Feedback • 12.16.11

An Open Letter to Rick Perry

Dear Gov. Perry,

Your antics since you announced your bid for the Republican presidential nomination have already almost pushed me over the edge. You have long-since made me regret having voted for you the first go-round (before seeing the light). There have been multiple times that I have been embarrassed by you in much the same way that residents of Alaska must have been embarrassed by their then-governor Sarah Palin.

But the video commercial you released last week crossed the line. I am not only embarrassed that you are our state’s top elected official, I am ashamed of — and for — you.

It’s so apparent that you are making a completely unveiled attempt to pander to religious conservatives with this babble about “Obama’s religious war.”

Gov. Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry

Yes, there are people across the nation — and unfortunately, many of them here in the South — who will identify with your narrow-minded and hateful ideologies. But you, Mr. Governor, do not represent all Texans and certainly could in no way ever assume a position where you lead on behalf of an entire nation.

Your comments are hateful and full of fear. They are misinformed with respect to the ideals our country were shaped by and founded upon. And they place you absolutely on the wrong side of history — the same whitewashed tomb of people who opposed women’s rights, civil rights for people of all races and rights for the handicapped.

So here is what I say to you, oh woefully out-of-touch public servant to the people of Texas:

I’ve been a Christian my entire life and I believe in essentially the same creator, center of the Universe, life-giver, omniscient, all-loving being you claim to believe in — the very same Essence that millions of human beings believe in across the world. And although I no longer occupy a pew within a specific religious body, I respect your right to do so.

So go ahead on into your house of worship and occupy your pew. Worship the way you want to worship, say what you want to say, follow whatever rules they ascribe, judge those within your body, and exclude whomever you want to exclude. I will not judge you.

I would appreciate it, however, if you would behave in kind and refrain from bringing your hateful judgment to me or to any of my fellow human beings and their families.

Keep it there, inside your religion; it is not welcome in my house, my state, my nation.

Remember, the lines drawn between church and state are there for a reason. Our country was founded on the pursuit of liberty and the desire for religious freedom — not on narrow-minded ideologies that discriminate against a minority. These people did not want to come to the New World to impose their religion on others but rather to worship the God they wanted to worship. Period, end of story.

Though it’s true that many of our founding fathers were chauvinists and slave owners, I believe many of them had a seed of foresight to believe that the statement “all men are created equally” applied (or would apply) to both genders, all races and eventually all sexual orientations.

Our respectable President Barack Obama — who leads in a way you apparently will never be able — did not start a religious war. Prayer in school has been an issue of contention since I was a child. And gays serving in the military have nothing to do with an attack on your religion.

What a foolish comparison; high school students come up with more reasonable — and creative — theses than that.

“Gays in the military” no more impedes your right to worship than women being allowed to vote or allowing a black man to drink from the same water fountain as someone of your race did. Yet religious people somehow once supported such absurd and un-Godly beliefs as those, too.

People who dare breathe such views today are frowned upon, eschewed and pitied. At least generally, they have the sense to keep those thoughts to themselves.

You, sir, are not the only one who wears the name “Christian.” I know many such people who are heterosexual and accept their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. And I know many homosexual Christians who sit in pews and worship Jehovah and obey the two greatest commandments: loving God with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength and loving their neighbors as they love themselves.

(You would be a wise student to note that it does not say “love only your heterosexual neighbors.” Are you, Mr. Perry, doing that?)

It seems to me that every time you open your mouth and say something hateful, you diminish the very witness of the Christ you claim to follow. Your unkind words belie any love that your namesake should evoke.
We don’t need you to save us, nor do we need your judgments or your pronouncement of some ridiculous war made up to get yourself attention within a small group of narrow-minded, religious people like yourself. We are not trying to destroy your religion or asking for admission into your religious sects; further, we are not asking your leaders to perform our marriages.

We demand, however, that you respect us and our families. The United States of America is not just the home of Republican, Christian heterosexuals; it is our home too and at home, we are created equally — every last one of us.

Please, sir, do not attempt to force your religious beliefs on my humanity. As a homosexual, I am no less deserving of rights than any heterosexual. You are my governor, not my judge.

Fear-mongering public servants like you will become relics that students of government and politics will study as examples of narrow-mindedness and shameful behavior. When they study the great women and men of politics, you will be absent from among them; I rather think you will be in the category of those rued and pitied — George Wallace will keep you company there.

Rick Perry, you should be ashamed of your ridiculous video. You should immediately apologize and reconsider whether running for the office of president of the United States is something you’re cut out for.
By your words and your actions — embarrassing gaffes and soundbites nothwithstanding — you continue to prove you are not the man for the job.

Respectfully,
Todd Whitley, Granbury

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Dobbs resigns 7 Points mayoral post After being indicted on assault charge

His partner claims charges stem from anti-gay bias, say indictment has left Dobbs ‘disgraced’ and ‘financially destroyed’

HAPPIER TIMES | Joe Dobbs, left, and his partner, Michael Tayem, right, celebrate with a supporter after Dobbs was elected in a landslide as mayor of Seven Points.

David Webb  |  Contributing Writer
davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com

SEVEN POINTS — The pending prosecution of gay former Mayor Joe Dobbs by the Henderson County District Attorney has left the official disgraced and financially destroyed, according to his life partner, Michael Tayem.

Dobbs submitted a letter of resignation to the Seven Points City Council late last week, relinquishing his duties as both mayor and chief of the city’s volunteer fire department. According to Joey Dauben, publisher of the EllisCountyObserver.com, some sources are saying that Dobbs was forced out of the volunteer fire department after news broke about the indictments.

Tayem, a former Seven Points police officer who has lived with Dobbs in a committed relationship for several years, said Dobbs was fired from his job as a juvenile probation officer with the Texas Youth Commission in Rockwall after he was indicted on Aug. 19 by a Henderson County grand jury.

Dobbs was indicted on a felony charge of assault on a public servant and misdemeanor charges of official oppression and interference with public duties.

“It’s been horrible,” Tayem said. “It’s left us in ruin and struggling to make ends meet. He was the primary source of income for us.”

Tayem was also indicted on a misdemeanor charge of interference with public duties in connection with the same alleged incident on Aug. 16.

The district attorney reportedly told the grand jury that Dobbs and Tayem had interfered with an investigator from his office who was attempting to serve a subpoena at Seven Points City Hall in connection with an ongoing investigation of Dobbs’ administration as mayor.

Tayem had been on suspension from the Seven Points Police Department since May when a citizen filed a complaint with the Henderson County District Attorney alleging that he was the victim of police brutality at Tayem’s hands.

Through Tayem, Dobbs has declined to be interviewed in connection with the charges pending against him until his attorney advises him to do so.

In a statement relayed through Tayem, Dobbs said he believes the indictments were an act of retaliation because of his complaint to the district attorney three weeks ago that the same investigator had engaged in official oppression against a member of the Seven Points City Council. That council member submitted a written statement detailing what the investigator had said to her, Tayem said.

Dobbs said in the statement he also believes the initial investigation of his administration and the indictments were motivated by anti-gay bias.

“We can’t think of any other reason for it,” Tayem said.

In a telephone interview this week, Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee denied that his office was motivated by anti-gay bias or retaliation.

He noted his office continues to investigate the city of Seven Points in connection with another law enforcement agency, but he declined to identify the agency, which is widely believed to be the FBI because of the federal agency’s presence in the city during a previous mayoral administration.

“That is a patently false statement by him,” said McKee in regard to Dobbs’ claim. “His sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with the investigation.”

McKee said he believes that the evidence in connection with the alleged incident on Aug. 16 merits the indictments.

City Secretary Dru Haynes said in an interview this week that the City Council had called a meeting for Sept. 2 to accept Dobbs’ resignation and to decide what to do next.

“The day-to-day business of the city is going on without interruption,” Haynes said.

Dobbs’ resignation marks the conclusion of his tumultuous tenure as mayor. Controversy began immediately after he was elected in a landslide  more than a year ago.

For almost a year, three members of the City Council who had supported Dobbs’ opponent in the election boycotted council meetings and refused to resign.

With a failure to establish a quorum each month for the City Council to conduct business, Dobbs said he was forced to run the city on his own with the advice of the city attorney. That apparently led to the investigation of his administration by other law enforcement agencies.

After city elections this past spring, the City Council had begun establishing quorums again and meeting regularly.

Dobbs had ran on a campaign of restoring integrity to the city after the former mayor, a municipal judge and a council member were indicted on corruption charges following an FBI investigation of the city.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas congresswoman, staunch LGBT ally says scholarship violations were unintentional

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Dallas Democrat, could face action by the House ethics committee following the revelation that she has, since 2005, awarded more than $25,000 in scholarship funds from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to her own relatives and the relatives of a staff member.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Johnson has given a total of 23 scholarships to two of her own grandsons, two of her own great-nephews and to the children of Rob Givens, one of her aides. The Morning News said Johnson initially defended her choices in awarding the scholarship funds. But in a statement released by her office on Monday, Aug. 30, Johnson apologized for what she said was an inadvertent violation of the rules and pledged to reimburse the funds immediately.

Her statement said:

“I am proud of the work that I have done for the 30th District of Texas. As a public servant, I have vowed to represent my constituents to the best of my ability.

“I have never and never planned to restrict my help to only Texans who reside in my district. My district lines have constantly changed and since I am the only Democrat in the entire North Texas Region, surrounded by Republicans, I have made myself accessible for nearly two decades. Much of my district office casework benefits people outside my constituency. While I am not ashamed of helping, I did not intentionally mean to violate any rules in the process — CBCF Scholarship Rules in particular.

“As previously stated, I was unaware of being in any type of violation and never intentionally violated the CBCF’s rules. Further, to rectify this matter immediately, I will reimburse the funds by the end of this week. Additionally, I have reinstituted a non-biased third party objective review committee to evaluate applications and put forth recommendations for future CBCF Scholarships. Going forward, this will eliminate conflicts of interest and consistently remain in compliance with CBCF Scholarship Rules.

“At present, I am home convalescing from major surgery. However, I am diligently working to resolve these issues as they are very important to me.”

Johnson has long been known as an ally of the LGBT community and has consistently scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, which rates legislators based on how they vote on LGBT issues. She has voted in favor of banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and including protections for LGBT people in the federal hate crimes law. She has also voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

In addition, Johnson co-sponsored several pro-LGBT bills, including one that would equalize tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners and other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries,  and one that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the same immigration benefits as legal spouses of U.S. permanent residents

—  admin