Out candidate George Clayton still in House race, but now as a Democrat

George Clayton

George Clayton

Former State Board of Education member George Clayton is still planning on running to replace Dallas Republican Stephani Carter in House District 102, but he’ll now be seeking the Democratic nomination.

Clayton announced the party switch in an email on Sunday, writing that he’d decided to run as a Democrat instead of a Republican. Carter isn’t seeking re-election because she’s running for the Railroad Commission.

As an administrator for the Dallas Independent School District, Clayton has said his campaign for the House seat would focus on education issues. During his time on the SBOE he was outed as gay and lost in the primary last year, but he told Dallas Voice he doesn’t want to be known as the gay candidate.

“For those of you who know me, you understand this change does not alter my views on education,” Clayton posted on Facebook. “Rather it allows for a much better campaign in terms of openness and acceptance of ideas, beliefs and goals. I hope you will join with me in this crusade.”

The district, which includes parts of North Dallas, Richardson, Addison and Garland, is already heating up on the Republican side with Republican activist Adryana Boyne, former Dallas councilwoman Linda Koop and Richardson businessman Samuel Brown set to battle out in the March primary.

—  Anna Waugh

Villalba on marriage equality: ‘That’s a dangerous question for me to answer’

State Rep. Jason Villalba speaks at a Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas meeting Tuesday. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

State Rep. Jason Villalba speaks at a Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas meeting Tuesday. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Republican Jason Villalba just completed his freshman year in the state House, managing to finish the session with a D-minus on Equality Texas’ Legislative Scorecard.

Villalba was one of only three freshmen Republicans to score above an F on the scorecard. Gatesville’s J.D. Sheffield also got a D-minus, and Austin’s Tony Dale got a D.

Villalba discussed the session Tuesday at the Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas’ June meeting, focusing on education, transportation and water conservation. But he talked LGBT issues with Dallas Voice before the meeting.

His Equality Texas score resulted from his voting to table two amendments affecting the LGBT community and voting against Republican Matt Krause’s discriminatory amendment.

He said he also opposed the anti-gay bill by Drew Springer, R-Muenster, that would have defunded school districts that offered domestic partner benefits.

“I believe strongly that in Texas we need to keep the government out of our private lives and I want to make sure that we do that,” he said. “With respect to an issue like that, it’s a very sensitive topic. I think with respect to state money, we need to give that some very deep consideration.”

Asked if he supports offering DP benefits, he said it should remain a local control issue.

“I believe for private corporations, that if they want to provide benefits for same-sex partners, that that should be within their ability. I believe with respect state government agencies — agencies that receive federal resources or state resources — that should be up to the city or that should be under local control,” Villalba said. “I don’t believe the state of Texas should be making those kinds of decisions. I think that should be left to the local groups. If [Springer’s] local school district or local community wants to provide it, they should be able to do that. But if they want to prohibit that, they should be able to do that.”

—  Anna Waugh

Villalba, who got D-minus from Equality Texas, to speak at Log Cabin meeting

State Rep. Jason Villalba

State Rep. Jason Villalba

State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, is the guest at the Dallas Log Cabin Republicans’ June meeting on Tuesday.

Villalba, who just finished his first session in office, received a D-minus on Equality Texas’ Legislative scorecard. He received a total of 40 points for votes in the House.

Villalba received point for opposing Fort Worth Republican Matt Krause’s discriminatory amendment to SB 215 that would have allowed university clubs to ignore “all-comers” policies regarding membership. But he lost points for voting against HB 2240, which was endorsed by Equality Texas and would have studied the reasons surrounding homeless youth in the state.

Villalba made headlines during the session with HB 1009, a bill he authored, that passed, allowing schools to employ an armed school marshal to protect campuses.

The meeting is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Texas Land & Cattle Steakhouse, 3130 Lemmon Ave.

—  Anna Waugh

Log Cabin condemns Harris Co. GOP official for implying gays are pedophiles

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Log Cabin Republicans is angered at the Texas GOP, and especially the Harris County Republican Party, for the gay-baiting and hateful treatment of a precinct chair applicant.

Christopher Busby, vice president of the Houston chapter of Log Cabin, had an interview in April with the county party for a precinct chair vacancy after his application last summer went missing.

But Busby was asked outlandish questions about gay issues, whether he supports pedophilia and sex education for young schoolchildren because he is a Log Cabin member. He was denied the position, which remains vacant. Harris County Republican Party Vacancy Committee member Terry Lowry was the person who continued to insinuate Busby’s connection to LCR meant he supports pedophilia.

“Since learning about this outrageous incident last week, the Log Cabin Republicans National office has attempted to work in good faith with the Harris County Republican Party, the Texas State Republican Party, and the Republican National Committee on this issue, but our best efforts to secure a simple condemnation of Terry Lowry and his mind-boggling ignorance were met with hand-sitting,” LCR Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement.

“Ultimately the members of the Vacancy Committee and County Chairman Jared Woodfill, who appointed them, have rejected Reagan and the big-tent philosophy which has made our party what it is today. Terry Lowry needs to resign, Christopher Busby needs to be appointed to fill that vacancy, and the Harris County GOP needs to get its act together unless it wants to bear the responsibility for handing Texas to the Democrats on a silver platter in 2014.”

Houston Chronicle blogger and LCR member David Jennings blogged about the incident:

One of the members of the committee that I talked to today said that what happened during that meeting was  ”criminal” and that they would resign because of it. Another member told me that they were “appalled by the treatment of that young man”. Yet another said that it was “gay baiting” and that one person on the committee “implied that the only reason gays want to be a part of the party is to relax laws so that they can molest little boys”. A precinct chair in attendance to observe the meeting said that “they tried to bait the guy into admitting that he was a pedophile.”

Busby later responded to the blog, saying that he was dismayed that his years of dedication to the Republican Party went unnoticed by the committee. He told Dallas Voice he plans to run for precinct chair without the committee’s blessing during an election.

—  Anna Waugh

Watch Tuesday’s debate with Stonewall Democrats or Log Cabin Republicans

Both Log Cabin Republicans and Stonewall Democrats are planning watch parties for the town hall-format presidential debate on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Log Cabin will join Dallas County Young Republicans at Stoneleigh P, 2626 Maple Ave. at 8 p.m.

Stonewall Democrats begin the evening with their general meeting at Ojeda’s on Maple Avenue at 6 p.m. Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs will speak on the upcoming bond election, and Denise Rodriguez will represent Planned Parenthood PAC.

At 7:30 p.m., the group moves to Woody’s on Cedar Springs Road for its debate watch party.

On Oct. 18, Stonewall is staffing an Obama phone bank at Dallas Democratic Party headquarters, 4209 Parry St.

Stonewall will host its third debate watch party at the Texas Theatre on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff on Oct. 22, the day early voting begins.

The Texas Democratic Party announced a partnership with Stonewall Democrats of Texas called “Come Out and Vote.” Launched on National Coming Out Day, Come Out and Vote encourages members of the LGBT community to early-vote on Oct. 27.

“This is another way for the LGBT community and its allies to celebrate and exhibit their strength and pride by engaging in the voting process,” Jacob Limon, Texas Democratic Party deputy executive director, wrote in a press release.

 

—  David Taffet

Gay GOPers plan convention events

GOProud’s Homocon on Tuesday is the “must-have ticket” at the Republican National Convention that’s taking place in Tampa this weekend. The dance party takes place at the Honey Pot, a club in Tampa’s Ybor City gayborhood.

Among the expected guests at homocon are CNN’s Mary Matalin and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. From the Romney campaign, National Coalitions Director Joshua Baca is expected.

And from Dallas, Rudy Oeftering, vice president of Metroplex Republicans, said he plans to arrived in Tampa at midday Tuesday and attend the invitation-only event. Oeftering is the only openly gay Republican from North Texas we’re aware of who’s going to Tampa.

Rain from tropical storm Isaac was expected to end in Tampa by late tonight, and the storm was expected to become a hurricane before making landfall somewhere between Mississippi and New Orleans on Tuesday.

Log Cabin Republicans held a welcome reception for the convention on Sunday evening. At Log Cabin headquarters in Washington, D.C. they weren’t sure whether today’s 3 p.m. reception with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund featuring former Rep. Jim Kolbe would be cancelled due to weather.

Events scheduled for later in the week are expected to go on as planned.

Log Cabin and Freedom to Marry are planning a 10 a.m. brunch on Wednesday with CNN contributor Margaret Hoover and Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer.

On Thursday, an event supporting the LCR PAC’s work for pro-equality Republicans takes place at 4 p.m. Congressional Republicans expected to attend include Rep. Bob Dold (Ill.), Rep. Judy Biggert (Ill.) and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (Cal.)

After the jump is a video featuring Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, speaking about his support for marriage equality and encouraging others in his party to do the same. Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry are running the ad in Tampa during the convention.

—  David Taffet

Karger tops Paul in Puerto Rico primary

Fred Karger

Although Mitt Romney won Saturday’s Puerto Rico primary with more than 80 percent of the vote, gay candidate Fred Karger out-polled Ron Paul.

Karger received 1.43 percent of the vote, while Paul received 1.22 percent.

In his third primary appearance, this is the first time Karger received more votes than one of the top-tier candidates.

“We spent the past six days campaigning hard in Puerto Rico and it worked,” Karger wrote in a campaign email. “Ron Paul has been in all 20 debates, raised $35 million and has 80 percent name identification, and it looks like we beat him with our message of jobs now, moderation and inclusion.”

Santorum, who said last week that if Puerto Ricans want to be Americans, they should learn English, received 8 percent of the vote. Karger ran TV commercials in Spanish. So some Puerto Rico Republicans are so extreme they would rather vote for a candidate who tells them to change their native, local language than for someone who is gay and moderate on all other issues.

Fewer than 100,000 people are registered as Republicans in Puerto Rico, but 20 delegates were at stake. With more than 50 percent of the votes, Romney gets all of the delegates.

From here, Karger next competes in the April 3 Maryland primary. He also will appear on the ballot in his home-state California primary on June 5.

Later that month he will be one of five candidates on the June 26 Utah ballot. He credits his inclusion there as a result of the work of Utah Log Cabin. Results of that primary will be interesting in the state with the largest Mormon population. After that church funded much of the support for Prop 8 in California that stopped same-sex marriage, Karger started the website Top 10 Craziest Mormon Beliefs.

—  David Taffet

‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

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CATCH-ALL CHAPLAIN | Chaplain Chris Antal (Lt.) attended the meeting of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy at Cathedral of Hope in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
When a soldier recently came to Chaplain Chris Antal, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in New York and a Unitarian Universalist minister, and asked if he’d pray with her even though she was a pagan, he said he replied, “Of course I will, but you’ll have to show me how.”

Several weeks later, when he saw her again, she told him that the day she had come to visit him, she had hit rock bottom. He had, she told him, saved her life that day.

But Antal said he was only doing his job — helping any soldier who comes to him.

“I’ve earned the nickname, the Catch-all Chaplain,” he said, explaining that it means he takes everyone the other chaplains don’t want to deal with.

Carpenter.Dodd

Capt. Tom Carpenter (ret.) and Col. Paul Dodd (ret.)

Being there to help a soldier in need is what it’s all about for a military chaplain, said Col. Paul Dodd, a retired chaplain who now lives in Austin.

“The duty of a military chaplain is to perform or provide,” said Dodd, adding that he once sponsored an Islamic conference.

Dodd said that no chaplain can perform every service needed by every member of the military. But if a chaplain can’t perform the service requested, he or she must provide that soldier with a referral to someone else who can.

Antal said that chaplains who enlisted knew what they were getting into — to some extent. But none of them really expected the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And for many, that repeal was a game changer.

In October, a group of active and retired chaplains and military personnel and other people of faith, such as the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity

School in Fort Worth, met at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to begin looking at ways of addressing the issues that arose for military chaplains around DADT repeal.

Dave Guy Gainer said The Forum on Military Chaplaincy is not exactly new. It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.

Sprinkle said people in the Pentagon, up through Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, knew about their work and considered their statements throughout the DADT repeal process.

And now, with repeal complete, the group met to “come out.” At their meeting in Dallas, forum members considered ways to become an independent organization helping to ensure newly out service members receive the pastoral care they need while serving in the military.

Susan Gore, principle of The Mentor Group and editor of the book Coming Out In Faith, moderated the Dallas conference. She said the group started with several retired military officers “who wanted to push back against the far-right skew.”

Sprinkle has been part of the forum for four years and said he was recruited to participate because of his work on hate crimes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sprinkle said, more and more members of the Chaplain Corps have come from just one school — Liberty

University, founded by far-right evangelical Jerry Falwell. Today, Sprinkle estimated, one-third of military chaplains come from Liberty University.

“They instituted a program that barely meets minimum requirements,” he said of the evangelical school. “It’s an online course.”

And, Sprinkle said, Liberty University’s goal is to take control of the Chaplain Corps and use the military as a pool for religious recruits.

“This is fertile ground to bring people to Jesus at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Carpenter, a retired Marine captain and one of the forum’s founders.

“I’ve heard stories of them holding the hand of someone who’s dying and trying to bring them to Jesus.”

And although such actions contradict military policy, no one in the corps has been disciplined or dismissed for it.

“They give chaplains a lot of leeway,” Carpenter said.

Gainer said the military is looking for well-rounded ministers who bring experience with them to the military.

According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., candidates must be endorsed by their denomination or faith group and be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

But Sprinkle said that Liberty University is transparent about its goals, and those goals do not line up.

“They’re not committed to pluralism or serving all the troops,” he said.

Gainer said that the greatest opposition to repealing DADT came from the Chaplain Corps because military chaplains answer to two groups — the military and their denomination. Those chaplains that didn’t adhere to a strict stance of maintaining the ban on gays and lesbians were threatened with losing their accreditation from their endorsing religious body — and with it their livelihood and their pensions.

But that contradicts the stated goals of the Chaplain Corps.

“Someone has to say, ‘Either you comply and serve all the troops all the time or get out,’” Sprinkle said.

Gore said that one of the goals of the newly public forum is to “rebalance the Chaplain Corps by bringing in more mainstream faiths.” She said that for many who come from more liberal traditions, questions of what’s a just war make it hard to serve in the military. Antal, for example, is one of just four Unitarian Universalists in the Chaplain Corps.

During its push for repeal of DADT, members
said, the forum had several successes working behind the scenes.

Despite the assumption of confidentiality between parishioner and clergy, that wasn’t always the case between gay soldier and chaplain. Dodd said that a number of discharges under DADT occurred after a soldier talked to a chaplain and the chaplain turned them in.

In fact, he wrote a white paper on the practice. After he submitted it, the military tightened up on chaplain confidentiality, Dodd said.

Carpenter, an attorney, wrote an amicus brief for the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against DADT. The court found in favor of declaring DADT unconstitutional, but Congress repealed the law before the decision could be enforced.

Carpenter said that the repeal allows gays and lesbians to serve with no protection. The legal decision, had it not been vacated upon repeal, would have allowed gays and lesbians to serve equally.

Now that DADT is gone, the forum is examining how to ensure LGB personnel receive the same services as other troops from chaplains.

Dodd said that right-wing chaplains charge that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military will force them to act in ways that go against their beliefs. Some have said they would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

Dodd called that ridiculous. Chaplains are never asked to perform duties that go against their religious beliefs, he said.

“I turned down weddings,” he said. “An officer came to me who wasn’t divorced.”

He said the officer tried to pull strings and force the issue, but Dodd wasn’t going to discuss marrying someone who was still married to someone else.

“But we’re insisting chaplains have the authority, if it’s in keeping with their faith, to marry same-sex couples,” he said.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal provides no family benefits. For some issues, Dodd and Carpenter suggested work-arounds.

Issuing ID cards would be extremely helpful, especially to same-sex couples with children, Carpenter said, noting that “That way either parent could get on base to get a child to the hospital.”

In another example, joint assignments can be offered at the discretion of a commanding officer, and married couples are often assigned together when they both qualify for positions that are available at the same base. Same-sex couples could be given the same priority.

As the forum looks ahead, rebalancing the Chaplain Corps with members from a more diverse background to reflect the membership of the military is a priority.

“And we need to take care of our trans brothers and sisters,” Carpenter said.

The repeal of DADT did not address any transgender issues and does not allow transgender men or women to serve in the military.

Gainer believes representatives of the forum need to sit down with far-right members of the Chaplain Corps and agree to disagree. He said that before the repeal of DADT, they talked to people at Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. While both groups testified against the repeal, they met with some success.

“The president of the VFW in Pflugerville said it was the right thing to do,” Gainer said.

That dialogue, he believed, would help chaplains perform or at least provide a useful referral, rather than doing more damage to a soldier seeking help.

Gore thought that the focus of discussion should be with the majority of chaplains “who want to do a good job and are part of the moveable middle.”

“We have to convince administrators and educators in divinity schools to encourage some of their best and brightest to serve,” Sprinkle said. “So many schools dropped what they were doing during the Vietnam era.”

Antal thinks that gays and lesbians will gain more acceptance as they tell their stories in non-confrontational settings and others see “their identity as professional service members is primary.”

While the work of the forum will concentrate on helping LGB military personnel, creating a more diverse Chaplain Corps may help a majority of service members. Recent polls show that a majority of troops find the chaplaincy irrelevant.

Sprinkle called the work of the forum a gift from the LGBT community to the nation.

“You wouldn’t think we’d be the ones opening the doors so that all troops will be served with dignity, integrity and respect,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

GOProud’s LaSalvia slams ‘gay left’

Homocon leader, set to speak Saturday at Metroplex Republicans’ Grand Ol’ Party, downplays competition with Log Cabin

LaSalvia.Barron

Jimmy LaSalvia, left, and Chris Barron

JOHN WRIGHT |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

When Taylor Garrett, a gay Republican cast member from The A-List: Dallas, recently claimed his apartment had been vandalized by a “liberal,” Jimmy LaSalvia wasn’t surprised.

As executive director of the national gay conservative (or “homocon”) group GOProud, LaSalvia said he’s grown accustomed to attacks from what he calls “the gay left.”

“The gay left is the most hateful, intolerant, disgusting group of people I’ve ever come across in my lifetime, and everything we do is criticized by them,” LaSalvia told Dallas Voice. “They hate gay conservatives more than anything in the world, and I don’t know why. It’s just a matter of time before violence like that happens.”

Coincidentally — or not, depending on who you believe — LaSalvia had lunch with Garrett in Los Angeles just prior to the rock-throwing incident being reported.

They were joined by conservative pundit Ann Coulter — who serves as honorary chair of GOProud’s Advisory Council — and Logo filmed the rendezvous for an upcoming episode of The A-List.

The timing led some in the gay blogosphere to suggest that LaSalvia put Garrett up to falsifying his report about the rock, which allegedly shattered a window at his apartment in the Dallas Design District — perhaps to generate hype prior to the premiere of the show.

Again, though, LaSalvia said he wasn’t surprised. After all, when he reported that he’d been the victim of a hate crime in Washington, D.C. in July — and used it as an opportunity to craft an op-ed in support of gun rights — he, too, was called a liar.

“I think that is absolutely appalling that someone would question that, and until you’ve been through what I’ve been through, shut the fuck up, because I know what happened to me,” LaSalvia said. “It was very traumatic for me, and that is why I wrote about it, as a way to help me deal with what happened to me.

“And I would say the same for Taylor. He told people about it as a way for him to deal with what had happened to him. And it’s just appalling to me that anyone would question that, and then to speculate that it was a coordinated effort — that I would tell Taylor, ‘Oh yeah, fake a hate crime, you know, get lots of attention,’ — that’s just absurd. And I would just tell all of those people, until it happens to you, shut the fuck up.”

LaSalvia and GOProud board chairman Chris Barron, who co-founded the organization together in 2009, will be in Dallas this weekend for the Grand Ol’ Party — the annual fundraising dinner held by Metroplex Republicans of Dallas, formerly Log Cabin Republicans Dallas.

Also attending the dinner will be Garrett, according to Metroplex Republicans President Rob Schlein.

In a wide-ranging interview with Dallas Voice last week, LaSalvia criticized Log Cabin Republicans National — where he once served as director of programs and policy — for its recent decision to de-charter the Dallas Log Cabin chapter.

The decision was based in part on Schlein’s decision to invite LaSalvia and Barron to speak at the Grand Ol’ Party. LaSalvia said he believes Log Cabin leaders mistakenly view GOProud as a threat, even though the groups have different missions and donor bases.

“While there are dozens and dozens of gay organizations on the left, the fact that one other right-of-center gay organization exists is not acceptable to Log Cabin,” LaSalvia said. “They have a very specific mission, and they work within the gay establishment organizations in Washington to do their thing.

“We’re working in the conservative coalition with tea party groups and conservative organizations advancing a conservative agenda, and that’s very different from what they do in the Gay Inc. world of Washington.”

Grand Ol’ Party
Saturday, Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m.
MetroplexRepublicans.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Radio Show

Our guests this week were Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans Dallas; and Dru Rivera, 2011 Voice of Pride winner. Tune in live next Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. at RationalBroadcasting.com. You can also subscribe to Pink Noise on iTunes, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. The video version of the show is below.

—  John Wright