What’s Brewing: Debating discrimination in Montana, West Virginia and the United Kingdom

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A Montana House committee approved a bill Monday that would ban cities from enacting ordinances to protect LGBT people from discrimination. The bill, which cleared the committee by a 13-7 vote, would overturn existing LGBT protections in Bozeman and Missoula. The same House committee also blocked a proposal to ban anti-LGBT discrimination statewide, after a 14-6 vote against the measure. But really, what else would you expect in a state where the GOP platform calls for criminalizing gay sex and where tea party leaders like to joke about Matthew Shepard’s murder?

2. A gay coal miner who filed a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer is leading the push for statewide LGBT protections in West Virginia. Sam Hall, who filed a lawsuit against Massey Energy Co. last year, spoke at a rally Monday at the Capitol in support of anti-discrimination bills, as onlookers chanted, “stand with Sam.” Watch video of the rally above.

3. Across the pond, the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating whether gay-only hotels violate anti-discrimination laws. The EHRC, which recently found a Christian-owned hotel guilty of violating the laws for refusing to rent a room to a same-sex couple, says it must establish an “objective balance.” Owners of gay-only hotels fear that if they’re forced to rent to heterosexual couples, it could put them out of business.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Valentine’s Day recap edition

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. THE GOOD: Legislators in Washington state and Colorado were struck by Cupid’s arrow, as they introduced bills Monday to legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, respectively. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that 24 Maryland senators have now said publicly that they’ll support pending marriage equality legislation, giving the bill the votes it needs to pass by the slimmest of margins.

2. THE BAD: The Indiana House was scheduled to vote Monday on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the measure, which is expected to pass, was postponed because some lawmakers who want to go on record supporting the ban were absent. Meanwhile, lawmakers in New Hampshire are moving forward with hearings on a proposed repeal of same-sex marriage, despite polls showing a majority of residents oppose the repeal. And, in Chicago, six activists were arrested when they refused to leave a marriage bureau after a same-sex couple was denied a license.

3. THE UGLY: If you want to get really angry, or need a reminder as to what the struggle for equality is all about, watch the above video of police in Lima, Peru, using violence to break up a Valentine’s Day “Kisses Against Homophobia” demonstration that took place Saturday. According to Living in Peru, one activist needed 10 stitches to the back of her head.

—  John Wright

Dallas Video Fest goes a little gay, but just a little

For 23 years, the Dallas Video Fest has offered up a strongly diverse selections of work both local and from afar. These kinds of indie projects are prime territory for LGBT filmmakers, and the DVF, thankfully, doesn’t shy away from gay content. This year, though, the selections seem slimmer than in the past … though that doesn’t mean they are less interesting.

This crop of films have certain gay appeal whether it’s behind the camera or on the screen.

Ain’t I A Woman? — Brad Sanders directs this short which follows Lesley, a transgender doll during her transformation. In four minutes, Sanders takes a look at gender and the societal notions that come with it. (Friday at 10:30 p.m.)

Nothing Happened, pictured — This tale by Julia Kots about two best friends played at L.A.’s
OutFest earlier this year. Barb has a secret to tell Liza but they aren’t sure if they want to go there just yet. (Friday at 10:30 p.m.)

Deep Ellum Mural Project — When DART tore down the Deep Ellum tunnel for its new station, people were crushed. That turned around when artists teamed with DART and the new mural was born. Lesbian artist Cathey Miller is one of the locals with her work gracing the piece. (Saturday at 3:45 p.m.)

The Jeff Koons Show — The pop artist gives his own perspective on himself in Alison Chernick’s profile. Gay artist Chuck Close and painter/filmmaker Julian Schnabel also weigh in on his work which you might recognize as stainless steel balloon animals or the famous gay animals photography he did for New York Times Magazine this spring. (Saturday at 6 p.m.)

Fragments From Death Comes for Britney Spears! The Musical — OK, really, this has the three words needed for any gay man to come out and watch. Britney. Spears. Musical.  The DVF describes it though as a parody on the singer amid a world of gossip. (Saturday at 9 p.m.)

The t.a.T.u. Project — This doc by Jesper Nordahl looks at the pop duo from Russia and their marketing as a same-sex couple against a political background. (Saturday at 10 p.m.)

Seven Songs About Thunder — Jennifer Reeder’s film follows three women coming to terms with death, motherhood and even their sexual selves. Apparently one scene in which a mother calls and leaves messages on her dead daughter’s phone will leave you feeling creeped out. But that’s just what we hear. (Sunday at 4:05 p.m.)

Dallas Art City — Players in the Big D art scene open up with their memories and perspectives of visual arts and what they mean to the city. This is an excerpt from a full-length doc that will premiere later this year. (Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

— Rich Lopez

The Dallas Video Fest runs through Sunday at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Passes $25–$75. For a complete schedule of films and events, visit Videofest.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

A good week for gay rights in Australia

Sydney, New South Wales

On Thursday, the lower house of the Tasmanian assembly voted to recognize same-sex marriages and civil unions performed elsewhere. The vote was by a wide margin and the only dissenting votes came from three not-so-liberal members of the Liberal Party.

On Friday, the New South Wales Legislative Assembly voted to allow same-sex couples to adopt. The vote was 46-44 with support coming from all parties, according the newspaper The Australian.

A previous bill was rejected because it allowed agencies with religious affiliation to refuse to work with same-sex couples. The current bill has no religious exemption.

The bill still needs to pass the upper house.

New South Wales includes Australia’s largest city, Sydney. Adoption by same-sex couples is already legal in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

—  David Taffet