Gay Planned Parenthood exec reacts to Komen controversy

N. Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht says he hopes to convince Nancy Brinker to rejoin group’s advisory council

lambrechtstein

PLANNED PARENTS | Ken Lambrecht, left, and his partner, Ken Stein, along with their daughter Samantha moved to Dallas last year when Lambrecht became president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas. (Photo courtesy of Ken Lambrecht)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Ken Lambrecht said he often has to come out twice — first when he tells people he’s gay, and next when he tells them he’s the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas.

But Lambrecht said having a gay man head a predominantly women’s healthcare organization is a good match.

“It’s an organization that’s all about equality and access for disenfranchised individuals to quality healthcare,” he said. “So for me, it was a natural fit.”
His only comments about the recent Susan G. Komen controversy are gracious.

“Nancy Brinker [the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure] was on the North Texas Planned Parenthood Advisory Council,” he said, adding that he wants to meet with her soon to see if he can get her back on his board. “We have a lot of bipartisan support for our mission here in North Texas. We have a great number of Republican and Democratic supporters who understand that women’s healthcare and social issues should not be politicized.”

His only other reference to the controversy was to thank the many donors who poured money into Planned Parenthood over the last two weeks. But he clearly understands why his organization is controversial.

“I believe there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about issues that we were told societally not to talk about,” he said.

“Don’t talk about sex,” he said. “Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about religion. And don’t talk about money. And all I do all day is talk openly about the science of sex, talk about political influences against sexual health or sexual identity, speak about religious attacks on individual sexual expression and sexual identity, and then we ask people for money. So there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about everything we were told not to.”

And that’s been true since the organization was founded in New York 95 years ago by Margaret Sanger, a public health nurse whose mother died in childbirth. Sanger coined the term birth control and opened the first clinic that eventually led to a Supreme Court case that legalized contraception.

Planned Parenthood has provided healthcare in Dallas since 1935 and in Fort Worth since 1938 and its beginnings here were no less controversial.

Lambrecht said that among the Dallas founders was Catherine Ripley. Her family manufactured Ripley Shirts in Oak Cliff since 1920.

Ripley would send empty shirt boxes to New York, and Sanger would return them filled with condoms and diaphragms. The 1873 Comstock Act made it a federal crime to send any “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information on abortion.

Lambrecht describes Planned Parenthood as a “sexual health provider and a gynecology office for women without insurance.”

He said that 97 percent of the services provided are preventive in nature and noted, “We provide more adoptions than abortions.”

Abortion, he said, is actually done by a different legal entity. That was something Texas required in 2005 under legislation that bars the state from funding any agency that performs abortions. So he assures anyone making donations to Planned Parenthood that the money can’t be used for abortions.

Surgical services such as vasectomies and abortions are provided by Planned Parenthood Surgical Health Services. And abortions are performed at only two centers in North Texas, while medical services are provided at 21 clinics in 13 counties across the region.

A donation to Planned Parenthood is going directly to health services such as gynecological exams, HIV testing, birth control, pap smears and mammography.

Mammography is not done in the office, but by referral often in a mobile mammography unit that comes to the office. However, the money Komen gives to Planned Parenthood is used to pay for those breast exams through a voucher. Over the last three years, PPNT paid for 1,700 screenings that found 10 cancers. “That’s 10 lives saved,” he said, adding this was a direct result of the partnership between his organization and Komen.

Lambrecht said most gynecologists don’t have their own mammography equipment — mostly because of the cost — and refer out the screenings.

Throughout the U.S., Planned Parenthood sees 3 million patients a year. Last year, 87,000 of those were in North Texas.

Lambrecht believes that nationally Planned Parenthood will continue to receive widespread support because one in five women has received services from the organization at some time in their lives.

He said a bigger story than the Komen controversy is the Catholic bishops fighting the Obama administration over the birth control mandate in healthcare reform.

“All women, regardless of their employer, should have access to birth control,” he said. “The vast majority of Americans recognize that birth control access is preventive health care and planning is essential. We encourage the White House to stand with women and keep birth control without a co-pay for women.”

He said most women spend 35 years trying to avoid a pregnancy and five years trying to get pregnant.

He said that everyone is welcomed at Planned Parenthood without any judgment — and that includes transgender men and women who need any sort of gynecological services. He pointed to the staff as an indication of the organization’s diversity. Of the 80 regional CEOs, he said eight are gay or lesbian, and his staff of 200 includes transgender as well as gay and lesbian employees.

“We’re the most pro-family, pro-LGBT, pro-diversity organization,” he said.

Lambrecht and his partner, Ken Stein, have been together 11 years and have a 10-year-old daughter, Samantha. Before moving to Dallas last year, they lived in Austin in what Lambrecht called a very suburban community.

When Lambrecht took the job in Dallas, they moved to Oak Lawn. One day when he and his daughter were walking to Eatzi’s, she asked him, “Daddy, why is everyone in Dallas gay?”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local photographers want your vote for their entry in the My Gay Texas photo contest

Sure we can all take cool, digital pics with our phones and tiny cameras, but it takes a talent to make a picture into a message. For this year’s Readers Voice Awards, we focused our attention on local photographers asking them what image they think fully displays the idea of “My Gay Texas.” Now, those photographers are itching for your vote in our contest.

We had to narrow down from an impressive field of entries, but the list came down to nine images and now the decision is in your hands for which best displays “My Gay Texas.” You can sneak peek ‘em after the jump. The deadline to vote is Saturday, Jan. 28. Just click the banner above to get started.

—  Rich Lopez

Your vote in the 2012 Readers Voice Awards could win you a trip for two

The deadline to vote in our 2012 Readers Voice Awards is coming up fast. As in Jan. 28. Yes, that’s this coming Saturday. And doing so could get you up in the air.

Voters can enter to win a drawing for two American Airlines tickets good for travel in the US 48, Caribbean, Bahamas, Canada and Mexico. And that’s per each category. So you’re totally bumping up your chances and making your voice heard on what’s tops in the DFW gayborhoods (and beyond). And don’t forget to vote in the “My Gay Texas” photo contest for that image that best highlights the LGBT community.

Ready to vote? Then just click on DFWReadersVoice.com and get started. Good luck!

 

—  Rich Lopez

Our gay Texas

Readers Voice Awards’ ‘Gay Texas’ photo contest entries show great talent

RUNNERS-UP |  Among the contenders for Dallas Voice’s My Gay Texas photo contest that did not make the top nine are, clockwise from above: Eric Dickson (cowboy), Lauren Farris (‘Drag Queens’), Stephanie Kern (Rainbow Lounge rally flag), Don Klausmeyer (man in leaves), Farris again (drag queen) and Shannon Kern (Milk Day rainbow flag).

RUNNERS-UP | Among the contenders for Dallas Voice’s My Gay Texas photo contest that did not make the top nine are, clockwise from above: Eric Dickson (cowboy), Lauren Farris (‘Drag Queens’), Stephanie Kern (Rainbow Lounge rally flag), Stephen Masker (man in leaves), Farris again (drag queen) and Shannon Kern (Milk Day rainbow flag).

The Dallas Voice’s Readers Voice Awards are underway (you can vote online right now, at DFWReadersVoice.com), where you can vote on your favorite whatevers — criminal attorney, chef, boutique, dog walker or get-laid travel vacation. (Trust us, we’ve tried to think of everything.)

But what you also get to vote for — and stand a chance of winning — is the My Gay Texas photo contest. We had scores of submissions during the month of December, asking photographers professional and amateur to submit the pictures that defined, for them, what’s great or interesting or special or unique or beautiful or sexy or hilarious about queer Texas. The top nine are on the site, and you can vote for your favorite and be entered to win two round-trip tickets on American Airlines to the lower 48, Mexico, Caribbean and Canada. And by voting, you also get to benefit the photographer’s charity of choice to the tune of a thousand simoleons.

But the nine photos that made the cut only tell part of the story. Tons of photos were in serious contention but just didn’t hit the top tier. Here are some that really speak to the diversity and fascination of our gay community … and the talent of our readers. With these the runners-up, you know the competition was fierce.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens