‘The Response’ returns, but without Perry

GetEqual at The Response

Get Equal protests at The Response last August in Houston

Remember The Response? The amalgam of Republican Party politics and  right-wing anti-LGBT “Christianity” Gov. Rick Perry used to launch his presidential campaign is back, but this time without Perry. The event’s organizers, including  hate group The American Family Association, have announced they plan to hold four more prayer rallies modeled on the August event in Houston, but are being careful to distance themselves from partisan politics in general and Perry’s flagging presidential campaign specifically:

“Though Governor Rick Perry initiated The Response in Houston, these upcoming state-wide gatherings will not be affiliated with any particular presidential candidates. The Response is committed to prayer above politics, to seeing the church moved to stand for righteousness and to pray for God’s mercy for America.”

Perry continues to sag in the polls, and his recent gaffs and apparent lack of basic English language skills make him an increasingly unattractive candidate for Republican voters, so it’s not surprising to see The Response scurry to flee the sinking Perry ship.

At the same time the locations of the four mini-Responses are interesting: Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and Arizona. All are key states during the Republican primary. So while The Response may have ditched Perry it’s clear that at least one of the things they’re praying for is a viable Republican presidential candidate.

—  admin

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Beautiful prayer from Archbishop Desmond Tutu

A gorgeous prayer has been published from Desmond Tutu in “Essence” magazine. Please go there and read the whole thing because it was hard to choose which excerpts to highlight and there is something very important Tutu writes about concerning the recognition of one’s mortality. Once we accept we are, indeed, not immortal do we act more cautiously or do we become bolder? These is a strong prayer from a true “fierce advocate.”

Today I pray for people in Africa and throughout the world who long for freedom because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It grieves me to be retiring at this crucial moment in history, so I write to you in this open letter, to invite you to pick up the work that remains to be done. More than 70 countries still imprison or execute gay and transgender people, and bullying and murders are all too common. This must change.

Each of you is called to respond to God’s urgency for love and life. So whether you are in South Africa, the United States or anywhere else, humanity needs to accept its own diversity as a gift from our Creator. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are part of our family of God.

Boldly, I urge all faith leaders and politicians to stop persecuting people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Every day people live in fear because of who they love. We are talking about our family members, our flesh and blood, our humanity. LGBT people are in our villages, towns, cities, countries — and our whole world.

Faith leaders are you listening? I’m impressed with Desmond Tutu, of course, for writing the prayer but grateful to “Essence” for providing the Archbishop a forum to address how hate of our LGBT community is incompatible with Christianity. I accepted my mortality in my early twenties while watching some of my friends die of AIDS back in the late 1980′s. We don’t have the luxury to wait for our supposed leaders to overcome their “fierce timidity,” nor do we have forever down here to make a positive contribution to LGBT civil rights, so let’s follow Archbishop Tutu’s example, and let us choose boldness!




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

I have puppies on the brain today; you benefit

This morning I formally adopted my new dog, Gulliver, a lab/terrier mix who, at four months, is as gentle and well-behaved as my wily older dogs. This picture is Gulliver and me a few minutes ago — he already is more popular in the office than I am.

As any pet owner knows, once you get a new addition to the family, you become a bore — talking and thinking of nothing but your new four-legged companion. So when I had to leave him for a while today in the care of a colleague to attend the dedication of the Annette Strauss Artists Square, I ended up showing everyone I knew a picture of him (just like I did for you just now).

One friend I met at the dedication who I bored with assertions of his cuteness told me about a video called “dog prayer” that she thought I would enjoy. I did. So here it is. Keep in mind, I am not a religious person, but even I respect the devotion showed by this ol’ hound.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gays in Updated Jewish Prayer Book

Rabbi Edward Feld X390 (RFHR) | ADVOCATE.COMA new book for the High Holy Days will modernize prayers and will for the first time include one for Jewish gays.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Modernized Jewish Prayer Book Includes Kaddish For Dead Gay Partners

God is no longer "awesome" — he is "awe-inspiring." That's according to the Hebrew speakers behind Lev Shalem, the new prayer book (or mahzor, for those in the know) for conservative Jews during the High Holy Days, which span Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It's "the Conservative movement’s first updating in nearly 40 years," the Times says, and is so modern and hip it even takes you queers into account.

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—  John Wright

Mother of gay murder victim Richard Hernandez dies without seeing justice for her son’s death

Richard Hernandez

A few weeks ago Rudy Araiza, who was a close friend of gay Dallas murder victim Richard Hernandez’s, voiced his frustration over continued delays in the prosecution of Hernandez’s accused killer, Seth Lawton Winder. Today, Araiza sends along word that Hernandez’s mother has passed away:

“Well I’m witting this letter to just reach out to you and inform you that it’s a terrible thing when your son’s passing is still at a point where no justice has been made for going on two years. And in your own life (Richard’s mom) you are struggling with pain, sadness, emptiness and health problems that don’t make it any easier to live with, until one day you die. Only to never really understand or find the justice you wanted for your son, yourself, friends or family, and having so much on your plate. Mary Garcia Hernandez passed away Monday, Aug. 23, 2010 from health issues she was dealing with. I can only pray to God and thank Him for not making her suffer anymore. Now in my heart I know that although she was suffering from the loss of her oldest son, and her health, that God will bring them together in the heavens above. I pray that her family will one day come to see the light from all this tragedy that has happened within a two year time span, and that we hold together and send a prayer out to them for all their grief.”

Sincerely,

Rudy Araiza

—  John Wright

GetEqual Now joins protest in Orlando

C.d. Kirven

Dallas activist C.d. Kirven and Get Equal Now joined Stand Up Florida to protest an appearance by National Organization for Marriage in Orlando, Florida.

In the picture, Kirven was leading a prayer and asked “Who would Jesus hate?”

NOM’s recent protests have attracted few people so instead of outdoor demonstrations, they have moved their anti-gay rhetoric indoors, speaking in churches.

The counterprotest outside the church also included Courage Campaign, Come Out Orlando, Florida Together, Human Rights Campaign, Queer Activist Coalition, ISO, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Metropolitan Community Church, among others.

Members of Get Equal Now and Stand Up Florida first met in Dallas in June when the group from the Sunshine State traveled to Dallas for the ExxonMobil protest.

Kirven said two NOM supporters were outside the church and about 10 were inside. Courage Campaign counted 150 NOM protesters.

One sign that read “Tradition is a Choice” referred to the accusation by conservative religious groups that homosexuality is a choice. Religion is a choice that is constitutionally protected.

“We had a victory in California and we are standing together for marriage equality today,” Kirven said at the rally. “This is not a battle between homosexual against heterosexual. This is a battle of justice against injustice. I would love to sit down with Dr. King who attended NOM’s Atlanta protest to begin a sisterhood between our communities. We must and will be free. Get Equal Now!”

—  David Taffet