Judge to rule this week in Nikki Araguz case

Nikki Araguz

Transgender widow vows appeal if she loses case

JUAN A. LOZANO  |  Associated Press

WHARTON, Texas — The transgender widow of a Texas firefighter will likely learn next week whether his family’s request to nullify their marriage and strip her of any death benefits will be granted, a judge said Friday.

State District Judge Randy Clapp made the announcement after hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by the family of firefighter Thomas Araguz III, who was killed while battling a blaze last year. The suit argues that his widow shouldn’t get any benefits because she was born a man and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The widow, Nikki Araguz, said she had done everything medically and legally possible to show that she is female and was legally married under Texas law. She believes that she’s entitled to widow’s benefits.

“I believe the judge is going to rule in my favor,” Araguz said after the court hearing.

The lawsuit seeks control over death benefits and assets totaling more than $600,000, which the firefighter’s family wants to go to his two sons from a previous marriage. Voiding the marriage would prevent Nikki Araguz from receiving any insurance or death benefits or property the couple had together.

Thomas Araguz died while fighting a fire at an egg farm near Wharton, about 60 miles southwest of Houston, in July 2010. He was 30.

His mother, Simona Longoria, filed a lawsuit asking that her son’s marriage be voided. She and her family have said he learned of his wife’s gender history just prior to his death, and after he found out, he moved out of their home and planned to end the marriage.

But Nikki Araguz, 35, has insisted that her husband was aware she was born a man and that he fully supported her through the surgical process to become a woman. She underwent surgery two months after they were married in 2008.

Longoria’s attorney, Chad Ellis, argued that Texas law — specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender — supports his client’s efforts to void the marriage.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband’s death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage and wrongful death claim were invalid.

Ellis presented medical and school records that he said showed Nikki Araguz was born without female reproductive organs and that she presented herself as a male while growing up and going to school. He also said her birth certificate at the time of her marriage indicated she was a man.

“By law, two males cannot be married in this state,” Ellis told the judge.

Nikki Araguz, who was born in California, did not change her birth certificate to reflect she had become a female until after her husband’s death, said Edward Burwell, one of the attorneys for Thomas Araguz’s ex-wife, Heather Delgado, the mother of his two children.

But one of Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Darrell Steidley, said that when his client got her marriage license, she presented the necessary legal documents to show she was a female. He also noted changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed people to present numerous alternatives to a birth certificate as the proof of identity needed to get a marriage license. That was an example, he argued, of the state trying to move away from the 1999 appeals court ruling.

The changes in 2009 allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license. The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing a sex change as documentation to get married.

After the hearing, the firefighter’s family and attorneys for his ex-wife criticized plans by Nikki Araguz to star in a reality television dating show and implied she was only interested in money and fame that the case would bring her.

“That is absurd,” Nikki Araguz said in response. “I’m after my civil equality and the rights that I deserve as the wife of a fallen firefighter.”

If the judge rules against the firefighter’s family in their motion for a summary judgment, the case would then proceed to trial. Araguz said if the judge rules against her, she would appeal, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

—  John Wright

2011 International GLBT Press Tour

[youtube BQ9f4itQNOs&feature=related youtube]

—  John Wright

Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s Press Conference

After discussing the details of the shooting and the investigation, Sheriff Dupnik rightfully lays into the climate of violent rhetoric which surely led to today’s tragedy.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

A tale of two Lively press clippings

If Scott “the gay movement is a nuclear bomb” Lively is really shifting his focus away from the anti-gayness for which he’s known (most newsworthy in recent days for his belief that the Uganda “kill gays” bill is a “step in the right direction“), then nobody bothered to tell WorldNetDaily.

Check this out. On the left is a new Boston Globe piece about Lively’s supposed shift. On the right, a new WND piece touting a new edition on Lively’s anti-gay propaganda book, The Pink Swastika:

201101051246

Globe Link: Shift in mission for religious firebrand [BG]

WND link: Were Nazis a homosexual, pagan cult? That’s the conclusion of updated classic ‘The Pink Swastika’ [WND]

That’s the thing about careers defined by discrimination/aggression: The record is not going to change simply because the purveyor sees a need to move on to other ventures. Because we’re not talking about a TV show that ends end a two hour finale, or an independent book store that sells its product to the national megachain. We are talking about human lives and the persecution thereof. The mud from that hurtful business is thick and caked on to our shared society. It’s going to take much, more more than anecdotes and mainstream press clippings to wash off.

**

*SEE ALSO: A video about why we are suddenly supposed to be happy with his work:



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*SEE ALSO: Alvin McEwen on WND’s piece: World Net Daily trying to exploit criticism of book linking gays to the Nazi party [PHB]




Good As You

—  admin

Obama does second interview with gay press (first was with Joe)

Kerry Eleveld of the Advocate finally gets her sit down interview with President Obama. The White House “gay charm offensive” is in full swing. Kerry finally got her interview after two years of trying (she did interview candidate Obama, but the President didn’t sit down with gay press until two months ago when he sat down with Joe and four other bloggers). And Joe and I, and Robin of GetEqual, Dan Choi, Pam Spaulding, Paul Yandura, and lots of other critics of the President got invited to the DADT bill signing today.

The White House is clearly reaching out, as it should, and as it should have long ago. Not that we didn’t have contacts with the White House, we did. But there was a certain distance between the White House and the Netroots, such as not inviting anyone to the White House Christmas party, not inviting folks to the previous bill signings for Hate Crimes, for example.

The point isn’t getting invited “because it’s cool.” Rather, it’s about how the White House perceives activists, the Netroots, and more generally, the base of the party. Invites to bill signings and Christmas parties are an indication of who the White House perceives as powerful and needing to be wooed. Outside of the large groups, who tend to worry more about currying favor with the White House than holding them accountable, the less sycophantic usually are written off as less serious, and thus less worthy of such invites (other than HuffPo, which the WH can’t afford to write off). The rest don’t count, or haven’t until now.

It’s all about reading tea leaves, and isn’t very different from the old days when we used to look for lights on in the Kremlin late at night to discern whether something catastrophic was taking place in Moscow. The invite to the bill signing is nice, but it’s a larger gesture. And it may even signal a welcome change from the White House. At least until the 2012 election is over.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Press Release: Transgender American Veterans Association Salutes the Repeal Vote of DADT

Transgender veterans have served in the United States military services, and are even now serving in the United States military services. Thumbnail Link: Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA)However, they serve in the closet; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) doesn’t result in transgender veterans soon being able to serve openly.

TAVA (TAVA) has a press release out on the congressional votes to repeal DADT. In the press release, the vice-president of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), Angela Brightfeather, said this in the press release:

It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military. Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military.

She then goes on to add:

We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.

Well.

We’re going to have a few months to a year of preps to implement repeal — for as y’all may not remember, now the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must sign off on lesbian, gay, and bisexual being able to serve openly. With that signing off, policies will need to be set in place for lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers’ open service — such as antidiscrimination policies and servicemember benefits. Basically, the implementation of the repeal of DADT will no doubt keep the DADT focused LGBT organizations busy for quite a number of months.

But that said the question for those organizations focus their missions after the sign-off and policies are set in place will be one of “What are you going to do towards transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly?”

Will these organizations be willing to take on a seventeen-ish year slog towards allowing transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly as they took on a seventeen year slog for lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers being able to serve openly? And probably more importantily, will these organizations be able to raise sufficient funds from the LGBT community members to take on the long and costly for the T people of the LGBT community?

Those are good question. But, I’m for letting the DADT focused LGBT organizations focus during the upcoming months on DADT implementation. Legislation or policy that would allow transgender people to serve openly isn’t at the top of most trans people’s agendas — most would rather prioritize a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) over legislation to allow transgender people to serve in the military services openly — but the DADT focused LGBT organizations are going to have to address the question of transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly at a point in the not too distant future.

The TAVA press release:

Transgender American Veterans Association Salutes the Repeal Vote of DADT

Contact: Monica Helms: president@tavausa.org

Denny Meyer: media@tavausa.org / (718) 849-5665

We are proud of our democracy that Congress passed this monumental repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Even though transgender people are still going to be separated from military service, Transgender American Veterans Association salutes this passage. We who have served our nation proudly now anticipate our own progress to freedom and equality.

Monica Helms, President of TAVA said, “For 17 years the US has made their gay lesbian and bisexual service members second class citizens and caused them to have to lie about who they are and who they love. No longer will that be the case. We now turn our attention to allowing transgender people to serve openly.”

“It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military.” Angela Brightfeather, TAVA’s Vice President stated, “Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military. We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.”

Many of America’s allied nations have long since allowed open transgender service along with the service of those with alternate sexual orientation. The next frontier is for the United States is to progress to full and complete inclusion of the right to serve our nation. It is TAVA’s expectation that now that DADT has been repealed that all those involved in achieving the repeal will now turn their attention to help transgender Americans also be able serve openly.

- 30 -

Founded in 2003, the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) is a 501 (c) 3 organization that acts proactively with other concerned civil rights and human rights organizations to ensure that transgender veterans will receive appropriate care for their medical conditions in accordance with the Veterans Health Administration’s Customer Service Standards promise to “treat you with courtesy and dignity . . . as the first class citizen that you are.” Further, TAVA will help in educating the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) on issues regarding fair and equal treatment of transgender individuals. Also, TAVA will help the general transgender community when deemed appropriate and within the IRS guidelines.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Watch: White House Press Sec’y Robert Gibbs Grilled on ‘DADT’

Dadt
(Above, Obama meets the Joint Chiefs to discuss DADT on November 29, 2010 – Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about 'DADT' today. Gibbs told reporters that "certainly our hope is that the Senate will take this up again."

When asked about Obama's pledge to stay in town until the START treaty is done, and whether he might promised the same for DADT, Gibbs said,

"Let me be clear, the President isn’t — if START gets done, the President and Congress is here, the President is not leaving.  I said earlier that the President will be here as long as the Congress is here…I think that we always envisioned it that if the Congress was here, the President would be here.  There’s a whole host of important things beyond the tax agreement and START — 'don’t ask, don’t tell' being one of them — that the President believes can be dealt with before Congress leaves town."

Gibbs was also asked if there are other options on the table should DADT repeal fail legislatively:

"Well, I should say this.  I think it’s a distinct possibility that 'don’t ask, don’t tell' will be repealed by the end of this year and that’s where our effort is focused."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Thursday DADT Repeal Open Thread: Calls to Action and Press Release

This is going to be continually updated and rough to start… much patience will be required!  

~Louise

According to the ever-wise, all-knowing and very dear friend of the Blend Joe Sudbay, Maine Senator Susan Collins and her office follow Twitter feeds VERY closely.

So we’re embarking on an impromptu campaign to wake up the Maine media, who for the most part are NOT paying attention to either DADT repeal or the key role Collins now finds herself in the process, and to flood the senator’s Twitterfeed. EqualityMaine has already started tweeting messages this morning as well, which I have shared.

@SenatorSnowe EQME tweeting- NOW to repeal DADT Sen Susan Collins (202) 224-2523 Sen Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344 #dadt

@SenatorCollins EQME tweeting- NOW to repeal DADT Sen Susan Collins (202) 224-2523 Sen Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344 #dadt #mepolitics

Who’s with us? Here’s what we need to do:


1. Message her @SenatorCollins or retweet.

2. Use hashtags #DADT and #mepolitics. The second not as necessary, but I know she and her staff follow both and it will then land in the feeds of mainy more Mainers, including media.

3. Follow her http://twitter.com/#!/SenatorC…

Thanks so much!

First Update (9:30am) Ex-Senator Sam Nunn now supports DADT repeal.

Seventeen years after leading the fight in Congress against gays in the military, former Democratic senator Sam Nunn says he thinks gays could serve openly without damaging the armed forces’ ability to fight.

In an interview this week, Nunn told the Associated Press that the law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be overturned as long as there is enough time to prepare the troops for the change. He said the Pentagon should be given at least a year before the repeal takes effect to ensure operations in Afghanistan aren’t affected.

“Society has changed, and the military has changed,” the former senator from Georgia said.

Press releases wilol be below the fold…
Press release from IAVA


Senate Must Pass Defense Bill Supporting Troops, Military Families This Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Critical Provisions to Address Invisible Wounds, Military Sexual Trauma Included

NEW YORK – Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, called on the Senate to swiftly pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Although “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has dominated the national discussion, and it is undoubtedly important, it is only one part of the vital Defense Bill. This broad legislation also includes provisions to expand mental health care resources, address Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST), extend the stop loss deadline and improve the electronic sharing of health records between the DoD and the VA.

“Most of America thinks there is an up or down vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Missing from the national discussion is the fact that DADT is one of dozens of important provisions included in a Defense Bill that will have a historic impact on our troops and veterans. While the country is fighting two wars, passing funding for our troops  should be a no-brainer. We cannot allow personal politics to get in the way of supporting our service members. If Congress fails to pass the Defense Bill, it will be the first time in 48 years. That’s not a precedent this Administration or Congress wants to set,” said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.  

“Our troops can’t afford to wait until next year for vital Pentagon funding. One in three troops are coming home today with invisible wounds like Traumatic Brain Injury, one in seven female veterans are screening positive for Military Sexual Trauma and thousands of service members are losing their medical records as they transition from the DoD to the VA health care systems. IAVA urges the Senate to pass this critical legislation this year and ensure our troops aren’t left waiting for live saving resources.”

In addition to a provision for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (see IAVA’s full statement supporting repeal here ), key provisions contained in the NDAA address the following urgent issues:

?    Expanding the number of DoD mental health providers. There is a chronic shortage of mental health providers in the military. With rates of mental health injuries and suicide rising higher every month, the DoD is in desperate need of providers to help service members identify and combat invisible wounds. This bill provides education incentives to recruit both civilian and military mental health care providers. (Senate ?703)

?    Mandatory pre- and post-deployment TBI assessments. Although TBI is the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the DoD has never adequately developed a comprehensive screening program.  NDAA will require the DoD to do pre-deployment assessments to compare to post-deployment assessments after a potential injury. (House ?722)

?    Eradicating Military Sexual Trauma. NDAA contains 29 recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military, including modernizing the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the creation of a sexual assault reporting hot line.  (House ?1601-1664)

?    DoD/VA record sharing.  In 2009, the DoD and VA began to work on a joint electronic lifetime record that follows a service member from enlistment to the grave.  There have been concerns that the record sharing between the DoD and VA could violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  NDAA would change HIPAA to allow records to migrate between the DoD and the VA. (Senate ?715, House ?532)

?    Military pay raise and bonuses. NDAA provides a 1.9% pay increase for all service members and the extension of a host of recruitment and retention bonuses set to expire. (House ?601)

Because of these provisions and a number of others, passage of the NDAA this year is broadly supported. IAVA is a member of The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of 32 nationally prominent military and veterans organizations representing more than 5.5 million current and former service members, their families and survivors. The TMC recently urged the passage of NDAA in a letter to Senator Reid and Senator McConnell here .

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America www.IAVA.org is the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Its mission is to improve the lives of this country’s newest generation of veterans and their families.

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Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

FRC Press Conference: Just Call Me “Or Something”

The Family Research Council (FRC) held a press conference on November 30, 2010 on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). My participation in the White House Fence protests was singled out.

At about the 33-minute mark in the press conference, the speaker (Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center For Security Policy) showed a Slide Of the White House Six, and then calls out my participation in this way:

But I just want to throw up a slide here that we talked about in the abstract as an indication of the kind of modalities that were going to be a problem for the United States Military if the repeal were undertaken.

What’s wrong with this picture?

These are, of course, five individuals — six individuals,  excuse me — who have now professed themselves to be homosexual…or something…who chained themselves to the fence of the White House in order to call attention to what they consider the great injustice of them not being allowed under the law to serve in the United States Armed Forces openly.

What’s wrong with this picture is that the individual on the far left, who goes by the name Autumn Sandeen, is a transgender individual. Now apparently transgender individuals are not to be considered as part of the group that will be admitted into the military if this repeal this repeal  takes place, at least not initially, but anyone who is following the LGBT activists knows that T stands for transgender. Transgender is part of the community whose equal rights are supposed to be established, among other things, by imposing on the United States Military this Radical Homosexual Agenda.

Think about — now we’ve just heard from these distinguished military officers and NCOs — what challenges they’ve confronted already, and what challenges would be confronted with someone whose physical characteristics are clear, but whose sexual preferences are for the same sex? What do you do with individuals whose physical characteristics are — well uncertain, to say the least — and whose sexual preferences maybe unclear as well. It’s a vehicle — a formula — for a command nightmare.

So I simply want to just offer this with no criticism of any of these individuals, or their lives as civilians or their choices. It’s up to them. This is about breaking the United States Military.

So just call me an “or something.”
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Watch: Full Pentagon Press Briefing on ‘DADT’ Report

Pentagon_dadt

I posted highlights earlier, but here's full video of today's Pentagon press briefing on the DADT repeal report for those of you who are interested.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin