WATCH: Anti-gay protesters break out Prop 2 signs to fight DP benefits in San Antonio

Last week we posted this story from Sam Sanchez at QSanAntonio about how anti-gay forces are fighting San Antonio’s plan to offer domestic partner benefits to municipal workers. On Monday, a group called “Voices for Marriage” held a press conference outside City Hall to oppose the plan. And as you can see above, they broke out their six-year-old signs from the fight over Prop 2, Texas’ marriage amendment. KENS Channel 5 reports:

Extending benefits to city employees in same sex relationships would cost between $300,000 and $400,000 a year — a small fraction of the total $2.2 billion budget which would go into effect October 1.

The move would also put San Antonio in the same category as many other Texas cities and companies, including USAA and Rackspace that currently offer benefits to domestic partners.

However, a local group calling itself “Voices for Marriage” protested the proposed change on Monday outside city hall. The group, citing religious views and current state law, opposes any extension of benefits to domestic partnerships.

Pastor Gerald Ripley issued a “fact sheet” to those in attendance, listing 14 reasons why the group opposes the change. The document said, “We believe marriage is a legally binding relationship between one man and one woman” and “a vote for domestic partner benefits is a vote against upholding the institution of marriage”.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who backs the change, said the city needs to extend benefits to domestic partners in order to stay competitive with other cities and companies across the country that already offer similar benefits. The mayor dismissed oncerns by many protestors over the cost of benefits as “a smokescreen for their dislike of gays and lesbians.”

Watch video from the press conference below.

—  John Wright

Lawsuit against SA boarding school says bully threatened to rape boy with lit blowtorch

The parents of a former student have filed a lawsuit against an elite religious boarding school in San Antonio, alleging that a bully threatened to sexually assault their son with a lit blowtorch. The family of the then-15-year-old also says the boy’s classmates bullied him by calling him “gay” and “Nazi.” From the San Antonio Express-News:

The suit describes a night when a group of students burst into his room and pinned him down in his bed while one waved a lit blowtorch in his face and “made repeated threats to rape him.”

The suit names TMI and the San Antonio-based Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. The school was founded in 1893 by an Episcopal bishop.

The suit, which does not specify damages, accuses them of ignoring warnings from the parents and boy despite the school’s zero-tolerance hazing policy.

“You’re entrusting your child to a boarding facility that’s supposed to be one of the best in Texas and the nation and one run by a church,” said Tahira Khan Merritt, the family’s attorney based in Dallas. “You certainly don’t expect to be abused.”

Read a full copy of the lawsuit here.

 

—  John Wright

SA homophobes put new twist on played-out protests of Terrence McNally’s ‘Corpus Christi’

You’ve gotta hand it to the Alamo City. First they brought us Dan Ramos, and now this.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that a group of so-called religious leaders has banded together to denounce a scheduled production of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi at the San Pedro Playhouse, which happens to receive a small amount of funding from the city.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, McNally’s “gay Jesus” play has sparked controversy in various places across the country, including in 2010 at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, when a scheduled production prompted Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to intervene.

But to their credit, these San Antonio homophobes aren’t just repeating tired old criticisms of the play about blasphemy, etc. That’s right, even though it’s total bullshit, at least they’ve come up with a new reason for opposing Corpus Christi: The group, which plans a news conference at City Hall this afternoon, claims that in addition to portraying “such a profane and disrespectful depiction of Jesus Christ,” the play is “insensitive” to the gay community because it contains a “crude portrayal of homosexual men.” Here’s an excerpt from the group’s letter:

“It would be easy, but inaccurate, to dispose of our concerns as a homophobic response to the depiction of Jesus as a homosexual leading a band of homosexual apostles. While many may find this characterization troubling, we feel that the crude portrayal of homosexual men in this play is, at best, an exaggerated caricature that is insensitive also to our gay and lesbian community.”

—  John Wright

‘Democrat’ doesn’t always equal ‘gay-friendly’

Justin Nichols

Comments by Bexar County Democratic Party chair — and the response to them — shows LGBTs have to work across lines of race, party to make progress

JUSTIN NICHOLS | Special Contributor

Much has been said about the chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, Dan Ramos, who last month made headlines with a rant in which he called LGBT people“Nazis” and “termites.”

But as things develop, we shouldn’t just write Ramos off as one county chairman gone crazy. Lessons can be learned here about politics, race and the fight for equality.

On April 5, the Bexar County Democratic Party precinct chairs held two meetings, both claiming to be official. The San Antonio Express-News reported that the larger meeting, from which Ramos was absent, had about 75 precinct chairs that voted to put Ramos on trial for rule violations.

The smaller meeting, which Ramos attended, was comprised almost exclusively of Hispanic precinct chairs who gave him, reportedly, a “hero’s welcome.”

In March, a local news survey showed that only 54 percent of viewers believed that Ramos should resign his post — a far cry from unanimous agreement.

This got me thinking: Is there a quiet but significant group of people who aren’t that upset with Ramos?

Ramos’ comments have become increasingly racially charged. Further, Ramos has maintained his position opposing same-sex marriage and gay adoption represents the true sentiments of Bexar County residents.

What if Ramos is right, and what if race is a bigger player than initially thought?

The Pew Hispanic Center, the leader in Latino research, reported that 56 percent of Hispanics oppose gay marriage, compared to only 42 percent of non-Hispanics; 43 percent of Hispanics believe that abortion should be legal compared to 60 percent of non-Hispanics.

These numbers are in stark contrast to a 2010 Gallup poll showing 56 percent and 87 percent of Democrats support, respectively, gay marriage and some form of legal abortion.

According to Pew, Hispanics tend to identify with the Democratic Party 66 percent of the time, double the rate by which they identify with the Republican Party. And, the Latino population is the fastest-growing minority in the country — seeing a 56 percent increase from 2000 to 2010 in Southern states.

What this means is that the fastest-growing population, which overwhelmingly supports the Democratic Party, significantly breaks with the Democratic platform on issues like gay rights and women’s right to choose.

So maybe, the conflict in Bexar County is just a sample of more intra-party disputes to come as the Latino populations grows and realizes more leadership positions in the Democratic Party.

To the people ready to accuse me of lumping all Latinos into one big bag: Cool down, I’m not.

I’m suggesting that, as the Hispanic community becomes larger and more politically active — flexing its muscle on issues like immigration and education — we shouldn’t assume that a “D” or “R” next to someone’s name automatically reveals their position on gay rights.

As a community, we need to be reaching out to all communities, and we should never assume that one group is automatically in our corner.

The leaders of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio are right: Dan Ramos is a dinosaur who will soon be extinct.

But I caution against assuming that when dinosaurs die there will automatically be political oil to drill. The numbers show that is not guaranteed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.


—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Bexar County Democrats vote to put anti-gay Chairman Dan Ramos on trial

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Dan Ramos

1. A group of Bexar County Democrats voted Tuesday night to put party Chairman Dan Ramos on trial for rules violations, according to the San Antonio Express-News. But Ramos, who recently compared gay Democrats to “termites” and “the fuckin’ Nazi Party,” remained defiant and says he’s seeking a restraining order against the group to prevent it from conducting business. The group voted 72-1 to proceed with a trial to remove Ramos under Roberts Rules of Order. Across town, where a much smaller group of Ramos’ supporters met, gay-rights protesters gathered outside. One Ramos supporter was so upset by the protesters that she was placed in handcuffs after the manager of the restaurant where they met called police.

2. Speaking of crazies, a while back whacko preacher Cindy Jacob of Red Oak, Texas, claimed that the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” was causing bird deaths in Arkansas. On Tuesday, Jacob followed up by declaring that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as the situation in the Middle East, can all be attributed to DADT repeal and our decision to disrupt the laws of God. “Everything that I said has happened,” Jacobs says in the video above.

3. During a committee hearing Tuesday on a bill that would remove Texas’ unconstitutional “homosexual conduct” law from the books, a Republican lawmaker objected to a provision that would amend a portion of the Health and Safety Code that says homosexual conduct is not an “acceptable lifestyle.” “I can understand removing the language that it’s a criminal offense, but is this not going a step too far?” asked Rep. Jose Aliveda of Beeville. We’ll have more on the committee hearing shortly.

—  John Wright

SA Catholic leaders shut down gay Mass

Catholic leaders in San Antonio recently shut down a Mass offered to gays and lesbians for the last 15 years, citing a conflict with church teaching, according to The San Antonio Express-News:

Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú, the interim head of the archdiocese, told church officials the Mass conflicted with Catholic teaching because it was offered for the gay Catholic advocacy group, Dignity San Antonio. Part of the national organization, DignityUSA, it seeks the acceptance of alternative lifestyles in the Catholic Church.

“The Mass … continues to send conflicting messages about the Church’s official teaching concerning the proper celebration of the Eucharist and living an active homosexual lifestyle,” Cantú wrote in an Oct. 13 letter to the St. Ann pastor, Father John Restrepo.

Dignity officials say they will continue the mass at another location. They also say they’ll appeal the decision to the new head of the archdiocese who will take over next month.

—  John Wright