Today from San Francisco: What happens next in LGBT civil rights?


Scott Shader

Hi there. It’s me again, checking in from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association conference in San Francisco. I just wanted to share a little bit of what was talked about in today’s morning plenary session, titled: Life After Marriage: What’s Next.

Scott Shafer, host of “The California Report” on KQED Public Radio, moderated the discussion that included as panelists National Center for Lesbian Rights ExecutiveDirector Kate Kendall, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrrera and Isa Noyola, program manager with the Transgender Law Center.

Unfortunately, the plenary — scheduled to be an hour and 15 minutes long — got off to a late start and so lasted less than an hour. That meant that a lot of relevant topics were left undiscussed. The fact that the first several minutes were taken up talking about a marriage equality issue — Kim Davis in Rowen County, Ky. — also cut short the time spent on what comes next.

But the discussion that did take place on where we, as an LGBT rights movement, go from here was informative, to say the least.


Isa Noyola

The most important discussion, I think, centered on the T in our LGBT community: The LGB parts of our community cannot get so flush with excitement and satisfaction over winning the marriage equality battle — not counting, of course, holdouts like Kim Davis and the inevitable rash of “religious freedom” bills we are likely to see in state legislatures and probably Congress, too — cannot just walk away and leave our transgender brothers and sisters in the dust of our success.

Noyola began her remarks by reading the names of the 18 trans women murdered so far this year in the U.S., helping drive home her point that while society may be changing when it comes to sexual orientation, the inequalities and injustices are still strong, violent and deadly when it comes to issues of gender identity.

Reading those names, Noyola said, :helps me ground myself and brings us to the heart of the situation our trans communities are facing. … The trans communities have had to swallow a bitter pill for years around our rights and our place in [LGBT] communities.”

Noyola, Kendall andHerrera all warned that trans people remain the most marginalized and endangered segment of our LGBT communities as a whole. And something I read in the “Street Sheet” newspaper, a publication of the Coalition on Homelessness, served to underscore even more strongly that transgender people are lagging far behind the rest of the community in terms of rights and protections.


Kate Kendall

According to the newspaper, which based some of its article on results of a recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey, trans people are homeless at a higher right, especially trans women of color, and trans people are about 4 times more likely to have a household income below $10,000 annually. And a separte study showed that one in five California transgender people experienced homelessness after identifying as transgender.

Trans people have a harder time finding jobs because of anti-trans bias. They are targeted more often for violence. And they are an easy target for politicians pandering to right-wing conservatives who want somebody to blame for whatever is bothering them at the moment.

As a result, so called “bathroom bills” have become all the rage. We saw more than a few of them in Texas during the last legislative session, and now opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance are breaking out the “men in the women’s restrooms” boogey-man to try and defeat HERO at the polls in November.

Even here in oh-so-liberal California, the threat of a bathroom bill is raising its ugly head.

The key to victory, Kendall said, is education, and, all three panelists agreed, not leaving our transgender brothers and sisters behind. We as LGB people have got to fight as hard for the rights of transgender people as we fought for marriage equality.


Dennis Herrera

The other main “what’s next” topic was the revamped version of the old “Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” Now known as The Equality Act, this piece of legislation would ban anti-LGBT discrimination not just in employment, but also in public accommodations, housing, credit and other areas.

Kendall said that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents California’s 12th District in Congress, recently told supports of the Equality Act that the bill’s chances in the Republican-dominated Congress, as it stands now, are slim. But just introducing and pushing the measure now will help build the framework necessary to get protections enacted at the state level in the more than 30 states where anti-LGBT discrimination is still legal (including Texas).

Kendall stressed that the Equality Act definitely does include protections based on gender identity and gender expression, unlike ENDA, which at times in its history has been notorious for excluding transgender protections.

There are other issues that will be moving to the frontburner now that marriage equality is the law of the land. Things like LGBT families, adoption, immigration, LGBT prisoners, and more. But perhaps the best place to start is with the Equality Act and definitely by remembering to never leave the T behind.

—  Tammye Nash

Congrats to Craig Lynch and Phillip Hearne!

Craig and PhillipThis has been quite a weekend for Craig Lynch, co-founder of Uptown Players. In addition to opening the company’s new show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, on Friday night, Lynch married his partner of 15 years, Phillip Hearne, on a small ceremony Sunday at the Kalita Humphreys Theater. Lynch and Hearne were among the first to head down to the courthouse on June 26 to obtain a license; they had 90 days to wed, and took care of it in plenty of time. Congrats to you both!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chef at Hilton Garden Inn in Richardson allegedly refuses to cater same-sex wedding

Hilton Garden Inn

Hilton Garden Inn Richardson

Daren Merchant and Rick O’Connor were planning to hold their wedding for Jan. 1 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Richardson.

Planning stopped, however, after the chef at the hotel allegedly compared them to Caitlin Jenner (not sure why that’s an insult, but it was meant that way) and said that he wouldn’t cook for a gay couple. The story was reported on Fox 4.

Shortly after the incident, Merchant received a damage control letter from Hilton’s regional corporate office, but he said he’s received nothing from the hotel since.

“As of now the plans are on hold,” Merchant said. “This took the wind out of our sails, especially after more than two decades of wanting this so badly and never thinking it would happen in our lifetime.”

Dallas Voice has been trying to get through to Merchant and O’Connor’s contact at the hotel.

“I do really think that they were hoping this would just fade away,” Merchant said. “All I wanted was an answer but never got it. Believe me, it’s mind blowing how much outpouring of supports we have gotten.”

Since that conversation, Merchant has received a call from the president of Texas Hotel And Lodging Association on behalf of the hotel to work out a resolution. Merchant said the proposed resolution sounds reasonable and the couple will discuss it over the weekend.

More on the story next week, hopefully with a happy ending.

—  David Taffet

Kentucky county clerk loses in 6th Circuit


Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis

The Rowan County, Ky. county clerk who stopped issuing all marriage licenses so that she didn’t have to issue licenses to same-sex couples has lost the latest round of her battle in court.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied County Clerk Kim Davis a stay that would have allowed her to continue not issuing licenses in her office. Davis refused to issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples and refused to let anyone in her office issue them. After a lower court ruled against her, she stopped issuing all marriage licenses.

Davis claimed religious objections to same-sex marriage. She said she wasn’t inconveniencing anyone because they could just go to another county and get a marriage license.

In its decision the court wrote:

“It cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court. There is thus little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal.”

Davis has until the end of the month to begin issuing marriage licenses before she faces contempt of court.

—  David Taffet

Vertigo12 salon wants you to look nice for your wedding pic. And it’s free

Nolan Matthew, supercool straight guy

Nolan Matthew is one of those guys who you think is gay because he’s the most awesomely cool guy ever, and then when you find out he’s straight, still wish he was gay, because he’s so damned handsome. Alas, we must be satisfied merely to label him an ally.

And what an ally he is. Matthew opened a cool-ass hair salon Downtown last year across from CBD Provisions, one that was a funky and fun as his staff. But a dispute with the landlord caused him to move out in search of new digs. It took a while, but he finally opened Vertigo12 Hair Lounge, a salon on the 12th floor of the building at 211 N. Ervay St. It has awesome views and a great vibe (wanna complimentary beer while you wait? Help yourself!). And it’s terrific in even another way.

Matthew has a deal going on right now, in celebration of marriage equality: If you come in with a marriage license dated from June 26, 2015 forward, you can get a free haircut. Gratis. I mean, you wanna get married to your husbear and look like a heavy metal bandmate from the 1980s and need a flattop for the ceremony? Done. It’s like his wedding gift to those who tie the knot.

And because he’s that guy, the offer doesn’t apply only to gay couples. Straight, bi, whatever — you have a license, you wanna cut, Nolan’s your man. (Or maybe you’ll get fellow stylist Krystal Summers to take her shears to your tresses.) The only catch is, you have until Aug. 31 to take advantage of the offer. So don’t dawdle! Get that license and look good as a result.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lawsuit filed against Mississippi adoption ban


Attorney Robbie Kaplan

Mississippi is the last state that has a ban on same-sex couples adopting.

Attorney Robbie Kaplan, who represented Edie Windsor in her fight against the Defense of Marriage Act and represented Mississippi couples in their fight against their state’s marriage ban, filed the lawsuit.

“We like to finish what we started,” Kaplan tweeted.

On its website, the Campaign for Southern Equality wrote:

The case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of four same-sex couples: Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford, who are seeking to adopt a child; Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, also seeking to adopt; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith, parents to a young daughter; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski, who have a 15-year-old son. Two organizations — the Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council — join the case as plaintiffs representing the LGBT families across Mississippi.

—  David Taffet

To Paxton, ‘immediately’ means … well, maybe soon

Neel Lane

Attorney Neel Lane

When U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia issued his order that interim Commissioner of the Texas State Department of Health Services Kirk Cole issue an amended death certificate for James Stone-Hoskins to his husband John Stone-Hoskins, he used the word “immediately.”

“It is further ORDERED [Garcia’s emphasis, not mine] that Defendant Kirk Cole …immediately [my emphasis, not his] issue an amended death certificate for James H. Stone-Hoskins to state that John Allen Stone-Hoskins is the surviving spouse of James, and in doing so, fully recognize their legal out-of-state marriage.”

Neel Lane, attorney for Stone-Hoskins, answered a question via email to Dallas Voice. I asked whether the amended death certificate has been issued.

“We have been discussing, but nothing final yet,” Lane wrote, almost 24 hours after Judge Garcia wrote “immediately.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but when a federal judge says “immediately,” I’m thinking he means today. He means pull out the damn death certificate that’s already sitting on your desk and add “John Allen Stone-Hoskins” to the line that’s currently blank. Then send it FedEx because it absolutely, positively needs to get there before you’re sent to jail.

Cole and Attorney Ken Paxton have until Monday to send any written pleadings and responses to the court and must appear on Wednesday to defend themselves against contempt of court charges.

Seems to me by not issuing, they’re thumbing their noses at judge and begging to be held in contempt.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Death certificate lawsuit charges Ken Paxton with contempt of court

James Stone

James Stone died in February 2015

Neel Lane, attorney for the Texas marriage equality lawsuit, said he filed a lawsuit today in federal court in San Antonio charging Kirk Cole,  commissioner of the Department of State Health Services and Attorney General Ken Paxton with contempt of court and asking for a change on his client’s husband’s death certificate.

James Stone died in February. The death certificate lists his husband as “significant other” and Texas refuses to amend the certificate. The head of the DSHS, under instruction from Paxton, said the state will make no changed.

Lane charges that the ruling made by Judge Orlando Garcia in February 2014 and upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals applies. In his ruling, Garcia ordered the state to stop enforcing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and to offer all the same benefits of marriage to legally married same-sex couples. The order was stayed and the stay not lifted until after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision.

Lane’s position is that Garcia’s ruling is in effect from February 2014 so same-sex couples’ rights should at least date from there. The Obergefell decision allows couples who were married to file amended taxes that go back three years. Other rights may date back farther.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Dying man wants his name on his husband’s death certificate


James Stone, left, and Jay Hoskins at their wedding last August

Jay Hoskins is battling the state of Texas to amend his husband’s death certificate and he’s on a deadline. He’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

James Stone, 32, died in January in Conroe after a battle with Sjogren’s Syndrome, a genetic autoimmune disorder. The couple legally married in New Mexico six months earlier and had been together 10 years. We told their story when churches in his hometown refused to perform a funeral service because he was gay.

Because the death occurred before the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 marriage-equality ruling, Texas listed Stone as single and referred to Hoskins as “significant other.”

Hoskins is filing a lawsuit against the state but Texas claims it doesn’t have to recognize marriages performed prior to the ruling. He would like the matter resolved quickly because he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer and may only have two months to live.

His attorney, Akin Gump partner Neel Lane, holds a news conference later today and will discuss the case. Check back for updates.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: Wedding Party and Expo

Not to toot our own horn too loudly, but the Wedding Party and Expo that Dallas Voice sponsored Sunday at the Anatole Hotel was pretty much a smash. Dozens of vendors with more free cake and noshes than a sane person could eat (though I tried), with entertainment ranging from green-screen photos to aerialists to a fashion show and concert by the Turtle Creek Chorale made for a beautiful and fun event. I heard tons of positive comments, from the atmosphere to the layout to the diversity to the air conditioning. If you missed it, check out some of the photos from it below. It was almost enough to make confirmed-bachelor me wanna get hitched. Only almost, though.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones