Natalie Maines: The gay interview

Natalie2To quote a Dixie Chicks song, Natalie Maines has “been a longtime gone.” The fearless frontwoman for the female country band — which, before they hit it big, were frequent performers at Sue Ellen’s — has her first solo disc, seven years after Taking the Long Wayand its unapologetic single “Not Ready to Make Nice” in response to the singer’s political dig at then-President George W. Bush. Maines goes her own way for her new CD, Mother, which we reviewed here. Now our Chris Azzopardi follows that up with this interview, where Maines reveals why she went rock (country “seemed so fake”), how being disowned — and her new short hair — made her feel closer to the gay community and whether now — a decade after her Bush outburst — she’s ready to make nice.

Dallas Voice: You’re sporting that punkish ’do; before, with the Dixie Chicks, it was the long, blond locks.  Maines: I know. Well, with the Chicks, I definitely felt like I was playing dress up a bit — but I liked it!

Are you conscious of your look and how it represents the music?  With two kids, there’s not enough time in the day to spend on what I look like; this is a much easier look. And it fits my personality more. I had short hair growing up, and it always felt right for me.

Has the short hair scored you more lesbian cred?  [Laughs] I barely leave my house, [but] maybe. But the lesbians liked me already! Yeah, this is definitely a lesbianish haircut I’ve got going on. I don’t mind. I love Rachel Maddow. She would be my lesbian girl crush.

Why Rachel?  She’s hot! And she’s smart and beautiful … and I like her hair.

I could see it working out between you two.  Yeah, I think that would work. I don’t know if my husband or her girlfriend would think so.

You’ve always had a really loyal gay fan base, even before you publicly chastised George W. Bush. How do you explain your connection with gay fans?  We had some very costume-y, over-the-top looks that the gays do appreciate. [Laughs] But after the controversy, I feel like there was even more of a connection, and that’s just because we both know how it feels to be hated just for who we are — not for doing anything, bothering anyone, murdering anyone or being arrested. Just for being us. Apparently, that’s not good in some people’s eyes. But also, too, to just continue being and let other people get used to it — learning to be OK with yourself and just putting it out there, and people can either like you or not, but it’s really on them.

Were you noticing more support from the gay community at shows after the incident?  Yeah. And we would get lots of emails, and a lot of the community would come right up and say, “I love that you did this. I didn’t listen to your music before, but after this, I went and bought every record.” However it was that they showed their support, I definitely felt it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The gayest election night ever

Tuesday night was generally seen as a victorious one for gay and lesbian people across the nation: The reelection of Barack Obama, the first sitting president to endorse full marriage equality; the historic election of lesbian Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate; the defeat of anti-gay legislation. But even more gay was the coverage itself.

I watched the returns in a room full of gay people, ready to pop the bubbly cork as soon as Obama was called by one of the news channels (we were swimming in champagne by 10:15 p.m.). We flipped among the channels to see who had different predictions up. And we got to hear Rachel Maddow on MSNBC announce Barack Obama was the president still.


Then we watched as Anderson Cooper oversaw coverage on CNN.


And we logged onto Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog from the New York Times to check updates.

Silver’s also gay.

All of these people are out and proud and given principal responsibilities for overseeing election coverage for their media organizations. And so far as I noticed, none of them (or their fellows on TV in the cases of Maddow and Cooper) so much as hinted at their sexual orientation during their election night coverage. Because that was irrelevant to their reporting. (Compare that to the folks on Fox News, who acted as if the vote was a rebuke of Christian heterosexuality.)

We’ve reached a special plateau when the most respected newsmen in the country get to report on popular votes about gay folks and be on the side of the majority. The excitement wasn’t just at the ballot box Tuesday night. It was right up there on the screen.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Sen. Wendy Davis talks fire-bombing, Planned Parenthood with Rachel Maddow

Wendy Davis

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday night in response to the fire-bombing of her office in Fort Worth Tuesday afternoon.

While initially thought to be an attack because her recent media attention for condemning the Senate’s cuts to women’s healthcare and Planned Parenthood, Fort Worth police believe a 40-year-old homeless man who was arrested for the alleged fire-bombing was not mentally stable as he allegedly rambled about aliens during his arrest.

Davis, an avid supporter for LGBT rights who authored a fully-inclusive anti-bullying bill last year, has also been a strong proponent for women’s healthcare. She has recently been vocal at protests against the decision to exclude financial funding to Planned Parenthood, a provider she relied on when she was a low-income teenage mom.

After Texas cut the women’s healthcare budget from $110 million to $37 million in the last legislative session, Gov. Rick Perry announced Texas will no longer receive federal funds for the Women’s Health Program, which 130,000 Texas women rely on annually. The decision was the result of the legislature not being allowed to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving funds.

Davis was not present at the office at the time of the fire-bombing and was held for four hours on lockdown in her law office in downtown Fort Worth Tuesday evening. She told Maddow while the attack does not appear to be politically motivated, the incident reminded her of the risk elected officials face when they speak out about heated topics.

“It certainly reminds us how venerable we are in the public arena and that we have to take extra care and caution in making sure that we’re as safe as we can be,” Davis said.

Watch the interview below.

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—  Dallasvoice

Bill Maher gays it up (even more than usual) on HBO’s ‘Real Time’ this Friday

It’s no secret I think Bill Maher is a dangerous (in a good way) comedian, and love that he says what a lot of people feel uncomfortable giving words to (like on particular word he called Sarah Palin at the Winspear earlier this year). He’s proven over and over what a great gay ally he is, and he does so again this week with a roundtable lineup that includes openly gay newsfolk Rachel Maddow and Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan, of course, is famously conservative, but he’s also intellectual honest and very pro-gay. Should be a good discussion.

The new episode airs live on Friday at 9 p.m. on HBO, with replays all week (including one at 10 p.m.).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Maddow on Rick Perry’s Army of God

This stuff is pretty scary. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow takes a look at the topic of a recent cover story in the Texas Observer, which outlines Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s connections to the New Apostolic Reformation Movement.

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—  John Wright

WATCH: Rick Perry’s day of prayer web site no longer includes link to whacko ‘Endorsers’

The website for Rick Perry’s day of prayer originally had a link to endorsers at the top, as shown above. The link has since been removed, as shown below. (via Right Wing Watch)

The other day Right Wing Watch noted that the link to a list of endorsers — from the guy who believes the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol, to the guy who thinks Oprah is the Antichrist — had been removed from the top of the main page of the website for Rick Perry’s Aug. 6 day of prayer, The Response. You can still get to the list of endorsers, but only by going directly to the URL or by clicking on FAQ, then scrolling down past information about parking, lodging, handicap accessibility, etc. In other words, the endorsers have been buried, and on Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wondered why. Maddow asked Wayne Slater, a senior political reporter for The Dallas Morning News, whether he thinks the removal of the link has “political implications.”

“Yes, it has political implications,” Slater said. “Clearly the exotic ideas and news and reports on your show and elsewhere about how exotic and unorthodox some of these religious views are, has caused heartburn inside the Perry camp, and has really threatened to distract from what they wanted to do, which is say, ‘Look we’re just having a prayer rally, people are going to show up, they’re going to pray, they’re going to sing.’ And then when you have the guy who has sex with the sun goddess as part of the story, it’s not helpful.”

Watch the full segment below:

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—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Dallas County Commissioners Court to vote on transgender protections

Rachel Maddow

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Dallas County Commissioners Court is scheduled to vote this morning on whether to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. County Judge Clay Jenkins and LGBT advocates have urged members of the community to attend the meeting in a show of support for the amendment, which comes five weeks after the Commissioners Court added sexual orientation to the policy. Opponents of the amendment are expected to attend the meeting as well, and it remains unclear whether the measure has enough votes to pass. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the county administration building, 411 Elm St. Stay tuned to Instant Tea for a full report from the meeting later this morning.

2. Prop 8 supporters have filed a motion seeking to vacate Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling striking down California’s same-sex marriage ban, on the grounds that Walker had a conflict of interest because he’s in a long-term gay relationship.

3. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said she thinks others gay cable TV anchors need to come out, but later insisted she wasn’t talking specifically about CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

—  John Wright

Texas AG Greg Abbott: Judge in Prop 8 case ‘failed to do what a judge is supposed to do’

A few weeks back we wrote about how anti-gay leaders in Texas were deafeningly silent about U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s landmark decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional. As we said at the time, this case has the potential to void gay marriage bans in all states including Texas that have passed them, so one might expect the folks who pushed through the 2005 state constitutional amendment to chime in. Our post was later picked up by Rachel Maddow. Anyhow, looks like Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s been fighting gay divorce tooth and nail, has finally said something about Walker’s ruling, in an interview last week with the Texas Tribune (which has seemingly become the only mainstream media outlet in the state that even pretends to care about LGBT issues). Below is a transcript of the full exchange between Abbott and the Tribune’s Evan Smith, taken directly from the first three minutes of the video. Smith asks legitimate questions but fails to follow them up and seems to let Abbott off the hook pretty darn easily. For example, Smith allows Abbott’s assertion that Baker v. Nelson is binding precedent — which is pretty far-fetched at this point — to go unchallenged. Likewise, Abbott fails to respond substantively about Ken Mehlman’s coming out or the issue of transgender marriage. Again, kudos to the Tribune for bringing up these topics, but ultimately that’s not enough — they need to do their homework and be prepared to hold people’s feet to the fire.

Smith: I want to start with a bit of news that broke yesterday afternoon, and that is about Ken Mehlman. Ken Mehlman is the former chair of the Republican National Committee. He was George W. Bush’s campaign manager in ’04, a close aide to George W. Bush over the years politically, who I think as you know announced yesterday that he’s gay, and that he intended to use that public position to campaign for gay marriage? What do you think about that?
Abbott: What do I think about Ken Mehlman?

Smith: What do you think about the Mehlman announcement and what do you think the larger significance of the Mehlman announcement is if there is any for the discourse about gay marriage in this county?
Abbott: Well it adds further discourse into the whole issue, but it doesn’t change the legal dynamics. What one person feels doesn’t change the law, doesn’t change the constitution, doesn’t change pre-existing Supreme Court precedent on the issue.

Smith: So there’s a legal issue that you addressed. Mehlman’s announcement doesn’t change that. But there’s also a political dynamic, surely you would agree, at work here?
Abbott: Well, there is a political dynamic. There’s a political dynamic that’s been in play for decades. But once again, the political dynamic is not going to rewrite the constitution. The constitution says what it says, and just because one person comes out and says, “Listen, I’m gay, I believe in same-sex marriage, doesn’t change the constitution.

Smith: And nor does necessarily the actions of a judge in California, as one did recently, holding the door open to the overturning of the proposition in California That as well is one judge’s decision and does not overall affect the issue?
Abbott: It doesn’t impact the issue. If you want to delve into the details, the reality is that that judge failed to do what a judge is supposed to do. Lower court judges are supposed to follow higher-court precedents. There is a precedent from the United States Supreme Court on this issue, in Baker v. Nelson, that is binding precedent on the lower courts unless and until the Supreme Court changes that opinion, and that binding opinion is one that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

Smith: You had the opportunity recently in a case here in Texas involving a transgender individual to offer an attorney general’s opinion. This is a case where people say it may be kind of a small crack in the door, where gay marriage is actually in certain instances legal in Texas. Your office was asked to offer an opinion, and you declined to. Can you talk about that?
Abbott: First of all, we had three opportunities to weigh in legally in courts about whether or not gay marriage is legal in the state of Texas. The issue you’re talking about is the transgender issue, and that involved an issue where we got an opinion request from the county attorney in El Paso, and we rejected opining on that opinion because of current pending litigation. Now if I tell the county attorney from El Paso that I will not give them an opinion, Evan, I’m not going to give you an opinion either.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Rachel Maddow quotes Dallas Voice

UPDATE: Below is the full segment.

—  John Wright

Rachel Maddow on Prop 8 ruling and witnesses’ ties to George ‘Rentboy’ Rekers

Rachel Maddow was obviously overjoyed by Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling, issued Wednesday, saying that California’s Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.

—  admin