Council member Jones to be first cisgender reader at Houston Day of Remembrance

Jolanda Jones

Jolanda Jones

Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones is scheduled to be the first cisgender reader in the history of Houston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. Lou Weaver, president of the Transgender Foundation of America, one the events sponsors, says that Jones was originally approached to be a speaker at the event because of her advocacy for trans children, but that she requested to read instead.

“I begged to read, I begged them,” corrects Jones, “they asked me if I wanted to speak and I begged them to read instead because it’s profound and it touches you. I think it’s better to read because it’s important.”
Jones said she was particularly moved at last year’s Day of Remembrance by the story of 17 month old Roy A. Jones who was beaten to death by his babysitter for “acting like a girl.” “I was so touched when they read about the baby that was killed,” said Jones, “the readers tell the story.”

Jones led efforts this year to encourage local homeless youth provider Covenant House to adopt a nondiscrimination policy that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. She used her position on City Council to threaten to cut Covenant House’s funding unless they addressed accusations of discrimination. That threat persuaded the organization to overhaul their policies and begin regular meetings with community leaders to discuss their progress in serving LGBT youth.
The Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance is Saturday, November 19, from 7-9:30 pm at Farish Hall on the University of Houston Campus.

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WATCH: HISD Board gets earful on anti-gay flier

Manuel Rodriguez

Trustee Manuel Rodriguez in the hot seat as public condemns his homophobia

A standing-room-only crowd greeted the Houston Independent School Board last night. While the board’s monthly meetings often attract an assortment of parents, community members and gadflies many in the crowd were there with a decidedly non-educational issue on their minds: the anti-gay flier distributed by Trustee Manuel Rodriguez during his recent reelection campaign. As previously reported by Houstini, the flier encouraged Houstonians to vote against Rodriquez’s opponent, Ramiro Fonseca. because of his sexual orientation.

The first to address the issue were Rodriquez’s fellow trustees, Anna Eastman and Juliet Stipeche. Eastman spoke passionately of the importance of HISD’s anti-bullying policy which “protects people from harassment and bullying based on attributes we all have,” and said that she felt Rodriguez’s actions violated the spirit of that policy. Stipeche, near tears, read the names of teens who had committed suicide after enduring anti-LGBT bullying.

The board had planned to vote on a new ethics policy at the meeting that covered behavior by trustees. At the encouragement of two speakers, and the motion of Eastman, the board decided to delay that vote until December so that a policy stating that encouraging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression could be added.

After three and a half hours the crowd in the board’s chambers had dwindled, with most of those who had come to confront Rodriquez still waiting. When Board President Paula Harris finally opened the floor for public comment the first person to step up was Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Noel Freeman. Freeman told the board that the extant of Rodriquez’s homophobic campaigning was far greater than the flier which had drawn so much media attention. “What you all might not know is that he also went on television and said that he just couldn’t understand why a 54 year old unmarried man would want, quote ‘access to children,'” said Freeman. “That statement in and of itself, and the implications made therein is reprehensible and simply disgusting.”

Freeman asked that the Board remove Rodriquez as their representative on the Texas Council of School Boards, and as the board’s vice president. He went on to criticize the apology issued by Rodriquez after the election, saying that it did not address the concerns of the GLBT community, nor was it delivered to the community but rather to the press. “You cannot simply say ‘oops, I’m sorry’ and this all goes away,” said Freeman. “We will never forget what you did!”

Board President Harris had made frequent reference throughout the meeting to a group of students from HISD’s Milby High School, letting them know that their time to speak would come. As the students’ designated speaker stepped to the podium his hands visibly shook in nervousness. “When I first heard about [Rodriquez’s flier] I did not agree with it because I believe that the message was that a gay person could not be as successful as a straight person and that really hurt me,” said the student. “My question to you is are you going to help us stop the bullying, or are you going to be a bully yourself?”

Perhaps the strongest response from the board was garnered by Paul Gonzales, who choked back tears as he described the challenges he faces as a gay man and parent of an HISD student. “I have a kid, and I have a kid that I have enrolled in HISD, and I love her. Me and my partner every single day are trying to show her that there’s nothing wrong, there’s nothing wrong with our family. So for a board member to say that my family is reprehensible to him… I have to explain [to her] that there are still people who consider us not the kind of family that deserve respect,” said Paul to the board, who were fighting back tears of their own. “GLBT parents like myself trust HISD to give us that haven for our children, that they’re not going to be looked at any differently. But the words that we saw on this flier just made me cringe to think that this isn’t the place that I thought that it was.”

After the jump, watch some of the eighteen people who spoke to the board.

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And now a man who holds meetings to eliminate my legal marriage will call me an ‘aggressor’

Screen Shot 2011-01-13 At 7.39.02 PmBrian Brown’s latest e-blast is a real piece of work. Here’s just one snip from his faux-victimization:

But for me the worst part of the gay marriage debate is this eliminationist quality coming (in my experience, and of course I’m speaking only about public and visible organizations and spokespeople) almost exclusively from one side: activists who support gay marriage.

They’ve said over and over again, until they’ve totally convinced themselves, that there really is “no legitimate argument” against gay marriage, no reason why marriage in virtually every known society is a union of husband and wife.

They do not see themselves as behaving aggressively when they insist that all good people now support the redefinition of marriage, so the public and political resistance of others to their new views on marriage strikes them as incredibly aggressive.

Having already redefined marriage in their heads, living in progressive bubbles and talking mostly with folks who agree with them, too many have concluded that our words must simply be cover for some dark desire to make other people’s lives miserable.

I’ve come to believe that this is not merely tactical on their part; they really experience the world in this way, which makes me sad.

If you say, “The ideal for a child is a mom and a dad,” they hear something very different, something which sounds more like, “You hate me and my family—you want to attack me.”

I’m not sure what it is possible to do about reactions like that. Many parents are not married, and all responsible parents deserve respect. But an America where our ideal is seen as a vicious and hateful attack?

FULL PIECE: NOM National Marriage News: Defining the “Culture of Hate” [NOM]

Oh, where to even begin? We’re gonna take this one free form:

(A) We’re not “redefining marriage in our heads,” Brian — we have marriage equality in five states and D.C (and civil unions in others). And we had full marriage equality in other states as well, until groups like NOM stepped in and A.G.G.R.E.S.S.I.V.E.L.Y. took it away!

(B) We haven’t “convinced ourselves” that there’s no legitimate argument under American civil law to deny our marriage equality: Our continued studies on the subject have fully convinced us that our position is 100% right under the law of our shared land. That’s a major distinction.

(C) We’re not really ascribing the moral component to the fight that Brian suggests we are. Yes, most of us think that marriage equality for same-sex couples is the “good” thing to do. But it’s not about “good” or “bad” people, at least not on the grand scale. It’s about the constitution. It’s about the rights of citizenship. It’s about due process and equal protection. Personal “niceness” is a silly aside.

(D) The anti-marriage equality movement is RIFE with “ex-gay” rhetoric. And we’re not talking in the abstract: We’re talking about close NOM allies like Cornerstone Policy Research and the Iowa Family Policy Council, who are quite literally pushing scientifically-discredited “gays can change” rhetoric. You can call that many things. We certainly consider it an “eliminationist” campaign, targeted towards our very cores of existence.

(E) It’s extremely rich for someone like Brian to say that gay activists talk “mostly with folks who agree with them.” Because we are the ones who always go in and doggedly take on any and every thing that the opposition puts forth. They’re the ones who so frequently ignore what we’re actually saying in favor of their own spin!!! or they just ban/delete our comments outright.

(F) Brian says of gays: “too many have concluded that our words must simply be cover for some dark desire to make other people’s lives miserable.” Uhm, no, Brian: We don’t have to form calculated conclusions on this subject — WE LIVE IT! For example, the day after the Prop 8 vote? We were miserable! Hell, this writer had his planned California wedding forcibly cancelled (though ultimately only moved to CT) because of that vote! I didn’t sit around and think about the most tactical way I could question basic decency on this and other NOM-crafted days: I experienced it! Organically!

(G) No Brian, when you say “The ideal for a child is a mom and a dad,” we don’t hear hate. Instead we hear your personal opinion on the subject of parenting. The only reason — THE ONLY REASON — why this personal opinion exits your own head and gets on our nerves is because you are trying to (a) base an entire civil marriage campaign around this legally ancillary notion of child-rearing, and (b) codify that personal parental opinion into law!

(H) If even one prominent gay activist was truly seeking to alter the lives of even one person of faith, then there would be a little more merit to the “gays are the aggressors” claims. But this is not the case. In this contrived, two-sided conversation, there is only one group that is tangibly stifling the rights of their neighbors. That’s a fact that remains true, no matter how much code-wording NOM crafts.

(I) What do you do about our reactions to your work, Brian? YOU FIND ANOTHER FRIGGIN’ CAREER PATH! Because frankly, we’re pretty sick of you using our backs to write your annual tax return.

Good As You

—  admin

What, Exactly, Does the Log Cabin Republicans’ Dallas Chapter Do At Meetings?

Log Cabin rarely delves in gay rights issues at chapter meetings …

—Actual line in an email from the Dallas chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, which generally hosts "like-minded people at our monthly dinner meetings on the fourth Monday of the month. We meet at Mattito's Cafe Mexicano at 3011 Routh (n.w. corner of Cedar Springs) for a 6:30pm Happy Hour and 7:00pm Dinner and Program." So they discuss … drink specials? [via]

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—  John Wright