Scalia claims he’s never expressed his views on marriage equality

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, right, reads from his new book, ‘Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,’ alongside SMU professor and co-author Bryan Garner. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told an audience at Southern Methodist University on Monday night that he hasn’t previously “expressed [his] views” on marriage equality or gun control.

The comment came while Scalia and SMU professor Bryan Garner were lecturing on their new book, Reading Law: Interpretations of Legal Texts. Part of the lecture focused on interpreting texts in the context in which they were written.

Garner explained that someone can personally disagree with a text but can agree on its interpretation. He explained that he and Scalia differ on gun control and marriage equality because he favors both. Scalia countered that he hadn’t expressed his views on either topic and left it at that.

Scalia’s statement seems at odds with his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which declared state sodomy laws unconstitutional. In the opinion Scalia wrote:

“State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.”

—  Anna Waugh

Anti-gay U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to speak at SMU tonight

SMU professor Bryan A. Garner, left, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be at Southern Methodist University tonight to discuss his new book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.

SMU professor and the book’s co-author Bryan A. Garner will join Scalia for the discussion.

It was during a similar lecture at Princeton University in December that Scalia was asked by a gay student about his anti-gay views and how he equates anti-sodomy laws to those banning murder. Scalia said he was drawing a moral parallel between the laws and legislative bodies should ban things viewed as immoral.

Scalia will also serve as a Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence at SMU Dedman School of Law Monday and Tuesday, where he will speak to several law classes.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium. General admission tickets are $35. Tickets and a copy of the book are $50. Books will not be sold at the event, but Garner and Scalia will sign copies. To register, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

SMU adds transgender protections

SMUSouthern Methodist University has issued a new statement of nondiscrimination. The previous policy covered sexual orientation but not  gender identity and expression. The new policy reads:

SMU will not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status. SMU’s commitment to equal opportunity includes nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

The policy reportedly went into effect on Jan. 1 after being approved in December. SMU is believed to be the first four-year university in North Texas with a fully inclusive policy. For the first time in several years, SMU was not included in the Princeton Review’s 2012 list of most homophobic campuses.

Dallas County Community College added gender identity and expression to its nondiscrimination policy last year.

Representatives from SMU couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the change.

—  David Taffet

SMU sexual assault shines light on male victims who break their silence

John David Mahaffey

The arrest of a male SMU student last week for allegedly sexually assaulting a male acquaintance sheds light on the small percentage of male victims who actually report such assaults.

John David Mahaffey, 19, was arrested after the victim, also a student, told SMU police he was forced to perform oral sex on Mahaffey in a parking garage at 3050 SMU Blvd., which is the address of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity where Mahaffey was a member.

Mahaffey has been banned from campus and suspended from the fraternity.

Jana Barker, executive director at Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, said national statistics show that 3 percent of men will experience or commit rape in their lifetime. She said among male rape victims, only about 7 percent will report the sexual assault. Barker said gay men are often targets of sexual assault because of their sexual orientation.

No statistics could be found on the number of gay men who are raped and the number of male rapes on college campuses.

Many men never come forward to report the encounters because of the stigma of being raped and being a man and often because they feel they are targeted because they have gay tendencies, Barker said. Some male victims question their sexual orientation afterward.

She said male victims also believe only gay men commit rape, but that is untrue.

“Rape is about power and control,” she said. “It’s not sex. It’s violence.”

Police later recorded a phone call between the victim and Mahaffey during which Mahaffey told the victim he should say the encounters were consensual.

Mahaffey is part of prominent SMU legacy. His great-great grandfather was a member of SMU’s founding committee and one of its first professors, NBC 5 reports. His grandmother, father and two aunts are alumni.

SMU spokesman Kent Best said the university isn’t commenting beyond a written statement because the investigation is ongoing.

“On Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, SMU Police arrested an SMU student for an alleged sexual assault that occurred Sept. 23, 2012, on the SMU campus,” the statement reads. “SMU Police will present the findings of its investigation to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. The student is temporarily banned from campus pending further investigation.”

The U.S. Justice Department extended the definition of rape in January to include male rape. The definition had only stated that men who forcibly have sex with women was rape, excluding men who rape men and forced oral sex.

—  Anna Waugh

Sandra Fluke to speak at SMU

Sandra Fluke

Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student attacked by Rush Limbaugh for her support of including contraception in healthcare coverage, will appear at Southern Methodist University on Sept. 24.

Fluke will speak on contraception, women’s health and the media. Following her talk, she will participate in a panel discussion, “Economics and Equality: How Obstacles to Women’s Health Care Access Affect Us All.”

On the panel with Fluke will be Charles Curran, SMU professor of human values; Linda Eads, SMU associate provost and law professor; and Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas.

The panel is sponsored by SMU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program.

Fluke was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte earlier this month. She gained national attention in February when she testified before Congress. Republicans blocked her appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the new administration rules on conscience clause exceptions in health care. She spoke only to House Democrats.

Following her appearance, Limbaugh called her a slut and a prostitute and said that he wanted to see videos of her having sex posted on the Internet. After three days of verbal assaults and the loss of more than 40 advertisers, Limbaugh apologized for his choice of words.

“I don’t think that a statement like this, saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything, and especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support from the show,” Fluke responded. She called his barrage of insults an attempt to silence her.

Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater, 3140 Dyer St. (lower level), Sept. 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Free and open to the public.

—  David Taffet

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy meets with college leaders about LGBT issues

Chick-Fil-A-Hates-Fags

With Chick-fil-A fights breaking out on campuses across the country, including several in North Texas, company CEO Dan Cathy reportedly met with college leaders to discuss LGBT issues in Atlanta on Thursday.

It was Cathy whose anti-gay comments earlier this summer sparked the protest. The details of Thursday’s meeting were brief and given by an unnamed source, but centered around “diversity, hospitality, and the opportunity to find common ground,” according to the source.

Cathy is trying to repair relationships with colleges in an effort to further expansion plans for more on-campus locations across the country, many at large schools.

The University of North Texas was the first of five area colleges to start a petition calling for the university to remove the restaurant from its student union. UTA later followed and members of UTA’s GSA are preparing to present the petition and a resolution to school officials.

SMU officials have already said they would not remove the restaurant from its campus. Kim Schroder, UNT’s associate director of retail dining services, told its student newspaper that the on-campus location wasn’t going anywhere soon.

Schroder said the petitions from a UNT student and a separate one created by an alumnus have not affected business, and the university’s five-year contract with the company would make removing it soon impossible.

—  Anna Waugh

BREAKING: SMU off Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic schools

For the first time in recent memory, Southern Methodist University is not on the Princeton Review’s “LGBT-unfriendly” list (registration required). Last year, the school was ranked 12th-most homophobic.

Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, was delighted with the news.

“I’ve only worked seven years to get there,” she said.

She said that just because SMU is off the list, it doesn’t mean the work is over. Baylor, for example, had been on the list, dropped off last year but is back in the No. 10 spot this year. Other Texas schools on the homophobic list are Texas A&M at No. 7 and University of Dallas at No. 15.

The most LGBT-unfriendly school this year is Grove City College in Pennsylvania. The most LGBT-friendly school is Emerson College in Boston.

Princeton Review only releases the top and bottom 20 in each category. Here are the other categories in which SMU was ranked this year:

• Best career services: No. 7

• College town gets high marks: No. 16

• Happiest students: No. 15

• Lots of Greek life: No. 12

• Most accessible professors: No. 2

• Most conservative students: No. 17

• Best athletic facilities: No. 10

—  David Taffet

SMU sends 18 to Midwest LGBT conference

Iowa State University is hosting the 2012 Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay Transgender Ally College Conference Feb. 10-12. One student from Texas Women’s University, 17 from Southern Methodist University’s LGBT group Spectrum and an SMU professor are attending, according to the Daily Campus. Spectrum Co-President Harvey Luna put the group together after attending last year’s conference, according to the SMU newspaper.

Karen Click at SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives called it a national conference for student leaders. She said this is the second year SMU has participated.

“They come back inspired to create change on campus,” she said.

Registration for the event is $80 per person and the group chartered a bus from Dallas.

“The SMU Student Senate paid for them to go,” Click said.

The MBLGTACC conference began in 1991 and takes place annually in the upper Midwest. The goal is to learn new strategies to face problems LGBT students face on campus daily.

Two weeks ago, Youth First Texas hosted a conference of North Texas gay-straight alliances.

—  David Taffet

Arson spree in L.A. narrowly misses “Bite Marks” actor and SMU alum Benjamin Lutz

Lutz on the set of 'Bite Marks'

After director Mark Bessenger posted on Facebook that Benjamin Lutz was almost a victim of the recent arson attacks in Los Angeles, I contacted the former Plano resident and SMU alum to see just what happened. He responded with the good news that he’s OK, but described how it went down.

“Yes, my parking garage was one of the ones hit by the arsonist,” he said. “It was on New Year’s Eve and I was at my apartment getting ready for a dinner party.  I heard people yelling ‘fire,’ and sure enough the car next to mine was set on fire. I was lucky enough to move my car in time and the fire didn’t spread to my apartment. Sadly, three other cars and the side of the building didn’t make it. It was a weird holiday and I couldn’t get back in my apartment for a long while. I did not lose my car, but some of my friends mistook the info as my car being blown up.”

Lutz starred in the 2011 indie horror flick Bite Marks which we featured in our coverage of the Fears for Queers film festival and its recent DVD release. The perp was arrested on Monday and will appear in court today.

Scary stuff.

UPDATE: Soon after posting this, I learned that former Dallas Voice writer Alonso Duralde and his partner Dave White were directly affected by the arsonist as their two cars were firebombed at their West Hollywood complex. A fund has been set up to help cover repairs and replacement of their vehicles (one was not insured). To contribute, click here.

—  Rich Lopez

YFT restructures its staff

Development will become a board function, with programming handled by a professional staff member

YFT-GaylaProm-006

PROM NIGHT | Youth attending a previous Gayla Prom stop dancing long enough to smile for the camera. Previously presented at SMU by Resource Center Dallas, the prom now comes under the purview of Youth First Texas.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Officials with Youth First Texas have created the new part-time position of youth program coordinator, and the board hopes to fill the job before the end of January.

The new hire will be responsible for program development, implementation and evaluation.

The agency, which serves LGBT youth up to age 22, currently has no employees.

Sam Wilkes had served as director of development and administration, but that position has been eliminated.

In announcing the change, the YFT board called the staff restructuring a reflection of its stronger commitment to core programs.

“We really found that even though we have a program committee, we need a dedicated person,” said YFT Board Co-Chair Chris-James Cognetta.

He said the agency is looking for someone who has experience in youth work, preferably with the LGBTQA community. Other preferences include someone with an education or programming background and who is bilingual.

“We’ve had an influx of LGBTQA Hispanic youth,” Cognetta said.

Most of the Hispanic youth who attend are fluent English speakers, but their parents primarily speak Spanish. He said that it is important to welcome parents having trouble accepting their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity and to answer questions they may have.

“It makes a huge difference when we have a bilingual staff member,” he said.

Development will be taken over by a committee chaired by the treasurer, currently Kevin Mackenroth, and will include two other board members.

“The plan is to launch a sustained giving program from individuals and corporations, and include estate planning,” Cognetta said. He said this was the first time the agency has tried this approach.

Cognetta also said that YFT is in good shape financially.

“We’re going into the first quarter with 30 percent more income than we expected,” he said. “We’re putting more money into programming in 2012 than ever.”

Cognetta said that the core programs will continue. Education instruction includes health and nutrition classes as well as helping youth obtain GEDs or get into college. One of the agency’s recent success stories is a student who applied to Southern Methodist University with the help of YFT, and who is now a pre-law and pre-med student there.

Other YFT programs include the big group on Thursday nights, the gender identity group, self-defense class and Friday night family dinner.

The center maintains a food pantry for emergency situations for youth living on their own.

“We move them over to the SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] food stamp program,” Cognetta said. “But we fill the gap until we can get them into that.”

YFT is also trying to take over planning and organizing for the annual GAYLA prom, which has been held at SMU in May in recent years. Cognetta said the new programming director would take over handling the project, which was dropped by Resource Center Dallas.

“We’re looking for volunteers to pull it together,” Cognetta said.

Also, Cognetta said he hopes the new staff member will do more outreach to schools and gay-straight alliances and do “gap analysis” to determine who and what areas are underserved.

“I want to see the center open every evening at 4 and every Saturday night,” Cognetta said.

Currently, YFT is open Tuesday through Friday at 6 p.m., Thursday at 5 p.m. and every other Saturday evening. Cognetta said that many youth go home after school and don’t get out again. Opening earlier would serve more people, he said.

“Finding volunteers who will be there at 4 is a challenge,” Cognetta acknowledged. He said finding a group of people to each devote one Saturday a month to opening the center will likely be easier.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas