Resource Center calls on MLB commissioner to pledge support for gay players who come out

In November, Major League Baseball added sexual orientation to its discrimination policies, which was thanks in part to a letter from the Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell. But the latest news to come from both the gay and baseball fronts isn’t quite so encouraging. Last week, rumors swirled that Minnesota Twins player Carl Pavano, above, was being extorted by former high school classmate Christian Bedard, who reportedly had a same-sex relationship with Pavano.

In response to the incident, McDonnell drafted and sent the following letter calling for MLB commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig to do the right thing and “to use your voice and position to unequivocally state that any player who is gay and who wishes to come out will receive the support of your office and the league.”

Read McDonnell’s entire letter after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Prop 8 supporters still want judge disqualified

Lawyers file brief claiming Vaughn Walker’s ruling striking down gay marriage ban should be invalidated because he is gay and in a relationship with a man

Walker.Vaughn

JUDGING THE JUDGE | In this July 8, 2009 file photo, Judge Vaughn Walker is seen in his chambers at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, Calif. Lawyers for the sponsors of California’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban have filed briefs with the appeals court asking that Walker’s ruling striking down Prop 8 be invalidated because he is gay. (San Francisco Chronicle, Paul Chinn/Associated Press)

LISA LEFF  |  Associated Press
editor@dallasvoice.com

SAN FRANCISCO — The sponsors of California’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban have asked a federal court to invalidate the ruling of the federal judge who struck it down, saying the judge should be disqualified because he did not divulge he was in a long-term relationship with another man.

Lawyers for the Proposition 8’s backers filed their open brief on the issue late Monday, Oct. 3, with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. They claim that another federal judge erred when he concluded U.S. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s relationship status was irrelevant to Walker’s ability to fairly preside over the trial on the measure’s constitutionality.

In their brief, they argue that Walker’s impartiality can be questioned because he is “similarly situated” to the plaintiffs who sued to overturn Proposition 8, two same-sex couples in established relationships. They also said that while Walker has not indicated if he and his partner wish to marry, research presented as evidence in the trial found that two-thirds of unmarried same-sex couples would tie the knot if they could.

“Given that Judge Walker was in a long-term, same-sex relationship throughout this case (and
for many years before the case commenced), he was, in Plaintiffs’ own words, ‘similarly situated to (Plaintiffs) for purposes of marriage,’” the lawyers wrote. “And it is entirely possible — indeed, it is quite likely, according to Plaintiffs themselves — that Judge Walker had an interest in marrying his partner and therefore stood in precisely the same shoes as the Plaintiffs before him.”

Walker’s successor, Chief Judge James Ware, rejected similar arguments in late August, after the coalition of religious conservative groups that qualified Proposition 8 for the November 2008 ballot made the first attempt in the nation to disqualify a sitting judge based on sexual orientation.

Ware said the presumption that Walker could not be unbiased was “as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief.”

In an apparent response, the coalition’s attorneys wrote that they were not suggesting that gay or lesbian judges could never preside over cases involving gay rights questions.

“We know of no reason to believe, for example, that Judge Walker would have any personal interest in the outcome of litigation over, say, the constitutionality of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” they said. “Nor would there be any issue with a gay or lesbian judge hearing this case so long as a reasonable person, knowing all of the relevant facts and circumstances, would not have reason to believe that the judge has a current personal interest in marrying.”

The 9th Circuit already is reviewing whether Walker properly concluded the ban violates the rights of gay Californians and if Proposition 8’s sponsors were eligible to appeal his ruling once the state’s attorney general and governor declined to challenge it. A decision could come down at any time.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Nhojj’s ‘Amazing Grace’ video taps into gay marriage — and it’s kinda awkward

Soul singer and OutMusic award winner Nhojj recently released his version of “Amazing Grace” along with a video that depicts a same-sex relationship and wedding. He released it for the Easter holiday (yeah, I’m late to this, sorry), and it’s interesting to take such a traditional hymn and use it in the context of LGBT issues. Smart. Nhojj has an impressive back catalog, and I think he’s important to putting out music with a specific gay perspective, but sometimes he traps himself into overkill which he did with this video.

Candles on the piano, goofy and cliche romantic exchanges, and the singer and actor who just don’t seem that into each other, take away from a beautifully constructed song. Nhojj’s voice is pretty close to heaven, but he missed the mark visually on the song. The funny thing is that the press release kept mentioning that the video was groundbreaking and inspiring because it depicted a same-sex wedding and an interracial couple. That might have been had the video been any good.

—  Rich Lopez

Pa. Catholic college fires gay professor

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — A Catholic college in Philadelphia says it has fired a part-time professor after learning from a post on his blog that he has been in a same-sex relationship for a decade and a half, which officials called contrary to church teaching.

Chestnut Hill College, a private Catholic school, said the Rev. James St. George was terminated after he made “public statements of his involvement in a gay relationship with another man for the past 15 years.”

St. George. 45, of Lansdale, was hired by the private Catholic school in 2009 to teach Bible studies and other subjects. He was to teach courses in theology and justice as well as world religions beginning Tuesday, March 1.

St. George confirmed to The Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday that he is gay and recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of his relationship with his partner. He said he was shocked by the termination, which he learned about Feb. 18.

College officials appeared surprised that St. George belonged to a branch of Catholicism not associated with the Vatican that has different views on gay issues. St. George leads St. Miriam Church in Blue Bell, which is affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which vows no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and performs commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians.

Carol Jean Vale, president of Chestnut Hill College, said in a statement Friday night to several news organizations, including the Philadelphia Daily News, that when St. George joined the faculty “he presented himself as Father St. George and openly wore a traditional Catholic priest’s collar.”

Vale said that while St. George “appears to be an ordained pastor … his church allows priests the option to engage in same-sex partnerships.”

St. George denied that he had withheld anything from the college.

“What am I supposed to do?” he asked. “Say, ‘Before we go any further, I’m gay?’ Who says that?”

The college said officials only learned about the matter “after St. George chose to make his private life public information on his blog.”

“While we welcome diversity, it is expected that all members of our college community, regardless of their personal beliefs, respect and uphold our Roman Catholic mission, character and values both in the classroom and in public statements that identify them with our school,” Vale’s statement said. “For this reason, we chose not to offer an additional teaching contract to St. George.”

Jessica Murray, 23, who was one of St. George’s students, told the Inquirer that she was appalled by the firing.

“All you have to do is Google him, you can see that he’s openly gay,” she said. “They can’t claim they didn’t know.”

—  John Wright

After losing bitter custody battle, lesbian mother Debie Hackett of Dallas takes her own life

Debie Hackett with her son, from her Facebook page

Another suicide in the LGBT community this week showed that bullying isn’t the only reason people take their own lives.

Last July, I wrote about Debie Hackett, who was fighting with her former partner for visitation rights with their son. An appeals court gave her the right to assert her parental rights and sue for visitation and the case was remanded to the lower court. When I spoke to her, she was hopeful that she would be able to see her son soon.

This month she lost her case.

Despondent, Hackett took her own life on Christmas Eve.

Could interpretation of laws to discount a same-sex relationship be the underlying cause of this needless death?

A friend of Hackett’s sent me an e-mail to let me know what had happened and asked that as a tribute I post suicide-prevention information.

Local counselor Candy Marcum said that, surprisingly, December is not necessarily the worst month for suicide. In Hackett’s case, the loss in court combined with loneliness on the holiday must have been too much for her.

Grieving friends and family can only wonder if there was something more they could have done. Marcum said the warning signs are not always apparent and counsels those grieving not to blame themselves.

Ann Haas of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention specializes in prevention in the LGBT community. In a November article, she listed a number of warning signs for suicide. To read them, go here.

—  David Taffet

Dallas BiNet marking ‘Celebrate Bisexuality Day’ with mixer at Bronx

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

The local chapter of BiNet will mark Celebrate Bisexuality Day on Thursday, Sept. 23, with a mixer at 6 p.m. in the back patio area of The Bronx on Cedar Springs Road.

Nationally, this is the 19th annual event according to BiNet USA.

“We’re getting together to bring visibility to bisexuals in North Texas during Pride,” said Latisha McDaniel. “We’re trying to make the B not silent anymore.”

She said bisexuals often just blend.

“They just lump the B’s,” she said. “We’re either in a same-sex relationship or we’re in a straight relationship,” so bisexuals are often seen as either gay or straight.

McDaniel said that coming out as bisexual is often risky in any relationship. In the gay and lesbian community, she said that bisexuality is often treated as a transitional phase.
“We’re treated as 2 percent milk, kind of lukewarm,” she said.

McDaniel said she has even been asked why she cares about marriage equality.

“It’s as if bis come to the gayborhood for their kicks and then go home,” she said.

Morgan O’Donnell said she has been with DFW BiNet since April.

“I had been in a job that was fairly supportive,” she said. “I left that job and didn’t have support. When I went to BiNet, they went all out to welcome me.”

She said DFW BiNet’s support group meets the first Saturday of each month at Resource Center Dallas to discuss issues of particular concern to people coming out and living as bisexual.

“We’re considered to be sitting on the fence,” O’Donnell said, adding that is the number one issue bisexuals regularly address to straights as well as to gays and lesbians.
“It helps to be with a group of people who share similar experiences,” she said.

O’Donnell said that the event at The Bronx is for allies and supporters as well as bisexuals and those who are questioning.

“The evening will give people an opportunity to celebrate their bisexuality,” O’Donnell said, adding that she hopes the event brings more visibility to DFW BiNet.

A $5 donation at the door is suggested. Reservations are not required but are suggested since seating is limited. Reservations can be made on the group’s Facebook page found under DFW BiNet.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens