With early voting in full swing, Stonewall Dems and Log Cabin go head to head in Dallas tonight

Expect bigger-than-usual turnouts at monthly meetings of the Dallas chapters of Stonewall Democrats and Log Cabin Republicans — now both held on the third Tuesday of the month. With early voting in full swing, candidates should be making last-ditch appeals to win over LGBT voters.

DV contributor Phyllis Guest, who serves as secretary for Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, reports that the group will also be celebrating an award prior to Tuesday’s meeting. The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, the statewide organization, has announced that the Dallas chapter will receive the Roberto J. Flores Club Achievement Award. From a press release:

Created to recognize Stonewall Democrats clubs for growth in membership and political activism, the award recalls Flores, first Chair of the Club Development Committee of the TSDC.

SDD is the largest of the state’s Stonewall Democrats clubs with more than 400 members and has served as a model for other clubs across Texas. Its outreach and energy have spurred the development of Stonewall clubs throughout Texas and have enabled the TSDC to gain recognition as the official LGBT Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party.

Dan Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, will present the award to Dallas President Omar Narvaez at a reception prior to the state party convention in Houston in June.

Stonewall meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Ojeda’s Restaurant, 4617 Maple Ave.

Meanwhile, Log Cabin’s monthly meeting will consist of a meet and greet for Dallas County Republican candidates, according to an email from the group.

“It’s a great, last minute opportunity to decide who it is you want to vote for — not by reading a pamphlet, but by reading a person. Already voted? Great! Join us for a drink anyway!” the group writes in an email.

The Log Cabin meeting runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Texas Land & Cattle, 3130 Lemmon Ave.

UPDATE: Speakers at the Stonewall meeting will include openly gay former State Rep. Glen Maxey, who’s running for Democratic National Committee, and Taylor Holden from the Obama campaign.

—  John Wright

Feedback • 03.02.12

Column on gay Catholics misguided

While I am not a member of Dignity, I am a gay Roman Catholic and felt Phyllis Guest’s article titled “Efforts to resurrect local gay Catholic group are misguided” was both unnecessary, and showed a lack of a broader understanding of the diversity of the LGBT community. I take this article as a blatant attempt to promote anti-Catholic bigotry in the name of gay rights. Hate for whatever reason is unacceptable. While I respect Guest’s right to her personal opinion, that opinion in my opinion is misguided and unhelpful.

LGBT people of faith have shown that change is indeed possible. For us Catholics who are LGBT we understand the tension that exists between our Catholic leadership and gay rights/marriage equality. We understand our journey will be a difficult one at times putting our own comfort on the line for moving the envelop of change within the church. Using Guest’s opinion as a guiding example would she say the same of Catholic women should they also throw out the baby with the water in terms of their faith?

I think Guest needs to educate herself about the Catholic faith, and more to the point the history and vision of Dignity. Apparently she seems to think that evolution played no part in those other churches who openly welcome LGBT people. I think Guest does a disservice to our community when she promotes division over unity. GLBT Catholics are as an important part of this community as any other group, and we owe none an apology for practicing our faith.

I would encourage any Catholics who are LGBT in Dallas and want to restart a Dignity chapter there to do so. While I belong to another national Catholic LGBT organization you should know you are not alone and, in my opinion you not only have our support, but the support of gay Catholics in Dallas. Especially during this season of Lent, I encourage you on your faith journey.

Joe Murray

Executive Director 
Rainbow Sash Movement

 

Attacks on Leppert are reprehensible

Not only are the attacks on Tom Leppert reprehensible and repugnant, the whole holier-than-thou attitudes of Cruz, James and Pittenger are disgusting. I could name several sins I’m sure that these men and woman have committed that would disqualifies them from their finger-pointing.

Personally I believe Thomas Purdy is a little late in his thinking that the Log Cabin Republicans will “…ensure the Party of Abraham Lincoln remains so and does not become the Party of Anita Bryant. …” The Republican Party is already worse than Anita Bryant’s “Party” ever thought of being. Also, Rob Schlein’s statement that he’s changing support from Cruz to Tom Leppert because of the attack on Leppert is assinine. Leppert has demonstrated he’s as big a hypocrite as the others. How any gay person truly interested in preserving the rights of “the community” can support a Republican candidate for anything is definitely open to question.  I seriously doubt there would be any candidate of the Republican Party at this point who would be willing to step up for LGBT causes. Frankly, gay Republicans have their heads in the sand and I don’t understand it.

Daniel Prado

 

Guest article borders on hate speech

It’s disturbing to find that the Dallas Voice would publish something like Phyllis Guest’s attack on Jim Davis’ attempt to rebuild Dignity Dallas, and the Roman Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality.

All Mr. Davis seems to be doing is trying to build a community for like-minded people to be a part of.

As to the church, why single them out? It would be one thing if its views were unique among mainline Christian denominations. Unfortunately for the most part they are all the same. And though there are movements to make positive changes toward homosexuality in some, to the best of my knowledge no major church has been able to totally accomplish this goal.

She says she has nothing against the Roman Catholic Church. I’d suggest you couldn’t prove that from reading her column.

Attack speech like this boarders on hate speech, and I hope this is the last time I see anything like this appearing in the Voice.

Frank M. Stich
Dallas

—  David Taffet

Dewhurst is neither dear nor a friend

Lieutenant governor’s email touts disastrous budget cuts as a success, says he’s preparing to share some ‘exciting news’

PHYLLIS GUEST | Contributing Columnist

As the Special Session of the Texas Legislature ended, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst posted a “Dear Friend” letter online.

The Internet being what it is, the letter also went to those who do not think him dear and do not consider him a friend.

In it, he touts what he considers the accomplishments of “[w]e conservatives.” These include cutting state spending by nearly $15 billion, balancing the budget without raising taxes, preserving Rainy Day funds for future budget balancing, enacting a strong voter ID law, passing legislation to reduce frivolous lawsuits, and protecting the unborn.

Let’s look at a few of the people and services that got the axe:

• School teachers

• School librarians

• Public library services

• Nursing home care

• Stipends for college

• Access to contraceptives

• Access to low-cost health care

• Food, etc., for prisoners

The list goes on and on. But the list is sad, while the letter is funny — assuming you enjoy black humor.

The first funny thing is that Dewhurst reminds readers five times of his position on the political spectrum. In addition to noting what “[w]e conservatives” did to make the 82nd Legislature “one of the most successful in Texas history,” he mentions his conservative record, his conservative values, the Lege’s conservative victories, and the wonders of conservative change.

Also funny is his claim to having reduced current state spending by almost $15 billion. Does he think we have forgotten that he and Gov. Rick Perry never mentioned, during the last re-election campaign, our state’s shabby fiscal condition? Only later did we learn that our state was $25 billion in the hole. That’s give or take a few billion, according to State Comptroller Susan Coombs.

Even funnier is his pride in the passage of the voter ID law “to protect the integrity of our elections.” Remind us how many unqualified individuals have dashed to the polls, desperate to vote? How distressing it was to wait for hours, in pouring rain or blazing sun, to get to a voting machine? Apparently it is true that a handful of ineligible people have voted, and some have been cited for technical violations. However, far more Texans turned out for the Dallas Mavericks parade than for the Dallas mayoral runoff. Go Mavs!

Funnier still is that he boasts of providing “pregnant women the opportunity to see a sonogram of their unborn child.” Does he believe no such opportunity had existed before? To his mind, and that of his colleagues, have clinics and clinicians across the state refused pregnant women access to ultrasound technology available even in (gasp!) Africa and Asia? As to his companion boast of “requiring a 24-hour waiting period” before a woman can get an abortion? Only a stupid straight or a closeted queen could deem that the state’s business.

Finally, Dewhurst probably thinks clamping down low-cost health care is a real knee-slapper. The June 29 Dallas Morning News reported that the new state budget cuts funds to Parkland’s family planning clinics by more than half, or about $5 million. Statewide, $63 million was cut from family planning programs. So the Lege is punishing not only an organization that refers women for abortion services — Planned Parenthood — but all low-income women. Men, too, of course. And the unwanted children who will be born as a result.

The 82nd Legislature on which Dewhurst was “proud to report” tore a $467 million hole in the state’s already frayed social safety net, lopping off chunks of the Medicaid program that would have helped, according to the DMN, poor children, pregnant women, nursing home residents, and the disabled.

But here’s the best part of the Dewhurst letter. After assuring readers that he and his wife, Tricia, had prayed over his future, he reports — in bold face type — “we will have exciting news to share with you about what we will do next.”

Be still, my heart.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist and member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Contact her via editor@dallasvoice.com.

—  John Wright

Progress in the fight against bullying

Laws passed by Texas Legislature this session aren’t perfect, but they are progress in the battle

PHYLLIS GUEST | Contributing Columnist

Last month, clinical psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University published a study in the journal Pediatrics entitled “The social environment and suicide attempts in lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth.” The article uses information on 32,000 high school juniors in Oregon.

Why Oregon? Because it is the only state reporting to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control the three-part data set Hatzenbuehler chose to consider: sexual orientation, self-reported suicide attempts and personal contacts by county health professionals.

Maybe the findings are predictable to mental health professionals who work with teens on a day-to-day basis. But to me and to others with whom I’ve spoken, they are startling.

Taking the proportion of voting Democrats as a proxy for a liberal county environment, Hatzenbuehler found that LGBT teens living in politically conservative locales are significantly more depressed and suicidal than teens living in politically progressive areas.

Even straight kids in conservative areas — areas in which no programs supporting gay rights exist — are more likely to report depression or to say they’ve attempted suicide.

What are the numbers? In the most conservative Oregon counties, some 25 percent of LGBT teens have attempted suicide, and 9 percent of straight teens have made similar attempts.

In the liberal counties, 20 percent of LGBT teens have tried to kill themselves, and 4 percent of straight teens have done so.

Hatzenbuehler has published a number of studies on the mental health of LGBs, and in this case he is considering how “structural forms of discrimination affect socially disadvantaged groups” — structural meaning, in this case, the ways in which conservative communities refuse to accept LGBs.

His findings coincide with those of other researchers, who have reported that — along with strong family ties — caring teachers and safe schools can sharply reduce teens’ suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

In a brief phone interview, Hatzenbuehler said he hopes community groups and, in particular, school districts, will use his research as a “road map for how we can reduce suicide ideation and suicide attempts by creating a safe, supportive school environment.”

Hatzenbuehler points out that last summer, the New York Senate passed the Dignity for All Students Act (only three of 61 legislators voted no).

Signed into law by then-Gov. David Patterson on Sept. 8, 2010, the act “prohibits harassment against students based on, among other attributes, “sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity and expression) and sex…and further prohibits discrimination based on these characteristics.”

The law applies to all New York State public schools.

Now back to Texas, which despite a supermajority of Republicans in the Legislature, is making progress against school bullying and for teen suicide prevention — though not specifically against the bullying or suicide attempts of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual students.

The Legislature in May passed two bills backed by Equality Texas. The first is an anti-bullying bill originally named in honor of Asher Brown, the gay 13-year-old who committed suicide after being bullied at his school. The second instructs the Department of State Health Services to “develop resources designed to prevent teen suicide, including mental health counseling, crisis prevention tools and suicide prevention education.”

So here’s the takeaway: How protective the new Texas laws will be for LGBT youth remains to be seen. For one thing, unlike in New York, schools in Texas would have “the option of implementing the programs” developed because of the new law and thus could very well opt out.

For another, on that same bill, the Senate Education committee added some provisions, including one that prohibits a student from seeking counseling without a parent’s knowledge.

So these pieces of legislation are not perfect. But they are progress.

As of June 1, Gov. Rick Perry had not signed either anti-bullying bill into law. But there is hope in Texas that we are finally doing something to keep our children safe — or at least safer — from bullying and its all-too-often deadly consequences.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist and member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Contact her via editor@dallasvoice.com.

—  John Wright

Oak Lawn Library gets more LGBT stuff, but hours are in danger of being cut in half

Oak Lawn Branch Library volunteer and Stonewall Democrats board member Phyllis Guest reports that the library’s selection of gay titles on DVD has quadrupled in the last few months:

The OLL has long had a selection of LGBTA books, both fiction and
nonfiction, with a number of  new “Young Adult” novels coming in the
last year or so.

But the selection of movies and TV series on DVDs has been meager.

Then, between Thursday, April 1 (when I went on Grand Jury duty and
had to stop volunteering several days a week) and Thursday, May 27,
the DVD collection quadrupled.

Good news for the gayborhood, I think.

Phyllis

And now for the bad news: The Dallas Morning News reports today that the city may cut hours in half at neighborhood libraries next year, from 40 a week to 20 a week, due to the huge budget shortfall. Read more about that by going here.

—  John Wright

Stonewall backs 59 candidates in primary

Phyllis Guest, from left, Erin Moore and Ron Ausemus are sworn in as three of Stonewall's officers for 2010 during last night's meeting at Ojeda's.
Phyllis Guest, from left, Erin Moore and Ron Ausemus are sworn in as three of Stonewall’s officers for 2010 during last night’s meeting at Ojeda’s.

I’ll have more on Bill White’s keynote speech to Stonewall Democrats last night in Friday’s Voice, but for now I wanted to share a full list of the group’s 59 endorsements in the March 2 primary. The list was ratified almost unanimously by Stonewall’s general membership last night, after being recommended by an endorsement committee that met last weekend.  Out of 150 people who attended the standing-room-only meeting last night at Ojeda’s, only two voted against the slate, with an additional two abstaining. I’ve posted a full list of Stonewall’s endorsed candidates after the jump.

—  John Wright

Dallas City Council to vote today on whether to reinstate funding for HIV/AIDS services

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas board member Phyllis Guest sent over a document this morning detailing the impacts of the city’s budget cuts related to HIV/AIDS services. Guest and other Stonewall members reportedly are at City Hall again today lobbying councilmembers to reinstate the HIV/AIDS funding, as has been proposed in a budget amendment from Councilwoman Angela Hunt.

According to Guest, Dallas County Health and Human Services has agreed to pick up the cost of an epidemiologist that was being paid for by the city and was included in the cuts, meaning the overall impact is now only $280,000 as opposed to $325,000. As written, Hunt’s amendment would reinstate $250,000 for HIV/AIDS services.

DV Publisher Robert Moore asked me this morning whether I think there’s any chance the cuts will be reinstated, and my simple answer to him was, “I don’t know.” I’ve heard all summer from city sources that there’s little chance HIV/AIDS funding would be reinstated given the city’s $190 million shortfall. But the work of Stonewall members and others this summer appears to be paying off, at least in the form of Hunt’s amendment. Dallas Morning News reporter Rudy Bush, who has a much better handle on the situation than me, reported this morning that Hunt’s amendment “is likely to get serious consideration.” The council is expected to vote on all of the proposed budget amendments today before finalizing the budget next week.

Ultimately, I suspect other amendments will take priority over Hunt’s (it looks like a few have already passed), but kudos to her for introducing it. If nothing else, the debate will raise awareness about the affected programs and hopefully carry over into next year, when the city may or may not be in a better financial situation. What’s the old saying about how when times get tough, you learn who your real friends are? Hunt is surely one of them.

If you’re interested in following today’s proceedings more closely, check out The DMN’s City Hall blog. Also, read the document prepared by Guest about the impact of the cuts after the jump.

—  John Wright