WATCH: Local LGBTs Patti Fink, Pete Schulte weigh in on Leisha Hailey controversy

Are you tired of hearing about Leisha Hailey yet? Too bad.

The CW 33 aired a piece last night about the saga involving The L Word star’s removal from a Southwest Airlines flight, and the station spoke to two prominent members of the local LGBT community: Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink and attorney Peter Schulte.

Fink appears to be leaning toward Hailey’s corner, while Schulte is taking a measured legal approach. I wonder how he’d feel if Hailey and her girlfriend had just been trying to get a gay divorce?

Here’s an excerpt from The CW’s story, which you can watch below:

“I don’t think it could have been excessive. And if in fact it was excessive, I’d like to see straight people thrown off the plane for the same reason,” Fink said.

Southwest says it wasn’t the kissing. The airline claims the couple started cursing loudly after the flight attendant spoke to them and that’s when they were removed.

Attorney Peter Schulte says if this was the case, Southwest acted appropriately.

“There are rules and there are laws that allow the crew who is there for their safety, for the passenger’s safety to take action to try to limit any disruption”, Schulte said.

Hailey has called for a boycott of the airline, but Schulte says she has no legal recourse.

“If there was a race or gender issue those are protected classes, but in this day and age there isn’t any protection because of someone’s sexual orientation”, Schulte said.

Southwest has prided itself as gay friendly and has an outreach program to the gay community.

The gay community is hoping this can be resolved amicably.

“I would hope they would be able to talk it out and come to some sort of conclusion,” Fink said

—  John Wright

Is Oklahoma outshining Texas on gay rights?

Tulsa's new city hall
Tulsa’s new city hall

While DART decides whether to gut LGBT protections, Oklahoma is surging ahead in gay rights.

According to Tulsa World, the Tulsa city council approved an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation for city employees. The new law passed by a vote of 6-3.

One city council member pointed out that the ordinance protects everyone, according to a report by Tulsa’s CBS affiliate.

“The policy does not just apply to homosexuals; everybody has a sexual orientation,” said Councilor GT Bynum, who introduced the measure. “If a straight city employee has a gay supervisor, this would protect him just the same.”

And in the state’s other big city, Brittany Novotny, a transgender candidate for the Legislature, reports a record fundraising week for her campaign. There are also two openly gay candidates for the Oklahoma Legislature, Tom Kovach in Norman and incumbent Al McAffrey in Oklahoma City.

Meanwhile, Texas has no out members of its Legislature and only one openly LGBT candidate, Pete Schulte, running this year.

—  David Taffet

As Prop 8 trial wraps up, we're turning our attention back to Dallas' gay divorce case

Pete Schulte
Pete Schulte

With closing arguments under way in the federal Prop 8 trial today, I thought it might be a good time to check in with Pete Schulte, the attorney in Dallas’ own version of Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

After all, it’s been damn near two months since a state appeals court heard oral arguments in Schulte’s gay divorce case, known as J.B. v. H.B. And those of us who’ve signed up for the opinion notification service from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals are getting tired of scanning through the e-mails every morning. But Schulte says it could be a while before the court issues its ruling.

“Once the case is submitted to the court, we have no idea when they’re going to rule,” Schulte told me this afternoon.

—  John Wright

Gay divorce update: Arguments Wednesday in Dallas case; AG's office to appeal Austin ruling

news-gay-divorce-top

Oral arguments are set for Wednesday afternoon in the Texas attorney general’s appeal of a gay divorce in Dallas, and attorney Pete Schulte said he’s expecting a media circus at the George Allen Courts Building. Schulte has stopped short of calling for an LGBT rally outside, but he does say he thinks the community should be prepared to respond in the event of anti-gay protesters. Also, TV cameras won’t be allowed inside the courtroom, so they’ll need something to film (hint, hint). The courthouse is at 600 Commerce St. in Dallas, and the oral arguments begin at 2 p.m. The courtroom is open to the public, but space is limited, so if you want to attend the actual proceedings you may want to arrive early. As if this case wasn’t already politically charged enough, Schulte reports that the 5th District Court of Appeals has granted 5 minutes during oral arguments to one of the two anti-gay state officials who recently filed a brief opposing the divorce, State Rep. Warren Chisum or Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. It’s unclear whether it will be Chisum or Staples making the arguments.

In other same-sex divorce news, Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has also decided to appeal a Travis County judge’s decision last month to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple. The district judge who granted the divorce had asked the AG’s office not to appeal the decision. The judge told the AG’s office that the Dallas case will decide the matter anyway and that continuing to fight the Austin case could have an adverse impact on a 4-year-old boy who was adopted by the couple. But apparently Abbott is less concerned about the welfare of the child than drumming up right-wing votes in November elections.

On Saturday in Austin, I got a chance to meet Angelique Naylor, one of the women who was granted the divorce in Travis County. Naylor, who participated in a panel during Equality Texas’ State of the State Policy Conference, told me that while the divorce case began as a way to legally end the couple’s relationship, it’s evolved into something more.

“Now I’m fired up and I want to do the right thing and make a stand,” Naylor said.

Naylor’s attorney, Jennifer Cochran, also participated in the panel on Saturday.

“He doesn’t like gay people for some reason,” Cochran said of Abbott.

—  John Wright

Newsweek on how it ain't easy for gay couples to become ex's in Texas — or anywhere else

Angelique Naylor was recently granted a divorce from her wife in Austin. But she fears Attorney General Greg Abbott will appeal the decision.
Angelique Naylor was recently granted a divorce from her wife in Austin. But she fears Attorney General Greg Abbott will appeal the decision.

Last week I got wind that an unnamed major media outlet was looking for a same-sex couple trying to get a divorce. Coincidentally, when I heard this, I had just gotten off the phone with Jennifer Cochran, the attorney for Angelique Naylor, a woman who was recently granted a divorce from her wife in Austin. I sent Cochran’s e-mail address to my contact, and just like that a week later, we have this article from Newsweek. The article uses the Austin case to illustrate the tremendous difficulties faced by same-sex couples who want to divorce, but the reporter also talked to Pete Schulte, one of the attorneys in a gay divorce case in Dallas. In fact, as the article points out, it was the Dallas case that inspired the Austin couple to seek a divorce after they unsuccessfully sought to settle their affairs through other legal means. And it’s the Dallas case, in which oral arguments are set for April 21 before the 5th District Court of Appeals, that some believe may reach the U.S. Supreme Court:

As for Angelique Naylor, she and her lawyer, Jennifer Cochran, are counting down the days until the 30-day window expires for the Texas attorney general to appeal her divorce. Cochran also worries that a negative decision in the Dallas case could potentially overturn Naylor’s divorce. “These couples are already going through three times the expense and headaches,” she says. More gay couples are likely to move to Texas, she adds, and Austin has become a popular destination for all Americans: “This is an issue that is not going to go away.” Naylor, however, expects the attorney general to intervene. “It’s an election year, and apparently attacking gay people is a good thing to throw resources at. But in my heart and mind I’m divorced, no matter what. I’ve closed that chapter of my life.”

—  John Wright