WATCH: 6 Marble Falls teens accused of sending threatening anti-gay texts to opposing QB

A plea bargain is likely for six Marble Falls teens accused of sending anti-gay and threatening text messages to a Dripping Springs football player. KXAN in Austin reports:

The messages contained homosexual slurs and profanities.

An arrest warrant shows one message said, “You better be prepared to get ripped limb from to ******* limb Friday night you big *****.”

Another read, “Oh, so you are going to be a little ***** and not text back *****?”

Lt. Leroy Opiela with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said the Dripping Springs football player found those messages on his phone and told his parents.

An upcoming football game between the Marble Falls Mustangs and Dripping Springs Tigers was apparently behind the messages.

The six 17-year-olds are charged with harssment via telephone, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. However, under the plea deal, they’ll avoid jail time in exchange for completing community service, write letters of apology and take a bullying class.

—  John Wright

Fundraiser set to benefit sanctuary for abused horses, other animals

‘Honky Tonk for Horses’ will help pay for 35 animals now at Ranch Hand Rescue, another 22 horses now in rehab after being rescued

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

A NEW HOME | Bob Williams of Ranch Hand Rescue welcomes Midnight to his new home at the sanctuary for abused horses and other animals. Midnight is missing one hoof, and Williams said he is working on getting the animal a prosthetic leg.

Bob Williams is passionate about rescuing abused and neglected farm animals — so passionate that he and his partner, Marty Polasko, opened a sanctuary for them.

Next Thursday, Dec. 16, Williams hopes to raise $10,000 for his organization, Ranch Hand Rescue, at Honky Tonk for Horses, a silent auction being held at The Mule Barn, a sports bar in Justin, just north of Fort Worth.

Ranch Hand Rescue provides sanctuary and medical care for abused farm animals from around North Texas. Founded in April 2009, the rescue has already saved 85 farm animals — mostly horses but also donkeys, mules, llamas, pigs, a turtle and rabbits.

“We work with law enforcement on animal abuse,” Williams said. “When the owner’s arrested, we’re called in.”

Currently, Ranch Hand Rescue has 35 animals adopted into their sanctuary and 22 horses in rehab. They’re involved in four current investigations.
Williams has no sympathy for anyone abusing animals.

“When we’re involved in these cases, we work to see the owner is prosecuted,” he said.

He said he is working with legislators to fix current state animal abuse laws. Beating an animal to death is a felony in Texas, but starving an animal to death is just a misdemeanor. Williams wants that fixed.

Williams said that Ranch Hand Rescue has four components.

“Our baby is the sanctuary,” he said.

That’s where they care for animals that have lived through abuse and neglect.

Rescue is the second piece of their mission. They have put together a network of foster families throughout Texas who help them nurse animals back to health. Starvation is the biggest problem.

“We have to jump-start their digestive systems,” Williams said.  That involves giving the animals medication, special feed in small amounts and eight meals a day.

And a lot of love, Williams said.

Third, Ranch Hand Rescue is involved in working with legislators to change animal cruelty laws. But Williams stresses his organization gets no financial help from the state or local governments.

Finally, Williams said, “Because we have a sanctuary, we have groups come in — kids with AIDS, autistic children, disabled kids.”

On Saturday, Dec. 11, a group from Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home, an orphanage and transitional home for abused children in Denton, will spend the day at the sanctuary. Williams said that they’ll tell the children the story of the animals and let them interact. Then Santa will arrive on a fire truck with presents.

The money raised at Honky Tonk for Horses will go directly toward care of the animals. Williams described the extent of injuries he’s currently dealing with.

“Most horses come in with worms,” he said. “One was beaten so badly her withers are broken. We want her in a home where she’ll be loved and cared for.”

A horse named Midnight came in without a hoof. Williams is making a prosthetic leg and hoping some of the veterinary cost of replacing it will be donated.

The sanctuary can accommodate about 55 sick animals that are penned, but when they become healthy and need more space, some have to be moved out.

They already have some land in McKinney and are hoping to finalize a deal on more property in Gainesville this week, Williams said.

American Pet Spa & Resort in Argyle has been Ranch Hand Rescue’s major sponsor. Polasko owns the boarding and grooming company where pets take pampered vacations while their owners are away.

Williams said a large number of customers drive out from Oak Lawn because of the extraordinary care Polasko gives their pets.

But the cost of caring for the farm animals begins with about $500 to transport an animal and several hundred dollars in veterinary bills for each animal before treatment begins. Feed and on-going care runs about $125 per animal per month.

Much of the funding has comes from the LGBT community, but as the organization expands, the need for additional funds grows.

Honky Tonk for Horses is expected to be the largest fundraiser for the organization so far. The silent auction features DVD players, race packages including hotel stays and tickets, autographed sports and Hollywood memorabilia, Rangers tickets, restaurant gift certificates and more.

Entertainment will be provided by a number of local bands.

Everybody Love Raymond actress Doris Roberts is a supporter of Ranch Hand Rescue and plans to come to Fort Worth in the spring for a fundraising event. Billy Bob’s Texas has offered to participate.

In addition, Williams said that they’ve recently hired a fundraising director and a grant writer.

Although Pet Smart doesn’t do horses as part of their retail business, through their foundation, they’ve provided volunteers and other assistance.

How successful has Ranch Hand Rescue been in saving animals from neglect and abuse? Has an animal’s suffering ever been so great that they decided to put it down?

“As long as they don’t suffer, we’ll do whatever it takes,” Williams said. “We never lost one yet.”

Honky Tonk for Horses, The Mule Barn, 218 Highway 156, Justin. Dec. 16 from 5 p.m. to closing. No cover charge.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

‘Things have changed, and it’s pretty wonderful’

Phyllis Frye appointed Texas’ 1st transgender judge by Houston Mayor Annise Parker

Brian Rogers  |  Houston Chronicle via The Associated Press

Phyllis Frye
Phyllis Frye

HOUSTON — Thirty years ago, Phyllis Frye, a longtime activist for LGBT causes, could have been arrested for wearing women’s clothing in the Houston City Council chamber.Frye, a transgender Houston attorney born as Phillip Frye, fought back tears last week as the mayor appointed her to a municipal bench in the same room where she helped repeal Houston’s “cross-dressing ordinance” in 1980.

“I almost started crying, because I remembered 31 years ago, in that very same chamber, I was subject to arrest,” Frye said.

The 63-year-old will hear traffic ticket cases and other low-level misdemeanor trials. Municipal judges are not elected, she noted.

Frye said she would be the first transgender judge in Texas. She knows of at least two transgender judges in other parts of the country.
Frye applied for the position several months ago and was vetted before being appointed by Mayor Annise Parker on Wednesday, Nov. 17, with seven other new associate judges.

“I think she’s a great addition to our judiciary,” the mayor said. “I’m very proud I was able to nominate her, and she agreed to serve.”
Frye joins 43 other associate municipal judges and 22 full-time municipal judges.

“I don’t want to underplay this, because I understand it is very significant,” Frye said. “But I don’t want to overplay it either. I don’t want people to think I am anything other than an associate municipal court judge.”

Three decades ago Frye volunteered at City Hall where she worked to repeal an ordinance that allowed police to arrest men in women’s clothes and lesbians wearing fly-front jeans.

“Things have changed, and it’s pretty wonderful,” Frye said.

A graduate of Texas A&M, Frye was an Eagle Scout and an Aggie cadet. She also was a husband and a father.

Frye has practiced criminal defense law in Houston since 1986.

She now heads a six-lawyer firm and has parlayed her expertise in LGBT legal issues into a storied legal career — the latest chapter of which is her representation of Nikki Araguz, the transgender Wharton widow embroiled in a legal battle to receive part of her firefighter husband’s death benefits.

Parker’s critics seized on Frye’s appointment to say the mayor, who is a lesbian, is promoting a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender agenda.

“Phyllis Frye is a very well-known radical transgender activist,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, which represents about 300 churches.

“We don’t think it is consistent with the values of the vast majority of the people,” Welch said. “We think it is an anti-family lifestyle and agenda.”

Her appointment, however, was applauded by Houston’s GLBT Political Caucus.

“Phyllis Frye is a true icon in our civil rights movement,” said Kris Banks, Caucus president. “She is an internationally recognized pioneer, and the mayor is to be congratulated for her choice.”

Banks noted that Charles Spain, an openly gay attorney and chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues of the State Bar, also was appointed as an associate municipal court judge. Josh Brockman, an openly gay attorney, was appointed as a hearings officer to resolve contested parking tickets.

New judges go through hours of state-mandated training. Frye said she expects to begin substituting for sitting judges in the spring.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens