a little odd that she’s claiming homosexuality violates God’s law, but is suing under the Civil Rights Act. She should be suing under Leviticus.

In her suit she writes, “I, Sylvia Ann Driskell, Contend that homosexuality is a sin, and that they the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in a closet?”

Well, I don’t know about you, but personally, I haven’t been living in the closet. I’ve been on the radio every Sunday talking about being gay for 30 years. I’ve written for Dallas Voice for about the same amount of time. I contend, she’s the one who’s the straight person living in the closet and is only now coming out as, well, a moron.

Addicting Info has the full copy of the handwritten complaint.

While the court is not likely to respond with anything other than a quick dismissal, I’d like the court to ask her for the addresses of her defendants and to send her a bill. The average cost of process serving in the U.S. is $45-75. The estimated gay and lesbian population is 9,083,558. Even with a bulk discount low-balling the per service cost at $45, the bill would be $408,760,110.

Sometimes the best way to answer stupid is with more stupid.

Also, please note, all stupid isn’t from Texas.

—  David Taffet

Phariss and Holmes get Capitol flag

Mark Phariss, left, and Vic Holmes

Mark Phariss, left, and Vic Holmes

How cool is this.

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, the Texas marriage equality plaintiffs from Plano, met with Tyler Moran, an aide to Sen. Harry Reid.  Phariss asked Moran if they could get the flag that would fly over the Capitol today, the day of the SCOTUS hearing.

Each day different flags are flown over the Capitol and they’re given to people to commemorate special events.

Phariss and Holmes just got word they’re getting the flag.

They’re flying back to Dallas tonight and they’ll be our guests on Lambda Weekly at 1 p.m. on Sunday on 89.3 KNON-fm.

—  David Taffet