AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

TGRA’s King and Queen of the Rodeo tonight

Crowning achievements

Find out tonight who’s talents and style will push them to the top as contestants vie for top honors by the Texas Gay Rodeo Association. Bedazzled gowns and tight wranglers are in store when tonight’s event gets us ready for the TGRA Rodeo in March. Yeehaw!

DEETS: Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. 8 p.m. RoundUpSaloon.com.

—  Rich Lopez

For the 4th time in 2 months, a pedestrian was struck last week on the Cedar Springs strip

A 72-year-old pedestrian was struck in the crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street at about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22. He was taken to Parkland Hospital and released on Christmas Day.

Lyle Bainbridge said he was crossing the street in the crosswalk and vehicles had stopped in both directions, when a motorist sped around the stopped vehicles and hit him.

He said he was thrown and his head landed in the gutter just inches from the car that hit him.

The driver of that vehicle stopped and told Bainbridge that he was delivering pizzas and was on his cell phone talking to the owner of his store. Bainbridge said the man was apologetic and in tears when he got out of his car.

Bainbridge has a broken collar bone. Doctors detected heart defibrillation problems that may have been a result of the accident. He said he had not been diagnosed previously with heart problems.

Bainbridge, who is from California, is in Dallas for the holidays house-sitting for a friend.

This is the fourth time a pedestrian has been hit on Cedar Springs Road in two months and the third time near this same location.

On Nov. 25, Edward Lee King, 61, was struck by a driver and killed crossing Cedar Springs Knight Street. Wayne Priest, 55, was killed by a hit-and-run driver near Cedar Springs and Reagan Street on Nov. 3.

A 10-year-old girl was hit on Dec. 10 near Knight Street. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

After the earlier accidents, Councilwoman Angela Hunt asked city staff to looks at ways to make the area safer for pedestrians.

Bainbridge said he wanted to call awareness to his accident to push the city to take action. He said that there should be stop signs at the intersection if not traffic lights.

“It takes something drastic happening before they’ll do something,” he said.

When he learned about the previous accidents at the intersection, he said he wondered how many more people will be hit before the city makes safety in this area a priority.

It was unclear whether the driver who hit Bainbridge received a citation. Sr. Cpl. Melinda Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police Department, said an accident report was not yet available.

—  David Taffet

‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

IMG_5132

CATCH-ALL CHAPLAIN | Chaplain Chris Antal (Lt.) attended the meeting of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy at Cathedral of Hope in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
When a soldier recently came to Chaplain Chris Antal, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in New York and a Unitarian Universalist minister, and asked if he’d pray with her even though she was a pagan, he said he replied, “Of course I will, but you’ll have to show me how.”

Several weeks later, when he saw her again, she told him that the day she had come to visit him, she had hit rock bottom. He had, she told him, saved her life that day.

But Antal said he was only doing his job — helping any soldier who comes to him.

“I’ve earned the nickname, the Catch-all Chaplain,” he said, explaining that it means he takes everyone the other chaplains don’t want to deal with.

Carpenter.Dodd

Capt. Tom Carpenter (ret.) and Col. Paul Dodd (ret.)

Being there to help a soldier in need is what it’s all about for a military chaplain, said Col. Paul Dodd, a retired chaplain who now lives in Austin.

“The duty of a military chaplain is to perform or provide,” said Dodd, adding that he once sponsored an Islamic conference.

Dodd said that no chaplain can perform every service needed by every member of the military. But if a chaplain can’t perform the service requested, he or she must provide that soldier with a referral to someone else who can.

Antal said that chaplains who enlisted knew what they were getting into — to some extent. But none of them really expected the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And for many, that repeal was a game changer.

In October, a group of active and retired chaplains and military personnel and other people of faith, such as the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity

School in Fort Worth, met at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to begin looking at ways of addressing the issues that arose for military chaplains around DADT repeal.

Dave Guy Gainer said The Forum on Military Chaplaincy is not exactly new. It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.

Sprinkle said people in the Pentagon, up through Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, knew about their work and considered their statements throughout the DADT repeal process.

And now, with repeal complete, the group met to “come out.” At their meeting in Dallas, forum members considered ways to become an independent organization helping to ensure newly out service members receive the pastoral care they need while serving in the military.

Susan Gore, principle of The Mentor Group and editor of the book Coming Out In Faith, moderated the Dallas conference. She said the group started with several retired military officers “who wanted to push back against the far-right skew.”

Sprinkle has been part of the forum for four years and said he was recruited to participate because of his work on hate crimes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sprinkle said, more and more members of the Chaplain Corps have come from just one school — Liberty

University, founded by far-right evangelical Jerry Falwell. Today, Sprinkle estimated, one-third of military chaplains come from Liberty University.

“They instituted a program that barely meets minimum requirements,” he said of the evangelical school. “It’s an online course.”

And, Sprinkle said, Liberty University’s goal is to take control of the Chaplain Corps and use the military as a pool for religious recruits.

“This is fertile ground to bring people to Jesus at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Carpenter, a retired Marine captain and one of the forum’s founders.

“I’ve heard stories of them holding the hand of someone who’s dying and trying to bring them to Jesus.”

And although such actions contradict military policy, no one in the corps has been disciplined or dismissed for it.

“They give chaplains a lot of leeway,” Carpenter said.

Gainer said the military is looking for well-rounded ministers who bring experience with them to the military.

According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., candidates must be endorsed by their denomination or faith group and be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

But Sprinkle said that Liberty University is transparent about its goals, and those goals do not line up.

“They’re not committed to pluralism or serving all the troops,” he said.

Gainer said that the greatest opposition to repealing DADT came from the Chaplain Corps because military chaplains answer to two groups — the military and their denomination. Those chaplains that didn’t adhere to a strict stance of maintaining the ban on gays and lesbians were threatened with losing their accreditation from their endorsing religious body — and with it their livelihood and their pensions.

But that contradicts the stated goals of the Chaplain Corps.

“Someone has to say, ‘Either you comply and serve all the troops all the time or get out,’” Sprinkle said.

Gore said that one of the goals of the newly public forum is to “rebalance the Chaplain Corps by bringing in more mainstream faiths.” She said that for many who come from more liberal traditions, questions of what’s a just war make it hard to serve in the military. Antal, for example, is one of just four Unitarian Universalists in the Chaplain Corps.

During its push for repeal of DADT, members
said, the forum had several successes working behind the scenes.

Despite the assumption of confidentiality between parishioner and clergy, that wasn’t always the case between gay soldier and chaplain. Dodd said that a number of discharges under DADT occurred after a soldier talked to a chaplain and the chaplain turned them in.

In fact, he wrote a white paper on the practice. After he submitted it, the military tightened up on chaplain confidentiality, Dodd said.

Carpenter, an attorney, wrote an amicus brief for the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against DADT. The court found in favor of declaring DADT unconstitutional, but Congress repealed the law before the decision could be enforced.

Carpenter said that the repeal allows gays and lesbians to serve with no protection. The legal decision, had it not been vacated upon repeal, would have allowed gays and lesbians to serve equally.

Now that DADT is gone, the forum is examining how to ensure LGB personnel receive the same services as other troops from chaplains.

Dodd said that right-wing chaplains charge that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military will force them to act in ways that go against their beliefs. Some have said they would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

Dodd called that ridiculous. Chaplains are never asked to perform duties that go against their religious beliefs, he said.

“I turned down weddings,” he said. “An officer came to me who wasn’t divorced.”

He said the officer tried to pull strings and force the issue, but Dodd wasn’t going to discuss marrying someone who was still married to someone else.

“But we’re insisting chaplains have the authority, if it’s in keeping with their faith, to marry same-sex couples,” he said.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal provides no family benefits. For some issues, Dodd and Carpenter suggested work-arounds.

Issuing ID cards would be extremely helpful, especially to same-sex couples with children, Carpenter said, noting that “That way either parent could get on base to get a child to the hospital.”

In another example, joint assignments can be offered at the discretion of a commanding officer, and married couples are often assigned together when they both qualify for positions that are available at the same base. Same-sex couples could be given the same priority.

As the forum looks ahead, rebalancing the Chaplain Corps with members from a more diverse background to reflect the membership of the military is a priority.

“And we need to take care of our trans brothers and sisters,” Carpenter said.

The repeal of DADT did not address any transgender issues and does not allow transgender men or women to serve in the military.

Gainer believes representatives of the forum need to sit down with far-right members of the Chaplain Corps and agree to disagree. He said that before the repeal of DADT, they talked to people at Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. While both groups testified against the repeal, they met with some success.

“The president of the VFW in Pflugerville said it was the right thing to do,” Gainer said.

That dialogue, he believed, would help chaplains perform or at least provide a useful referral, rather than doing more damage to a soldier seeking help.

Gore thought that the focus of discussion should be with the majority of chaplains “who want to do a good job and are part of the moveable middle.”

“We have to convince administrators and educators in divinity schools to encourage some of their best and brightest to serve,” Sprinkle said. “So many schools dropped what they were doing during the Vietnam era.”

Antal thinks that gays and lesbians will gain more acceptance as they tell their stories in non-confrontational settings and others see “their identity as professional service members is primary.”

While the work of the forum will concentrate on helping LGB military personnel, creating a more diverse Chaplain Corps may help a majority of service members. Recent polls show that a majority of troops find the chaplaincy irrelevant.

Sprinkle called the work of the forum a gift from the LGBT community to the nation.

“You wouldn’t think we’d be the ones opening the doors so that all troops will be served with dignity, integrity and respect,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Capital’ columnist calls out NOM push poll; 4 out of 5 NOM staffers unlikely to care

We’ve already shown you how the guy behind NOM’s supposedly trustworthy poll on Maryland marriage, Gary Lawrence, was deep in the pocket of the Prop 8 crowd, distributing a whole host of information that supported the ballot measure more on the basis of Lucifer than any sound constitutional law. Now, Erik Hartley from The Capital newspaper is looking at another aspect: The sheer bias in NOM’s lines of questioning. Here’s a snip and link to full:

Say you’re an interest group that wants to make it seem as if the public is on your side. Just commission a poll, ask the questions a certain way and voilà! You have the poll result you wanted.

That’s what an anti-gay-marriage group has just done.

After a recent Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies poll showed most Marylanders now support same-sex marriage, the National Organization for Marriage decided it wanted a different result.

It complained that the Gonzales poll’s question (“Would you favor or oppose a law in Maryland allowing same-sex couples to marry, giving them the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples in areas such as tax exemptions, inheritance and pension coverage?”) was biased. A “strong, pro-gay marriage bias” was the exact wording.

So NOM asked it this way: “As far as you personally are concerned, should marriage be between a man and a woman, or should it also be available to same-sex couples?”

Hmm. Why the phrase “as far as you personally are concerned”? Perhaps to appeal to people’s visceral discomfort with gay people? Note that the question does not ask about the proposed law; it asks about values — “as far as you personally are concerned” — and how you think the world “should” be.

KEEP READING: If you want a different answer… [Annapolis Capital blog]

**EARLIER: Lawrence vs. Hexes: The eye-opening spiritual war behind NOM’s new Maryland poll [G-A-Y]




Good As You

—  David Taffet

Hundreds Gather to Push for Marriage in Maryland

Equality Maryland Exec. Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler

Over 400 supporters of marriage equality from across Maryland came to Annapolis on Valentine’s Day to lobby in support of the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.” 

As a Maryland resident it was especially moving to see so many supportive legislators bear the strong winds and address the enthusiastic crowd. 

Attorney General Doug Gansler was also on-hand and was greeted with cheers as he predicted a legislative victory.

The full Senate is expected to vote next week.  With two Senators announcing their support for the bill earlier in the day, the bill has 23 of the 24 votes needed to pass.  Four Senators remain undecided.

If the bill passes the Senate next week, it moves onto the House of Delegates where the vote count is also very close.

To help in our efforts working alongside Equality Maryland, please contact sultan.shakir@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

More on Republican push for legislation to overturn DC marriage equality

Joe posted yesterday about Rep. Jim Jordan’s comments that he will push for Congress to overturn DC’s marriage equality. Shortly after, the Log Cabin Republicans responded to the story in an interview with Metro Weekly.

“While Log Cabin Republicans support Chairman Jordan’s efforts to reign in government spending, we strongly protest a House vote that would be a direct incursion on state’s rights,” Cooper told Metro Weekly. “For the House of Representatives to roll back DC marriage equality would be an anti-conservative expansion of federal authority.”

As someone who is being attacked here as both a gay man and a disenfranchised DC voter, I have three immediate thoughts:

  1. It’s too bad that even when Republicans attack LGBT Americans, the Log Cabin Republicans won’t issue a response that doesn’t include praise. I guess the reality that people like Rep. Jordan just don’t like you doesn’t beat out their desire to be fully loyal to the Republican party.
  2. It’s important to really focus on Joe’s comments on the likelihood of this passing. While this effort has virtually no chance as a stand alone effort, it’s important to note those who are still pushing this and how they might inject it into other legislation. DC residents certainly know how we’re used as a pawn in Congress (think overturning gun control to kill voting rights).
  3. I’m sure the Log Cabin Republicans didn’t mean to confuse DC for a state (unless they’re announcing their support for statehood, which would be fantastic).




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Thanks for the push, Maggie. We like this Michigan poll too

This is how Maggie Gallagher, writing for the NOM Blog, presents new Michigan state polling data:

Screen Shot 2011-01-07 At 9.49.48 Am

[NOM BLOG]

So okay, let’s start with the “only 55 percent” claim. Are we seriously at a place where Maggie is painting a certain subdivision’s majority support for marriage equality as a good sign for her side? Because it wasn’t too long ago — as in HDTV was already around — that all breakdowns in all polls were under the 50% mark. If Maggie wants to look somewhat favorably at majority percentages like this one, in a world where support firms up every time a new voter turns eighteen, then that’s her prerogative. But we don’t believe she believes it. Not really.

But beyond just that: The actual WDIV/Detroit News/Glengariff Group Inc data paints an even more favorable pic than Maggie’s purposely limited presentation would have one believe.

By a margin of 38.5%-50.2%, Michigan voters oppose allowing gay men and lesbians to get married. 54.9% of Democratic voters support gay marriage, 42.3% of Independent voters support gay marriage, but only 19.6% of Republican voters support gay marriage.

But when asked if they support granting the alternative of civil unions to provide the legal benefits of marriage while still preserving the word marriage as something between a man and a woman, voters support civil unions by a margin of 55.7%-36.5%.

63.7% of Democratic voters, 61.1% of Independent voters and even 44.3% of Republican voters said they could support civil unions for gay and lesbian Michiganders.

There is a strongly difference by gender specifically on the issue of marriage.

Men oppose marriage by a margin of 33.0%-56.7% But women SUPPORT same sex marriage by the narrow margin of 44.0%-42.6% Men support civil unions by a margin of 55.7%-36.7%. Women support civil unions by a nearly identical margin of 55.7%-36.3%. Men appear to have a strong reaction to the word ‘marriage’ that women do not share.

Michigan Voters Survey (pdf) [Glengariff]

Funny that Maggie completely overlooks civil unions (which, at the end of the day, NOM almost ways disfavors, even if they’re less forthright about it).

But beyond even that data, there’s one more important piece that Maggie fails to mention. In the marriage question itself, there is a pretty high “don’t know/refused” percentage, and an undeniably small opposition figure:

Screen Shot 2011-01-07 At 9.58.54 Am

11.3% didn’t answer? Hmm. There are multiple reasons why folks might fall into that category. But most opponents of marriage equality are pretty darn forthright about it. We’d def. go out on a limb and say a larger portion of that 11.3% will move our way over the years, especially if we just keep telling our stories.

And finally: The fact that only 50.2% in total voiced opposition, and only 42% of them strongly? That’s pretty soft for someone like Maggie, who relies on a motivated opposition to turn out on election day. No wonder she ignored it.

If this poll is truly representative and a question of marriage inequality again makes its way to Michigan’s polls, will Maggie able to hold onto/turn out enough of this 50.2%, or to convert enough of the undecideds to put her fight above the bare majority threshold? Perhaps. But tick, tick, Maggie — 18th birthday party invites go out every day.

**

*NOTE: An earlier version of this post suggested that Michigan did not yet have a constitutional ban. In fact, the state did pass a ban in 2004 — One that banned both marriage and civil unions.

Interestingly, they did so by 58.6%, which would seem to further highlight that momentum is on our side, not Maggie’s.




Good As You

—  admin

New push for marriage in RI

Boston Globe:

Two days after Governor Lincoln Chafee called on legislators to swiftly legalize same-sex marriage, a pair of lawmakers say they will introduce bills to do just that.

Representative Art Handy, Democrat of Cranston, and Senator Rhoda Perry, Democrat of Providence, said yesterday that they would reintroduce bills to legalize same-sex marriage. The bills died last year in the House and Senate.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Newspaper Vandals In Vancouver Make Push To Get Gays To Read News Online

Xtra, the Canadian gay and lesbian newspaper that still appears in print, has seen fourteen of its Vancouver-area drop boxes vandalized — while the boxes next to them for other titles remained unharmed. The targeting of the newspaper boxes, between Dec. 25-29, is being investigated by police, who are certainly aware Vancouver is one of Canada's "hate crime capitals."


Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Queerty

—  admin