San Antonio woman is 12th trans person murdered this year

Kenne McFadden

Kenne McFadden has been identified as the 11th transgender person murdered in the U.S. since Jan. 1.

A San Antonio River Walk barge operator found McFadden’s fully-clothed body floating in the San Antonio River on April 9. But her name was not added to the list of trans murder victims until this week because police misgendered and dead-named her. Police also said there were no obvious signs of trauma and McFadden’s death was accidental.

Now, two months later, according to the San Antonio Current, officials have acknowledged that McFadden was a trans woman “in the process of transitioning,” and have ruled her death a homicide by drowning — even though the updated police report still identifies her as male.

SAPD Sgt. Jesse Salame told KENS 5 this week that investigators have determined that McFadden was murdered and possibly pushed into the river. Salame also confirmed that police have a suspect in the case — a man that McFadden knew who is already in jail on unrelated charges. He also said police have found no evidence that McFadden’s murder was linked to her race — she was black — or her gender identity.

Other trans people murdered this year have been:

  • Mesha Caldwell, 41, a black trans woman from Canton, Miss., found shot to death Jan. 4. The murder is still under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.
  • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, an American Indian woman who identified as transgender and two-spirit, found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, S.D., on. Jan. 6. Joshua Rayvon LeClaire, 25, has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in connection with her death.
  • JoJo Striker, 23, a black trans woman murdered in Toledo, Ohio, on Feb. 8. No arrests have been made.
  • Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, a trans woman of color shot to death in Chicago on the morning of Feb. 21. She was found dead on the same street as two other transgender women murdered in 2012. No arrests have been made.
  • Chyna Gibson, aka Chyna Doll Dupree, 31, a black trans woman shot to death in New Orleans on Feb. 25. She was a well-known performer in the ballroom community who was visiting friends and family in New Orleans at the time of her death. No arrests have been made.
  • Ciara McElveen, 26, a trans woman of color stabbed to death in New Orleans on Feb. 27. McElveen did outreach for the homeless community. No arrests have been made.
  • Jaquarrius Holland, 18, a black transwoman shot to death in Monroe, La., on Feb. 19. She was initially misgendered by police and media reports. No arrests have been made.
  • Alphonza Watson, 38, a black trans woman shot to death in Baltimore, Md., on March 22. No arrests have been made.
  • Chay Reed, 28, a trans woman of color shot to death on April 21 in Miami. No arrests have been made.
  • Kenneth Bostick, 59, a trans man who was beaten to death April 25 in Chelsea, New York City. Joseph Griffin, 26, has been arrested and charged with his death.
  • Also, Sherrell Faulkner, 46, a transgender woman of color severely injured in an attack in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 30, 2016, died of her injuries on May 16. No arrests have been made.



—  Tammye Nash

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Donald Trump joining 392 other candidates running for president

Head & Shoulders formal portrait of Gov. Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, faces 89 other GOP presidential contenders.

Yesterday (Monday, June 15) it was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who announced his Republican presidential campaign yesterday. Today, it’s Donald Trump – God’s candidate, evidently. They join a crowded field of candidates.

No, really. It’s packed, according to the Federal Elections Committee. 392 other candidates have filed a Form 2 statement of candidacy for 2016. One Bush already beat him, and it’s not his son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. (He finally endorsed him  at his dad’s kick-off speech yesterday in Miami.) Willita D. Bush of St. Louis, Mo., filed her form in late January. She’s mulling a Green Party run, which will for sure set her part from her far more conservative brother from another mother, Jeb. (The Green Party, for example, has long supported LGBT equality.)

Bush will be competing for the GOP nomination not only against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry but 87 other nominees from across the country.

Among them is former stripper and social conservative activist Pogo Mochello Allen-Reese of San Antonio. His 2016 campaign motto? “God, guns, gold.” (No word if he plans to campaign against marriage equality with his fellow culture warriors former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Dr. Ben Carson of Maryland, all of whom have rosy opinions on a variety of LGBT issues.)

Allen-Reese is probably the most colorful of the bunch, however. The “Patriot Prancer” recently ran for San Antonio mayor, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Should he fail to clinch the Republican presidential nominee, however, there’s a certain there’s another governing body waiting for him. It’s called the Texas Legislature. Hell, he’d give Rep. Molly White some company.

—  James Russell

San Antonio City Council appoints new interim mayor

ivytaylorThe San Antonio City Council appointed Councilwoman Ivy R. Taylor as its interim mayor today following Julian Castro’s resignation in the wake of his appointment as the new U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Taylor was one of the three “no” votes against amending the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the San Antonio News-Express, she voted no over concerns that it would stifle religious freedom.

At her swearing in today, however, Taylor said she looks forward to working with the entire community.

Chuck Smith of Equality Texas said in a statement he looks forward to working with Taylor “to ensure that the equal opportunities envisioned by the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance (NDO) can become a reality for the 1.3 million people who make San Antonio their home.”

Taylor, who has been on the council since 2009, will be the city’s first African-American mayor. She will serve until the May 2015 elections and has said in the past she would not run for the open position.

—  James Russell

Another Texas judge rules state’s marriage law unconstitutional


Judge Barbara Nellermoe

Another Texas judge ruled that Texas, marriage amendment is unconstitutional.

While the Texas Supreme Court continues to delay ruling on two same-sex divorces, Judge Barbara Nellermoe in San Antonio ruled today that the marriage law is unconstitutional, and she can proceed hearing a couple’s divorce and custody case.

In one of the divorce cases before the Texas Supreme Court, Dallas Judge Teena Callahan ruled the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and proceeded to grant the divorce. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year declaring DOMA unconstitutional and ruled the Texas marriage law also unconstitutional.

Today’s ruling in the San Antonio case involves a lesbian couple who married in Washington, D.C. in 2010.

Kristi Lesh became pregnant and gave birth last year, and the couple split up later in the year.

Lesh argues that since she’s the biological mother, she should retain full custody, since Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. Allison Flood Lesh says a straight couple would generally be granted joint custody or visitation, and she should be awarded the same privilege.

So Kristi believes she had the right to take advantage of marriage when it suited her, but for the purposes of divorce, she’s acting like Greg Abbott, pleading the marriage doesn’t exist.

The judge agreed with Allison and called for a hearing.

—  David Taffet

Lesbian couple files for divorce in Bexar County


A San Antonio couple has filed to dissolve their 2010 D.C. marriage.

The couple, Allison Leona Flood Lesh and Kristi Lyn Lesh, filed for divorce on Feb. 18 after separating in July. Their case is the first divorce sought by a same-sex couple in Bexar County, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Eight days after they filed, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages is unconstitutional. But Garcia stayed his ruling pending appeal. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott later appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case may be put on hold until the Texas Supreme Court decides whether to allow same-sex couples to divorce in Texas. The court heard arguments for same-sex divorce in the state back in November, when lawyers for an Austin couple, who were granted a divorce, and a Dallas couple, who were still trying to obtain one, argued that the state didn’t need to recognize the marriages to dissolve the unions since the state where they were married already recognized their unions as legal.

The court has yet to rule in the cases, but a decision is expected by summer before the court’s recess.

But the San Antonio couple wants the case to move forward because they are also battling for custody of their 13-month-old daughter. Flood, who hasn’t seen the child in six months,  wants to share custody, while Lesh doesn’t because her wife isn’t the girl’s biological or adoptive parent. The Austin couple also has a child, but the case didn’t deal with custody.

“This illustrates what Judge Garcia identified as (what) same-sex couples are deprived of,” Neel Lane, one of the San Antonio lawyers for the gay couples who sued the state over the same-sex marriage ban, told the San Antonio Express-News. “First, they are deprived of the benefits of an orderly dissolution of a marriage. Second, their children are denied the benefit of the many laws to protect their interests in the event of a divorce.”

The couple has a hearing on Thursday.

—  Dallasvoice

Formal opposition to San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance ends

Councilman Diego Bernal

Councilman Diego Bernal

After the San Antonio City Council passed a nondiscrimination ordinance last September, opponents tried to force a repeal election. To do so they had 40 days to collect signatures from 10 percent of the city’s voters. They managed to get only about a third of the signatures needed.

The group’s next target was Councilman Diego Bernal, author of the nondiscrimination ordinance.

To recall the councilman, opponents needed signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters in the district. Although they promoted the idea that the ordinance allowed men to use women’s bathrooms where they would assault little girls, the group was unable to collect the needed signatures by the March deadline. They were 1,000 signatures short of the 5,800 needed.

The new strategy is to support an opponent of Bernal in the 2015 election. He ran unopposed in the previous election.

Bernal thanked his staff for acting professionally despite the amount of hate mail they received.

Gina Casteneda, organizer of the opposition to the ordinance, has taken the position of Texas field organizer for Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group funded by the Koch brothers.

—  David Taffet

Bexar County Commissioners Court extends benefits to same-sex partners

Bexar County commissioners

The Bexar County Commissioners Court

The Bexar County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Tuesday to extend health benefits to county employees’ same-sex spouses.

The “plus-one” plan allows an employee to add an additional adult to their health plans, Equality Texas announced. The plan is similar to ones passed by Austin Independent School District and offered by other municipalities and agencies like Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Bexar County is the fourth county in Texas to offer the benefits after Travis County, Dallas County and El Paso County.

After Attorney General Greg Abbott’s opinion last year that DP benefits violate the state’s constitutional marriage amendment, municipalities and agencies have refereed to DP benefits as “plus one” plans, even though the opinion isn’t legally binding. And El Paso County changed its benefits plan last year to remove domestic partner language.

But a Houston lawsuit challenging same-sex spousal benefits is contesting offering benefits to same-sex couples with the state’s marriage amendment. The suit was filed after Mayor Annise Parker announced that spousal benefits would be extended to all legally married city employees in same-sex marriages.

To sign Equality Texas’ thank you letter to the Bexar County commissioners, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Chan and incumbent Campbell say gays shouldn’t be allowed to adopt


Elisa Chan

At a candidate screening by the San Antonio Express-News for state Senate District 25, two candidates, Elisa Chan and incumbent Sen. Donna Campbell, made their anti-gay views apparent. The third was noncommittal, according to Texas Freedom Network.

Chan made a name for herself last summer when she served on the San Antonio City Council, and an aide recorded an office meeting about how she could vote “no” on the city’s proposed nondiscrimination ordinance without incurring political fallout. Chan never apologized. Instead she blamed the ex-staffer for recording the conversation, resigned from the council and announced a run for the state Senate.

The question was, “Should gay couples be allowed to adopt?”

Chan: No.

Campbell: No.

Bexar County Commissioner Mike Novak: I’m not the judge.

Every time the Texas Legislature has broached the subject of gay couples adopting, Texas Child Protective Services has quietly but forcefully intervened to let legislators know that without the LGBT community, there’s no way CPS could handle the number of children in foster care each year.

Campbell, who has four adoptive children, is proposing reforms to the state’s adoption laws to make it easier to adopt children — apparently unless you’re gay.


—  David Taffet

Gay, lesbian couples sue to challenge Texas’ same-sex marriage ban

san-antonio-visitor-bureauSAN ANTONIO — A lawsuit filed Monday challenges Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, claiming the Texas constitution violates protections of the United States constitution, such as the right to equal protection under the law.

The report from says the plaintiffs, gay couple Mark Pharris and Vic Holmes, and lesbian couple Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, seek a court order barring Texas officials from enforcing the same-sex marriage ban.

“In Texas, plaintiffs cannot legally marry their partner before family, friends and society — a right enjoyed by citizens who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex, and should they become married in a state that has established marriage equality, Texas explicitly voids their marriage,” said Barry Chasnoff, the attorney who filed the suit.

A spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry said the governor supports Texans who have decided they do not accept same-sex marriage, according to the report.

—  Steve Ramos

San Antonio judge leaves GOP over Republican anti-gay ‘hate speech’


Judge Carlo Key

The fight over a nondiscrimination ordinance in San Antonio has lost the Republican Party one of its members.

Bexar County Court-at-Law No. 11 Judge Carlo Key switched his party affiliation to the Democratic Party, saying in a YouTube video Monday that he didn’t leave the Republican Party but it left him. He was referring to the nasty debate over a city ordinance that covers sexual orientation and gender identity in the city.

“I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their economic status,” he said. “I will not be a member of a party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office rather than disqualifying them.”

Among other things he was referring to was Councilwoman Elisa Chan’s homophobic rants. She has since resigned the council to run for the legislature.

Key is up for reelection in 2014.

Watch the video of his announcement below.

—  David Taffet