Gay Planned Parenthood exec reacts to Komen controversy

N. Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht says he hopes to convince Nancy Brinker to rejoin group’s advisory council

lambrechtstein

PLANNED PARENTS | Ken Lambrecht, left, and his partner, Ken Stein, along with their daughter Samantha moved to Dallas last year when Lambrecht became president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas. (Photo courtesy of Ken Lambrecht)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Ken Lambrecht said he often has to come out twice — first when he tells people he’s gay, and next when he tells them he’s the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas.

But Lambrecht said having a gay man head a predominantly women’s healthcare organization is a good match.

“It’s an organization that’s all about equality and access for disenfranchised individuals to quality healthcare,” he said. “So for me, it was a natural fit.”
His only comments about the recent Susan G. Komen controversy are gracious.

“Nancy Brinker [the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure] was on the North Texas Planned Parenthood Advisory Council,” he said, adding that he wants to meet with her soon to see if he can get her back on his board. “We have a lot of bipartisan support for our mission here in North Texas. We have a great number of Republican and Democratic supporters who understand that women’s healthcare and social issues should not be politicized.”

His only other reference to the controversy was to thank the many donors who poured money into Planned Parenthood over the last two weeks. But he clearly understands why his organization is controversial.

“I believe there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about issues that we were told societally not to talk about,” he said.

“Don’t talk about sex,” he said. “Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about religion. And don’t talk about money. And all I do all day is talk openly about the science of sex, talk about political influences against sexual health or sexual identity, speak about religious attacks on individual sexual expression and sexual identity, and then we ask people for money. So there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about everything we were told not to.”

And that’s been true since the organization was founded in New York 95 years ago by Margaret Sanger, a public health nurse whose mother died in childbirth. Sanger coined the term birth control and opened the first clinic that eventually led to a Supreme Court case that legalized contraception.

Planned Parenthood has provided healthcare in Dallas since 1935 and in Fort Worth since 1938 and its beginnings here were no less controversial.

Lambrecht said that among the Dallas founders was Catherine Ripley. Her family manufactured Ripley Shirts in Oak Cliff since 1920.

Ripley would send empty shirt boxes to New York, and Sanger would return them filled with condoms and diaphragms. The 1873 Comstock Act made it a federal crime to send any “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information on abortion.

Lambrecht describes Planned Parenthood as a “sexual health provider and a gynecology office for women without insurance.”

He said that 97 percent of the services provided are preventive in nature and noted, “We provide more adoptions than abortions.”

Abortion, he said, is actually done by a different legal entity. That was something Texas required in 2005 under legislation that bars the state from funding any agency that performs abortions. So he assures anyone making donations to Planned Parenthood that the money can’t be used for abortions.

Surgical services such as vasectomies and abortions are provided by Planned Parenthood Surgical Health Services. And abortions are performed at only two centers in North Texas, while medical services are provided at 21 clinics in 13 counties across the region.

A donation to Planned Parenthood is going directly to health services such as gynecological exams, HIV testing, birth control, pap smears and mammography.

Mammography is not done in the office, but by referral often in a mobile mammography unit that comes to the office. However, the money Komen gives to Planned Parenthood is used to pay for those breast exams through a voucher. Over the last three years, PPNT paid for 1,700 screenings that found 10 cancers. “That’s 10 lives saved,” he said, adding this was a direct result of the partnership between his organization and Komen.

Lambrecht said most gynecologists don’t have their own mammography equipment — mostly because of the cost — and refer out the screenings.

Throughout the U.S., Planned Parenthood sees 3 million patients a year. Last year, 87,000 of those were in North Texas.

Lambrecht believes that nationally Planned Parenthood will continue to receive widespread support because one in five women has received services from the organization at some time in their lives.

He said a bigger story than the Komen controversy is the Catholic bishops fighting the Obama administration over the birth control mandate in healthcare reform.

“All women, regardless of their employer, should have access to birth control,” he said. “The vast majority of Americans recognize that birth control access is preventive health care and planning is essential. We encourage the White House to stand with women and keep birth control without a co-pay for women.”

He said most women spend 35 years trying to avoid a pregnancy and five years trying to get pregnant.

He said that everyone is welcomed at Planned Parenthood without any judgment — and that includes transgender men and women who need any sort of gynecological services. He pointed to the staff as an indication of the organization’s diversity. Of the 80 regional CEOs, he said eight are gay or lesbian, and his staff of 200 includes transgender as well as gay and lesbian employees.

“We’re the most pro-family, pro-LGBT, pro-diversity organization,” he said.

Lambrecht and his partner, Ken Stein, have been together 11 years and have a 10-year-old daughter, Samantha. Before moving to Dallas last year, they lived in Austin in what Lambrecht called a very suburban community.

When Lambrecht took the job in Dallas, they moved to Oak Lawn. One day when he and his daughter were walking to Eatzi’s, she asked him, “Daddy, why is everyone in Dallas gay?”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Put your claws up

SMARTER THAN YOUR AVERAGE BEAR DANCE Mould, left, and Morel like to blowoff some energy with Blowoff — and being at a bear event only makes it better. (Photo courtesy Jeff Smith Photography)

Mixing dance tracks and rock, DJ team Blowoff serves the beats to the bears

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When the beat drops Friday night at the Big D Bear Dance, expect the furry men attending this year’s Texas Bear Round Up XVI to pack the dance floor tightly (the only way, actually). That’s because the beefy bearish tag team of Bob Mould and Rich Morel debut their popular event Blowoff in Dallas, merging rock and electronica. Oddly enough, they didn’t start out as the go-to guys for ursine events — but they sure fit in.

“We fit the demographic,” Morel laughs. “But really, it just sort of happened.”

“We became this music event that the bears found,” explains Mould. “They liked us and it was a natural fit. There was no adjusting that we made from just DJing initially, but I do think it’s more of a dance night than music night. I play less indie rock than I would.”

The team had met in music circles before, but teamed up in Washington, D.C., back in 2003 for their first gig together. Their musical philosophies merged nicely, but Mould had ulterior motives for the union: The party was really just a way for Mould to meet people in his new hometown.

“I didn’t have any friends and I just had this idea that if we threw a party, I’d meet more people,” Mould chuckles. “I made flyers and just started passing them around.”

What? Mould needs friends? This is the same guy who helmed such bands as Husker Du and Sugar. But he was alone in a new city, and did something about it.

“I knew Rich was there and we got together to write music,” he says. “But now it’s taken on this life of its own. We worked really hard at it and have taken chances with music by mixing rock and low-fi with electronica and progressive house. I think that has been setting us apart.”

The team credits some of their success to their sound. Their newer trance and vocal mixes are less hyper. Sometimes the chill lo-fi indie rock stuff doesn’t go over well, but bears especially those like Mould and Morel are willing to dance to their beat.

“We’re a bit audience specific,” Mould says, ”because people our age like to dance to it, too.”

Mould hasn’t left his rock roots behind. He’s recently performed surprise shows with the Foo Fighters at the request of Dave Grohl and appeared with Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard onstage. Before he became an iconic beardaddy DJ, Mould was already an icon for a new generation of alt-rockers.

“It’s very flattering when they ask for me,” he says. “It’s nice to know people like them are influenced by my stuff. But really, we’re all storytellers, we reinterpret them and the stories get passed on. It’s the legacy of music.”

Mould’s own story will be put to print this summer when his autobiography, See a Little Light: A Trail of Rage and Melody, rolls off the presses.

“It was quite a trip to relive everything, “ he says. “Readers will see an interesting life. It’ll touches on public and private stuff, but no animals were harmed in the making of this book — except me. “

Where Mould ends with rock, Morel would seem to start with dance, but that’s not the case. Morel was kind of a rocker as well and applied his remixes to less dance driven bands like The Killers and The Doors. What Morel did find as that the space where they play is dependent on the tone and with bigger rooms (such as Station 4), certain records are just going to work better.

“Our goal is to get them there on the dancefloor,” Morel says. “Different stuff works, but really, you just can’t make everyone happy. At a certain point, it’s fine.”

Morel thinks what sets them apart, besides the music, is their set up. The team play in hour chunks, tag-teaming every 60 minutes. This gives them time to socialize and get a drink — and the mix-and-mingle contributes to their success.

“We strive for a friendly club experience,” Morel says. “We don’t have a separation from the crowd while playing.”

They’ve done bear events around the country including New York, Provincetown and Chicago, so Mould’s feeling confident that they will tap into the right musical nerve for this crop of Dallas bears.

“I’m planning on doing what I do best,” Mould says. “I hear this is one of the more fun bear events so I can’t wait. I’ll be staying Saturday night so I’ll get to hang out.”

But Mould lives in San Francisco now and Morel resides in D.C. So how do they get ready?

“We show up!” Morel laughs.

This article appeared on the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Bill White at Reverchon Park: ‘We need a governor who will treat everybody with respect’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White addresses the media in the gym inside the Reverchon Park Recreation Center in Dallas on Tuesday.

During an Election Day campaign stop at one of Dallas’ most heavily gay precincts, Democrat Bill White made a final plea Tuesday for voters in North Texas to get out to the polls.

Flanked by Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and a dozen volunteers who lined the bleachers behind him, White addressed a handful of TV news crews in the gymnasium at the Reverchon Park Recreation Center.

“We need a governor who will treat everybody with respect and who will cultivate a culture of respect,” White said in response to a question from Dallas Voice about his message to LGBT voters. “The fact is, Rick Perry helps his friends, his friends help Rick Perry. He appeals to a portion of Texans, and there are places within this community, there are places within this state, where Rick Perry has never visited. Yet there are people who are working hard every day, paying taxes, and they’re entitled to be at the table where decisions are made as well. That’s why we’re going to win this election and make some history tonight.”

Earlier, Congresswoman Johnson addressed frustration in the community over a perceived lack of progress on LGBT issues in Washington.

“Staying home doesn’t help at all,” said Johnson, a staunch LGBT ally. “I think instead of staying home, we need to vote harder.”

Asked whether she’s confident about the outcome of her race against Republican Stephen Broden, Johnson said: “If I get a majority, I’ll be so grateful. If I don’t, I’ll retire.”

Neil Emmons, an openly gay former Dallas city plan commissioner who helped organized White’s appearance, said the precinct was a “natural choice” for the event, in part due to its high concentrations of Hispanic and LGBT voters.

“This precinct represents the future of Texas,” Emmons said.

—  John Wright