Teen charged in brutal Springtown beating to be tried under federal hate crime law

Hate-Crime

Arron Keahey

Federal prosecutors plan to try the teen who nearly killed a gay Dallas man last year under the federal hate crime law, according to The Associated Press.

Brice Johnson, 19, allegedly attacked and beat Arron Keahey after meeting him on the mobile app MeetMe over Labor Day weekend in Springtown, a small town about 70 miles west of Dallas in Parker County.

Keahey, who lived in Dallas at the time, suffered severe injuries, including nerve damage and a shattered eye socket.

Johnson was later arrested for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony, which police investigated as a hate crime. He faces 10 years in prison if convicted under the federal hate crime law.

Johnson’s trial is slated to begin in late March.

—  Anna Waugh

Williamson Co. Democratic chair’s campaign manager accused of making anti-gay comments about challenger

Braden Frame

Braden Frame

A central Texas campaign manager for Williamson County Democratic Chair Karen Carter has been accused of making anti-gay comments about Carter’s primary opponent, Braden Frame.

In a Feb. 12 recording sent to Dallas Voice, Carter’s campaign manager Terry Cook is heard saying “he has no staying power. With anything. He can’t stay with his wife, he can’t stay with his sexual preferences. He can’t stay.”

The sender wrote that Cook is talking about Frame.

“I was recently made aware of a homophobic statement made by Terry Cook, the campaign manager for Williamson County Chair candidate Karen Carter,” the e-mail to Dallas Voice reads.” As a member of the queer community, I was disgusted to hear this and wanted to make sure the LGBTQ+ community knows that the current County Chair has staff who are homophobic. Terry, Karen’s campaign manager, is also a Precinct Chair and engaged in the county party leadership.”

Cook said the comments were taken out of context during a political planning meeting for another candidate and were not anti-gay. She said back in 2008 when Frame came onto the county’s political scene, there were rumors that he was gay.

“It was all about perceived inconsistencies with Braden’s life,” Cook said, adding that Carter has been a consistent leader in the county’s Democratic Party. “And I shouldn’t have said that. That is my mistake.”

Cook said she doesn’t remember how Frame came up in the conversation last week, adding that the comments were wrong.

“I am so sorry I made those comments,” she said.  “It was so out of place.”

Cook said people have accused Carter of saying anti-gay things about openly gay Congressional District 31 candidate Louie Minor. But she said Carter told Minor in private that he should be out, but he should focus his campaign on the issues, not have his sexual orientation be the campaign’s centerpiece. If elected, Minor would be the first openly gay congressman from Texas.

—  Anna Waugh

Denton County Stonewall endorses out candidates for state House

Daniel Moran

Daniel Moran

Stonewall Democrats of Denton County voted at a meeting in Lewisville Wednesday night to endorse out state House candidates Daniel Moran and Emy Lyons. The group’s entire endorsed slate for the March 4 Democratic Primary is below.

U.S. Congressional District 24 – Patrick McGehearty

TX State Representative District 63- Daniel Moran

TX State Representative District 64- Emy Lyons

TX State Representative District 65- Alex Mendoza

TX State Representative District 106- Lisa Osterholt

District Judge 367th Court- David Heiman

U.S. Senate- Maxey Scherr

Governor- Wendy Davis

Lieutenant Governor- Leticia Van de Putte

Attorney General- Sam Houston

Comptroller- Mike Collier

Land Commissioner- John Cook

Agriculture Commissioner- Hugh Fitzsimons

Railroad Commissioner- Steve Brown

TX Supreme Court Place 7- Gina Benavides

—  Anna Waugh

23 TX couples compete for $5K in ACLU’s Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest

weddings-aclu

Even though same-sex marriage isn’t allowed or recognized in the Lone Star State, that doesn’t mean those in the LGBT community aren’t busy planning their dream weddings here at home and in other states.

Of those couples, 23 have entered the American Civil Liberties Union’s Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest, which highlights the unfair patchwork of state marriage laws. Couples from states without marriage equality were eligible to enter and share their dream wedding plans across state lines. Five couples will win $5,000 toward their wedding. Voting ends this weekend.

Among the Texas entries are some pretty sweet love stories, including Dallas activists Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who would marry in New Mexico and then “decorate our pick-up truck with all the gayest ‘Just Married’ decorations we could find and drive back across the State of Texas to our home in Dallas.”

Here are a few other examples:

1391179874-104204-01Sharon and Marcel, who plan to marry in Hawaii.

“Marcel is my first love, first girl I kissed 30 years ago. It was the summer of 1984 when I first came out and met her. It was love at first sight, but due to the shock of the overwhelming feelings of love and coming out our relationship lasted only 6 months. We went separate ways and lost one another to life’s roller coaster, military, other relationships, heartache and never spoke to each other again. We saw each other again at my high school reunion and all those feelings came back … I proposed to her the summer of 2012 at the same spot where we first met.”

Jeff and Jeremiah, who want to take a road trip and record their wedding journey.1390127543-98122-01

“We met on an airplane. Jeff was flying home to Milwaukee, Wisc., and Jeremiah was the airline attendant on the flight. I (Jeff) was interested in him and gave him my number. We later connected online/on the phone, and began talking very often. The next time that Jeremiah’s work took him to Wisconsin, he and I shared dinner, and from their months of conversation evolved into a long-distance relationship. Jeremiah would go out of his way to book hours on flights that passed through or ended in Milwaukee, and we fell in love months later. We recently relocated to Houston, TX for Jeff’s new job.”

1391966181-111267-01Toby and Daniel, who want to wed in Washington, D.C. and have a celebration at their family’s country home in Brenham, Texas.

“We met in 2007, Daniel was from Mexico living in Houston. Bar Manager at my favorite TexMex Restaurant. I work in Consulting and would meet clients at his restaurant. In between meetings I would visit his bar and communicate via “span-tran” on my laptop with him. I didn’t know Daniel would one day save my life 7 years later by being tested anonymously and donating his healthy Kidney to me after high blood pressure and hypertension destroyed mine in 2013. His blood type, and antigen match was a perfect match to me. God knew. Miracle.”

To view all of the Texas entries, go here and search by state or couple.

—  Anna Waugh

NOH8 Campaign comes to Dallas for Wednesday photo shoot

 

VeaseyThe NOH8 Campaign is coming to Dallas on Wednesday to photograph the LGBT community and its allies.

The last photo shoot in Dallas in October 2011 holds the record for the largest NOH8 photo shoot to date with over 840 participants, NOH8 organizers state on the Facebook event page. So far, more than 1,000 people have indicated via the page that they plan to attend.

People planning on attending should wear white and come camera ready. Solo photos are $40, with couple and group shots costing $25 per person. Fees cover processing fees and one retouched digital print on NOH8Campaign.com, available about eight weeks after shoots.

Funds raised by the NOH8 Campaign are used to promote marriage equality and antidiscrimination efforts for the LGBT community.

Many famous people have had NOH8 photos taken, including those from Texas like Houston Mayor Annise Parker and U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, pictured, who both participated in NOH8 photo shoots last year.

The event is 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, located at 14115 Hillcrest Road.

People in line by the end of the photo shoot are expected to have their photo taken.

—  Anna Waugh

Gay men say they were kicked out of bar for dancing to country music

aclu2The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is supporting a gay couple after the men said they were kicked out of a South Texas nightclub for dancing together to country music.

The incident occurred Saturday night at a Victoria nightclub when Justin Meyer, 21, said he and his partner danced together to the country song “Cowboys and Angels,” the Victoria Advocate reported.

The men said a manager approached them and told them Cactus Canyon has a policy barring two men from dancing together to country music.

Meyer’s partner, James Douglas, 30, said the manager told them they could dance together to rap or hip-hop music, but not country.

“So you’re telling me it’s OK for me to bump and grind my boyfriend to the song `Bubble Butt,’ but we can’t dance a two-step?” Douglas told the newspaper.

But Cactus Canyon’s director of operations, Robert Dillender, says the men were asked to leave because they were being disruptive.

“We’ve never kicked anyone out of the club for dancing,” he said, adding the club does not have a policy barring same-sex couples from dancing together.

However, Dillender said the club does have to “maintain the peace” under its obligation to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the agency that issues liquor licenses. Cactus Canyon is now reviewing how it interprets that policy, he said.

“We apologize for the misunderstanding,” Dillender added.

The issue has already caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union in Texas, and the group plans to reach out to the couple to offer assistance.

“We encourage all people to stand up for their individual rights,” said Tom Hargis, an ACLU spokesman.

—  Steve Ramos

Gay couples file motion to block state marriage amendment in Texas

Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss

Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss

An attorney representing two Texas gay couples filed a motion for temporary injunction Friday, requesting that state officials stop enforcing the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying.

Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano, joined by Austin couple Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman, are the plaintiffs in the case. Both couples met in San Antonio years ago, but while the lesbian couple later married out of state, they want their union recognized here, and Phariss and Holmes want to marry in Texas.

The motion, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio by attorney Barry Chasnoff, requests  the court prevent state officials from enforcing Article I, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution and corresponding provisions in the Texas Family Code that prevent same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses.

—  Anna Waugh

New Mexico: We won’t let the Rio Grande River flow into Texas anymore

rio-grandeSANTA FE — No water for you. That’s the message the state of New Mexico delivered to Texas in a statement Friday, saying it will no longer allow the Rio Grande River to continue its course into the Lone Star State.

“We were just sitting around, wishing we had something to do when we came up with this idea,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. “We’ve never liked Texans anyway, so we always think it’s fun to come up with ways to tick them off. They come over here to our ski resorts, flashing their big money and ordering us around. Well, we’ll see how they like this.”

Engineers for the state say they will change the river’s course, diverting it to California instead. Why California?

“They’ve been really good to us, what with them making movies here and all,” Martinez said. “We thought this would be a nice way to say ‘thanks for your business.’”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry appeared perplexed when aides told him of New Mexico’s plans.

“Isn’t that a federal issue?” Perry asked. “New Mexico is a foreign country, isn’t it? That’s where all those illegals are coming from.”

After his staff schooled the governor on basic geography and history, Perry reportedly slammed his fist on the table and screamed, “Dagnabit.”

Without water from the Rio Grande, Texas would suffer severe economic, political and social hardships, officials say. The river supplies water to dozens of Texas cities, irrigates millions of acres and forms the border with Mexico.

“Not like it does us any good,” weighed in Sarah Palin, who drove her bus into Austin to console Perry. “Those Mexicans just traipse across the border like it’s not even there.”

Palin took a few days off from her “No Ambition” tour to assist Perry in devising a plan to combat New Mexico’s actions, telling Perry she was “locked and loaded.”

“We’re not gonna put up with this from those people,” Perry said. “Sarah told me I should move Texas National Guard troops to the New Mexico border to show ‘em we’re ready to march into their capital at Mexico City.”

At that point, Palin whispered into Perry’s ear.

“Oh, my bad,” Perry said. “I mean their capital at El Paso.”

—  Steve Ramos

Texas defies defense secretary’s order to register same-sex partners

Chuck Hagel

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

After Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered national guards in all states to register same-sex partners of military personnel for identification cards, three states including Texas continue to defy the federal government.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin responded by telling Hagel and President Barack Obama to “stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda.”

When the Department of Defense decided same-sex spouses would receive all of the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses in September, Texas refused to register same-sex partners and directed them to federal facilities. Eight other states followed Texas’ lead.

“Unfortunately, officials from at least three states, including Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia, have so far responded with open and blatant defiance of his [Hagel] order and have stated their intention to continue discriminating against gay and lesbian couples serving in the national guard,” said Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partner Association.

Oklahoma state Sen. Al McCaffrey was in Dallas over the weekend for the Black Tie Dinner. He suggested a way to get his state to comply was to threaten to pull equipment out of the state. While the National Guard is run by the state, most of the equipment it uses, including tanks, planes, guns and even the computer used to register military partners belongs to the federal government, he said.

—  David Taffet

Abbott mentions God, guns but not gays in announcing gubernatorial bid

Attorney General Greg Abbott

Greg Abbott supports government displays of the Ten Commandments.

In case you missed it, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott formally announced his campaign for governor in San Antonio on Sunday.

As we mentioned last week, Abbott’s record on LGBT issues is pretty awful. In fact, some would argue he’d be worse than Gov. Rick Perry on LGBT and other social issues.

Not only does Abbott adamantly oppose same-sex marriage, but he doesn’t think gay couples who’ve entered into legally recognized relationships in other states should be allowed to dissolve them in Texas. And he doesn’t think the same-sex domestic partners of government employees should be eligible for health benefits. His office has also been sued for alleged anti-gay employment discrimination.

Abbott intervened to stop a gay couple from dissolving a Vermont civil union in 2003. He would later intervene in an attempt to block two same-sex couples from obtaining divorces from their Massachusetts marriages. The divorce cases are still pending before the Texas Supreme Court.

“Marriage is not man-made law,” Abbott said, referring to the gay divorce cases in 2010 as he accepted the “Texas Guardian of the Family Award” from Vision America. “It’s man’s decision to adopt God’s law. Man cannot redefine God’s law, and yet they still try.”

Last year, Abbott issued an opinion saying he believes domestic partner benefits offered by local government entities violate the state’s 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It’s an amendment Abbott has been criticized for allowing to pass because as worded it appears to outlaw heterosexual marriages, too. “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage,” the amendment reads.

Also last year, Abbott signed a brief calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act.

Of course, the high court went in the opposite direction, and polls show the majority of Americans agree with their decision. Which could help explain why there was no mention of same-sex marriage in Abbott’s announcement speech on Sunday — even as he touched on other Republican primary red meat wedge issues like God, guns and abortion.

—  John Wright