Weekly Best Bets

Friday 03.25

Don’t mess with the jester
We’ve heard the sad clown bit before, but we think Verdi might have been the first with his opera Rigoletto. Ol’ Rig is a jester of the tragic kind, which is only made worse when a bunch of noblemen set out to do some major harm. And trust us, that’s not even the half of it.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7:30 p.m. $59–$415. ATTPAC.org.

 

Saturday 03.26

Dinner’s nice but dessert is better
You might think “progressive supper” when someone says dinner at one place, dessert at another. No Tie Dinner is so not that. Have dinner with your friends, but convene for the most fabulous sweet endings at the posh Dessert Party later. Plus, it all benefits AIDS Services of Dallas, which is probably the sweetest deal of all.

DEETS: Frontiers of Flight Museum, 6911 Lemmon Ave. 8 p.m. $50. NoTieDinner.org.

 

Sunday 03.27

Leave you wanting Maher
There is one thing we have to be thankful to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party for and that’s Bill Maher. Mixing humor and politics, the funny man is never without fodder or even a serious commentary thanks to them. And when it comes to LGBT rights, Maher’s been a vocal heavyweight in our corner. He’s practically the perfect man.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 8 p.m. $45–$75. ATTPAC.org.

—  John Wright

Democratic Party chairman in San Antonio calls gays ‘termites,’ likens Stonewall to Nazi Party

Dan Ramos sought Stoneawll Democrats’ endorsement during his campaign for chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party in 2010. But now he thinks Stonewall is “the equivalent of the fuckin’ Nazi Party.” (QSanAntonio)

It isn’t overly surprising to hear that a county party chairperson in Texas called gays “termites” and likened the Stonewall Democrats to Nazis. But it is a little surprising that it came from a county chairperson in the Democratic Party. Dan Ramos, the embattled chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, made the statements Friday in an interview with the San Antonio Current:

While the LGBT community has long found support within the national Democratic Party in its search for equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals, Ramos called the gay-rights movement a “very sinister movement” that is out of touch with San Antonio’s values.

In an interview with the Current today, Ramos blamed homosexuals in the party for both undermining his authority and for the poor election results in Bexar County in 2010. “They are all connected to the gay Democratic Party, the so-called Stonewall Democrats. Just like termites they managed to get some of their people in key positions,” he said.

The party faithful has been largely divided over Ramos since he was elected to office in May, 2010, but his chief detractors are all homosexuals, Ramos said.

Ramos said he opposes homosexuality on religious grounds and doesn’t believe gay-friendly Democrats like Stonewall reflect the values of Bexar County voters. “I liken them to the Tea Party — the Tea Party and the fucking Nazi Party — because they’re 90 percent white, blue-eyed, and Anglo, and I don’t give a fuck who knows that. Just like the blacks … they’re American, but you can’t get your way just because you’re black.”

The LGBT news website QSanAntonio reports that Eduardo Juarez, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, issued a statement today to the group’s Board of Directors in response to Ramos’ remarks.

“Mr. Ramos’ alleged comments blaming and condemning LGBT Democrats are so plainly ludicrous and divisive, they do not even merit a response,” Juarez said. “We Democrats are too busy right now working on real and important tasks at hand, including the task of uniting our party.”

QSanAntonio also reports that Ramos’ statements are especially surprising given that he sought the Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement in January 2010 when he ran for the position (photo above).

The Bexar County Democratic Party has been rocked by scandal in recent years, with its former treasurer awaiting trial on charges that he embezzled $200,000. The party was unable to fund a campaign in 2010, and Ramos reportedly has been a divisive figure ever since he took over as chair. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, has filed legislation that would allow state parties in Texas to remove county chairs for “incompetency or official misconduct.” The bill reportedly is aimed at getting rid of Ramos.

UPDATE: Boyd Richie, chair of the Texas Democraticy Party, issued the following statement calling for Ramos’ resignation late Saturday.

“From virtually the first day he took office, Dan Ramos has kept the Bexar County Democratic Party in a constant state of turmoil. He has consistently refused to follow the Bexar County Democratic Party Rules and the Texas Democratic Party Rules, failed to call or attend meetings required by the local Rules, failed to recognize properly established local committees and officers, refused to elect Precinct Chairs in the manner required by the Rules and the Texas Election Code, and failed to assist Democratic candidates seeking office.

“I will not dignify Mr. Ramos’ most recent outburst by restating it, but I will make it clear that the bigoted attitudes he expressed are totally contrary to the Beliefs and Declarations of the Texas Democratic Party. I am shocked and outraged that an individual who claims to be an officer of the Democratic Party would hold such positions and I’m appalled that he would make such absurd statements.

“For many months, Democratic Party officials and activists have petitioned the State Party to intercede in the Bexar County situation. Until recently I resisted those requests because I believed that the best remedy would be one crafted and agreed to by Democrats inside Bexar County. Just yesterday I sent a letter to Mr. Ramos and other concerned individuals inviting them to a sit-down to discuss the problem. I no longer believe that such a meeting would be useful or have any purpose. What is necessary is for Dan Ramos to immediately resign and allow the Bexar County Democratic Party to move forward with new, more unifying leadership.”

Also, Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, sent over an open letter to Ramos that we’ve posted after the jump.

—  John Wright

LGBT Democrats meet to strategize for the future

Texas Stonewall Democrats assess 2010 ‘ass-whipping’ at the polls during weekend meeting}

See related slideshow here

 

From Staff Reports

editor@dallasvoice.com

Members of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus from all across the state met in Austin on March 5-6 to assess the “ass-whipping” Democrats took at the polls last November and to develop messaging and other strategies for winning in 2012, according to caucus president Dan Graney.

Keynote speakers were openly bisexual Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and national transgender activist Mara Keisling.

Sinema warned Texas Democrats that “Arizona is coming to a state near you,” calling her home state the breeding ground for the anti-immigrant, anti-choice, anti-worker’s rights and anti-children’s health care measures currently being proposed in many state legislatures, including Texas.

Sinema called the spreading efforts an attempt by the Tea Party to “mainstream hatred in this country,” adding that “Tea Party” is just another name for Republicans.

Sinema said Democrats must build coalitions to stop such legislation, and encouraged LGBT Democrats to reach out to even unlikely allies to get — and give — support.

“After all, LGBT people make up only 4 percent of the electorate and you need 50 percent plus one to win,” Sinema said, who stayed after her speech to autograph copies of her book, “Unite And Conquer: Building Coalitions That Win — And Last.”

Keisling, mixing healthy dose of humor in with her experience and expertise, urged LGBT Democrats to move outside their “issue silos” and talk about racism, immigration and other progressive issues. She jokingly referred to former President George W. Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry as her “prior husbands” and referred to the Tea Party as a reincarnation of the John Birch Society.

Keisling expressed little hope for the advancement of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act over the next two years, saying that the measure is dead for now thanks to the Republican majority in the U.S. House.

Other guest speakers at the conference included Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie, Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman and state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio.

Villarreal led a plenary session that included an analysis of the November 2010 election and small group sessions to develop messaging for the 2012 election. A second plenary session, led by TSDC Vice President Erin Moore and Rio Grande Valley Chapter President Eli Olivarez, focused on winning strategies for the 2012 election.

Awards were presented to Houston LGBT activist Brad Pritchett,  Stonewall Democrats of the Rio Grande Valley and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. The conference also included a TSDC executive board meeting and workshops on a variety of topics, such as building a bigger club and youth involvement and use of social media.

Many who attended the conference stayed to participate in Equality Texas Lobby Day on Monday, March 7.

A total of 70 LGBT Democrats and straight allies from across the state registered for the conference. There was representation at the conference from all nine active chapters statewide, including many young people, as well as from Galveston and Tyler.

For more information about the conference, go online to  TexasStonewalldemocrats.org

.

—  Kevin Thomas

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Jim Schutze

“It’s why we can’t have protest movements in Dallas. People here are too obedient. Gay rights, black activism, Tea Party — doesn’t matter. There’s something in the water. If the mob in Tahrir Square had been made up entirely of members of the Dallas Tea Party, all Mubarek would have had to do to shut the thing down was tell them all to go sit in time-out.”

— Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze,
in a blog post bemoaning the timidness of Tuesday’s protests
at the Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting

—  John Wright

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: Key Prop 8 decision coming; marriage ban advances in Ind.; Gaga hatefest

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The California Supreme Court is set to consider today whether it believes Prop 8 supporters have legal standing to defend the same-sex marriage ban in federal court, after state officials refused to do so. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is currently reviewing the case, has asked the California Supreme Court for an opinion on the matter. And the decision about standing could determine whether the Prop 8 case applies only to California or affects same-sex marriage throughout the country. In other words, this is kinda big.

2. If and when same-sex marriage bans are ultimately declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Indiana apparently wants to be one of the states that was on the wrong side of history. Indiana’s newly Republican-dominated House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. The good news is the amendment can’t actually appear on the ballot until 2014 because it must first be approved by two separately elected legislatures. But in case it hadn’t dawned on you yet, those tea party nuts were lying to your face when they said they only care about fiscal issues.

3. Some gays are turning against Lady Gaga and rejecting their own so-called anthem, “Born This Way,” according to various media reports including this one. But the most amusing critique we’ve seen thus far comes from the Zeitgeisty Report, which suggests that Gaga HATES gay people: “Take for instance the very first part of the song where Gaga comes right out and accuses gay people of having paws instead of hands or feet. Yep, Lady Gaga officially thinks gay people are animals.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Michele Bachmann; George Michael; homophobic Arkansas grocery store

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Whatever GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said during her tea party response to the State of the Union was completely overshadowed by the fact that she was looking at the wrong camera the entire time, as well as her gross mispronunciation of Iwo Jima, which she referred to as “Ewa Jamma.” At this point, can you imagine anything more entertaining (and tragic) than a Sarah Palin-Bachmann ticket in 2012?

2. The Australian press is obsessed with George Michael’s use — or non-use — of gay hookup apps. The Daily Telegraph reports — under the headline “George Michael on the prowl for man action in Australia” — that the pop singer has switched from Grindr to Scruff. However, Perth Now reports that the Scruff profile (right) appearing to be Michael is actually the work of an impostor. With this kind of media attention paid to his app usage, can you really blame Michael for getting wasted? Next time Michael is in Dallas, we’ve assigned DV staffer Rich Lopez to cruise Scruff 24/7 in search of him — which won’t be much of a change for Lopez.

3. Harps grocery store in Mountain Home, Ark., is obscuring the cover of US Weekly because it contains a photo of gay parents (Elton John, his partner and their baby), according to a Twitter user who posted the pic below. Gay bloggers who’ve picked up the story list the number for Harps as 870-425-6556. If you decide to call, tell them to check this study, which showed that gay parenting is quite common in places like Arkansas.

—  John Wright

Who is really guilty?

It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for helping create a climate of violence and hate

HARDY HABERMAN | Flagging Left

I am guilty — guilty of seeing a connection between the rabble-rousing rhetoric of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others as a catalyst for the actions of a twisted Arizona man.

Guilty of sensing the tragic and outrageous events in Tucson as some kind of clarion call.

Guilty of hoping the tone of political discussion in this country might in some way be softened by the senseless murders and injuries caused by a man with a gun.

Guilty of thinking to myself these words, “See, now look at what you have done!”

Yet my confession does nothing to ease the pain and suffering of those in Arizona. The families of the murdered political aide, the innocent girl, the elderly couples will still grieve, and the husbands, wives and lovers of the injured will still worry and spend sleepless nights at hospital bedsides.

Like so many others, I long to make sense of the events in Arizona by casting about for someone to blame and until the man who committed the murders confesses, I will have no proof. The reason is locked in his mind, and all the pundits and psychologists and TV talking heads cannot know the real answer.

I am guilty of trying to figure that out as well.

It’s natural to look for reasons for unreasonable acts. It is what makes us human, our desire to somehow connect the dots and make sense of what happens around us and to us.

Unfortunately, doing that can lead to wrong conclusions. Less fortunate still is the desire to use inexplicable events as an excuse to further our personal agenda.

I could easily point to Sarah Palin’s website with the now infamous “bull’s-eye map” and ask, “How is that not a direct call to action for every mentally unstable person with a firearm?”

I could point to the Tea Party and their signs reading “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,” and ask, “How is that kind of jingoism not a call to violence?”

I could point to the YouTube videos of the accused shooter who ranted about “There’s no flag in the constitution. Therefore, the flag in the film is unknown. Burn every new and old flag that you see.”

I could point to those videos and ask how could he not be a deranged anti-government mad man?

I could point to the pundits and commentators and politicians who have jumped to conclusions they fear are the truth.
More telling about this whole event is the number and direction of the finger-pointing — not just by me, but by people on both the right and the left.

Most of those fingers point to the vehemence of the rhetoric and what passes for political discourse. When the Pima County Sheriff spoke of Tucson being Tombstone, the metaphor was not lost on many.

The fact that Sarah Palin’s staff removed the “bull’s-eye map” only minutes after the shootings, the fact that politicians told their staffs to be more vigilant and aware of possible threats, the fact that commentators on both sides jumped to the conclusions about the “tone of the discussion” may hold an answer.

Whatever the reason Jared Lee Loughner may have had for opening fire at point-blank range on Congresswoman Giffords, the act gave substance to what so many have feared.

All the talk and ranting and chanting could erupt into violence, that is the biggest fear, even of those using the harsh language.

It makes for great visuals to whip a crowd into a frenzy, but beyond the visuals, it creates a force that can take on a life of its own — the “mob.”

And though it might not operate en-masse, mob mentality can still push individuals to violent acts.

That’s why everyone from John McCain to President Obama are urging calm. That’s why it’s time to do a bit of soul searching. That’s why it’s time to retract those pointing fingers and start examining our own actions.

Sadly, not everyone will heed the call. Already, irresponsible voices are screaming on radio and TV, looking to exploit the still-fluid situation and the fog of facts.

Already, the sad cult led by Fred Phelps is heading to Tucson to wave inflammatory signs lauding God’s vengeance for the murders and blaming America’s acceptance of homosexuals for the crimes.

And once again I find myself guilty of trying to find someone or something to be the target of my anger and grief.

I only hope that my sincere belief in the power of peace will be greater than my baser instincts. My desire to hope is stronger than my surrender to despair. My passing reaction to hate will not succumb to my instinct to love.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011.

—  John Wright

SREC member wants to oust Speaker Joe Straus because he’s Jewish, doesn’t hate gays enough

Speaker Joe Straus

We’ve already told you about the anti-gay forces that have undoubtedly been working behind the scenes in the race for speaker of the Texas House, but now it looks like they may be starting to emerge publicly. The Texas Observer posted a story Friday in which John Cook, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, explained his opposition to Speaker Joe Straus. Cook’s biggest problem with Straus, apparently, is that he’s Jewish: “I got into politics to put Christian conservatives into office,” Cook says. But Cook also accuses Straus of being pro-choice and pro-gay rights:

His opposition to Straus, he said, was rooted largely in his belief that the current Speaker is both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. “He’s a pro choice person basically,” Cook said. (Earlier in his career, Straus did vote against banning gay couples from serving as foster parents and against a ban on late-term abortions, but Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life, has been one of his biggest supporters.) Cook called the Republicans who worked with Democrats to elect Straus “turncoat RINOs.” (Republicans in Name Only.)

As the legislative session draws closer, it’ll be interesting to see whether the so-called tea party folks who oppose Straus start to escalate their attacks based on his 2005 vote against the gay foster parenting ban. Particularly since Straus has said he voted against the ban because it would have cost the state a lot of money and gone against his libertarian principles. From a January 2009 interview in which Texas Monthly asked Straus about the vote:

STRAUS: …  I’m not supportive of adoption by homosexual couples, but the whole issue of government with a fiscal note attached and government employees investigating people’s private lives caused me a great deal of heartburn. I remember looking at the expenditure of taxpayer money for that and it was a lot. And it required what? Going into people’s homes? Watching the way people dress or the way they talk? I have some pretty strong libertarian leanings, and sometimes that causes a conflict. What gave me confidence to hit the button I hit was that I was very certain that Barry Goldwater would have done the same thing.

—  John Wright

Texas hops on the Crazy Train again

Leo Berman

Hardy Haberman |  Dungeon Diary

Just when you think sanity might have been restored, the delightful Texas State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, has introduced a “birther” bill in the Texas Legislature. Berman is the same representative who was famously quoted as saying, “Barack Obama is God’s punishment on us.”

Now easy as it would be to just paint this guy with the broad brush and call him “frigging nuts,” he represents a real problem in this state and pretty much most of the U.S. For a long time the Democratic Party has believed that reason and facts would win the day. If there were ever an argument against that, the last election cycle would be it. That little debacle for the Dems was won not by reason but by emotion. Mostly it was fear and bigotry. Fear stoked by the economic situation many American’s find themselves in and bigotry disguised as the “Tea Party.” The whole “take America back” thing is about having a black man in the White House. Every other argument is predicated on that unspoken premise and a closer examination of their rhetoric will reveal it.

So, meanwhile the Dems keep relying on reason. How has that worked so far? Not at all.

The whole birther thing is a racially charged non-issue anyway, but don’t let reason get in the way of some good old fashioned fear. Even though the Obama birth certificate has been widely circulated and there is more than ample proof of his citizenship, the birthers persist. Why, because it is a good excuse to scare people and to tap into that old bigorty thing again.

So while I could just call Rep. Berman wacko, I will instead call him what he is, a politician who knows how to whip up his constituents with the most powerful tools in the GOP arsenal.

—  admin