Lesbian couple files for divorce in Bexar County

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A San Antonio couple has filed to dissolve their 2010 D.C. marriage.

The couple, Allison Leona Flood Lesh and Kristi Lyn Lesh, filed for divorce on Feb. 18 after separating in July. Their case is the first divorce sought by a same-sex couple in Bexar County, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Eight days after they filed, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages is unconstitutional. But Garcia stayed his ruling pending appeal. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott later appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case may be put on hold until the Texas Supreme Court decides whether to allow same-sex couples to divorce in Texas. The court heard arguments for same-sex divorce in the state back in November, when lawyers for an Austin couple, who were granted a divorce, and a Dallas couple, who were still trying to obtain one, argued that the state didn’t need to recognize the marriages to dissolve the unions since the state where they were married already recognized their unions as legal.

The court has yet to rule in the cases, but a decision is expected by summer before the court’s recess.

But the San Antonio couple wants the case to move forward because they are also battling for custody of their 13-month-old daughter. Flood, who hasn’t seen the child in six months,  wants to share custody, while Lesh doesn’t because her wife isn’t the girl’s biological or adoptive parent. The Austin couple also has a child, but the case didn’t deal with custody.

“This illustrates what Judge Garcia identified as (what) same-sex couples are deprived of,” Neel Lane, one of the San Antonio lawyers for the gay couples who sued the state over the same-sex marriage ban, told the San Antonio Express-News. “First, they are deprived of the benefits of an orderly dissolution of a marriage. Second, their children are denied the benefit of the many laws to protect their interests in the event of a divorce.”

The couple has a hearing on Thursday.

—  Dallasvoice

Mary Gonzalez leads in re-election bid after early voting

Gonzalez.Mary

Mary Gonzalez

Out state Rep. Mary Gonzalez will likely keep her House District 75 seat after early voting results gave her a strong lead Tuesday.

Gonzalez, D-El Paso, brought in 69 percent of the vote, compared to her only Democratic  challenger Rey Sepulveda, who received 31 percent of the early vote.

No Republican is seeking the office, so Gonzalez is sure to return to the state Legislature after final results come in.

She’s one of five openly gay state House candidates, but the only one with a contested primary.

Other out candidates are Celia Israel, who won the runoff in the special election to replace state Rep. Mark Strama in Austin and will face one Republican in the fall, and Denton’s Emy Lyons and Daniel Moran, who will both take on Republican incumbents.

Former state board of education member George Clayton is unopposed in his Democratic bid for HD 102, which covers parts of North Dallas, Richardson and Addison.

On the crowded Republican side, incumbent Stefani Carter came in second to former Dallas Councilwoman Linda Koop with 33 percent and 35 percent after early voting, so a runoff is likely.

Sam Brown received 28 percent of the vote with Adyana Boyne coming in last with 4 percent.

—  Dallasvoice

Out candidate Donald Brown leads in Southeast Texas congressional bid

Donald Brown

Donald Brown

Texas is on its way to having two out candidates for Congress after openly gay Donald Brown received enough votes to avoid a runoff after early voting results Tuesday.

Brown received 61 percent of the vote in his Democratic bid for Congressional District 14 and he could avoid a runoff if he maintains the strong lead.

Buck Willis, who received the local Stonewall Democrats endorsement, brought in 28 percent of the vote, with Gagan Panjhazari receiving 11 percent.

CD 14 spans Southeast Texas form Freeport to Beaumont. The winner will take on Republican incumbent Randy Weber, who’s unopposed in the primary.

Brown is one of two openly gay Texas candidates running for Congress. Louie Minor is unopposed in the Democratic primary for CD 31 in central Texas. He’ll face Republican incumbent John Carter in November.

—  Dallasvoice

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.

—  Dallasvoice

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.

—  Dallasvoice

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

—  Dallasvoice

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

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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.

—  Dallasvoice

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.

—  Dallasvoice

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.

—  Dallasvoice