AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

Council member Jones to be first cisgender reader at Houston Day of Remembrance

Jolanda Jones

Jolanda Jones

Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones is scheduled to be the first cisgender reader in the history of Houston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. Lou Weaver, president of the Transgender Foundation of America, one the events sponsors, says that Jones was originally approached to be a speaker at the event because of her advocacy for trans children, but that she requested to read instead.

“I begged to read, I begged them,” corrects Jones, “they asked me if I wanted to speak and I begged them to read instead because it’s profound and it touches you. I think it’s better to read because it’s important.”
Jones said she was particularly moved at last year’s Day of Remembrance by the story of 17 month old Roy A. Jones who was beaten to death by his babysitter for “acting like a girl.” “I was so touched when they read about the baby that was killed,” said Jones, “the readers tell the story.”

Jones led efforts this year to encourage local homeless youth provider Covenant House to adopt a nondiscrimination policy that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. She used her position on City Council to threaten to cut Covenant House’s funding unless they addressed accusations of discrimination. That threat persuaded the organization to overhaul their policies and begin regular meetings with community leaders to discuss their progress in serving LGBT youth.
The Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance is Saturday, November 19, from 7-9:30 pm at Farish Hall on the University of Houston Campus.

—  admin

LANDMARK EVENT

SUCCESS | Lisa Blue Baron, center, keynote speaker for the Landmark Dinner held Aug. 13 at the W Hotel is pictured with Lambda Legal Leadership Committee member Brian Bleeker and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. The event raised more than $120,000 for Lambda Legal. (Photo courtesy Debra Gloria)

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

GAIN holding monthly meeting

GAIN, the GLBT aging interest network that is a program of Resource Center Dallas, will meet Thursday, April 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Resource Center, 2701 Reagan.
Educator, public speaker and writer Deneen Robinson, BSW, will present the program on Alzheimer’s and dementia in the aging LGBT community.
Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

Students seeks study participants

Cindy Chwalik, a clinical psychology student at Walden University who is interning with Youth First Texas, is looking for natal females (those who were born biologically female) who were born in the South and came out as lesbians while living in the South to participate in a research project she is conducting. She is particularly looking for women born in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

Participation involves a 60-to-90-minute interview. Chwalik said there is no compensation for participating, but the information will help those who come out in the future.
Contact her via email at cindychwalik @aol.com.

TDWCC to hear from candidates

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County will hold their next general meeting Monday, April 25, at 6:45 p.m. at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. in Frisco, Founders Hall, Shawnee Room F148.

The program will feature a forum of candidates in the upcoming non-partisan municipal elections. Confirmed thus far from Plano are Judy Drotman, campaign manager for City Council Place 3 candidate Andre Davidson; City Council Place 5 candidate Matt Lagos; City Council Place 5 candidate Jim Duggan, and City Council Place 7 candidate Pat Gallagher.

Candidates in the Frisco elections who have confirmed so far are Mayor Maher Maso, City Council Place 5 candidate Bart Crowder, and Frisco ISD candidated Anne McCausland and Dody Brigadier.

—  John Wright

Focus hands Speaker Boehner 45k signatures, 1 valid reason to cry

According to Focus on the Family’s own reportage, the “pro-family” mega-group has delivered 45,000+ petitions to House Speaker John Boehner, calling on the 112th Congress to, among other things:

4.) Defend the free exercise of religion and speech by rejecting the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and repealing the Hate Crimes bill passed in 2009.

5.) Support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and demand that the Obama Administration uphold and defend DOMA.

6.) Reinstate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and underlying federal law that affirms homosexuality is incompatible with military service

Good News: Speaker Boehner Hears from 45,000 Family Advocates [FOtF]

Such principled focus they have.

But honestly? 45k sounds pretty darn low, considering how established, financed, and conserva-nnected FoTF is. We’d think by now, their bat signal would be finely tuned enough to drum up half a mil pieces of misplaced scapegoating, if they really wanted. So perhaps this is actually progress?




Good As You

—  David Taffet

RI Governor, Speaker calmly rebut Catholic Bishop who ‘lashed out’ on marriage bill

Yesterday, the Providence Journal reported that the state’s Catholic Bishop “lashed out” against the proposed marriage law. Instead of kowtowing to the Catholic Bishop, the Governor and Speaker of the House concisely explained why they are pushing marriage:

Chafee, who is Episcopalian, stood by his support of gay marriage, repeating an argument he made in his inauguration speech that permitting gay and lesbian couples to legally marry is, to some degree, an economic issue for the state.

“The status quo economically is not working. Our foundation here in Rhode Island was built on tolerance and acceptance, and this is an area I want to move our state forward on, by building on our strengths of centuries ago,” he said. “Let’s give marriage equality a chance to grow our state.”

Chafee senior adviser Stephen Hourahan said later that the governor believes that legalizing gay marriage can provide incentive for “the best and brightest” talents — especially gay and lesbian professionals — to consider relocating to the state for job opportunities. It can even help boost the wedding industry. “It’s the idea that to have it in place is a very positive thing to a state,” said Hourahan.

Fox also spoke out against the bishop on Friday. “This has been debated for decades, and it will be debated [again]. No one is saying just because we want it early in the session that it’s not going to get a full debate. Of course it’s going to get a full debate,” he said. “We’re familiar with the issue. It’s not being rushed. But at some point, at some time, you need to bring this to a conclusion, and I think this is the year to do it.”

Elected officials in heavily Catholic countries like Ireland, Spain and Portugal have ignored the rantings of their Bishops over same-sex marriage laws. It’s good to see that some politicians in the United States are able to do the same thing.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

The Speaker says ‘It Gets Better’

Speaker Pelosi adds her voice to the amazing project launched by the even more amazing Dan Savage:

I just hope these videos help the kids who need to see them. That’s the most important thing.

And, p.s.: Pass ENDA.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Ann Coulter disses gay marriage as paid speaker at gay conservative conference

The gay conservatives are already putting out press releases suggesting that this was their plan all along: to pay someone tens of thousands of dollars to come insult them and denigrate their human and civil rights.

Kind of like what they do every election.  (Kind of like what we’ve been doing of late as well.)




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

‘Our guy’ wasn’t gay marriage-loving, says this weekend’s most media-grabbing gay rights speaker

“So what was the difference between Goldwater and Reagan? Had the country changed that much in 16 years?

The social issues were the difference. Reagan agreed with Goldwater on fiscal and national defense issues, but by 2 Smallpersonimage 31980, social issues loomed large and Reagan came down mightily on one side — the opposite side as Goldwater, as it turned out.

Unlike abortion-loving Goldwater, Reagan said, “We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide.”

And unlike gay-marriage-loving Goldwater, Reagan said: “Society has always regarded marital love as a sacred expression of the bond between a man and a woman. It is the means by which families are created and society itself is extended into the future. … We will resist the efforts of some to obtain government endorsement of homosexuality.”



As long as liberals are going to keep gleefully citing Goldwater’s love of gay marriage and abortion, his contempt for Christian conservatives, and his statement that ‘every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass,’ maybe they could ease up on blaming Christian conservatives for Goldwater’s historic loss.

Goldwater wasn’t our guy; Reagan was.”

-Ann Coulter, 9/22/10

It’s just a damn shame that GOProud’s Coulter-honoring benefit has already sold out. We simply live for spending our Saturday nights with our government-endorsed homosexuality partner, listening to straight people tell us to vote against our civil rights and interests.

Who knows, maybe the GOProud event will go on so long that it will creep right into Rev. Ruben Diaz‘s Sunday church breakfast (one egg and one sausage per couple, never two of either)




Good As You

—  John Wright

Audio: Ruth Group (aka NOM) speaker: Incest and polyamory are homosexuality’s best analogs

Robert Gagnon was recently invited to speak at a conference thrown by official National Organization For Marriage affiliate The Ruth Institute. Here now, the kind of “incestuous” rhetoric that apparently attracted the NOM talent bookers:

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: Peter LaBarbera’s “Americans For Truth Hour” [FRC]

And yet we’re the ones who they say are going indoctrinate children with untruths?!




Good As You

—  John Wright