‘That was the day I withdrew’

Jim-Lovell

With the federal judge striking down the Texas Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage and civil unions, hopefully this is the beginning of the end of a sorry, hateful chapter in Texas history.

Who did this amendment help? You? Please tell me how. Didn’t your life continue as always? OK, so it helped politicians get money and votes, which was really the purpose of it and which adds to the sleaziness of it. They played the people of Texas like a violin and got more power as a result.

Who did this amendment hurt? Well, ME, for starters, and the hurt went way beyond the rights and protections denied to Bill and me. The day I went to vote against this amendment, my life changed profoundly.

I went to vote early, as I usually do. Normally, for a vote on constitution propositions, I am one of maybe five or 10 people to vote on that particular day. Not this day.

People were lined up out the door and around the corner — to vote against me. To make sure that I could not even have a civil union.

Please try to imagine the feeling, seeing such a line to vote against you, and knowing that many of your “friends” are in that line, people who trust you to teach their children are, nevertheless, in that line to make sure that you cannot have what they take for granted.

Worse yet — the many friends who were silent. I don’t know how they voted, and therefore, I didn’t know who my friends were.

That was the day I withdrew. I started eating lunch alone. I didn’t stay around and chat after meetings. Conversations became superficial. Fortunately, I had the support at home from a loving life partner, and I had an abundance of love and support from the amazing people of my church, Northaven United Methodist in Dallas. They helped me to learn to forgive, to see the people in that line as victims manipulated by greedy power seekers, manipulating them by stirring up fear. But it has been a years-long, unfinished process.

I am doing fine, but I wonder about those who did not have the support I had, especially the young ones. How many of them decided to just end it all? If they were in the same dark place as me, undoubtedly it happened. And listening to the debate still going on, I’m sure it is still happening.

So, I celebrate this judge’s decision. I hope it speeds the day when we can throw this hateful amendment in the trash heap of history, right along with Jim Crow and the Salem witch hunts, etc. etc. etc. (That heap is pretty big, isn’t it?) I hope it speeds the day when we become a society who cares for and values one another rather than beating down and stigmatizing one another.

— Jim Lovell on Facebook

Jim Lovell retired from the Plano ISD, and lives in France with his husband, Bill Stoner. They will be in Dallas this weekend to attend the marriage ceremony of Jack Evans and George Harris.

Related stories:

Texas ban on same-sex marriage ruled unconstitutional

By God, that’s where we’re going to get married

Marriage equality is fixin’ to come to Texas

It’s nice to hear someone say our marriage is valid

 

—  Steve Ramos

Marriage ruling celebrated at Legacy of Love monument

IMG_0163A small crowd gathered at the Legacy of Love monument on Wednesday to celebrate a federal judge’s ruling that declared Texas’ ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The quickly organized gathering, energized by activist Cd Kirven, listened to short speeches by LGBT leaders that included Resource Center’s Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell and Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink.

“I own my equality, and you need to own it, too,” Fink said. “A few people can’t carry it for everybody. When we show up in numbers, we are unstoppable.”

Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction earlier in the day after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. He said the couples are likely to win their case, and the ban should be lifted, but said he would give the state time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote. “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.”

See photos here.

—  Steve Ramos

Texas among states ‘Least Likely to Legalize Gay Marriage Anytime Soon’

While a record number of Texas voters support some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, the Lone Star State is still viewed as one of the last states that will legalize it.

A Huffington Post article ranks the nine states that are the least likely to legalize same-sex marriage in the near future based on the percentage of voters who favored a state constitutional ban.

Mississippi was No. 1 with 86 percent of voters who supported the ban, followed by Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.

Texas passed its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in 2005 with 76 percent of voter support.

Austin’s KUT News recently examined if marriage equality could come to Texas, which could happen depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court’s rules in the Proposition 8 case that challenges California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

LGBT experts believe that if the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t affect Texas, it could take a decade for the high court to hear another case that would ultimately force Texas to recognize same-sex marriages.

—  Anna Waugh

Lesbian couple denied marriage license in Dallas; 3 arrested at clerk’s office in Austin

GetEQUAL's Daniel Cates, left, speaks to County Clerk John Warren, right, as lesbian couple Hendrix Scott and Jennifer McClusky look on. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Hendrix Scott and Jennifer McClusky applied for a marriage license at the Dallas County Clerk’s office today. More than a dozen people came to witness the couple applying for their license, including nine members of Occupy Dallas.

“I have to inform you that in the state of Texas same-sex marriage is not legal, so we will not be issuing your license today,” an employee in the clerk’s office told the couple.

The couple asked to speak to her superior, and County Clerk John Warren showed up.

GetEQUAL North Texas regional coordinator Daniel Cates told Warren: “We’re asking you to break the law equally. Uphold the letter of the law and stop issuing licenses to everyone.”

Cates claim that Warren isn’t upholding the law comes from the wording of the amendment to the Texas Constitution that reads, “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

Cates said that the only thing identical to marriage is marriage, which makes all marriage in Texas illegal under the law. Warren disagreed.

“It refers to anyone other than a person born as a man and a person born as a woman,” Warren said of state law.

“We’ll be back monthly until that changes,” Cates said.

Warren spent some time talking to the group and said he personally supports equality. He said not allowing people to put their partners on company insurance policies makes no sense and costs taxpayers money if people end up at Parkland hospital, for example.

When Warren mentioned his religious objection to same-sex marriage, Cates told him: “I can get a religious marriage right now. Lots of churches in Dallas would perform a wedding for me. It’s civil marriage I want.”

Cates, left, gives Paula Blackmon a bundle of cards for the mayor

After leaving the Dallas County Records Building, Cates walked to Dallas City Hall to deliver 400 Valentines to Mayor Mike Rawlings. The Valentines were collected by GetEQUAL and Resource Center Dallas to encourage the mayor to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, greeted Cates at City Hall and promised to deliver the cards to the mayor.

Elsewhere

In Austin, three people were arrested at the Travis County Courthouse according to GetEQUAL state lead Michael Diviesti. Tiffany Bishop and her partner Iana DiBona and witness Brittney Tovar were arrested after the couple was denied a license. The three refused to leave the clerk’s office. Other couples left to perform a wedding ceremony outside the building.

Several couples planned to go to the Tarrant County Courthouse this afternoon to apply for their marriage licenses.

For more coverage of marriage equality demonstrations around the state, go here.

—  David Taffet

Regardless of Tuesday’s outcome, this poster featuring local gay Dems will be a collector’s item

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who happens to be gay, sent over this poster that will reportedly be going up around town in the next few days. It’ll also be part of an ad in this week’s Voice, we think. We can’t seem to get in touch with Fitzsimmons to ask him how it all came about — and how they managed to get all these folks in one room at the same time — but in some ways the poster speaks for itself. Fitzsimmons also mentioned that he can make extra copies, so you’d like one, call his campaign headquarters at 214-948-8700.

UPDATE: We finally spoke with Fitzsimmons, and he said the photo shoot for the poster was put together hastily on Monday afternoon in response to rumors that some in the LGBT community may stay home from the polls this year over disappointment with President Barack Obama and Congress, for failing to fulfill their promises on things like “don’t ask don’t tell.”

“The major thing here is that the Democratic Party in Dallas County has done very well by the gay community,” Fitzsimmons said. “A lot of folks may be disappointed in the pace of progress in Washington, but when you look at the Democratic Party in Dallas County, we’ve kept our promise to the LGBT community.”

Fitzsimmons pointed to people like District Judge Tena Callahan, a straight ally who’s up for re-election after last year declaring Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

“If we’ve got Democratic elected officials putting their asses, their careers, on the line for the gay and lesbian community, then the least we can do is stand up for them on Election Day,” he said.

Fitzsimmons said he’s “bullish” about Democrats’ chances in Dallas County on Tuesday and feels they will win most countywide races, including his own. But he said he’s concerned about races like the one for the District 4 seat on the Commissioners Court, which pits Republican incumbent Ken Mayfield against Democratic challenger Dr. Elba Garcia. Fitzsimmons called Mayfield “the most homophobic elected official in Dallas County” and “a sworn enemy of the gay community,” whereas Garcia is a proven friend.

“That race may be decided by less than 50 votes,” he said, noting the District 4 includes heavily gay neighborhoods in North Oak Cliff. “You can be dissatisfied with Washington, but this election is about what’s going on in Dallas County.”

—  John Wright

Why haven’t these anti-gay Texas leaders said anything about Wednesday’s Prop 8 ruling?

Wednesday’s ruling in the Prop 8 case represents a potential threat to Gov. Rick Perry’s baby, 2005′s Prop 2. So why hasn’t he said anything to defend it?

Perry v. Schwarzenegger could eventually result in Texas’ same-sex marriage bans being struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. So you’d expect politicians here to be lining up to sound off about Wednesday’s watershed ruling from U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker that declared California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional. Or not.

So far, we’ve seen only two statements from Texas politicians — both in support of the ruling. Linda Chavez-Thompson, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, posted a message on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

“So glad to hear Prop 8 was overturned today,” Chavez-Thompson wrote. “It was discrimination at its worst. I will keep fighting for equality for all Texans.”

And Democratic State Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston said this via-email:

“I’ve always supported marriage equality for all Americans and believe that the U.S. Constitution supports it as well. When Texas passed its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in 2005, I filed a constitutional amendment to let voters repeal the discriminatory amendment. I’m glad to see that our country continues to move forward. Every year, the public’s opinion on marriage equality is more supportive. The law should prohibit discrimination, not sanction it.”

Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who championed Texas’ marriage amendment, hasn’t said a word about the Prop 8 ruling other than perhaps to his wife, though he did post a statement on his website Thursday ranting about a spending bill in Congress (since when did Washington become more of a threat than the homosexuals?).

Likewise, we haven’t heard anything from Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s fighting to protect Texas from gay divorce; or Republican Ag Commish Todd Staples, who co-authored Texas’ marriage amendment and filed a brief opposing gay divorce; or Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who’s apparently more concerned about drama classes at Tarleton State University.

In fairness, we also haven’t seen statements from the likes of openly gay Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White or any of the other statewide challengers.

In the end, it appears that with a key election a few months away, most would rather simply avoid this issue altogether, which is rather telling if you ask us.

Anyhow, now that we’ve had a chance to sift through our Inboxes, we’ve posted some of the other local reactions we’ve received below.

Cece Cox, executive director, Resource Center Dallas:

“Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling in the Perry vs. Schwarzenegger case — striking down California’s Proposition 8 as a violation of both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment — will be remembered for its pivotal role in our march towards equality.

“In plain and direct language, Judge Walker said that “plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right…many of the purported interests identified by proponents [of Proposition 8] are nothing more than a fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples…moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.

“But, it’s important to remember that Judge Walker’s ruling is not the last word in this fight. Forty-five states, including Texas, deny marriage to our community. The case now likely moves to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and may end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Much work needs to be done. Until our relationships and families are legally recognized in all states, we are second-class citizens. Continue to have conversations with your families, friends, and co-workers about why marriage equality is important. The tide of public opinion is gradually changing in our favor, and what seemed a dream a generation ago is one major step closer to fruition.”

The Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor, Cathedral of Hope:

“Today [Wednesday], Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker declared the California state law that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman unconstitutional. I applaud this ruling and believe that Judge Walker has issued a just and fair ruling that pleases God. The journey to full marriage equality for all Americans is still before us. But I have faith that the God who created each of us and called it good is with us in this journey and will see it through. As the world’s largest predominantly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender congregation, we stand with the 18,000 same-sex couples who have already been married in California and with the hundreds that have been married here at the Cathedral of Hope in our 40 years of ministry. We also stand with every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender person who has courageously made covenant with someone they love despite the laws in our nation. This is a day of celebration and joy and we have seen the realm of God come closer to the earth and for that I give God thanks.”

Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman:

“As we stand in solidarity with Californians, we must remember that our work is far from over. The laws in Texas are not similar to California. Existing law here allows for systematic discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans every single day. There is much work to be done legislatively to change the laws in Texas. And in order to change the laws, we must elect public officials who will support equal treatment under the law for every Texan.”

—  John Wright