Target changes giving policy that led to boycott

Target has changed its corporate donation policy more than six months after LGBT groups criticized the company for donating $150,000 to Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who said he thought someone who said it was OK to kill gay people was a nice guy.

The new policy involves a committee of senior executives overseeing donations to parties and candidates.

Since the donation was made, Human Rights Campaign tried to negotiate a comparable donation to LGBT groups, but the company broke off talks. Many members of the LGBT community stopped shopping at Target and HRC deducted 15 points from Target’s Corporate Equality Index score.

The LGBT Creating Change conference was held just blocks from Target’s Minneapolis headquarters this month. Creating Change organizers approached Target about sponsoring the conference, but the company declined. However, employees from Target corporate headquarters volunteered at the conference.

Best Buy, which is also based in Minneapolis and also made a large donation to the PAC supporting Emmer, the anti-gay Republican running for Minnesota governor, was a sponsor of Creating Change.

Target says its has supported Twin Cities Pride in the past and plans to continue doing so. The company also says it will contribute to gay Pride celebrations in San Francisco and Chicago.

Ironically, the political donation may have backfired for the candidate as well.  The money Target gave to Emmer may have energized enough people in the LGBT community to vote for Mark Dayton, the Democrat who won the election by a slim margin.

—  David Taffet

Gay-baiting as a distraction from real issues

Jim Schutze at The Dallas Observer has a good piece up today about politicians using issues like immigration, abortion and gay rights to distract voters from real problems, such as Texas’ current budget shortfall and — more generally — how badly rich people in the U.S. are screwing everyone else over. Here’s an excerpt:

So it’s like this: We ask, “Mr. Governor, what are you going to about the huge deficit that’s going to screw up our kids’ schools and toss our grandparents out in the street and mess up the whole state?”

And he says, “LOOK OVER THERE! A MEXICAN!”

It’s not just Perry. It’s all of the Republicans now. Ask state Sen. Florence Shapiro what she’s going to do to protect colleges and universities from the shortfall. She’ll start talking about how we need “voter ID”

“LOOK! LOOK! A MEXICAN TRYING TO VOTE!”

And if that doesn’t work, the Republicans will point toward San Francisco and say, “LOOK! LOOK! TWO GUYS KISSING!”

Or, “LOOK! LOOK! A SLUT GETTING AN ABORTION.”

In reading Schutze’s piece, we couldn’t help being reminded of this George Carlin bit, so we figured we’d go ahead and share it too:

—  John Wright

The Nooner: Leppert unlikely to run; 1st gay museum opens; R.I. marriage fight heats up

Mayor Tom Leppert appears in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2007.

Your lunchtime quickie from Instant Tea:

• It’s “all but certain” that Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert won’t seek re-election, according to The Dallas Morning News, and Councilwoman Angela Hunt says she’s considering a run.

• Westboro Baptist Church says it has decided not to picket 9-year-old Tucson shooting victim’s funeral after all, but it will picket that of federal judge killed in attack.

• First LGBT history museum opens in San Francisco.

• Marriage fight heats up in Rhode Island.

• Jewish groups condemn Sarah Palin‘s use of “blood libel.”

—  John Wright

Log Cabin urges court to sustain DADT case

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — A gay rights group is asking a federal appeals court in California to keep considering whether a trial judge properly struck down the U.S. military’s ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Lawyers for Log Cabin Republicans filed a brief Monday, Jan. 10 arguing that because the ban has not been lifted, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals needs to maintain its schedule in the government’s challenge to the lower court’s ruling.

It came in response to a Justice Department motion seeking to suspend the case for at least three months. The department faces a Jan. 24 deadline for submitting opening arguments.

Government lawyers say putting the appeal on hold would allow the Pentagon to focus on training troops and other tasks necessary for completing the repeal of the ban.

Congress has agreed to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

—  John Wright

Breaking news: Seelig to leave Dallas for SF gig

Dr. Timothy Seelig, for 20 years the artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale and of late head of the Resounding Harmony chorus and Art for Peace & Justice project, has accepted a position as the new artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. He will take over the baton on Jan. 1, 2011.

Before that, he’ll lead Resounding Harmony one final time, for a concert at the Meyerson on Nov. 10.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Virgin America to add daily flights from DFW to LA, San Fran

Since Los Angeles and San Francisco are likely quite popular destinations for LGBT travelers, I am sure there are plenty of you in Instant Tea Land who will be happy to know that Virgin America airlines will offer two flights daily to L.A., and two flights daily to San Francisco, beginning in December.

Go here to read more about the announcement from the San Francisco-based airline.

—  admin

LGBT leaders praise Ted Olson's performance during closing arguments in federal Prop 8 trial

Plaintiffs’ attorney says marriage ban causes ‘grave and irreparable’ harm; other side warns ‘no one can know’ consequences of overturning it

By Lisa Keen | Keen News Service

SAN FRANCISCO — There were so many people trying to get in to watch the final day of the landmark trial challenging California’s same-sex marriage ban, the court staff had to set up an additional overflow room for observers.

Those dozen or so members of the public who managed to snare seats in Courtroom 6 on the 17th floor of San Francisco’s federal courthouse building had to stand in line starting at 5:45 Wednesday morning to get them.

But gays in California are used to standing in line. They stood in line exactly two years ago – June 16, 2008 — to be among the first same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses in the state. Now, they were watching closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a historic case challenging the November 2008 initiative that took away the right for gay couples to obtain marriage licenses in California.

—  John Wright

Saturday is Harvey Milk Day

Saturday is the first official Harvey Milk Day. Harvey Milk Day legislation passed the California legislature in August 2008.

May 22 would have been Milk’s 80th birthday. He was assassinated in his office in San Francisco City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978. He was 48.

I take special pride in Harvey Milk for a number of reasons.

First, he graduated from my school, University at Albany, class of 1951. Our most famous alumni was honored last year at the school at a luncheon, and Harvey’s gay nephew Stuart Milk spoke (see video above). Soon after the opening of our Alumni House in 1977, his fraternity made a donation in his name, and the library of the new building was named for him.

Next is Milk’s Dallas connection. John Wright recently unearthed evidence that Milk lived in Dallas in the 1960s at 21 Turtle Creek, just a few blocks from the Dallas Voice office.

—  David Taffet

The gays know how to protest!

June — National Gay Pride Month — is just a few weeks away, and LGBT people from around the world are making plans to head to San Francisco for one of the biggest gay Pride celebrations anywhere.

But one group of San Fran activists wants their fellow LGBT people coming in for Pride to join a boycott of certain hotels in San Francisco called by hotel workers to demand fair contracts and affordable health care. The activists staged a “flash mob” in the lobby of one of the targeted hotels, the Westin St. Francis, singing and dancing to an adapted version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

The video, posted here from YouTube, includes a list of hotels targeted in the boycott. The flash mob was organized by San Francisco Pride at Work/HAVOQ, One Struggle One Fight and The Brass Liberation Orchestra.

Information on the boycott and why the workers have called for it, you can check out SleepWithTheRightPeople.org and HotelWorkersRising.org.

Whether you agree with the boycott or not, and whether you plan to honor the boycott if you are traveling to San Francisco, you’ve got to give the LGBT activists there props for knowing how to stage an informative and entertaining protest.

Check it out.

—  admin

Constance is going to the prom

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

Constance McMillen is finally going to the prom.

Each year the National Center for Lesbian Rights holds what they call “the lesbian prom” in San Francisco. McMillen has been invited to the May 1 event and NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said the group will pay for her travel.

Can you imagine being a high school senior and experiencing the ups and downs she’s gone through. First the uproar in her town that resulted in the cancellation of her school prom, just because she wanted to wear a tux and take her girlfriend.

Then she became an instant celebrity, highlighted by an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show where she was awarded a college scholarship.

Back home, to show just how nasty and spiteful they could be, a secret prom is scheduled and she’s invited to a fake prom. Rather than just plan a private party, her classmates decided that a nice bit of humiliation was necessary.

But now she gets to attend a prom in San Francisco. Hmmm … rural Mississippi or San Francisco. No matter what her classmates (and school officials) have planned for her next, this comeback kid is going to one up them with the entire LGBT community backing her.

—  David Taffet