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

Marriage equality leads to new marriage equality rulings

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Charles David Fancher, left, and Paul Hard. (Photo from Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling in Alabama)

Paul Hard filed one of the Alabama marriage equality lawsuits to force the state to recognize his marriage to Charles David Fancher. That case has now been resolved, according to Alabama Media Group.

Residents of Montgomery, Ala., Hard and Fancher were married in Massachusetts in 2011. Three months later, Fancher was killed in a car accident. Hard sued to get Alabama to recognize his marriage so he could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family opposing Hard was represented by the Foundation for Moral Law headed by Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore ordered Alabama county officials not to issue marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay on a lower court ruling that declared the state’s marriage law unconstitutional. That put marriage on hold in the state until the final marriage equality ruling.

The Foundation for Moral Law argued Hard’s marriage should not be recognized retroactively and even if it was, Hard is not entitled to money that was awarded in the case and being held in escrow because the couple was only married three months.

The judge in the Hard case ruled his marriage must be recognized retroactively and is entitled to the full spouse’s share. Nowhere in case law has a marriage been considered less valid because a couple was only married a few months.

The judge was asked to stay his ruling but he refused.

—  David Taffet

You can be part of a ‘Sordid Wedding!’

Del-Shores-32Del Shores — he of the snarky Texas-twanged rants against religious hypocrisy and homophobia, in works from Southern Baptist Sissies to Queer as Folk— is primed to begin filming his latest movie, the first official sequel to his signature hit Sordid Lives. A Very Sordid Wedding puts your favorite characters in the receiving line of a gay wedding — which, thanks to SCOTUS, is now just called “a wedding” — and will begin filming soon in the Metroplex. But the groundwork isn’t done yet. Shores and his producer (and Dallas Voice contributor) Emerson Collins will join Louise H. Beard for a fundraising and location scouting tour of North Texas this week. If you want to be part of the producing team, you can attend an investors’ informational meeting Friday in Fort Worth or Saturday in Dallas (both at private homes, starring at 7:30 p.m.). The minimum buy-in is $25,000, but if you don’t have that much cash in a drawer, you can always pool some money with your friends … and be on the cutting edge of the marriage equality movement.

To learn more, email Del at DelShores@me.com. And if you see him around town looking at sites, come up and say howdy!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Garth Brooks is back, and that’s especially good for gay folks. Here’s why

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It’s been 17 years since Garth Brooks went on a live concert tour that took him to the Metroplex. Well, that drought ends on Sept. 18 and 19, when he will appear at American Airlines Center for two concerts.

If you’re not a country music fan, you might not fully grasp how significant this is. Brooks was a sensation in the 1990s, the biggest country star — and one of the biggest crossover musicians — in history. He was a hit-maker, releasing about a dozen albums (including studio, live and compilation) in less than 10 years. And he scored 13 — 13! — Top 10 singles in a row, including 12 Top 5. And what is significant about that 14th release? It only hit the Top 20, peaking at 12 — still a hit, but not a runaway. The song was called “We Shall Be Free,” and it shocked conservative shit-kickin’, boot-scootin’ country fans at the time. Not only did it promote liberal values (i.e., American values, like freedom of religion and speech), but it also contained the following lyric: When we’re free to love anyone we choose / when this world’s big enough for all different views

Ummm … did Garth Brooks, the biggest music star in history, just come out — in 1992! — in favor of … gay rights?!??

You’re damn right, he did.

Brooks’ sister is openly lesbian, and he may be a country-boy, but he ain’t no bigot. Brooks won over a lot of gay fans with that one … and he paid a price.

For more than a decade, he’s cooled it, rearing children with wife Tricia Yearwood. But he’s back, and he was right: As of now, we all are free to love — to marry — anyone we choose.

I’ll be there. (You can too, starting at 10 a.m. July 24. Click here.)

Below is a performance of the song recorded in Houston last month — just two days after marriage equality.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Couples must sign forms about JP’s religious beliefs before he’ll marry them

DePiazza.JamesIf you’re getting married in Denton County, getting the license isn’t the problem. Finding the right person to officiate over the ceremony is.

Justice of the Peace James R. DePiazza will marry couples, even though he’s not happy about marrying same-sex couples. But that damn state law doesn’t allow him to discriminate.

So he only has two choices: He can marry any couple with a marriage license issued by Denton County or he can marry none. He’s opted to marry couples.

But that little glitch in the law won’t stop DePiazza from helping to make it the most miserable day in your life.

DePiazza is having couples — all couples, same-sex or straight — sign a form of his own design that says same-sex marriage is against his religious beliefs. Because, after all, his religious beliefs are part of his job as justice of the peace.

And whether a same-sex couple can marry or not is just what an opposite-sex couple has on their minds on their wedding day.

And his religious beliefs are important to any couple who has decided to be married by a justice of the peace rather than clergy.

And creating his own forms is what he was elected to do.

What may be unconstitutional is a government official having members of the public sign a form regarding his religious beliefs.

DePiazza’s office is at The Colony Government Center, 6301 Main Street, The Colony.

—  David Taffet

Two Muslims, including a ‘Daily Show’ correspondent, pen open letter on marriage equality

rainbow-flagFollowing the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of marriage equality nationwide, author Reza Aslan and comedian and “Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj urged their fellow Muslims to celebrate the decision in an open letter.

Published on ReligionDispatches.org, they urge their fellow Muslims to do the right thing–really the Muslim thing, as they put it–and stand up “for marginalized communities, even when you disagree with them.”

Unlike many other religious minorities, white evangelical Christians are afforded the privilege of spewing (and bankrolling off) hate anti-LGBT language.”Sure Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee can call the Supreme Court decision the precursor to the End of Days and the final battle of Armageddon. But if you try saying something like that on TV you may end up in Guantanamo. You may not like the Supreme Court’s decision but you’re willing to tolerate it,” even if the legal ruling violates one’s religious beliefs.

“We Muslims are already a deeply marginalized people in mainstream American culture. More than half of Americans have a negative view of us. One-third of Americans—that’s more than one hundred million people—want us to carry special IDs so that they can easily identify us as Muslim. [emphasis mine] We shouldn’t be perpetuating our marginalization by marginalizing others. Rejecting the right to same-sex marriage, but then expecting empathy for our community’s struggle, is hypocritical.”

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 42 percent of Muslim Americans support marriage equality.

The thoughtful piece stands out for a few reasons. For one, they acknowledge the crucial need for intersectionality, otherwise the belief activists from other social movements for equality and recognition collaborate with one another. For another, they know it’s still difficult being Muslim not just in a non-Muslim majority country, but the United States in particular.

As someone impacted by the marriage equality ruling and member of another religious minority (the Religious Society of Friends), it’s necessary to share this call to action. Not just because it’s a Muslim thing or Christian thing or moral thing, but the right thing. As members of the LGBT community we transcend race, class, gender, and values. But like our fellow Muslims, we share a history of injustice and discrimination as well.

—  James Russell

Least populous county in the U.S. will issue licenses

Loving CountyLoving County in West Texas, the least populous county in the U.S. with 82 residents as of the 2010 census, will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to former state Rep. Glen Maxey, who has been monitoring county clerks in all 254 Texas counties.

Located on the New Mexico border, 230 miles east of El Paso and 75 miles west of Odessa, Loving County has one unincorporated town. The county is 677 about  sq. miles, about 3/4 the size of Dallas, Tarrant, Collin or Denton counties, which are each about 900 square miles. Loving shares an ISD with Winkler County to its east. Winkler has two towns and 7,300 people.

Loving had been on the list of counties whose county clerks didn’t respond to the question of whether or not they would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. With such a sparse population, the county officials (according to its website, there are 12) only work part-time.

According to Maxey, the County Clerk Beverly Hanson has now responded, and said she would issue a license to a same-sex couple. None of the county’s residents or visitors have applied for one, however.

 

 

—  David Taffet

After Hood County relents, several Texas counties continue to hold out

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Former state Rep. Glen Maxey

Former state Rep. Glen Maxey has made it his mission to ensure same-sex couples can receive a marriage license in any of Texas’ 254 countries.

The biggest hold out until yesterday was Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth.

Today, Maxey has his sites set on Irion and Anderson counties.

Irion County is west of San Angelo and Maxey said he has a couple contemplating a road trip there.

Palestine is the county seat of Anderson County, south of Athens.

Anderson, with a population of about 45,000, is the largest hold out in the state right now. He said if anyone in East Texas needs a marriage license to send him a message.

Here’s Maxey’s account of the drama going on in Anderson County from his Facebook page:

So the drama and gossip from Palestine (better than gay drama queens gossip) says that the Republican County Judge, one Robert Johnston “ordered the County Clerk not to issue any same sex marriage licenses and told the JP’s not to conduct any gay weddings.” I learned about this from a person who heard first hand from one of the people in the meeting where the edict came down. ( Note: None of these officials answer to the County Judge. They are independently elected public officials. But he does control their budgets for pencils and toilet paper.)

We also know that a few couples may have gone to the Anderson County Clerk Mark Staples and were refused. Reportedly, they wanted to get married immediately and they went to a nearby county and got all licensed and married.

—  David Taffet

Hood County Clerk finally issues license after lawsuit filed

Hood County Clerk Katie Lang

Hood County Clerk Katie Lang

A Hunt County couple, Jim Cato and Jody Stapleton, filed a lawsuit this morning, July 6, against Hood County Clerk Katie Lang, asking for “declaratory and injunctive relief” after Lang refused to issue them a marriage license. Lang issued the license shortly after the couple filed suit, but Dallas Voice has heard no word yet on whether Cato and Stapleton will drop their lawsuit now.

County clerks in Texas  may be held personally liable for damages resulting from ignoring a court ruling — in this case, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

On July 4, Cato wrote on his Facebook page that Lang had not only denied them their license, but called the sheriff’s office. Seven deputies were sent to throw them and the media out of her office, he wrote. It was the same day that announced marriage licenses for same-sex couples wouldn’t be available in her office for another three weeks.

According to Hood County News, Sheriff Roger Deeds responded with deputies and stood outside the office but did not remove anyone from the office.

Protests supporting both sides of the issue took place on July 4 in Granbury. While the anti-equality side held signs claiming the Supreme Court ruling was destroying marriage as it’s existed since Biblical times, the pro-equality side said both sides had the right to protest, but they wanted the court ruling upheld.

—  David Taffet

Maxey files complaint against Paxton with state bar

Glen MaxeyFormer state Rep. Glen Maxey filed a complaint against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton related to his opinion issued last weekend to county clerks. Paxton wrote that although same-sex couples would have to be accommodated, clerks could follow their religious beliefs and not issue the marriage licenses made legal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s a link to the full grievance.

From a press release sent by Maxey:

Paxton has violated the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The violations are as follows:

*R 1.06(b)(2): Paxton has a conflict of interest because his representation of his client (the State) is conflicted with his own self-interest in demagogic self-promotion to pander to his right-wing Tea Party supporters, even at the sacrifice of the rights of Texans
under the United States Constitution.

*Rule 4.01(a): in representing his client (the State), Paxton has clearly made “false statement of law” to the public, in derogation of the fundamental Law of the Land, the United States Constitution.

*Rule 8.04(a)(1): in assisting and inducing Assistant Attorneys General to make knowingly false statements of fact and law in patently erroneous legal opinions that are flatly inconsistent with the United States Constitution, as declared by the United States Supreme Court.

*Rule 8.04(a)(3): in engaging in conduct involving deceit, dishonesty, and misrepresentation, in issuing the false and misleading opinion.

*Rule 8.04(a)(12): Mr. Paxton has violated the statutes setting out his official duties, including Government Code sections 402.041-402.042, by failing to issue an opinion setting out truthfully “the legal reasons and principles on which it is based.”

*Rules 8.04(a)(3), 8.04(a)(12): Finally, and most egregiously, Paxton violated his sworn oaths of office. Specifically, he violated the statutory oath that he took to become licensed to practice law in Texas. Section 82.037 of the Texas Government Code required Paxton to swear that he would “support the constitutions of the United States and this state.” He has violated both that oath and the United States Constitution.

Additionally, Mr. Paxton violated his State Oath of Office, required under Article 16, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, in which he stated that he “will faithfully execute the duties of the office of Attorney General the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”

—  David Taffet