Legacy’s local HIV-positive women’s conference becomes national event

Michelle Anderson

More than 200 women are expected to attend this year’s Grace Project National HIV-Positive Women’s Conference after Legacy Counseling Center opened registration to women beyond North Texas for the first time in the event’s 12-year history.

The weekend includes 15 speakers. Among them is Michelle Anderson, Miss Plus America 2011. The “plus” is for plus-size, but she is also the first openly HIV-positive national beauty queen winner.

Women ages 17-77 are expected. Seven are in their 70s, according to Legacy Counseling Center Executive Director Melissa Grove.

“Grandpa got Viagra and grandma got AIDS,” she said.

The conference is to give the women support, educate them about their health and create grassroots leaders to talk to their communities about HIV/AIDS.

Grove said that many are low-income women.

“Many come not knowing another HIV-positive person,” she said.

—  David Taffet

Unconstitutional ‘homosexual conduct’ law to remain on Texas books for another 2 years

In his legislative column on Friday, Daniel Williams mentioned that midnight today is the deadline for House committees to vote on bills that originated in the House. Which means that, assuming they aren’t voted out of committee today, several pro-equality bills will die. As Williams details on his own blog today, those bills include measures that would remove Texas’ unconstitutional “homosexual conduct” law from the books, add gender identity/expression to the state’s hate crimes law, and prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in employment and insurance.

With a Republican supermajority in the House, no one really expected any of these bills to pass going into the session. So the fact that some of them even received committee hearings is a victory. And the good news is, a few anti-gay measures are slated to die along them, including one that would make it easier for the attorney general to block same-sex divorces, and the House version of a bill that would effectively bar transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex. (It should be noted that the Senate version of the transgender marriage ban is still alive.)

Of course, there is always a risk that these or other anti-LGBT measures will be tacked on to other bills as amendments, but here’s hoping the Legislature is too busy from here on out with the budget and redistricting.

Speaking of the budget, last week we reported that the Senate’s version includes $19.2 million requested by the Texas HIV Medication Program to serve 3,000 anticipated new clients over the next two years. The House version of the budget left out this money, meaning low-income people with HIV/AIDS could be denied life-sustaining drugs. It’s now be up to a House-Senate conference committee to resolve the issue. On that note, the Campaign to End AIDS will hold a rally Friday at the Texas Capitol. For more info or to RSVP for the rally, contact Michelle Anderson at heavenly_gates_777@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright