What’s Shakin’ – Siriano at Galleria, Voter turnout continues to lag

Christian Siriano

Christian Siriano

1. As previously reported by Houstini, Project Runway Season 5 winner Christian Siriano’s coming to the Houston Galleria Payless Shoe store today to show off his expanded Payless collection, including an assortment of shoes and handbags. Siriano will be available for photos with his “fierce” -ly loyal fans. The posing and pouting kick off at 5 pm at the Galleria, 5061 Westheimer Road.

2. Voter turnout continues to be paltry. So far 40,189 people have voted, only 71% of the 55,152 who had voted by this point during the 2009 municipal elections.  Early voting continues through November 4.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

3. Yesterday Rep. Todd Akin, R – MO, who successfully introduced an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year which would prohibit same-sex marriages from being performed on U.S. military bases, delivered a letter to the Senate calling on them to pass similar legislation.  The letter was signed by 86 members of the 435 member House, including 7 Texans, all Republicans: Mike Conaway, Francisco Canseco, Louie Gohmert, Ralph Hall, Sam Johnson, Michael McCaul and Randy Nuegebauer.

—  admin

Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

Perfect match

Bob Nunn and Tom Harrover have been a couple for 4 decades. But it wasn’t until a near tragedy that they realized they were truly meant for each other

LIFE GOES ON | Nunn, right, and Harrover stand before a project commissioned for the convention center hotel. Four years ago, Nunn was near death because of kidney disease. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Bob Nunn agrees with the adage that the longer a couple lives together, the more they begin to look alike. Nunn and his partner Tom Harrover might not look that similar on the outside, but they match in a way that few couples do.

Let’s start with some history.

The two have that classic meet-cute that began on the wrong note. As Nunn tells it, Harrover was the dullest person he’d ever met —the two just didn’t like each other. Then, following a spontaneous invitation to a midnight movie, they ended up hitting it off. That movie led to conversation and then dating.

Forty-two years later, they still watch movies — as Nunn puts it, “I couldn’t get rid of him.”

A job in Houston took Nunn away from Harrover for three months, but old-fashioned letter writing kept the newbie relationship afloat.

“Tom had been writing me letters. He’s a very good writer,” Bob boasts. “He basically proposed to me by letter.”

They committed to each other, moving in and pursuing their careers: Harrover in architecture and Nunn teaching art. For 37 years, they lived in “a fabulous house” in Hollywood Heights. Life was good.

Then their life took a sharp turn.

“When we got together, Tom knew I had a kidney disease,” Nunn says. “Nothing was really a problem until about 30 years after we met — my kidneys began to fail and I had to start dialysis.”

Nunn registered with Baylor for the national organ donor list, but the experience was frustrating:  They received little response or encouragement from the hospital.

“Bob was on a downhill slide and the frustration with Baylor seemed like they were stonewalling us,” Harrover says. “We talked about going to Asia even. It felt like they didn’t want to deal with a senior-age gay couple.”

A LITTLE DAB’LL DO YOU | Bob Nunn is officially retired from teaching art, but continues to paint.

Then Harrover suggested something novel: He could donate his kidney to the organ list, with the idea that Nunn could get a healthy one.  Sort of a kidney exchange.

In desperation, they went back to their physician, who enrolled them in St. Paul Hospital’s then-new program for kidney transplant. The experience was a complete turnaround. Nunn was tested and processed immediately while Harrover prepped for his organ donation to an anonymous recipient.

Kidney transplants require a seven-point match system; a minimum of three matches is necessary for the recipient to be able to accept the organ into the body.

The tests revealed that Harrover’s kidney matched Nunn’s on all seven points.

“We assumed I would donate mine for use elsewhere,” Harrover says. “It never occurred to me that we’d be a match. The odds for that are off the charts.”

“See what happens when you live together for so long?” he chuckles.

Just six months after entering St. Paul’s program in 2007, they were on the operating table. They were the first direct living donor pair in the program. “It was all fairly miraculous,” Nunn understates.

Four years later, both men are doing well. Although officially retired, they both continue to work: Harrover does the occasional contract job while Nunn is currently on commission for an art project at the new convention center hotel. Outside of any official work, each interjects their quips about home, life be it cooking together or working on the lawn.

The obvious question for them might be “What’s the secret?” But they don’t see it just that way. Their relationship boils down to the obvious virtues of trust, respect and compromise.

“Selfishness doesn’t rear its ugly head in this relationship,” Harrover says. “You just have to be willing to accommodate, support and encourage what the other is interested in.”

Nunn agrees. “I would not be doing what I’m doing without his support.”

Nunn says if there is a secret, it’s akin to the dynamic on a playground: Like each other and share. If you don’t share your whole life, there isn’t a relationship, he says. At this point, Harrover says it would be impossible to separate. On paper, they are so intertwined with their house and financials, he jokes they are “Siamese twins.”

They’ve witnessed a lot in their decades together, including something they never expected to come to pass in their lifetimes: Same-sex marriage. Coming from a time when just being gay conflicted with moral codes set by their jobs, they wonder over the progress made in recent years. (They were officially married in Boston in October 2009.)

“I’m confident that it will happen for everyone,” Harrover says. “I’m sorry that it’s moving at a glacial pace, but it has that same inevitability as a glacier. We’ll get there.”

But nothing compares to the bond Harrover and Nunn already have, a shared intimacy few couples could imagine. Same-sex marriage was merely unlikely; what they have experienced is miraculous.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

HAWAII: Civil Unions Pass In House!

The Hawaii House has just approved its civil unions bill by a vote of 31-19!

The bill now goes back to the Senate, which passed a similar version of the measure last month. If the Senate agrees to changes in the bill made by the House, the measure would go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports civil unions legislation. Senate Bill 232 would grant same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into a civil union with all of the rights, protections, benefits and responsibilities of traditional marriage.

The House changes — recommended by the state Attorney General’s Office — clarify that because civil unions will not be recognized under federal law, certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code that apply to husbands and wives in Hawaii would apply with the same force and effect to partners in civil unions. Family Court will also have jurisdiction in matters of annulment, divorce and separation in civil unions, as the court does over marriages.

Just one more step!

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

New Opportunity to Pass Civil Unions in Hawaii

Today, the Hawaii state legislature opens their 2011-12 legislative session at the state capitol in Honolulu.  They will have many important issues to address, but we need to send a strong message that LGBT civil rights should be among the highest of priorities. If you’re a Hawaii resident, please send a message to your legislators urging them to act swiftly to pass civil unions!

The time is now to finally end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Aloha State, and to treat ALL families in Hawaii with the same dignity and respect. No child of a same-gendered family should have to grow up thinking their family is somehow less loving or legitimate than their straight counterparts.

As we’ve done three times in the past two years, HRC is sending staff to Hawaii to help with the legislative effort and to mobilize HRC’s members, supporters and allies. I will work with Equality Hawaii and the broad coalition of local organizations and volunteers to finally pass this bill.

If you’d like to help with the campaign for equality in Hawaii, please email me at tony.wagner@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Greg Sargent: DADT language could pass ‘if the Dem leadership tries to make it happen’

Via Greg Sargent, news that passing the DADT language is possible, but it will take some commitment from the Majority Leader:

It’s widely assumed that the White House and Dems will punt on holding a vote on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell during the lame duck session because there aren’t 60 votes for it in the Senate to get it past a GOP filibuster. Senator Carl Levin, who heads the relevant committee, is talking about separating out DADT repeal from the Defense Authorization Bill for precisely this reason.

But very plugged in staffers who are actively involved in counting votes for Senators who favor repeal tell me it’s premature to conclude this — and that it could still get 60 votes in the Senate. These staffers tell me they’ve received private indications from a handful of moderate GOP Senators that they could vote for cloture on a Defense Authorization Bill with DADT repeal in it — if Dem leaders agree to hold a sustained debate on DADT on the Senate floor.

Here’s why this is important: It throws the ball back into the court of Senator Harry Reid and the White House. It means the onus is on them, mainly on Reid, to agree to a two-week Senate debate on the bill, including allowing amendments. Reid had previously tried to limite amendments, leading GOP moderates to balk. And Dem leaders may not want to allow this two week debate now, because time is short and it could prolong the session. But they should do it, because it’s the only real chance to get repeal done. And it could get done.

The GOP Senators who are in play, according to these staffers, are Richard Lugar, George Voinovich, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. A spokesman for Lugar, Mark Helmke, tells me that Lugar would vote for cloture if Reid staged “ordered debate on a number of issues in the bill.”

Our allies, from the White House to Capitol Hill, keep saying they want to pass the Defense bill with the DADT language intact. Okay, do it.

This means that Congress can’t go home on December 10th. Senators will may have to work right up til Christmas, you know, like most Americans do (and, unlike most Americans, those Senators can’t change their plane reservations without penalties and most don’t have to worry about finding a parking space at the airport.)

There are two other developments worth noting. Greg Sargent also reports:

Sources also tell me that senators Joe Lieberman, Mark Udall and Kirsten Gillibrand will hold a press conference tomorrow urging the Dem leadership to allow the final two-week debate, arguing that this still can happen. This is no small thing: They are urging their own party leadership to do this.

And, via Kerry Eleveld, according to the White House, the President and his staffers are making calls to Senators:

“Today, President Obama called Chairman [Carl] Levin to reiterate his commitment on keeping the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the National Defense Authorization Act, and the need for the Senate to pass this legislation during the lame duck. The President’s call follows the outreach over the past week by the White House to dozens of Senators from both sides of the aisle on this issue.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Palm Center Adds Voice to Those Willing to Support Putting Aside DADT Repeal to Pass Defense Bill

More from the Washington Post on the earlier news from the Palm Center, Outserve, and Knights Out that they're willing to support passing a Defense bill that is stripped of the DADT repeal provision.

Palm The Palm Center's statement to the WaPo? Their reasoning includes some sort of game of righteous one-upmanship to 'show' McCain:

McCain "has no rationale left, just prejudice," said Palm Center Deputy Director Christopher Neff. "The only rationale left is he's being anti-gay and has chosen to take an anti-gay position to scuttle the defense authorization bill." The groups spoke out in support of passing the authorization bill to demonstrate that unlike McCain, they're willing to put aside personal political priorities in the interest of addressing national security concerns in the bill, he said.

It's a risky political calculation that puts them in direct conflict with four larger groups more directly involved with lobbying efforts to end the ban: the Human Rights Campaign, the Center for American Progress, Servicemembers United and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Servicemembers United Executive Director Alexander Nicholson called the other groups' statement "absolute lunacy."

"It has been the position of the organizations that actually work on repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' to strongly oppose stripping the repeal language out of the defense authorization bill," Nicholson said in an e-mail. "That position has been based on the reality of the vote count, and those facts on the ground here in Washington have not changed."

More to come on this as it develops…


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Bombshell: two gay military groups back removal of DADT repeal to pass Def Auth bill

And look at this bombshell from The Politico:

Two gay troops’ groups will announce today that they’d support breaking off DADT repeal if doing so would help the defense authorization act pass – but they’ll keep pushing for repeal in the lame-duck Congress, Morning Defense has learned. The statement from OutServe and Knights Out is just one prong in a complex offensive planned for lawmakers’ return to Washington this week, organizers said.
“On behalf of the more than 1,000 active duty gay and lesbian service members and 500 gay and lesbian veterans we represent, we respectfully urge Congress to pass the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to fund the aircraft, weapons, combat vehicles, ammunition and promised pay-raises for all troops, whether or not the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell is included,” the statement will say. “To be clear, we will continue to fight for our integrity as gay and lesbian service members and we hope that legislative action in Congress can be taken in 2010 to lift the ban.”

Here’s the release; I’m just passing it on (via The Palm Center). I have no clue what strategic purpose this serves to help repeal a discriminatory policy.

Today, OutServe and Knights Out issued a statement responding to current efforts in Congress to filibuster the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act because of its inclusion of conditional repeal for the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law and policy. The statement reads:

“There is nothing more important than loyalty to those with whom we serve. This means ensuring that no one issue interferes with funding the courageous and selfless work our fellow service members are doing around the world. Therefore, on behalf of the more than 1,000 active duty gay and lesbian service members and 500 gay and lesbian veterans we represent, we respectfully urge Congress to pass the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to fund the aircraft, weapons, combat vehicles, ammunition and promised pay-raises for all troops, whether or not the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is included.”

“To be clear, we will continue to fight for our integrity as gay and lesbian service members and we hope that legislative action in Congress can be taken in 2010 to lift the ban. With the support of President Obama, Chairman Mullen, Secretary Gates and the reported seventy-percent of service members surveyed, a new day of openly gay service is at hand if Congress acts during this lame duck session. We are proud to serve in the United States Armed Forces today and tomorrow.”

OutServe is a network of approximately 1,000 active-duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and members of the Coast Guard. JD Smith is a pseudonym.

Knights Out is an organization of West Point alumni, staff and faculty who are united in supporting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers to openly serve their country. The group has 203 members and graduate supporters and 462 allies.

Update: Statement from Alex Nicholson, Servicemembers United:

It has been the position of the organizations that actually work on repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to strongly oppose stripping the repeal language out of the defense authorization bill. That position has been based on the reality of the vote count, and those facts on the ground here in Washington have not changed. Servicemembers United, which is the nation’s largest gay troop and veteran group by far, strongly agrees with the White House that stripping DADT out of NDAA is simply a non-starter.

Americablog:

It’s pretty clear to both Joe and me that the Palm Center is doing this on behalf of some other unnamed groups, who are working on behalf of an unnamed elected official who has a record of being rather un-fierce. You can do the math.

We’ll be writing much more about this incredibly idiotic strategy in the coming hours and days. But read this press release that the Palm Center is sending out to the entire world. It’s an invitation for John McCain to kill the repeal of DADT. It’s clearly part of some larger super duper 11th dimensional chess strategy, and it’s dumb as hell. You can thank the Palm Center, and their secret patrons who convinced them to do this, when DADT repeal dies in the coming weeks.

Question for Blenders – do you think the Palm/Outserve/KnightsOut BS is another mop-up PR operation by this WH? In the end, those who serve in silence still lose. The votes aren’t there for a standalone DADT repeal; there is no point in playing 11th dimensional chess to pull a fast one on the LGBT community when the votes aren’t there. No one is buying.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Udall, Lieberman and Gillibrand: Senate must pass defense bill including DADT compromise

Senators Renew Call To Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Lieberman, Udall, Gillibrand Urge Colleagues To Pass Defense Bill In Lame Duck

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued the following statement today urging the Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year.

“The Senate should act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session. The Senate has passed a defense bill for forty-eight consecutive years. We should not fail to meet that responsibility now, especially while our nation is at war. We must also act to put an end to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy that not only discriminates against but also dishonors the service of gay and lesbian service members.

“The National Defense Authorization Act is essential to the safety and well-being of our service members and their families, as well as for the success of military operations around the world. The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.

“The process established by the defense bill would also allow ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed in an orderly manner, and only after the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have certified to Congress that repeal is ‘consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.’ If Congress does not act to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in an orderly manner that leaves control with our nation’s military leaders, a federal judge may do so unilaterally in a way that is disruptive to our troops and ongoing military efforts. It is important that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ be dealt with this year, and it appears that the only way that can happen is if it is on the defense bill.

“We are pleased that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also called on Congress to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We must act upon our responsibility to our troops and their family members and to the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who serve their nation bravely and honorably by passing the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year.”

This is an interesting line in the letter:

The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and Democrats were filibustering a defense bill that gay pay rises to the troops. The Republicans would eviscerate us. They’d call us un-American troop haters. But we hear nothing of this sort from the White House or folks on the Hill, other than in this laudable letter from three Senators. Why don’t the rest of the Dems, and the White House, ever fight back?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Media O’Ds on (R-DE) — but why the relatively huge ‘ex-gay’ pass?

Christine O’Donnell chatter is everywhere. Bill Maher is rolling out new clips every week, with a younger incarnation of the U.S. Senate nominee talking about witchcraft (she played around) or evolution (Darwin didn’t even play a round). Elsewhere on the cable dial, folks like Rachel Maddow have gotten much mileage out of that old MTV clip with a twentysomething (R-DE) showing no love for self love. Other mainstream media pundits have made hay out of O’Donnell’s implications regarding the Vince Foster murder, her views on stem cell research, her belief that pornography equates adultery, and a whole host of the conservative Castle-wrecker’s views on other social issues. All are fair game. All have been picked apart.

But over the weekend, while stuck on a long-ish flight, yours truly took the opportunity to catch up on some of the dead tree media that’d been stacking up in my office to the point where A&E might consider the desk for a “Hoarders” episode. And while making my way through all of those weeklies and dailies and monthlies, I was first struck by just how much ink has been spilled on O’Donnell in the past few weeks. To say that the media has nationalized this one local election in a very small state would be like saying Lindsey Lohan has strayed just a tad from her squeaky clean Parent Trap image. In truth, O’D fears abound in both situations.

Though beyond just the sheer amount of coverage, the thing that struck me most in terms of this site’s LGBT interests: How shockingly little play the GOP nominee’s past “ex-gay” work has received in the mainstream media. It’s gotten Screen Shot 2010-09-27 At 7.52.17 Amsome mention, sure. But in commentary after commentary, I came across writers hitting the same exact touchstones. There was the onanism. There were the spellbinding witch comments. And the pornography mentions were hardcore. But the “ex-gay” views, so prominently fleshed out in the online media streams in which I more typically swim, don’t seem to rank even a quarter as highly in a large portion of the commentariat’s minds as do those sexual matters that seem more sweeping. This comparative shut out echoed a taped piece I had seen on NBC’s “Today” a few days after the Delaware primary, where the sole focus was on O’Donnell controversy, but where “gays can change” never ranked. The most logical presumption is that some in the mainstream channels of communication see the “ex-gay” stuff as a more limited, niche concern: A spark plug with gay readers, but less palatable for the ‘ros.

Screen Shot 2010-09-27 At 8.37.00 AmBut here’s the thing: Support for the “ex-gay” movement goes well beyond sexual orientation. To advocate for the modern “ex-gay” movement, the advocating voice must overlook the lock-solid opinion of all credible science and instead get in bed with far-right-created groups and personalities (links on O’Donnell’s SALT ministries sent readers to groups like NARTH and personalities like Paul Cameron) who hope to change the script to meet their convenience rather than to write the script from the world that is conveniently at hand. To get behind the “ex-gay” movement at the level that Christine did — which has been so wonderfully fleshed out on Maddow, online on sites like this one, in press releases from Wayne Besen’s Truth Wins Out, and in long form on sites like The Daily Beast – one has to aggressively push a uniquely dangerous form of deception and rejection. Standards that should be of interest, concern, or at least note to *anyone* looking into O’Donnell’s record.

One thing I’ve always tried to do here on G-A-Y is to break LGBT matters out of the confinements that have limited the conversation, and instead show how this fight is really a HUMAN RIGHTS situation. Christine O’Donnell’s candidacy provides a unique opportunity to do just that. The national spotlight couldn’t be brighter. Her past commitment to “false sexual identities” could not be more evident. Doesn’t this attempt to “change” both humans and scientific realities matter at least as much as whether or not the candidate has ever cast a spell? Because it certainly matters more to this writer. It likely matters more to Ellen Degeneres:

6A00D8341C503453Ef0134875F05D3970C

[ARCHIVED SOURCE]

And it hopefully matters more to the Delaware public.




Good As You

—  John Wright