Annise Parker now co-chair of “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry,” Austin’s Leffingwell joins

Lee Leffingwell

Austin's Mayor Lee Leffingwell

Houstini reported yesterday that Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker was scheduled to appear at the “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” press conference in Washington D.C., and that she was the only Texas mayor to participate. This morning we found out that Parker, along with New York’s Michael Bloomberg and L.A.’s Antonio Villaraigosa, is serving as co-chair for the effort. Additionally Austin’s Mayor Lee Leffingwell has joined the effort.

So that makes 2 of Texas’ 1,215 mayors with the bravery to stand up for what’s right, leaving the citizens of 1,213 citizens with the task of persuading their mayors. In Dallas Daniel Cates of GetEqual has started an online petition encouraging Mayor Mike Rawlings to sign on which currently has 216 signatories. The Dallas Voice reports that Rawlings claims to personally support marriage equality, despite his unwillingness to join “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry:”

“This one obviously was very difficult for me, because I personally believe in the rights of the gay community to marry,” Rawlings said Thursday… “I think this [same-sex marriage] is way overdue and we need to get on with it, but that’s my personal belief, and when I start to speak on behalf of the city of Dallas … I’ve got to be thoughtful about how I use that office and what I want to impact, and that’s why I decided to stay away from endorsing and signing letters like that.”

Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, told the Voice “the mayor does not plan to publicly support any social issues but would rather focus on the policy issues that impact Dallas,” adding “we have not signed onto other similar requests.”

—  admin

VA nurse accused of anti-gay tirade

Lesbian Marine vet files complaints against employee at Dallas hospital

READ THE FULL TEXT OF ESTHER GARATIE’S STATEMENT

Garatie.Esther

Marine veteran Esther Garatie

JOHN WRIGHT | Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

A wounded lesbian Marine veteran who sought mental health treatment at the Dallas VA Medical Center claims she was subjected to an extended anti-gay tirade by a nurse practitioner.

Esther Garatie, 28, a former Marine lance corporal who lives in Dallas, has filed complaints against the nurse practitioner, Lincy Pandithurai of Cedar Hill, with both the VA Medical Center and the Texas Board of Nursing.

Garatie and her friend, Jessica Gerson, have also launched an online petition at Change.org calling for Pandithurai to be fired. By Thursday, Oct. 27, the petition had more than 1,300 signatures.
Pandithurai didn’t return phone messages left at the VA Medical Center or her residence in Cedar Hill.

Garatie, a native of New Orleans who moved to Dallas earlier this year, said she was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2006 after severely injuring her leg while on active duty.

She said she went to the Dallas VA Medical Center on Oct. 12 to seek treatment for severe depression and possible post-traumatic stress disorder — including thoughts of suicide.

In a three-page written statement about the incident, Garatie alleges that Pandithurai inquired about her sexual orientation at the outset of their meeting. After Garatie responded that she was a lesbian, Pandithurai told Garatie she was living in sin and said that was the reason for her mental health issues, according to the statement.

“She sat down and looked at me, and her first question was, ‘Are you a lesbian?’” Garatie wrote in the statement. “Her second question to me was, ‘Have you asked God into your heart? Have you been saved by Jesus Christ?’ This is when I realized that I was no longer a United States veteran in her eyes, I was just a homosexual.”

The session lasted for more than three hours, with Pandithurai citing the Bible and repeatedly telling Garatie she was living in darkness and would be doomed to hell if she didn’t “come back to ‘the light,’” according to the statement.

Pandithurai told Garatie she could change her sexual orientation. Pandithurai also told Garatie homosexuality was a diagnosable condition until President Barack Obama changed that, the statement alleges.

Penny Kerby, a spokeswoman for the VA Medical Center, confirmed that Garatie’s complaint is under investigation.

“VA North Texas Health Care System does not tolerate discrimination on any level and takes any allegation of such behavior seriously,” Kerby said in a statement. “Each employee who interacts with every veteran patient is expected to demonstrate our core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence. This allegation is being investigated and if substantiated, appropriate measures will be taken to address the issue.”

Bruce Holter, a spokesman for the Texas Board of Nursing, said the agency doesn’t comment on investigations that are in progress.

The state’s Standards of Nursing Practice prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, Holter said.

According to the board’s website, Pandithurai has been registered as a nurse in Texas since 1993, with no previous disciplinary action against her.

Garatie said she’s not the type of person who would normally try to get someone fired, but she wants to prevent the same thing from happening to other gay veterans — particularly after the recent repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Game designers can’t seem to win for losing when it comes to gay Dragon Age 2 character

I have two sons, ages 14 and almost-12, who are both huge video and online game nuts. They have a PS2, they each have a computer and they have a Wii. Ok, so I play on the Wii more than they do, but I am usually playing Wii Fit exercise games while they prefer games with combat and monsters and danger and all that. When it comes to those kinds of games, I’m really not interested. I don’t play those games mainly because the 3-D effects most have give me motion sickness.

And since I don’t play the games, I don’t know who the characters are or how you win or any of that. When they start talking about the games, I either pretend to listen while really tuning them out, or I go the brutal honesty route:”Guys, I have no idea what you are talking about. I don’t want to know what you are talking about. I don’t want to listen to you talk about it. Go away.”

One thing I do know is that their newest acquisition is a game called “Dragon Age II,” and that, at least for the moment, it is the greatest game ever created. Even though I have tried my best, I haven’t been able to avoid hearing “Dragon Age this” and “Dragon Age that” as they excitedly discuss the latest developments in their game play.

I have not, however, heard them say a single damn thing about “Dragon Age II” having a gay character. Maybe that’s because, having been raised by two moms and around innumerable LGBT people, the idea of a game including a gay character is so blase to them that it’s not worth mentioning. I hope that’s why. I’d like to think that “gay” is no big deal to my kids.

But apparently, a lot of gamers are not blase at all about the resident gays of “Dragon Age II.” In fact, at least one online petition is already circulating to get the game’s writer,David Gaider, fired over it.

—  admin

Fort Worth PFLAG member responds to Cornyn’s ‘insulting and degrading’ form letter about DADT

Sen. John Cornyn

So you’ve been a good gay and contacted your senators about repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.” But chances are if you live in Texas you’re not going to be satisfied with their response. You could write them back, but what happens when you just receive the same bullshit form letter response again? This is precisely the dilemma faced by Russell Brown, who contacted us this morning to say that he’s none too happy with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn:

“As a member of Ft Worth PFLAG, I have enrolled to receive e-mail alerts from a couple groups,” Brown wrote to Instant Tea. “I signed an online petition and filled out an on-line request forwarded to my congressional representatives favoring the repeal of DADT. I received e-mail form letters and I felt the one received from Sen. Cornyn’s office was insulting and degrading to our gay servicemen and women. I was angered enough that I wrote a two-page letter back to Sen. Cornyn refuting comments he made in his e-mail. I thought it was a good letter. Yesterday in the mail, I received a letter response from Sen. Cornyn’s office thanking me for contacting his office and reiterating the same insulting and degrading message — word for word — that I had received from him earlier by e-mail. Now, I’m even more incensed!”

We sympathize with you, Mr. Brown, and it’s nice to know we have allies like you. We don’t have a solution, but at the very least, we thought we’d go ahead and publish your letter to Cornyn here. Read it below, followed by the form letter.

—  John Wright

Courage Campaign calls on NBC Universal to end affiliate relationship with KETK in Tyler

Courage Campaign, the grassroots LGBT equality network based in California, has launched an online petition calling for NBC to ends its affiliate relationship with KETK in Tyler.

The petition comes in response to a report that aired on KETK on Wednesday morning (above), in which the station asked viewers whether the acceptance of homosexuality will be the downfall of America. From the Courage Campaign:

The video is shocking. But the lack of response from NBC Universal — KETK’s parent network — is even more shocking. That’s why we need you to watch the video now and then sign our petition to NBC Universal executives Jeff Zucker and Steve Burke asking them to end NBC’s affiliate relationship with KETK immediately

Sign the petition by going here.

—  John Wright