VICTORY: Appeals court blocks recall of El Paso officials who voted in favor of DP benefits

Friday's ruling was a major setback for anti-gay Pastor Tom Brown, who may also face criminal charges.

In a victory for supporters of LGBT equality, a Texas appeals court has rejected an effort to recall El Paso Mayor John Cook and two other council members over their support of domestic partner benefits for unmarried city employees.

Texas’ 8th Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Friday that recall organizers, led by anti-gay Pastor Tom Brown, broke the law in gathering petition signatures for the recall election, which had been scheduled for this spring.

After the El Paso City Council first approved DP benefits for gay and straight city workers in 2009, Brown spearheaded a ballot measure that overturned them in 2010. Last year, after the City Council voted to restore DP benefits, Brown’s group launched its recall effort, which was challenged in court by Cook. A county judge initially ruled against Cook, but the appeals court overturned that decision.

The El Paso chapter of PFLAG issued a statement Friday saying: “It is with jubilation that the recall election, supported by Christian bigots, has finally reached the finish line. The judges clearly saw that this attempt was purely done out of hatred, disguised as the word of God.”

Brown and others may also face criminal charges based on the appeals court’s ruling, which found that his Word of Life Church violated a statute prohibiting corporate political contributions to recall elections. The court also found that Brown’s group, El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, illegally raised money in support of the recall when it wasn’t registered as a political action committee.

Brown said recall organizers will appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, but an attorney for Mayor Cook believes it’s highly unlikely the high court would take the case. Cook, who cast the deciding vote in favor of restoring DP benefits last year, reportedly has spent $225,000 on his lawsuit seeking to block the recall. The mayor said he now plans to seek monetary damages against Brown’s group.

—  John Wright

Natinsky gets endorsement nod from DGLA

REACHING OUT | Dallas mayoral candidates, from left, Mike Rawlings, Ron Natinsky and David Kunkle listen to a speaker during the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance PAC endorsements screenings. All three of the major candidates sought the DGLA endorsement, which eventually went to Natinsky. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Organization’s list of endorsed candidates includes some significant difference compared to Stonewall Democrats’ list

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s political action committee has released the list of candidates the PAC is backing in the upcoming Dallas city elections. Endorsed candidates include Ron Natinsky for mayor and Angela Hunt for City Council District 14.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas had issued its endorsements earlier, and for the first time, the two lists differ considerably. DGLA is nonpartisan, whereas Stonewall’s bylaws allows that organization to only endorse Democrats.

Stonewall backed former police chief David Kunkle for mayor and James Nowlin against incumbent Hunt.

All three major candidates for mayor sought the backing of both groups. Natinsky withdrew his request from Stonewall when his eligibility was questioned because he is Republican.

At the time, Stonewall President Omar Narvaez pointed out that some of his group’s members supported Natinsky and he thanked the candidate for addressing their meeting.
DGLA has endorsed Natinsky previously in two of his council elections.

Mike Rawlings sought the endorsement of both groups, spoke at a Stonewall meeting and appeared at the DLGA candidate forum. Hoever, DGLA issued a warning along with its mayoral endorsement.

“Mr. Rawlings’ passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people,” DGLA President Patti Fink wrote in her endorsement email.

The statement was crafted by the PAC, debated and approved, according to DLGA PAC Chair Damien Duckett. He said that the majority of time spent in deciding whom to endorse was spent on the mayor’s race.

“Our interviews are confidential,” Duckett said, “So we can’t divulge details of the conversation.”

But he said that after speaking to Rawlings, the whole group was left with a sense of frustration. Still, he called the endorsement in the mayor’s race a hard decision.

Neil Emmons is a Rawlings supporter who said he was surprised by the warning against his favored candidate.

“When he [Rawlings] came in on the homeless issue, he didn’t know anything about it. He studied, learned best practices and became the best advocate for The Bridge. That speaks volumes about who he is,” Emmons said. “And he did the same thing on the park board.”

Duckett disagreed.

“His work with the homeless didn’t have a lot to do with civil rights and GLBT equality as it relates to business,” he said.

Duckett said there was a painstaking process that took weeks before coming up with the endorsements. That included reviewing candidate questionnaires, interviews and a candidate forum.

“The three candidates represented different things to us,” he said.

Duckett said that Kunkle was an extraordinary man who’s had an impact on the city and identifies with neighborhoods. He called Rawlings the CEO-type who would be great for economic development.

But Natinsky “seemed like the perfect marriage of both of those,” Duckett said. “He has the experience to hit the ground running. He already has a presence in the community. So many of the qualities we were looking for.”

Both Stonewall and DLGA did agree on some council races. Both are backing Pauline Medrano in District 2 and Scott Griggs in District 3. In the last election, DGLA supported District 3 incumbent Dave Neumann.

Duckett said that DGLA addressed charges that Medrano opponent Billy MacLeod has leveled, claiming yard signs have been stolen and contributors intimidated with city inspections.

Duckett called Griggs “a genuine guy who has the experience to understand the complexities of the district and ideas on how to develop the southern sector.”

DGLA endorsed Luis Sepulveda in District 6 while Stonewall threw its support to Monica Alonzo.

Duckett said Sepulveda has been involved in important quality-of-life issues in the district for decades. He also cited Sepulveda’s previous public service as a justice of the peace and involvement in social justice issues as reasons the group threw their support to him.

Both organizations endorsed Casie Pierce in District 7. Pierce, who is lesbian, is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis, who did not seek either group’s backing.

For District 10, DGLA backed Jerry Allen, whom they have supported in the past. Stonewall endorsed Cynthia Durbin. Duckett said they would have liked to talk to Durbin more, but she arrived late for her candidate’s screening on a day that was booked and she did not attend the public candidates’ forum.

For District 12, DGLA made no endorsement because William Tsao did not come to his interview. He attended the DGLA candidate’s forum and had already received Stonewall’s nod.

Duckett said the endorsement for District 14 was easy and handled quickly. He called Angela Hunt someone who has worked hard to represent the LGBT community.

In that race, Stonewall endorsed Nowlin in a close vote.

Three other candidates received endorsements from DGLA in races where Stonewall did not endorse. DLGA is backing Sheffie Kadane in District 9, Linda Koop in District 11 and Ann Margolin in District 13. All three are incumbents and all have appeared in Dallas’ gay Pride parade.

Duckett mentioned that Margolin has attended Log Cabin Republican of Dallas events. Log Cabin does not make endorsements in non-partisan races.

—  John Wright

Endorsement vs. endorsement

Patti Fink, left, and Damien Duckett

Stonewall Democrats backs Kunkle for mayor, Nowlin for District 14; nonpartisan DGLA prepares for candidate screenings

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s political action committee began its candidate screening process this week for the May 8 Dallas municipal elections.

Last weekend, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas interviewed candidates and has released its endorsements.

Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said his group looks for candidates who are inclusive of the community.

“But we are partisan,” Narvaez said. “We’re looking for good Democrats.”

That’s the big difference between Stonewall and DGLA.

DGLA President Patti Fink said, “We’re non-partisan and have been since the 1970s.”

In the mayor’s race, Stonewall interviewed only three of the candidates. Ron Natinsky, the fourth, spoke at Stonewall’s monthly membership meeting the previous week and honestly answered a question that he had voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

Although he had originally asked for the group’s endorsement, he withdrew his request when Stonewall members questioned his eligibility based on their bylaws that prevent the group from endorsing Republicans.

That won’t be a sticking point for DGLA.

“DGLA endorsed him in the past,” Fink said, “And we’re looking forward to speaking to him again this year.”

Stonewall gave its nod to former police chief David Kunkle. Mike Rawlings also received considerable support, and Edward Opka screened with the group as well.

What gave Kunkle the edge, Narvaez said, was that all of Rawlings’ answers revolved around business.

“Business is a very important part of our city,” Narvaez said, “But you’ve got to think about the parks, the libraries.”

He said Kunkle spoke movingly about inclusiveness and talked about working with a transgender officer who transitioned on the job.

“He reinstated the liaison and made the position full-time,” Narvaez said, referring to the LGBT police liaison position. “His experiences were heartfelt.”

In the District 14 race, the vote was close, but in the end, the endorsement went to openly gay candidate James Nowlin over incumbent Angela Hunt.

“It was a coin flip,” Narvaez said. “That was a tough one.”

Although the vote was split, Stonewall does not do dual endorsements. He said Stonewall makes a single recommendation and then works to get that candidate elected.

“We’ll block walk, fund raise, put out yard signs, advertise, distribute push cards,” he said.

DGLA has made dual endorsements in the past when the committee’s vote was close and two candidates seemed equally suitable.

Stonewall attracted 73 people to their candidate forum. All were able to ask the candidates questions. Of those, 57 were current members who were allowed to vote on the endorsements.

Damien Duckett, DGLA’s political action committee chair, heads that group’s endorsement process. He said DGLA has a three-step procedure.

This week, they began contacting candidates by phone and sending questionnaires.

When Natinsky withdrew his name from the Stonewall endorsement process, he also released his questionnaire. Stonewall’s policy is to shred questionnaires after the endorsements are announced.

But DGLA keeps its questionnaires on file.

When President George Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court in 2005, DGLA released her written answers to a 1989 Dallas City Council election endorsement questionnaire, a document that contradicted some of Miers’ statements after she was nominated.

But, Duckett said, the questionnaires are normally not released.

Duckett said that after candidates return the requested information, the organization schedules a confidential interview with the screening committee. Those will be held over several days during the next two weeks.

DLGA’s Don Baker Educational Fund, the non-profit branch that is separate from the DGLA PAC, will hold an open candidate forum on April 9. Everyone running for city office is invited to participate and the public is invited to interact with the candidates.

The committee will then vote and Duckett said he expects to release the group’s endorsements the following Monday or Tuesday.

“We’re the only nonpartisan LGBT endorsements in Dallas,” Duckett said.

“We’ve endorsed a number of Republicans over the years,” Fink said.

Among them is Natinsky, who was endorsed by DGLA for his current council seat.

“DGLA isn’t interested in your voting history,” Duckett said. “Simply your views on LGBT issues.”

He said he was surprised at some of the candidates who indicated that they wanted DGLA’s endorsement.

District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis asked for a questionnaire. Although she never sought the group’s endorsement before, this time Davis has an opponent — Casie Pierce, who is openly lesbian and received Stonewall’s endorsement.

Duckett said the committee would concentrate on how candidates support five issues that DGLA expects to be action items over the next two-year council term.

DGLA and Stonewall endorsements are usually the same. In some council races, DGLA has endorsed Republicans in races that Stonewall offered no endorsement.

But in this race there may be different endorsements in major races including District 14 and mayor.

Both groups said they would work for their endorsed candidates. Neither thought that presented a conflict in the community.

Fink said she thought it was a sign of maturity that a variety of candidates held appeal within the LGBT community.

Narvaez said that in the District 14 race, the margin between Nowlin and Hunt was razor thin.

He acknowledged that some Stonewall members are working with Hunt’s campaign and said that although Stonewall would work for Nowlin, members were free to work for any candidate they chose.

“There were hurt feeling on both sides in that one,” Narvaez said. “It hurt to make that phone call [to Hunt]. You had to pick between two friends.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

No GOProud at next year’s CPAC

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

There is a surprise! Not really.

GOProud, the allegedly gay Republican organization whose involvement with the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference stirred up so much anger among the right-wing they are politely being asked to not come back. GOProud’s presence atthe conference was enough to make a few very large participants stay away. Those include, Heritage Foundation, Concerned Women for America, Media Research Center and the hate group, Family Research Council.

Apparently the CPAC cannot afford to alienate these major players in their activities, so the gays get thrown under the Republican bus. Again, I have to wonder why the hell a group who is plainly not welcome and whose very existence goes against some of the GOP platform planks calls itself Republican? The degree of self-loathing of the GOProud folks is apparently limitless. For example, GOProud volunteer Matt Hissey is quoted in the above video saying, “I don’t really like gay people.” Nice!

—  admin

Anti-gay Rep. Sally Kern: ‘What I think doesn’t matter. What the Bible says is what counts’

Anti-gay Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern and Democratic opponent Brittany Novotny, a transgender woman, appeared on KFOR’s Flash Point over the weekend (video above). Novotny says on her website she wanted to have a town hall forum where she and Kern could address issues of concern to House District 84 residents, but Kern wouldn’t agree to the format. So instead they went on Flash Point. The clip is worth watching in its entirety, but here’s a snippet:

HOST: Do you have a problem with Brittany’s lifestyle, somebody who’s transitioned from a man to a woman through surgical and medicinal means?

KERN: “Well that’s a great question and I have to answer it like this with another question. As Christians are we supposed to believe and obey the Bible?  The Bible says in Psalm 139, it says God created us, he formed us in our mother’s womb, and we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. And so what I think doesn’t matter. It’s what the Bible says is what counts, and that’s what I try to live my life by. But you know the Bible also says God loves every one one of us, has a purpose and a plan for every one of us, forgives each one of us if we come to him and humbly ask his forgiveness. I can’t judge anyone’s heart and have never tried to do that, although I’ve been accused of that. But you know, it’s not the norm, I’ll just say that.”

The race between Novotny and Kern was also featured in The New York Times over the weekend, in an article about transgender candidates across the country:

Not that gender issues have not been raised in some campaigns. In the Oklahoma House race, Ms. Novotny — who had a sex change operation in 2007 — shrugged off a recent e-mail from Charlie Meadows, the chairman of a conservative political action committee, which referred to her as an “it.”

“That’s just the typical politics I would expect out of that side,” she said. “And frankly it’s what voters are tired of.”

Read the full New York Times article by going here.

—  John Wright

HRC still calling on Target to ‘Make it right’

Target Retail StoreA reader wrote to me last week and said that he and his boyfriend are continuing to boycott Target, and he requested an update.

I contacted Paul Guequierre, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, who said the organization is still calling on Target to “Make it right.”

At issue was Target’s $150,000 donation to MN Forward, a political action committee supporting the candidacy of anti-gay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

Guequierre said HRC has staff in Minnesota working for the Mark Dayton campaign. Dayton is the Democrat opposing Emmer, a Republican.

“Minnesota could be the next state to have marriage equality,” Guequierre said.

But he said that will only happen with Dayton as governor. Currently, Dayton is ahead in the polls.

Target’s parent company was originally called Dayton-Hudson and candidate Dayton, whom Target opposes, comes from the store’s founding family.

Guequierre said if Dayton wins, “Target will have to ask themselves if it was worth it. Their reputation within the community has changed.”

Personally, since being asked to leave a local Target for asking questions while trying to cover this story, I’ve stayed away and am unlikely to go back. I don’t shop where the LGBT community is not welcome, but I really avoid stores where I’ve been thrown out. (The offensive question: Has the LGBT boycott of Target affected your store at all?)

Target once received a perfect score of 100 percent in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. This year, the company had 15 points deducted because of the political contribution and its refusal to make it right.

Best Buy also made a large donation to MN Forward and has not made it right either.

But Guequierre said HRC has never called for a boycott.

“Both companies treat their LGBT employees right,” he said.

So there is no HRC-sanctioned boycott, but many members of the LGBT community have decided to find other places to shop.

—  David Taffet

Sally Kern supporter now calling her transgender opponent a ‘he’ instead of ‘a confused it’

Brittany Novotny

The Oklahoman reports that a right-wing group backing anti-gay State Rep. Sally Kern, which previously referred to Kern’s transgender opponent Brittany Novotny as “a confused it,” is now referring to Novotny as a “he.”

Charlie Meadows is chairman of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee:

Meadows in an e-mail he sent out Tuesday, talks about an invitation he extended to Novotny, the Democratic candidate in the House District 84 race, which covers western Oklahoma City and the Bethany area, to attend his group’s weekly meeting.

“Hopefully Brittany will decide to attend,” Meadows wrote. “If he wants to talk about issues, we will do that.

“If … Brittany is a conservative, is he confused? After all, if he is a conservative, why is he a member of the liberal Democratic Party?”

Meadows, who earlier called Novotny a “confused it,” said he now refers to Novotny as a male because he believes Novotny still has the DNA makeup of a male.

“That’s a more accurate description,” he said.

Novotny said: “He’s free to call me what he wants. I’m comfortable with who I am.

Novotny has declined Meadows’ invitation to appear at an OCPAC meeting alongside a representative from the extremist John Birch Society. Instead, she has proposed a town hall where both she and Kern could appear and answer questions for voters from the district. Not surprisingly, Meadows has declined Novotny’s invitation to help put together the town hall, citing his busy schedule, according to an e-mail exchange posted on Novotny’s website:

I have significant events on October 8th, 9th, 12th and the 26th which all will require a fair amount of my time in planning and attendence,” Meadows wrote. “In addition, I will be out of state for a few days in October. I simply don’t have the time to be part of this effort.”

—  John Wright

Will Cornyn remember Log Cabin singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his wife next time he screws us?

Our first report from Wednesday night’s Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner comes from The Standard-Times of San Angelo. Anti-gay Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who accepted an award from the gay GOP group and spoke at a reception prior to the dinner, reportedly told them he was amazed at the controversy surrounding his appearance there:

“I guess perhaps it speaks to the times we find ourselves in where people are so unwilling to find grounds of commonality where we do agree despite some honest differences and firmly held differences of opinion,” Cornyn told about 60 guests at the Log Cabin Republicans Political Action Committee.

They listened, clapping enthusiastically at times, to the Senate’s chief fundraiser the day after the social conservative voted to block the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving in the military. The LCR is leading a legal fight to repeal the ban.

Cornyn also opposes same-sex marriage.

The event was closed to the press, but an audio recording showed that those attending the event sang “Happy Birthday” to Cornyn’s wife, Sandy, after he told them it was her birthday Tuesday.

“I’m sure you have made her day,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in the recording provided by an attendee of the PAC reception.

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright

Kern supporters start slinging mud at Novotny

It appears that the mudslinging has started in the race for the District 84 seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where incumbent Republican Sally Kerns of Oklahoma City is facing Democratic challenger Brittany Novotny, a transgender woman also from Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee sent an e-mail to its members on Tuesday, Sept. 7, in which Novotny was described as “a confused ‘it’” who hates God.

The e-mail, signed by Charlie Meadows and headlined “Sally Kern’s opponent in Hollywood for a fundraiser,” said, in part:

“Brittany used to be a ‘he,’ had a sex change operation to make him into a ‘her’ but turned out to become a confused ‘it.’ Some have suggested that having a sex change operation is a person’s greatest act of rebellion and hatred toward God for His making them what they were.

“It is truly sad to see people reject God’s love for them by being willing to mutilate themselves. If they would submit their life to God, they could find the true the joy in life that will forever elude them while on their path of rebellion. ”

Kern is the legislator who in 2008 was tape recorded telling a Republican group that LGBT people are a bigger threat to America than terrorism. She recently defended those remarks, telling an Oklahoma City TV station that while there have been only three “real big” terrorist attacks on the U.S., society is constantly “bombarded with the message that homosexuality is normal and natural.”

In a statement released Thursday, Sept. 9, Novotny responded: “If Rep. Kern and her allies spent as much time focusing on Oklahoma’s future as they seem to spend worrying about my past, maybe we could keep teachers in the classroom and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

“This type of personal attack is what Oklahomans are tired of, and it shows why Kern and her political allies continue to be out of touch with mainstream Oklahoma values,” Novotny added.

Novotny also said that OCPAC’s claim that she hates God is “ridiculous,” and noted that she attends services at United Church of Christ.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Group backing Sally Kern calls her transgender opponent Brittany Novotny ‘a confused it’

Brittany Novotny

A political action committee that supports Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern sent an e-mail to members this week calling Kern’s transgender opponent, Democrat Brittany Novotny, “a confused it.” The e-mail from the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee, posted on Novotny’s website on Thursday, goes on to say that “Some have suggested that having a sex change operation is a person’s greatest act of rebellion and hatred toward God for His making them what they were.”

“It is truly sad to see people reject God’s love for them by being willing to mutilate themselves,” the OCPAC e-mail states. “If they would submit their life to God, they could find the true the joy in life that will forever elude them while on their path of rebellion. The hatred and rage toward Sally continues unabated in the homosexual community because Sally dared to declare their political agenda for what it truly is, more dangerous to the future of America than the threat of terrorism.”

The OCPAC e-mail comes not long after Kern herself defended the infamous 2008 comment saying homosexuals pose a bigger threat to national security than terrorists.

“Here in America we’ve had what, maybe three known real big terrorist attacks on our nation,” Kern told Fox 25 in Oklahoma City recently. “But every day our young people especially, all of us, but our young people especially are in a sense bombarded with the message that homosexuality is normal and natural.”

OCPAC is the same group that sent out a memo in March 2008 accusing the LGBT community of harassing Kern in response to the 2008 statements.

“It is obvious the agenda of the homosexual community and their liberal friends is to make life hell for Sally Kern, it is becoming the definition of harassment,” OCPAC said in the March 2008 memo. “This is getting ready to backfire upon the homosexuals as this is Oklahoma, not a homosexual infested liberal enclave like some parts of the United States.”

Below is the text of OCPAC’s e-mail this week:

—–Original Message—–
From: ocpacupdate@googlegroups.com [mailto:ocpacupdate@googlegroups.com] On
Behalf Of Charlie Meadows
Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:06 AM
To: Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee
Subject: OCPAC e-mail

Members and friends of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action
Committee (OCPAC). …

SALLY KERN’S OPPONENT IN HOLLYWOOD FOR A FUNDRAISER

A week ago Saturday, State Representative Sally Kern’s opponent Brittany Novotny attended a fundraiser on her behalf in the home of Hollywood actor and voice over artist Ben Patrick Johnson. In a group picture I saw, presumably at Johnson’s home in West Hollywood, Brittany was actually smiling right in the middle of what I guess was about 50 likeminded people.

Brittany used to be a “he”, had a sex change operation to make him into a “her” but turned out to become a confused “it.” Some have suggested that having a sex change operation is a person’s greatest act of rebellion and hatred toward God for His making them what they were.

It is truly sad to see people reject God’s love for them by being willing to mutilate themselves. If they would submit their life to God, they could find the true the joy in life that will forever elude them while on their path of rebellion. The hatred and rage toward Sally continues unabated in the homosexual community because Sally dared to declare their political agenda for what it truly is, more dangerous to the future of America than the threat of terrorism.

Brittany has suggested Sally doesn’t represent the values of her constituents. Sally, on the other hand, from the time she first ran for office, told her constituents that she was a Christian and would stand for traditional morality and family values. Aside from the moral issues, Sally is one of the most conservative and well informed lawmakers in the state on a broad range of issues. In November, we will see which set of values the voters in HD 84 care most about. Remember, all elections are first about the quality and character of the voters.

I look forward to seeing everyone this Wednesday.

Charlie Meadows

—  John Wright