Duncanville High School senior calls on Rep. Pete Sessions to support marriage equality

Rep. Pete Sessions

Duncanville High School senior Eli Hernandez thinks Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, should represent everyone in his district and support marriage equality. Hernandez started a petition on Change.org, which he named “Start The Ball Rolling Pete Sessions: We Want Equal Opportunity Marriage in Texas.”

“I am contacting you to see if you would like to be a part of this petition and support it by signing it and maybe spreading the word about it,” Hernandez wrote to Dallas Voice. “I believe that change is possible but it requires some work and a bit of fighting to make it happen. …”

The petition page explains that thousands of people are denied the right to marry in Dallas and more throughout the state.

“Marriage is an institution that should be available to all people and not only heterosexual couples,” Hernandez wrote.

His goal is to collect 5,000 signatures to send to Sessions.

—  David Taffet

Notable deaths: Wagner, Raggio, LaLanne

Carolyn Wagner

Carolyn Wagner

Former P-FLAG vice president Carolyn Wagner, 57, died of cancer in Tulsa.

Wagner became an advocate for the LGBT community after her son was a victim of bullying. She sued the Fayetteville, Ark., school district in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she prevailed.

While he was a teenager, Wagner brought her son to Dallas to participate in the Gayla Prom, which was then held at the Dallas Grand Hotel in Downtown. At the time it was the only event of its type held anywhere in the region and one of the few in the country. P-FLAG Dallas was the event’s sponsor.

Wagner said at the event that she was delighted to have her son experience a healthy dating environment.

Wagner served as grand marshal of the Tulsa Pride parade in 2000. She founded the support group, Families United Against Hate.

She was a nurse who spent her career caring for children that were abuse victims and those with cancer and terminal illnesses. She founded Camp Rainbow for children with cancer.

Wagner died Jan. 18, and a memorial service was held Saturday. Donations may be made to P-FLAG.

Louise Raggio

Dallas women’s rights activist Louise Raggio, 91, died this weekend.

She was the first female Dallas County assistant district attorney. When Raggio was first hired she was paid half what the men in the department made. She was the first woman in Dallas to prosecute a criminal case and the first woman to serve as director of the State Bar of Texas.

After going into private practice, Raggio worked to get the Marital Property Act of 1967 passed. Prior to passage of that law, married women could not have their own bank accounts, apply for mortgages or have their own credit in Texas. Dallas District Court Judge Lorraine Raggio is her daughter-in-law. Her son, Greer Jr., ran for Congress in 2010 against incumbent Pete Sessions.

Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne, 96, the original TV fitness expert, died on Sunday. His show began in 1951 and ran for 34 years.

“The only way you can hurt the body is not use it,” LaLanne said. “Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it’s never too late.”

In 1955, at age 41, LaLanne swam handcuffed from Alcatraz to San Francisco. The year before, he set a world record swimming the length of the Golden Gate Bridge under water. In 1956, he set a world record for push-ups.

LaLanne opened his first gym in 1936. By the 1980s, he owned more than 200 Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas. The company became Bally’s Total Fitness.

—  David Taffet

Dallas’ Pete Sessions violates Constitution on same day it’s read from House podium

Pete Sessions

Anti-gay Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions reportedly violated the Constitution on the same day it was read from the House podium.

The Huffington Post reports that Sessions, along with freshman Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., missed Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony because they were at a private fundraiser. They watched the ceremony on TV with their hands raised, but there’s no provision in the Constitution for a remote swearing-in. The Rules Committee was forced to adjourn Thursday because Sessions made a motion to take up a repeal of health care reform without having been sworn in as a member of Congress:

Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for Sessions, said that Sessions rectified the situation Thursday afternoon, after it came to his attention that he had not been properly sworn in. “During the swearing in of the 112th Congress, Congressman Sessions stated the oath publicly in the Capitol but was not on the House floor. To ensure that all constitutional and House requirements are fulfilled, Congressman Sessions officially took the oath of office this afternoon from the House floor. Public records and votes will be adjusted accordingly,” she said.

UPDATE: To make matters worse, Sessions reports on Twitter that he’s on the radio this afternoon with bigot Chris Krok, who famously mocked Joel Burns’ “Its Gets Better” speech:


—  John Wright

Log Cabin to hold 2011 convention in Dallas

Rudy Oeftering, from left, Rob Schlein and R. Clarke Cooper show off Schlein’s Texas State Flag this morning outside DV offices.

We were lucky enough to receive a visit this morning from R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans National, who was accompanied to Dallas Voice offices by local gay GOP’ers Rob Schlein and Rudy Oeftering.

Cooper was in town for the Grand Ol’ Party, the Dallas chapter’s annual fundraising dinner, over the weekend. (You can watch part of conservative author S.E. Cupp’s keynote speech below.) Also during the dinner, Schlein was presented with a Texas State Flag that was flown over the Capitol in Austin in his honor. Oeftering said he presented the flag to Schlein on behalf of State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Highland Park.

Anyhow, among other topics that were discussed in this morning’s visit, Cooper announced that Log Cabin plans to hold its national convention in Dallas next year. He said the convention will be at the Hilton Anatole in April and should draw at least several hundred poeple from across the country.

Log Cabin picked Dallas for the convention for several reasons, Cooper said. For one, Texas is “ripe for growth” for Log Cabin, and the state’s Republican delegation to Congress has room for improvement on LGBT issues. Also, two members of that delegation, Congressman Pete Sessions and Sen. John Cornyn, happen to occupy key leadership positions, heading up the Republican campaign committees for their respective chambers. Finally, several of Log Cabin’s top individual donors, as wells as its first corporate sponsor American Airlines, are based in Texas.

“The stars kind of aligned for us to be here in 2011,” Cooper said.

—  John Wright

Sessions is missing the Log Cabin dinner to discuss the importance of ‘traditional marriage’

Earlier today we wrote about how Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions had backed out of a scheduled appearance tonight at the Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner. In cancelling his appearance, Sessions cited another commitment — specifically a meeting of the House GOP Conference.

Irony of ironies, it turns out the GOP Conference will be meeting to discuss a brand new election year agenda to be unveiled Thursday that — surprise! — will include social issues and specifically a statement affirming the party’s support for “traditional marriage.”

From Politico:

House Republicans had a spirited debate behind closed doors about the degree to which social issues should be included in the new agenda, and social conservatives have been pressing for the GOP to be more explicit in putting social issues in writing on this 2010 agenda.

Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), winner of a 2012 presidential straw poll at the recent conservative Values Voters conference, led the campaign to ensure social issues would not be ignored. Some others believed that the plan should focus more narrowly on fiscal and security issues that unite a broader swath of the GOP.

The decision to at least affirm opposition to abortion and gay marriage appears to represent a compromise between the factions.

House Republicans will be able to review the new agenda this afternoon, after which they will discuss it at a conference meeting. Republican leaders will unveil it to the public Thursday morning.

Gee, we wonder which side of the “spirited debate” Sessions was on.

UPDATE: Via CBS News, below is a draft of the GOP’s new “Pledge To America”:

GOP Pledge to America

—  John Wright

UPDATED: Log Cabin responds to Congressman Pete Sessions’ decision not to attend dinner

Pete Sessions: Silver fox or just sly like one?

Roll Call is reporting that Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions has backed out of a scheduled appearance Wednesday night at a fundraiser for Log Cabin Republicans, saying he needs to attend a House GOP caucus meeting instead.

Well isn’t that a convenient excuse? We’re sure Sessions’ no-show has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, also slated to appear at the Log Cabin dinner, are being villified on right-wing websites for accepting the invitation. As we reported, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins sent Cornyn a letter last week demanding that he skip the dinner. And FRC said on its blog Tuesday that Cornyn shouldn’t have accepted the invitation in part because Log Cabin derives its name from the idea that President Abraham Lincoln was gay, a theory FRC seems hell-bent on dismissing. Meanwhile, American Family Association President Tom Wildmon told CSN News that by attending the fundraiser Cornyn is actively promoting “men having sex with men.”

We called Sessions’ D.C. office to get further explanation about his decision to back out — such as whether the Republican caucus meeting was scheduled before or after the Log Cabin dinner, whether they are in fact at the same time, and if they are, whether he can’t afford to miss a few minutes of the caucus meeting to make a cameo at the LCR dinner. But not surprisingly, Sessions spokeswoman Emily Davis mysteriously became unavailable after we identified ourselves as being from the gay paper, and she hasn’t gotten back to us.

We’re sure some gay Republicans will defend Sessions’ decision, pointing to his appearance at the annual dinner of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin two years ago. But we’d like to point out that the 2008 dinner came immediately AFTER the November elections, not six weeks before them. Let’s face it, folks, Republicans like Sessions are scared shitless of the Tea Party right now. And while tea-baggers like to say they’re concerned primarily with fiscal issues, many of us recognize them as the same right-wing nutjobs who were peddling social issues five years ago.

In case you’re wondering, Sessions faces Democrat Grier Raggio in November.

UPDATE: Melissa Kennedy, a spokeswoman for National Log Cabin Republicans, contacted Instant Tea to say that our previous headline, which suggested the Sessions had gotten cold feet about the dinner due to pressure from social conservatives, was inaccurate. Kennedy said we should have contacted Log Cabin before posting it. She said Republican House leaders have called a mandatory meeting for tonight and so Sessions’ reason for not attending the dinner is legitimate. She said if Sessions was worried about how the Log Cabin appearance would look, he wouldn’t have accepted their invitation in the first place.

Sessions is sending a senior staff member to pick up his award from Log Cabin, and he’s videotaped a message that will be played during the dinner, Kennedy said.

“We don’t feel like someone left us at the altar,” she said.

Asked whether Log Cabin has any qualms about hosting Cornyn after he supported Tuesday’s filibuster of the bill containing language to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” Kennedy said absolutely not. Kennedy said Log Cabin supported Senate Republicans’ decision to filibuster the bill based on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to allow them to propose amendments.

“We’re not saying they’ve been our best buds and we’re going to have sleepovers, but we’re working on it and we appreciate the fact that they said yes,” Kennedy said of Cornyn and Sessions and their decision to accept the group’s invitation to the dinner.

—  John Wright

Commenter: ‘The only thing a disgusting faggot has a right to is a six foot hole in the ground’

We’re really starting to like this game, and we’re hoping a few of our tech-savvy readers will play along.

Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God. has confirmed, using an Internet Protocol (IP) address, that a comment left on his blog under a post about Tuesday’s DADT vote saying, “All Faggots Must Die,” originated in the office of Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia. And now Chambliss’ office is conducting its own internal investigation to determine the person responsible for the comment, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“We have seen the allegations and are moving quickly to understand the facts. This office has not and will not tolerate any activity of the sort alleged,” Chambliss spokeswoman Bronwyn Lance Chester said. “Once we have ascertained whether these claims are true, we will take the appropriate steps.”

Which brings us to a comment that was left here on Instant Tea on Tuesday, below a post about Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Pete Sessions receiving awards from the Log Cabin Republicans. The comment posted by someone calling himself “BillyBob” said: “the only thing a disgusting faggot has a right to is a six foot hole in the ground.”

We’re no experts, but using Google alone we’ve managed to trace the source of the comment to the area of Brady, Texas. So what we’re wondering is, can any of our readers figure out who posted it? If so, shoot us an e-mail. We’d like to know.

Here’s the full IP address: 71.116.4.78

—  John Wright

Cornyn, Sessions to get awards from Log Cabin

Frankly we’re tired of talking about how the Log Cabin Republicans plan to roll out the red carpet this coming Wednesday for anti-gay Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and anti-gay Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. But as if merely inviting these two to their national dinner wasn’t bad enough, it turns out Log Cabin also plans to bestow awards upon them. Yes, you read that right — AWARDS. According to a press release on the Log Cabin website, the group will present both Cornyn and Sessions with the Barry Goldwater Award, “which recognizes leaders in the Republican Party who have served their nation with distinction in the model of the late Senator Barry Goldwater.”

Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin notes that Sen. Goldwater famously denounced “don’t ask don’t tell,” saying: “You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.” Goldwater was also supportive of his gay grandson. Cornyn and Sessions? Not so much.

Maybe if they rename it the Heidi Fleiss Award …

—  John Wright

Right-wing group blasts Texas Sen. John Cornyn for appearing at Log Cabin Republicans dinner

Sen. John Cornyn

A while back we said we hoped Sen. John Cornyn and Congressman Pete Sessions, two anti-gay Texas Republicans, would face backlash from the religious right for pandering at a Log Cabin Republicans dinner later this month. Well, it looks like our wish is already starting to come true!

The right-wing Cambridge Theological Seminary, which claims to have hundreds of member churches in Texas, has posted an open letter to Cornyn saying it plans to oppose him in his next re-election bid and instead support a Tea Party candidate.

“John Cornyn, the junior Senator from Texas has announced that he will attend a fundraiser held by the homosexual same-sex-marriage Log Cabin Republicans, whose mission is to support ‘favored status and special rights for gay and lesbian Americans,’” the group writes. “We urge all Texans to seek his replacement immediately. If he is this bold in public, what is he behind closed doors?”

The group goes on to slam Cornyn for not even having a drop-down menu on his website devoted to “Pro-family and/or anti-same-sex causes.” The group accuses Cornyn of betraying his nation and God by supporting “sodomizing, AIDS-causing homosexuals who molest and rape little boys …”

Politics makes strange bedfellows, folks, and Instant Tea hereby announces an informal alliance with the Cambridge Theological Seminary to defeat Cornyn in 2014, albeit for opposite reasons. (Who knows, maybe they’ll even send us one of the free degrees they offer online.) Below is the e-mail the group says it sent to Cornyn.

—  John Wright

Sessions: One-third of Tea Party is Democrats

Anti-gay Republican Dallas Congressman Pete Sessions, right, has joined the Tea Party Caucus founded by Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann, left. I don’t know which is scarier — the political reality of this situation or these side-by-side photos of the pair. But I also wanted to share this mind-boggling assertion from The Hill’s story:

Sessions said that every Tea Party event that he’s been to over the past year and a half has consisted of “one-third Democrats, one-third Republicans and one-third Independents. They are 100 percent fired up about trying to save this country from a big government that is taxing, spending and causing deficit.”



—  John Wright