GOP delegates ratify most anti-LGBT platform ever

Cameron_Childres_(c)_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key

Cameron Childres was among those who protested Donald Trump and the GOP platform outside Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena earlier this week. (Michael Key/Washington Blade)

 

CHRIS JOHNSON  |  Washington Blade
Courtesy of National Gay Media Association
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Delegates at the Republican National Convention on Monday afternoon, July 18, ratified with little opposition a party platform considered to have the most anti-LGBT language of any platform in history.

As Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chair of the platform committee, presided over the convention, delegates approved the 66-page document by voice vote at 4:42 p.m. The number of “ayes” among the 2,470 delegates seemed overwhelming compared to the barely audible “nays.”

Despite efforts from pro-LGBT Republicans to remove opposition to same-sex marriage from the 2016 platform, the document seeks to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality through either judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning the issue to the states.

Virgil Goode, a Virginia delegate and former six-term member of the U.S. House, told the Washington Blade reporters at the convention that he backs the platform language in opposition to the Obergefell ruling, issued by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015, and upholding marriage equality nationwide.

“I think the Supreme Court legislated,” Goode said. “The Supreme Court is not the decider of what marriage is. It should be the individual states [that] have that right. They way overstepped their bounds on that.”

Goode said he believes that whether to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses and have those relationship recognized should “be up to the states.”

“You have in the United States, including California, the people voted for a definition of marriage, and I think that vote should stand, that the Supreme Court shouldn’t be overriding,” Goode said.

In addition to opposition to same-sex marriage, the platform also objects to use of federal law to ensure transgender people can use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, indicates support for widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy and endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, a “religious freedom” bill that critics say would legalize anti-LGBT discrimination.

Joseph Knox, a 20-year-old alternate delegate from Washington, N.C., said he agrees with language in the platform on transgender restroom use — which is consistent with a law in his state signed by Gov. Pat McCrory requiring transgender people to use public restrooms according to their birth certificates, not their gender identity.

“I support that because I believe it’s the duty of our government in order to protect people for the cases where it may abused,” Knox said. “I understand where the argument is made for people and their rights, and they feel they need to use the bathroom of their choice. However, in public schools, or taxpayer buildings, or stuff like that, then it should be up to your birth certificate, and that’s where you should have to go.”

Knox said he also “absolutely” backs language in the platform in opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.

“I believe as a conservative, as a Republican, that the federal government has taken leaps and bounds that are involving themselves within states’ rights way too much,” Knox said. “It wasn’t mentioned in the Constitution. Our Founding Fathers were not worried about that along with a lot other things.”

Knox added he believes the establishment of the Department of Education is also unconstitutional, and that “things like that should be left up to the individual states.”

Delegates at the convention who spoke about the language in the platform against LGBT rights were largely in support of those planks. Many of the delegates and alternate delegates at the Quicken Loans Arena refused to speak with Washington Blade reporters on the subject of gay rights in the party platform.

Dwayne Collins, a delegate from the Dallas area, said he agrees with the platform’s opposition to the same-sex marriage on the basis that “marriage between a man and a man, and a woman and a woman, is just not biblical.”

Collins also indicated support for the platform’s veiled endorsement of “ex-gay” conversion therapy, as well.

“There should not be anything to force anybody to do such therapy, but if it’s out there and available, then, yes,” Collins said. “But to force somebody into therapy, no, no, not at all.”

Collins, who identified himself as a small business owner, also voiced concerns about non-discrimination laws threatening the livelihoods of those offering wedding-related services.

“I feel intimidated by what the gay movement is doing to my business,” Collins said. “I own a wedding venue, OK? It’s privately owned. I rent it to people for weddings, but it’s got to be a man and a woman. Now in the state of Texas, I have a little bit of protection, but in other states, if you don’t do that, you get sued. And that’s my business, they are infringing on my rights. That’s why we got to come to a consensus here and say, ‘Hey, enough’s enough. You got your rights; we got our rights.’“

A North Dakota delegate, who refused to give his name, said, “I’m a live and let live guy,” but he also said he supports the platform’s call for returning decisions on marriage equality to the states. “I prefer that when states can make their own decisions,” he said.

Joel Craig, an 18-year-old delegate from Colorado Springs, Colo., and pledged to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said he supports the platform’s opposition to marriage equality because “states should be allowed to choose what their definition of marriage is.”

“I think that this is a deal for the states,” Craig said. “The states are in charge of issuing marriage licenses; why then are they not in charge of how the marriage licenses are issued?”

But Craig contested the notion the platform endorses conversion therapy, saying the platform mentions it, but doesn’t endorse it. The platform says, “We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.”

Craig said, “I believe that the current language, the way it is set, does not endorse conversion therapy, as you’ve suggested, however it is mentioned. I didn’t exactly read how it was mentioned, but I do believe the platform as a whole represents the Republican electorate very well.”

Not every delegate at the convention was behind the anti-LGBT planks in the GOP platform.

Sharon Jackson, a 52-year-old delegate from the Anchorage area and pledged to Trump, said she’s against the platform language and thinks same-sex couples should be able to wed throughout the nation.

“I feel that everyone should have the freedom to feel and do what they choose, and that’s American is all about,” Jackson said.

Asked if applies to gay couples seeking to marry, Jackson replied, “If that’s what they want to do, they should be able to do that.”

Jackson also said she’s against platform language opposing transgender people using the restroom consistent with their gender identity: “I don’t think that should be politicized.

It happens already, right? No one says anything, so to make it a political issue, I think, it opens the doors for perpetuators, and that’s not fair. That’s not fair. So, if it was just left alone, everything would be fine just as it is today.”

LGBT advocates blasted the platform ratified by delegates. The National Log Cabin Republicans, which had previously dubbed the platform the most anti-LGBT in the party’s 162-year history, placed a full-page ad Monday in USA Today:

“LOSERS! MORONS! SAD! No, these aren’t tweets from Donald Trump. This is what common-sense conservatives are saying about the most anti-LGBT platform the Republican Party has ever had. Out of touch, out of line, and out of step with 61 percent of young Republicans who favor same-sex marriage.”

Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, also condemned the platform, saying it doesn’t represent the views of many Americans.

“ It’s disappointing that the far right wing of the Republican Party has successfully pushed for a platform that discriminates against LGBT Americans and their families,”  McTighe said. “This platform just does not reflect the direction that many Republicans — nor the majority of Americans — want to see the party move.”

For a time, efforts among pro-LGBT Republicans were underway for a motion on the convention floor to strip the platform of its anti-LGBT language. A minority report signed by 37 delegates of the platform committee petitioned the Republican National Committee to replace the platform with a 1,200-word statement of 17 core principles of the Republican Party with neutral language on LGBT issues.

Although only 28 delegates are needed for a successful petition, the efforts failed when the delegates who initiated the report — Boyd Matheson of Utah and David Barton of Texas — disavowed it.

Giovanni Cicione, a Rhode Island delegate who circulated the petition to replace the platform, said afterwards the initiative failed amid disagreement on those behind it and queasiness in Republican leadership over a floor fight. “To have contentious floor votes on anything, content aside is very disruptive to the process that they’re trying to lay out this week,” Cicione said. “In my opinion, that didn’t matter. This was more important than us running a convention where each speaker gets their five minutes. I think we needed to try to make a point here, but they were able to pull back.”

(Cicione made his comments before much of the uproar that has occurred throughout the week, including arguments over whether votes should be taken as voice votes or roll call votes and Cruz’s Wednesday night speech in which he refused to endorse Trump, causing delegates to boo him off stage.)

Annie Dickerson, a New York member of the platform committee and adviser to GOP philanthropist and LGBT rights supporter Paul Singer, said the goal now is to advance LGBT non-discrimination legislation regardless of the platform.

“Polling on non-discrimination is going off the charts on the Republican side,” Dickerson said. “But those are just not the people that were those delegates, which is why Gio and

I are here, to give rise to that voice, so we can be a bigger tent because this is not the ‘Big Tent’ document.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Pet of the week • 07-22-16

Allie-Baby

Allie Baby is a shepherd mix that, at just 6 months old, weighs 41 pounds. She is a smart and active girl with very friendly disposition. She’ll probably be a medium-sized dog when she matures, but she will still need plenty of room to run and play, and will do best in an active home with daily walks.

Other pets are available for adoption from Operation Kindness, 3201 Earhart Drive, Carrollton. The no-kill shelter is open six days: Monday, 3-8 p.m.; closed Tuesday; Wednesday, 3-8 p.m.; Thursday, noon-8 p.m.; Friday, noon- 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. The cost is $110 for cats, $135 for kittens, $150 for dogs over 1 year, and $175 for puppies. The cost includes the spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, vaccinations, heartworm test for dogs, leukemia and FIV test for cats, and more. Those who adopt two pets at the same time receive a $20 discount.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Nobody likes to talk about getting old

Panelists talk about unique challenges to aging in the LGBT community

Marcum.Candy

Candy Marcum

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

 

Talking about getting old is difficult for anyone. In the gay community, it seems almost impossible.

“Nobody likes to talk about aging except pharmaceutical companies,” said community counselor Candy Marcum. She’s one of the panelists who will be discussing “A call for creating social spaces and support for the aging LGBT” at this weekend’s conference on aging in the LGBT community.

She said most people live in a world that gets smaller and smaller as the age. They lose friends. If they lose the ability to drive, they have fewer opportunities to socialize.

In the LGBT community, we have very few role models of people growing old, Marcum said. Fewer people came out 50 years ago. Many from that generation who were out died during the height of the AIDS crisis.

Others, who have few friends left, are isolated.

“The only good story we have is Jack and George,” Marcum said, referring to Jack Evans and George Harris. The men had been a couple for more than 55 years when Evans passed away last month. But Harris still drives and Evans remained involved, going to church, out to dinner and participating in community events through the end of his life.

“Jack looked hip with a bad hip,” Marcum said.

She said one thing the conference will examine is how to have a fulfilling life to the end.

“I might not be as mobile as I once was, but I can have a meaningful life,” she said.

Portia Cantrell is a nurse who serves on the board of the Coalition for Aging LGBT.

She’s concerned with treatment of LGBT people by the medical community that can force some people into the closet just to receive care.

“I was at UT Southwestern for a procedure recently,” Cantrell said. “Before the procedure, they asked me for my emergency contact.”

When she gave the name, she specified it was her wife. But the nurse kept referring to her as her “friend.”

“I was already going through some something stressful,” she said, “and the nurse was showing she doesn’t approve of my ‘lifestyle.’” And if the caregiver doesn’t approve of how you live your life, Cantrell questioned, is that person going to care for you?

As a nurse, she said she’s heard stories from coworkers of someone they thought needed to be prayed over because they were sinners.

Cantrell’s experience was just a procedure and within a few days, she was back home. What happens to someone who isn’t going back home, because they’re now in assisted living or in a nursing home?

“You want pictures out,” Cantrell said. When a spouse visits, “you want to hold his hand. When you get disapproving looks, how is that going to make you feel? How will it affect your health?”

Cantrell thinks the AIDS crisis still affects both men and women who lived through the worst years of that era as they age. Many men didn’t expect to live very long, so they made no plans for retirement. And big, strong women who were the caregivers for their sick and dying male friends don’t want to feel weak.

“We’re the ones who took care of the guys and now we’re vulnerable,” Cantrell said.

To make it worse, said coalition board member Sam Tornabene, there’s quite a bit of agism in the LGBT community.

While LGBT people create families of choice, those people tend be around the same age, he said. So caregivers are other older people who happen to be healthier at the time.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

—  David Taffet

Pence: As anti-gay as the Republican platform

All aboard the GOP Train for a trip back in time with Engineer Trump and Conductor Pence

train

 

D’Anne WitkowskiWas anyone really surprised that Donald Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his co-captain for the most terrifying boat ride since the Titanic?

Pence may be best known for signing Indiana’s “just say no to gays” law, the intention of which was to give anti-gay bigots free reign to discriminate against LGBT people so long as their discrimination stemmed from a deeply held religious belief. In other words, if a baker doesn’t want to make a cake for some kind of homo wedding, he just needs to point out that “God hates fags,” and he’s in the clear. As God intended.

This law gave anti-gay bigots major boners, which they presumably showed off during the secret signing session Pence held for them.

After the business community freaked out, Pence signed a little fix to the bill to make it less anti-gay, but it was basically window dressing. Ah, but Pence’s anti-gay record is much longer than just some silly little discrimination law that brought scorn heaped upon his state and resulted in a loss of millions of dollars.

In 2006 as a senator, Pence supported amending the U.S. Constitution to ban marriage equality. He said letting same-sex couples marry would bring upon “societal collapse.”

Clearly he was foreshadowing a Trump-Pence presidential run.

He was also against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, claiming in 2007, “By extending the reach of federal law to cover sexual orientation, employment discrimination protections, in effect, can wage war on the free exercise of religion in the workplace.”

Because, you know, protecting LGBT people from discrimination is totally comparable to the horrors of war.

And speaking of war, Pence didn’t want any homos in the military because they would try to touch other privates’ privates. Oh, and speaking of the uncontrollable sexual perversions of gays, Pence thought that money for HIV/AIDS would be much better spent on anti-gay conversion therapy. Because if you stop all those gays from being gay it’ll stop this gay disease.

Oh, he also was against needle exchange programs. Because he clearly was an HIV/AIDS expert.

Remember when Donald Trump claimed that the gays loved him? That he was actually a better champion of gay rights than Hillary Clinton? Wasn’t true then, and even less true now.

“Donald Trump just doubled down on his agenda of hate and discrimination by choosing the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence for his ticket,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

But hey, doubling down on bad decisions is right in Trump’s wheelhouse, whether in business or politics.

The Republican platform this year is one of most anti-gay in history. Clearly they are hoping that when voters go to the polls they will hate gays more than they hate Trump. Hey, it worked in the past.

And the past — where women couldn’t get abortions, where brown people couldn’t vote, where gays couldn’t marry — is what the Republicans love best.

D’Anne Witkowski is a freelance writer and poet and a writing teacher at the Universtiy of Michigan. She writes the weekly “Creep of the Week” column for Q Syndicate.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Worst coming out ever

Leslie McMurraySo, October 11th is National Coming Out Day, established to encourage a safe world where LGBTQ people can come out and live our authentic lives. For the past 15 years or so, the Human Rights Campaign has even given it a theme of some kind.

Everyone comes out in their own way. Matter of fact, I’d venture to say a good many of us don’t even do it on Oct. 11. My coming out was July 20, 2012. It was pretty much a disaster and was the last thing in the world I’d planned on doing that day when I went to work that morning.

The day started out like any other, for the most part. I was the program director for 100.3 Jack-FM radio station in Dallas, a job I cherished.

For more than a year, my now-ex-wife’s radar had been going haywire. She was sure I was sleeping around. But I wasn’t.

She was periodically accusing me of inappropriate relationships with a variety of women, none of which were true. She was way off base.

By July 20, I had been in Dallas for almost nine months working for CBS Radio and looking for a place to live. I finally found a house in Flower Mound that my then-wife and I both loved. We moved in around May 1 — and things were fine for a while.

We had been married for 33 years and like any marriage, ours had its ups and downs. But this whole “I know there’s another woman” thing had been pretty relentless for more than a year.

Around mid-day that July 20 four years ago, I was at CBS, in my office on the 10th floor, when my wife walked into my office and threatened to “cause a big scene” if I didn’t come clean. I again pleaded innocent and asked her —  kind of as a last resort — “What do you want me to do, take a lie detector test?”

She said yes. I said, “Fine, book it.”

So she did. Right from my desk phone at my CBS office. It was scheduled for the following morning, Saturday, July 21, 2012.

My birthday.

Great, happy birthday to me! “Here’s your polygraph. By the way, it’s going to be $300.”

She left my office and presumably went home, happy that she would get the answer she wanted.

I felt relaxed because I knew I’d finally be vindicated. We should have done this a long time ago!

The rest of the day passed, and I drove home pondering what the polygraph examiner could possibly ask. I didn’t care what they asked; I had nothing to hide.

Except that.

By 2012, I’d been painting my nails for a few years and preferred silk PJs. She had asked me on occasion if I wanted to be a woman. (Um, wanted to be? Hell, I knew I was.)

I had always brushed it off. So if they asked me that question, the cat would be out of the bag. I had never ever told a single soul and was willing to take this to my grave (though it would have likely been an early one).

So I got home, now more than a little concerned that this one question would be asked. I was met at the door and my wife said, “I cancelled the polygraph.” I said, “Good, I’m glad.” She added, “I still know you’re hiding something.”

The Flower Mound House was paradise. It was a huge, meticulously remodeled 4,500-square-foot masterpiece on 8½ acres. We had a pond, trees, a fire pit. It was gorgeous.

I walked out on this warm summer evening and sat by myself. In the solitude and quiet I took a picture. I knew this was the last bit of peace I was going to have for a very long time. It was also, the last moments I had as “him.”

After taking the picture, I walked inside and said to my wife, “I have been hiding something. I want you to know that if I tell you, I can never ‘un-tell’ you and that it will change everything. If I don’t tell you, it won’t hurt you. It will be my secret.”

She wanted to know. So I told her: “There is another woman. It’s ME.”

Her initial response to hearing that her husband was a transgender woman who needed to transition: “Is that all it is? I’ve known that for a long time.”

Initially, she was very supportive. But soon, she began reading about people who are transgender and what was going to happen to her husband. Things changed.

By December, she had packed a bag for a visit to see friends in her native California … and she never came back.

Of course, I’d fantasized about how all of this might have played out and never had it gone down this way. I was backed into a corner and more or less just blurted it out. But ultimately, what needed to happen, happened.

Transition isn’t easy, especially when other people are involved, as they nearly always are.

You can plan all you want. But sometimes, it all goes to hell. It has made my birthday more than a celebration of just another year. For me, there’s no looking back.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Coalition holds second conference on aging

2015-Senior-Summit

While no one likes talking about getting old, about 200 people did just that at the first LGBT aging summit last summer at Senior Source on Harry Hines Boulevard. The second takes place on July 23 on SMU’s Plano campus. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Since its first conference last year, the Coalition for LGBT Aging has been working to improve existing services in North Texas, helping make them more LGBT-friendly.

“We’re not going to duplicate services,” Coalition founder Cannon Flowers said, reiterating that the goal is to make what’s already out there better.

New training has made 211 operators more aware of services available to LGBT people and more sensitive to their needs, which is progress. But there are lots of new services desperately needed by the older LGBT community, Flowers said.

“Housing is the No. 1 priority,” Flowers said. “We need an equality index on senior living facilities.”

On Saturday, July 23, the Coalition holds its second conference on aging LGBT. This year it’s in Collin County, on the SMU Plano Campus, 5236 Tennyson Parkway, Building 4.

The event opens with remarks from Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere.

Rather than large plenaries, this year’s conference is concentrating on breakout sessions. Coalition board member Sam Tornabene said panels are planned to discuss four areas of interest — housing, legislation, caregiving, legal, social and transgender issues.

“In the trans community, the issues can be daunting, depending on the level of transition,” Tornabene said.

He said an EMT might provide care that’s degrading or — with the so-called “religious freedom” laws popping up around the country and being debated in Congress — even refuse to care for an LGBT patient.

Other topics that will be addressed are issues of guardianship and what assistance an organization like Senior Source may provide for people who have no one else to act as guardian. Another topic will be the long-term affects of living with HIV, because each year, many people set new records for survival and thriving despite being HIV-positive.

Tornabene said next Texas’ legislative session will be challenging. Not only are a record number of anti-LGBT bills expected to be filed, but aging LGBT people will face the same cutbacks expected for all seniors. To make a greater impact on lobbying days, Tornabene said LGBT groups lobbying on senior issues will go the same day as other senior groups lobbying on those issues.

Tornabene also noted that the conference will include a session on financial planning, adding that the older generation of LGBT people, especially gay men, need to approach such planning differently, since so many didn’t expect to live so long and therefore failed to plan adequately for their later years.

All of the breakouts will be recorded and available later on YouTube.

At its August board meeting, the coalition board will prioritize items and move forward to bolster existing services throughout the area and provide new services when possible, officials said.

According to the American Society of Aging, “Recent research documents social, health, and economic disparities among LGBT elders.” Despite growing visibility for the LGBT community and changes in legal status, the community remains “largely invisible in aging services, policies and research.”

The coalition intends to change that — at least locally.

Second annual Summit on LGBT Aging, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on July 23 at Southern Methodist University Plano Campus, 5236 Tennyson Parkway, Building 4, Plano.

………………………….

Study looks at health disparities among older LGBs, heteros

From Staff Reports

Flowers.Cannon

Cannon Flowers

A recent analysis on health disparities among older sexual minorities indicates that older lesbians, gays and bisexuals seem to take better care of their health than their heterosexual counterparts at least in some areas

The report offers estimates made from data from two years of the National Health Interview Survey, 2013-2014, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study examined differences in 15 health characteristics among sexual minorities — LGB (no T included) — and heterosexuals, all age 65 or older.

Findings were presented in three categories: health characteristics with statistically significant differences, health characteristics with no statistically significant differences and health characteristics with insignificant data to detect differences.

The report’s authors do note that, “Because there were relatively few respondents who identified as sexual minorities, the tests we performed had limited power, and the detectable differences were correspondingly large.”

Information in the report indicates that of the 15,799 respondents, only 147 identified as sexual minorities. Of those 38.4 percent were female and 88.8 percent were white. The mean age was about 72.

(Editor’s note: Obviously, a study that included a broader group of respondents on the sexual minority side of the equation that more accurately represented the true diversity of the LGB community and include the transgender portion of that community would likely deliver far different results.)

In the first group — the one showing statistically significant differences — sexual minorities were more likely to say they are in excellent or very good health than those in the sexual majority, 62.7 percent to 45.9 percent. 79.7 percent of the LGB respondents said they had received a flu vaccine, compared to 68.8 percent of the non-LGBT respondents, and 51.3 percent of the LGBT respondents said they had at some point been tested for HIV, compared to only 15.8 percent of the non-LGBT respondents.

The straights had healthier answers, for the most part, when it came to alcohol use though. Only 6.7 percent of the non-gay respondents said they had five or more alcoholic drinks in one day at some point in the last year, while 14.5 percent of the LGB respondents answered yes to that question.

The second category, the one in which there was no statistically significant difference, included (with the percentage for LGB respondents first): have a usual source for medical care (96.1 to 96.6); current cigarette smoker (9.1 percent to 8.6); trouble seeing (16.7 percent to 13.8 percent); told by a doctor you have cancer (29.1 percent to 23.4 percent); obese (27.7 percent to 26.7 percent); functional limitations (53.4 percent to 64 percent); and told you have coronary heart disease (12.4 percent to 14.1 percent).

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

 

—  David Taffet

FWISD releases revised trans guidelines

As school officials talk about a reasonable compromise, anti-trans forces claim victory

FWISD-B

FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner, right, said the district’s guidelines for dealing transgender students have always and still do focus on what’s best for all students. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and other conservatives claimed victory when the district amended those guidelines this week.

James Russell | Contributing Writer
james.journo@gmail.com

Officials with the Fort Worth school district  released a revised version of the transgender student guidelines on Wednesday, July 20, after three months of revisions and scrutiny from opponents.

The guidelines first issued in April were a detailed, eight-page document clarifying the district’s existing anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies, which were amended to include gender identity and expression in 2011.

Previously, the guidelines warned “transitioning is a very private matter [and] students may choose whether or not to have their parents participate in this process. In fact, notifying a parent or guardian carries risks for the students in some cases.”

Opponents argued that suggestions excluded parents from the discussion. Groups like conservative family values organization Texas Values also alleged the public accommodations would allow “boys in girls bathrooms.”

The two-page revised document now includes clear language about the importance of the relationship among students, schools and parents. Support staff and teachers will work with families on a case-by-case basis, including in public facility accommodations.

Both supporters and opponents called the compromise a victory, though in markedly different terms.

“The new guidelines reflect what we’ve heard from students and teachers, parents and pastors. Our focus from the beginning has been the safety of all children and that, overwhelmingly, was the concern we heard from our parents and others,” Superintendent Kent Scribner said in a statement. “The new guidelines place a heavy emphasis on involving parents and trusts students, teachers and parents to work together to make the right decisions.”

David Mack Henderson, president of Fairness Fort Worth, praised Scribner’s leadership during a divisive time.

“Scribner is wise enough to know questions will remain and has assured me that an educational component for principals will be provided,” Henderson wrote via text message.

“This is a living document that will breathe over time as we gain more experience. I suspect the best educators for us all are the very children who will teach us what it means to live authentically and proud.”

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, called the revisions “a sweeping reversal.”

The school district, Saenz said, “reversed their transgender policy [and] is a victory for parents, common sense, and the rule of law. Fort Worth ISD’s dramatic retreat on its bathrooms policy should send a message to all Texas school districts — you don’t mess with parents’ rights and safety in Texas public schools,” Saenz said in a statement.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who bombarded a school board meeting in May and asked for a legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton, also chimed in.

“This policy, as originally adopted, cut students, parents, the community, teachers and principals out of the process. It ran contrary to the basic tenets of local control. As I hoped when I submitted the request for a legal opinion from our attorney general, this change brings FWISD in line with parents’ rights detailed under current law and requires administrators to resolve these issues on a case-by-case basis, as they have been. We will continue to closely monitor this issue moving forward,” Patrick said in a statement.

But Ashley Paz, first vice president of the school board and supporter of the guidelines, struck a conciliatory tone.

“I am extremely proud of the leadership shown by [Superintendent] Scribner and [Board President Jacinto] Ramos in navigating the process. They led our administration and board to listen to parties with many different perspectives. At the end of the day, there was a healthy give and take, and the final outcome protects all students which is our ultimate goal,” Paz said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

 

—  Dallasvoice

Cox joins CoH’s Hall of Heroes

Resource Center CEO will receive the Hero of Hope award during the church’s morning services on Sunday

CeceCox

Cece Cox’s “great humility and great passion” as CEO in bringing the vision of a new Resource Center to fruition was one reason Cathedral of Hope chose to name her as its 2016 Hero of Hope. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

 

Tammye Nash  |  Managing Editor

Inside the Cathedral of Hope, there is an area they call the Hall of Heroes. Therein hang more than 25 portraits of men and women who have, through the years, been leaders in Dallas’ LGBTQ community. They are, explained the Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, the men and women who have been chosen by the church as “Heroes of Hope.”

On Sunday, July 24, during the Cathedral’s morning worship services, Cece Cox’s name will be added to that list, her portrait added to that Hall of Heroes.

“Every year, we select someone from the larger world to receive our Hero of Hope Award. Many people are nominated each year, and then we go through the process of narrowing down that list of nominations until we find the one we think deserves to be that year’s Hero of Hope,” Cazares-Thomas said. “This year, that person is Cece Cox,” chief executive officer of Resource Center.

Cathedral of Hope presents only one award each year — the Hero of Hope award — and so it represents something very special to the church, its staff and its congregation, Cazares-Thomas said.

The people in those photos in the Hall of Heroes “serve as inspirational leaders,” he said. “People come to Cathedral of Hope looking for inspiration, especially the people who self-identify as LGBTQ and who have grown up and lived in a world that tells them they aren’t worthy, that they’ll never be anything. They see the photos in our Hall of Heroes, and they see inspiration that their lives do matter. They are inspired to achieve great things, inspired to greatness and to leadership.

“Now Cece’s portrait will be on that wall, too.”

Cazares-Thomas said Cox was chosen as this year’s Hero of Hope recipient in recognition of her years of “pioneering work around inclusion and her leadership here in Dallas,” and her leadership in the “the achievement of the dream of the new Resource Center, which is now up and open and doing good work.”

Noting that the vision to fund and build a new Resource Center began before Cox took over as CEO, Cazares-Thomas lauded her for seeing that vision through to fruition. “To come into an organization as its leader and then to fulfill the vision of those who came before, that takes great humility and great passion,” he said. “And we also are honoring Cece as a voice of faith as we continue to speak up and speak out against religious intolerance and in our ongoing partnership” between the Cathedral and Resource Center.

Cox, for her part, said this week she is greatly honored to receive the Hero of Hope award. “The Cathedral is a very important institution in our community,” she said.

“Awards are awkward for me,” Cox admitted, but it makes it easier to think she is receiving the award on behalf of Resource Center and its staff, as a whole.

“As CEO of Resource Center, I am the designated leader. But there is an amazing team behind me there that allows me the opportunity to do the things I am able to do,” she said. “So to the extent that this award is honoring my work with Resource Center, I am really mindful of that team, of the board and of the 32 years of history behind us. This award is a recognition of all that.”

Cox that said 2016 has, so far, been “a very productive year in which we [at Resource Center] have served the community well,” with the highlight being the grand opening in May of the Center’s new facility on Cedar Springs Road at Inwood Road, just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral of Hope campus.

“It’s been amazing really, when I think of it,” she said. “I usually don’t think of it, really. I just keep going, putting one foot in front of the other and getting things done. But when you really stop and think about it, it’s pretty mind-boggling.”

Cox earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and then worked as professional photographer, eventually co-authoring a photo book chronicling the 1993 March on Washington for gay and lesbian rights. She later returned to school to earn a law degree from Southern Methodist Universtiy, and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Cox has a long list of awards and recognitions on her resume. She has received the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award, SMU Women’s Symposium’s Profiles in Leadership Award and the LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas’ Judge Norman W. Black Award. She has been recognized as a distinguished alumni  by SMU’s Dedman School of Law for her outstanding public service, and was twice named Best Local LGBT Role Model in Dallas Voice’s Readers Voice Awards.

Cox has more than 30 years experience as an activist and leader in the LGBT community, and played instrumental roles in the passage of the city of Dallas’ LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy, and Dallas Independent School District’s first anti-harassment policy and the district’s subsequent anti-bullying policy.

She has worked or volunteered with Turtle Creek Chorale, Legal Hospice of Texas, Youth First Texas and the regional offices of Lambda Legal, and she has been appointed to a both a city board and a city task force. She is a member of the executive committee for SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, a board member of

Dallas Women’s Foundation, a past president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a former co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/Dallas and past officer of the LGBT Section of the State Bar of Texas.

Cox, who has also practiced commercial law and provided pro bono legal services to individuals with HIV, is also an alumna of both Leadership Dallas and Leadership Lambda.

She became associate executive of Resource Center in 2007 and CEO in July 2010. She has led the Center in expanding programs, expanding staffing and expanding its impact in the community.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

‘Gays for Trump’ make case for anti-Islamic policies

Milo Yiannopoulos appears at event after being banned from Twitter

Milo-Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos speaks at ‘Wake Up!’, the Republican National Convention’s “gay” event, in Cleveland on Tuesday, July 19. (Michael Key/Washington Blade)

 

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Courtesy of National Gay Media Association

CLEVELAND — Rallying attendees before posters of scantily clad young men in “Make America Great Again” hats, speakers at a “Gays for Trump” party on Tuesday night, July 19, urged LGBT people to look to defeating radical Islamic extremism as its next goal.

The featured speaker at the event, which was called “Wake Up” and took place at Wolstein Center Ballroom at Cleveland State University, was Milo Yiannopoulos, a provocative gay conservative activist and journalist. Wearing a white tank top with the image of a firearm in rainbow colors and the words “We Shoot Back,” Yiannopoulos said the time has come has come for the LGBT community to separate itself from the progressive movement to take on Islamic extremism.

In the aftermath of a shooting in Orlando at a gay nightclub perpetuated by a alleged follower of Islamic extremism, Yiannopoulos said while the left once had the backs of gay people, that’s “no longer the case.”

“Growing up gay wasn’t that fucking bad, let’s be honest,” Yiannopoulos said. “But I still don’t see the reason why the left-wing press mollycoddles and panders to an ideology that wants me dead.”

Yiannopoulos announced at the event he would travel to Sweden next week to lead a Pride parade in what he called a “Muslim ghetto” in Stockholm. Yiannopoulos said he draws no distinction between Islam as a whole and Islamic extremism, although he acknowledged in the audience may disagree with him. Known as a provocateur, Yiannopoulos has made comments on social media saying it should legal to hunt any man over 20 percent body fat, compared feminism to cancer and set up a scholarship with funds available only to white males.

A Trump supporter, Yiannopoulos said during the event Trump is “the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history.” Yiannopoulos spoke at the event just minutes before he was reportedly banned permanently from Twitter for a series of tweets against “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones that were deemed abusive. As a result, Yiannopoulos said he intends to make the lives of people working for the media a “hell.”

“You have done nothing for gays,” Yiannopoulos said. “While you were busy hectoring and bullying and nannying us about transgender pronouns, you completely forgot that politicians in this country, Democrat politicians who are welcoming in a religion that wants us dead. They were welcoming in movements and belief systems that are completely incompatible with the Western way of life, with modern, Western, capitalist, liberal democracies, the only systems under which gay people are happy and successful and have rights.”

The estimated 500 attendees at the event, billed as the “most fab party at the RNC,” were predominately young white men, many of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats in support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. A line of attendees seeking to take photos with Yiannopoulos spanned a room adjoining the ballroom where the event took place.

David Griffin, a gay 24-year-old Georgia resident, came to the event wearing a Trump campaign hat and three buttons in support of the presidential candidate.

“I like Trump because he’s going to secure our borders, he’s going to put America first and, more importantly, he’s the most pro-gay candidate in the race,” Griffin said. “Hillary Clinton wants to bring people in from cultures that are very hostile to gays. The countries that she wants to bring people in from are countries that throw gays off buildings, stone them. It is not very good. I want people who believe in our values to come here.”

The increase in Syrian refugees into the United States, proposed by President Obama and supported by Clinton, are in many cases people fleeing anti-LGBT persecution at the hands of the Islamic State. The White House has said LGBT refugees would be one of the priority groups of refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

Devin Conway, a 21-year-old student at Georgia Southern University, said he came because he wanted to surround himself “with like-minded people and to celebrate not only Trump winning the nomination, but hopefully winning the presidency.”

“There are people from all walks of life here, gay, straight, reporters, non-reporters,” Conway said. “I think it’s beautiful that we can all come together for one cause, and think that’s what Trump’s message is really all about, and I really hope that we can spread it to the rest of the country.”

Other speakers at the event warned against the dangers of Islamic extremism and urged LGBT people to pay heed to the threat. Chris Barron, a gay political consultant and former board chair of the now defunct gay conservative group GOProud, said Trump is making the Republican Party “more accepting for LGBT people all across this country.”

“The left wants us to believe that this an election that’s going to be about bathrooms or who’s going to pay for our wedding cakes, but LGBT people and our allies know that this is a question of life or death,” Barron said. “We saw what happened in Orlando. We have a radical Islamic ideology out there that is dedicated toward exterminating LGBT people all across this globe.”

Also speaking at the event was Pamela Geller, an anti-Islamic conservative activist who came to the event wearing a rainbow-colored shirt with the message “Love Will Win.”

“The Republican Party is the party of individual rights and equality for all before the law, all,” Geller said. “No special rights or special classes. Democrats exploit the gay cause for their own ends. We’re the real deal. We oppose jihad terror. What greater threat to the gay community is there than Islamic law?”

Geert Wilders, a leader of the conservative Dutch Party for Freedom, warned about allowing Muslim immigration in United States, saying that practice has led Europe down a dismal path and violence on the continent.

“There is only one Islam, and that Islam has no place in a free society because it goes against freedom,” Wilders said. “So we should close our borders for immigrants from Islamic countries. We should not let any jihadists return to our free countries. We should expel criminals with a double-nationality after we have stripped them of the nationality of our country. We should stop the ‘Islamizaton,’ as a matter of fact, we should de-Islamize our societies.”

To a smattering of applause among attendees, Wilders said he doesn’t want any more mosques in the Netherlands or Islamic schools for “young children that we want to integrate into society who learn hate and violence.”

Outside the event, a group of a dozen protesters joined together and carried a banner reading, “Queers Against Racism.” Although no individual among the protesters was willing to speak with the Washington Blade, they handed the press a slip of paper explaining their views:

“There’s nothing fabulous about racism,” the paper says. “Our grief is not a catalyst for xenophobia. We will not be opportunistically used to promote Trump’s rhetoric of hate. What happened in Orlando is a result of a homegrown culture of homophobia promoted by Trump, Pence and conservatives for decades.”

—  Kevin Thomas

Day 2: GOP subtly seeks LGBT support through Orlando, gun rights

NRA official pledges to protect gun rights regardless of ‘race, religion or sexual orientation’

Chris-Cox

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, declared the NRA “fight[s] for the rights of all Americans, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation, because the right to protect your life is the most precious right you have.” (Michael Key/Washington Blade)

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Courtesy of National Gay Media Association

CLEVELAND — Amid attacks impugning Hillary Clinton’s character and calls for her incarceration, Republicans on the second night of the GOP national convention subtly sought to obtain LGBT support to further their goals.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who’s defending himself against a challenge from progressive champion and former Sen. Russ Feingold, invoked the Orlando shooting when he recalled provoking Clinton to say, “What difference does it make?” during a Senate hearing on Benghazi.

“It made a difference to the young men and women dancing on a summer night at a club in Orlando,” Johnson said. “And it made a difference to the families watching fireworks at the celebration of freedom in Nice by asking a simple question, why did you not just pick up the phone and call the survivors?”

Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for legislative action, invoked the protection for gay people when he called his organization “the largest and oldest civil rights organization in America.”

“We fight for the rights of all Americans, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation, because the right to protect your life is the most precious right you have,” Cox said.

The remarks stand in contrast to speeches from individuals at Republican National Conventions in years past seeking to build support by demonizing gay people and railing against LGBT rights as opposed to making subtle outreach.

Jason Lindsay, executive director of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, said in response to Cox’s remarks, the 49 people left dead after the Orlando shooting “no longer have Second Amendment rights, nor do the five Dallas officers gunned down by a weapon of war or the three officers murdered in Baton Rouge.”

“The NRA only protects the bottom line of gun manufacturers, ignoring the majority of Americans who support common sense gun reforms,” Lindsay said. “Pride Fund to End Gun Violence is standing up to the NRA by supporting candidates committed to reforming our gun laws to make all Americans safer.

Chris-Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put Hillary Clinton on trial during his speech Tuesday night, July 19, at the Republican National Convention, getting a “guilty” verdict from delegates on all counts. (Michael Key/Washington Blade).

“It is time to take back our public and private places from the threat of gun violence that has proliferated under the NRA’s watch.”

High-profile speakers on the second night of the convention included Donald Trump Jr., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and conservative commentator, former neurosurgeon and failed Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson.

In the wake of the U.S. Justice Department declining to prosecute Clinton for using a personal email server during her tenure as a secretary of state, Christie’s remarks consisted of recalling Clinton’s actions, and asking delegates if she’s guilty or not guilty. Predictably, each time the audience replied, “Guilty!”

“I am going to be specific so you can render your verdict tonight on the basis of the facts,” Christie said. “Let’s go to North Africa. She was the chief engineer of the disastrous overthrow in Libya. Libya today after Hillary Clinton’s grand strategy, their economy is in ruins, there is death and violence in the streets, and ISIS is dominating that country. Hillary Clinton as a failure for ruining Libya and creating a nest for terrorist activity. Answer me now, is she guilty or not guilty?”

Coming off remarks during a breakfast earlier in the day, in which he called transgender people an “absurdity,” Carson decried what he called “secular progressivism” changing America.

“The secular progressive agenda is antithetical to the principles of the founding of this nation,” Carson said. “If we continue to allow them to take God out of our lives, God will remove himself from us. We will not be blessed and our nation will go down the tubes.”

Also during the second day of the convention, delegates formally anointed Donald Trump as Republican presidential nominee through a roll-call vote from each of the state’s delegates. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was also formally nominated as the Republican Party’s choice for vice president.

Putting Trump over the top to reach the 1,237 votes needed to claim the nomination was the declaration of votes from the delegation from New York, Trump’s home state. Donald Trump Jr., read the declaration of 89 votes pledged to the Republican presidential nominee from the state.

Representing the delegates on behalf of D.C. was Jose Cunningham, who’s openly gay and chair of the D.C. Republican Party. In accordance with the results of the primary, Cunningham called 10 votes for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and nine votes for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

However, the chair presiding over the count under party rules called all of the 19 votes for Trump.

 

—  Dallasvoice