What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Leppert lies to National Journal, claims he was never asked about gay marriage

Former Mayor Tom Leppert shakes hands with spectators along the route during the 2007 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ annual gay Pride parade.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. In an interview with the National Journal’s Hotline on Call blog that was published Thursday, former Dallas mayor and current Senate candidate Tom Leppert addressed his recent shift to the right on LGBT issues, claiming his views haven’t changed:

Leppert insists that he has not pivoted to the right in preparation for his statewide run. Observers simply mischaracterized his beliefs in the past, he said.

“My positions that you’ve seen that would put me clearly on the conservative side, they’ve never changed,” Leppert told Hotline On Call. “I was somebody that got some things done and somebody that could bring people together. Sometimes that got labeled a certain way.”

Leppert said he worked together with gay rights groups and other typically liberal constituencies in order to successfully run the city of Dallas. But he maintained his beliefs have never wavered, regardless of public perception. Leppert explained that he was never asked for his position on gay marriage during his City Hall tenure.

“As mayor I thought it was my responsibility, and I think I did a good job, in leading the city where I engaged all groups,” Leppert said. “On a lot of the issues I would disagree with the folks, but I would still find common ground.”

Leppert’s assertion that he was never asked about same-sex marriage while mayor is patently false. I posed the question during an interview with Leppert about his first year in office in 2008. And I posted his response on Instant Tea:

“I don’t know, to be truthful with you,” Leppert said when asked if he supported same-sex marriage. “It hasn’t come up. It hasn’t been an issue that I’ve spent any time on. I don’t know. I’d probably have to give it some thought, to be truthful with you. I would see pieces on both sides, to be truthful with you, so I haven’t thought about it.”

2. The Texas Legislature refuses to protect gays from workplace discrimination, but Tarrant County Republican State Rep. Bill Zedler has filed a bill that would protect creationists.

3. A majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll. Support for same-sex marriage has gone from 36 percent five years ago to 53 percent today.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Obama may nominate 1st openly gay cabinet member; Lady Gaga censored

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Two openly gay men have emerged as potential nominees for U.S. commerce secretary. It would mark the first time a gay person has been nominated for a position in the president’s cabinet. Among the other potential nominees is former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who’s currently a U.S. trade representative.

2. A Seton Hall University junior is suing the school after he was allegedly kicked out of his dorm room when his roommate complained that he’s gay. Jesse Cruz, 20, has since returned to his room but seeks compensation for being forced to sleep on a friend’s floor for more than two weeks, and for emotional and psychological trauma.

3. Malaysian radio stations are using indecipherable garble to replace pro-gay lyrics in Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” due to government restrictions on “offensive content” in the Muslim-majority country. That’s too bad because it was already hard enough to distinguish the pro-gay lyrics from the rest of the indecipherable garble in the song. Sorry, I couldn’t resist, but here I’ll make up for it: If you didn’t get a chance to ask Lady Gaga a question while she was on the gay strip in Dallas this week, she’s taking them here. Watch the video above for an explanation. Happy now?

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: More anti-gay hatred from Dan Ramos; Kurt and Blaine finally kiss on ‘Glee’

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Dan Ramos, the Bexar County Democratic Party chairman who last week compared gays to “termites” and the Stonewall Democrats to the “Nazi Party,” followed up those statements Tuesday with another hate-filled rant in the San Antonio Current. This time, Ramos said homosexuality is “not natural” and compared it to being born with a polio leg. Ramos also said he’s glad gay couples in Texas can’t adopt children, which further shows what an idiot he is since the state has no ban on gay adoption. Here’s an excerpt:

Ramos frequently suggests that anti-Hispanic racism is to blame for the division that has been on display at past party meetings. When asked if race or sexual orientation were more a cause of concern for him, Ramos responded: “I go back to an old very well-used slogan: blacks wanted to get their way because they were black. What it is, is we have a very, very sinister movement in which you don’t know, at the end of the day, you didn’t even know that your next door buddy, your bosom fishing buddy was gay. That, I guess, goes to my belief in the religious thing. Look: this is not natural. This is like a kid who was born with a polio leg, you can’t kill him and you can’t sweep him under the rug. … I’m glad that Texas has not yet come to where gays can adopt children … because the poor kids have already come from a troubled family and then to be ‘hey, how come my momma is my daddy type of deal.’ It’s not natural.”

2. Kurt and Blaine finally kissed on Glee last night, and it was well worth the wait because we’re not talking about just a peck. Watch the scene below, at least until the video gets yanked from YouTube.

3. The City Council in Ogden, Utah, where I lived for about a year and covered City Hall for the daily newspaper, on Tuesday night unanimously approved ordinances prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in employment and housing. Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey, who happens to be a complete jerk, had threatened to veto the ordinances until they were revised so they could pass with veto-proof majorities. Hey, Mayor Matt, kiss my white gay ass. No wait don’t, you’d probably like that too much. Also, a quick shout out to those who’ll be celebrating at the city’s only gay bar, the Brass Rail.

UPDATE: Some sad news to report: I’ve learned that the Brass Rail in Ogden has closed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Godfrey somehow conspired to put the bar out of business.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Flour Bluff, Navy DADT discharge, Israel

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A gay-straight alliance will be allowed temporarily at Flour Bluff ISD near Corpus Christi. We reported last week that all clubs had been banned from the school rather than allow a GSA. A resolution passed at a five-hour school district meeting that will allow the club temporarily.

2. A navy petty officer will be discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” after falling asleep in bed with another man. This will be the first DADT discharge since November. Although a repeal has been signed, the policy is still in place until all branches of the armed forces certify it as ready. That should happen in June. They were watching a movie and fell asleep on a twin bed, one under the covers, one over. A roommate of one walked in and reported the incident. No “homosexual conduct” was reported and the incident is being labeled an extreme overreaction.

3. While cities like Dallas are marketing themselves as a great gay destination, Israel is now going after that market as well. At an international tourism fair in Berlin, a delegation from Tel Aviv will invite LGBT tourists to visit their city. The city spent $94 million to promote tourism to the LGBT community last year. The effort will be expanded in 2011.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Sally Kern’s book; poll shows strong support for marriage equality in Ireland

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Anti-gay Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern has written a book (right) about the national outcry over her comments in 2008, when she said homosexuality is a bigger threat to America than terrorism. Below are some of the tags Amazon users have associated with the book.

2. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, a new poll shows that 73 percent of people in Ireland support same-sex marriage.

3. Fewer than 1 percent of state legislators in the U.S. are openly LGBT, but their impact has been huge when it comes to pro-equality legislation, the Associated Press reports. Texas, of course, is one of 18 states that lack an out legislator.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Marriage updates from Maryland, New Hampshire; poll shows U.S. evenly divided

Sam Arora

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A marriage equality bill once thought to be assured of passage in the Maryland House remains stalled in committee, with lawmakers who once supported the measure now wavering under intense pressure from the religious right. The most notable flip-flopper is Democrat Sam Arora, who campaigned on his support for the bill but now says he’ll vote against it on the floor.

2. New Hampshire lawmakers put off until next year consideration of proposals to repeal marriage equality, saying they want to focus on fiscal issues first. A House committee voted 15-0 to retain the repeal bills until 2012, and LGBT advocates are disappointed the measures weren’t killed outright. 

3. But Ti-i-i-ime is on our side, yes it is. A new Pew poll shows the nation is now evenly divided on marriage equality, with a strong trend of increasing support. According to the poll, 46 percent say same-sex marriage should not be legal, while 45 percent say it should, with a 3 percent margin of error that makes for a statistical tie. Just two short years ago, a Pew poll found that 54 percent of Americans opposed marriage equality, while only 37 supported it.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Marriage on rocks in Maryland; Lady Gaga premieres ‘Government Hooker’

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. It’s all hands on deck in Maryland, where the fate of a marriage equality bill may be decided today. One pro-marriage equality lawmaker says if a committee vote doesn’t happen, the bill will die. The House committee vote was delayed Tuesday when two supporters of the bill didn’t show up. Now, other co-sponsors are backtracking on their support. As someone who spent part of his childhood on a sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay, I sincerely hope this ship can be righted and sail safely through the stormy waters of Annapolis.

2. Gay students at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., launched an online magazine Wednesday called HU Queer Press, only to have the administration immediately block access to the website on school computers. Change.org has launched a petition, but this is hardly the first time the Church of Christ-affiliated school has tried to stifle free speech.

3. Lady Gaga made her runway debut in Paris — and premiered a song called “Government Hooker.” Watch video from the Thierry Mugler fashion show above and listen to the song here.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Sarah Palin on DOMA; anti-gay preacher Grant Storms on arrest; Prop 8 update

Grant Storms

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Grant Storms, the anti-gay Louisiana pastor who was arrested last week for allegedly jerking off in his van while looking at kids on a playground, insists he wasn’t really masturbating — he just had his hand in his pants. In a bizarre press conference Tuesday, Storms claimed that reports saying he confessed to the crime are untrue. But he also said he knows what he did was wrong, and admitted he has a problem with pornography, which he’d been looking at an hour before the incident. Also, he’s sorry for those anti-gay protests he led at Southern Decadence and is asking for forgiveness. Well, we’re not going to forgive you just yet, Mr. Storms, but we will give you some free legal advice: Shut the hell up! Towleroad has video of Storms’ press conference.

2. Taking a page out of former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert’s playbook, Sarah Palin slammed President Barack Obama for his decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. In a statement she gave to the National Organization for Marriage, Palin accused Obama of flip-flopping on DOMA, which is course patently false. Obama has said all along that he wants to repeal DOMA. We’d suggest that if Palin wants a real example of flip-flopping, she should refer back to Leppert.

3. California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a brief Tuesday in the Prop 8 case urging a federal appeals court to allow same-sex marriages to resume immediately in the state. “For 845 days, Proposition 8 has denied equality under law to gay and lesbian couples,” Harris wrote. “Each and every one of those days, same-sex couples have been denied their right to convene loved ones and friends to celebrate marriages sanctioned and protected by California law. Each one of those days, loved ones have been lost, opportunities have been missed, and justice has been denied.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Anti-gay La. pastor arrested for masturbating at park; new hope for AIDS cure

Grant Sands

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Rev. Grant Storms, an anti-gay pastor known for protesting the Southern Decadence gay festival in New Orleans, was arrested Friday for masturbating at a public playground. Two women observed Storms masturbating in a van while looking at children near the carousel.

2. Speaker John Boehner said in an interview Monday with the Christian Broadcast Network that the House is likely to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court now that President Barack Obama’s administration has announced that it will no longer do so. Boehner called Obama’s decision not to defend the law “raw politics” and said he expects a decision on the House’s next step by the end of this week.

3. Scientists used genetic engineering to develop blood cells resistant to HIV in a new approach they say could lead to a cure for the virus that causes AIDS.

—  John Wright