Proposed divorce law could make D.C. the marriage destination of choice for gay Texans

Mrs. Barry Herridge

The straights have a new poster child for traditional marriage.

Sinead O’Connor ended her marriage to therapist Barry Herridge after 16 days. She said she knew the marriage was doomed just three hours after the ceremony.

But she still made it to 16 days. Maybe she needs to see a therapist. Oh wait … maybe she just needs to blame it on the gays.

But at least she will be able to end her marriage — no matter where she lives.

The Washington D.C. city council will take up a same-sex divorce ordinance in January, according to the Washington Post. The bill has the support of eight out of 13 city council members.

The problem, according to the city’s leaders, is that anyone can marry in D.C., but only residents can file for divorce there.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has done his part to deny marriage to same-sex couples by preventing them from getting divorced. One case in which he intervened involves a Dallas couple that was married in Massachusetts. Currently all 50 states and D.C. have a residency requirement for divorce.

With the attorney general’s intervention, the Dallas couple remains married, three years after beginning the process of divorce.

Should the D.C. law pass, couples married in that city will be able to divorce there, no matter where they live. Abbott will be unable to prevent Texas couples married there from divorcing there.

But O’Connor will be able to get divorced wherever she lives. And her 16-day marriage will be considered “traditional.”

—  David Taffet

One more case of how “the gays are destroying traditional marriage”

Reports out this week indicate that a record low number of people are getting married. Only about 51 percent of U.S. adults are married — a new low.

Of course “traditional” marriage advocates would blame the gays for destroying marriage as it has been known since Biblical times. But maybe straight people are destroying marriage all by themselves.

Take the case of Bill Johnson. He ran for governor of Alabama in 2010 on a platform opposing same-sex marriage. Yes, Johnson was very worried that his progressive state was going to be among the first to offer marriage equality. Johnson is married and his wife had three children through a previous marriage. She apparently likes marriage so much that she’s done it multiple times. But she had a hysterectomy and according to a report in the New York Daily News, he knew she would want him to help others have children. So over the past year, he’s been a sperm donor to at least nine lesbian couples.

Oh, and he forgot to tell her. And she found out. And she’s pissed. So pissed it might just ruin their traditional marriage — between one man, one woman and nine lesbian couples.

Yep. Just another case of how the gays are destroying traditional marriage as it’s existed since Biblical times.

—  David Taffet

Census bureau releases new same-sex couple stats and straight marriage, divorce stats

The Census Bureau released a massive new report with new statistics about same-sex couples and heterosexual marriage and divorce. The report includes hundreds of charts of raw data with no analysis. Here’s some analysis:

The bureau reports 6,502,121 “unmarried-partner households.” Of those, 280,410 are “male householder, male partner” and 300,890 are “female householder, female partner.”

That terminology is confusing because those numbers include all those same-sex households of people who actually live in places like Massachusetts and are legally married. But the census bureau was prevented from actually asking that question directly and is projecting the numbers from the way people answered.

Analysis: The census severely under-counted same-sex households. And total number of gays and lesbians? They didn’t even try.

More analysis: The divorce figures disprove that allowing same-sex couples to marry will destroy marriage. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate at 2.2 per 1,000 population. Second is Iowa with 2.4.

The Texas divorce rate declined from 5.5 per 1,000 population in 1990 to 4.0 in 2000 to 3.3 in 2009. That compares to a national figure of 3.4.

The states with the highest divorce rates were Nevada 6.7, which was a decline from 11.4 in 1990, Arkansas at 5.7 and West Virginia and Wyoming at 5.2.

The decline in the Texas divorce rate, however, may be linked to the decline in marriage in Texas. Despite having about 10 million more people living in the state since the 1980s, the number of total annual marriages in 2009 only rose by about 1,000.

Analysis: Lots more gays and lesbians have come out over the past 20 years. Don’t know why the straight people who are left are less likely to marry. Marriage equality opponents may pick up on the stat to “prove” that marriage equality is destroying “traditional” marriage.

One marriage statistic is confusing and unexplained —”People who got married, and divorced in the past 12 months by state, 2009.”

In Massachusetts, 41,000 men married and 40,000 women married, while 20,000 men divorced and 20,000 women divorced. The difference in the marriage stat can be accounted for with same-sex marriages. The divorce stat indicates that it’s straight people getting divorced, not gays and lesbians.

However, in Texas that year, 202,000 men married and 195,000 women married.

Analysis: That number either includes 7,000 same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries that have marriage equality, which the census bureau claimed they weren’t counting in marriage stats, or 7,000 Texas women didn’t know they got married or 7,000 men think they did.

—  David Taffet

Is this what they mean by ‘traditional marriage’?

Actor Doug Hutchison, 51, and his new bride, 16-year-old Courtney Alexis Stodden.

While looking through headlines this morning, I found a story about actor Doug Hutchison announcing his marriage to aspiring country music singer Courtney Alexis Stodden. But here’s the catch: Hutchison is 51. His new bride is 16.

My first reaction was disgust, for two reasons. Reason No. 1: I am 50, going on 51. I have a son who is 14 going on 15. The idea of my son marrying someone my age makes my skin crawl and my stomach churn. That’s reason enough for me to want to slap Mr. Hutchison silly right there.

But then there’s Reason No. 2: I cannot legally marry the woman I love and with whom I have shared the last 10 years of my life because same-sex marriage is unnatural and against God’s law. The right-wingers in this country, like the National Organization for Marriage, insist that only “traditional marriages” between one man and one woman should be legally recognized. Some, I dare say, would go so far as to say gays and lesbians, especially those who want to marry their same-sex partners, should be thrown in jail. And yet, this 51-year-old man can legally marry this 16-year-old girl, and even her mama thinks that’s OK.

Is this the kind of “traditional marriage” they want to protect from me?!

And then my wife made the comment, “Do they think this is the 1800s or something?” and I realized that, well, yes, that IS a “traditional marriage,” with the tradition dating all the way back to biblical times.

All I can say is, somebody please protect me from tradition.

—  admin

Transgender marriage bill back on Texas Senate calendar for Monday; contact your senator now

Sen. Tommy Williams

Equality Texas reports that SB 723, the anti-transgender marriage bill from Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, has been placed back on the state Senate’s Intent Calendar for Monday. As we reported earlier, Williams’ bill is on life support at this late stage of the session, but it isn’t quite dead yet. Backed by anti-LGBT groups like the Plano-based Liberty Institute, who say they’re trying to preserve “traditional marriage,” the bill would remove an affidavit of sex change from the list of documents that can be used to obtain marriage licenses in Texas. A direct response to the case of widow Nikki Araguz,  the bill is designed to bar transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex. To pass this year, the bill would have to clear the Senate as well as a House committee by midnight on Saturday, May 21. That means Williams and his cohorts have only one week left. Go here to contact your senator urge them to oppose this bill.

Above is video of Nikki Araguz confronting a staffer in Williams’ office about the bill. The video reportedly is also a trailer for a documentary about the Araguz case. Araguz’s husband, Thomas, was a volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty last year. Thomas’ family is suing Nikki Araguz to prevent her from receiving death benefits, arguing that their marriage was not valid because she is transgender.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Highland Park Presbyterian says it won’t allow gay clergy despite policy change

Pastor Ron Scates

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Minnesota Senate voted 38-27 Wednesday to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that would ban same-sex marriage. Minnesota already has a statute limiting marriage to one man and one woman, but Republicans in the Legislature are apparently looking for a boost in next year’s election. Only one Democrat in the Senate voted in favor of the amendment, which now goes to the Republican-controlled House, where it is also expected to pass. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton opposes the measure but cannot veto it. Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage have passed in all 31 states where voters have considered them. On the bright side, Delaware’s civil unions bill was signed into law Wednesday night and will take effect next year.

2. Highland Park Presbyterian Church, led by our old friend Pastor Ron Scates, plans to send a letter to its 5,000 members reaffirning the congregation’s commitment to “traditional” marriage and celibacy for unmarried clergy, the Associated Press reports. The letter comes in the wake of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s decision this week to remove the celibacy requirement for unmarried clergy, thus paving the way for the ordination of gays and lesbians. Pastor Scates has long been a vocal opponent of gay clergy, and Highland Park Presbyterian has formed a task force to study the impact of the new policy. In 2009, Scates admitted in a personal letter to Instant Tea that he’s “been taken into the world of homosexual sex …” and sent us a copy of a newsletter from an “ex-gay” group.

3. Contrary to some published reports, Uganda’s Parliament still plans to consider an Anti-Homosexuality Bill this year that currently includes a death penalty provision for repeat offenders and other violators. The Uganda parliament is now scheduled to debate the bill on Friday.

—  John Wright

Right-wing Liberty Institute issues action alert in support of transgender marriage ban

Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands

Daniel Williams at Legislative Queery reports that the Texas Senate has again adjourned for the day without taking up a bill that would bar transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex. However, The Woodlands Republican Tommy Williams’ SB 723 remains on the Senate’s calendar for Thursday. The bill, a response to the Nikki Araguz case, would remove a court order of sex change from the list of documents that can be used to obtain marriage licenses in Texas.

Daniel Williams also notes that today, the right-wing, Plano-based Liberty Institute issued an action alert calling on people to urge senators to support the anti-LGBT bill. Here’s an excerpt:

Some Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender advocates, want to thwart a Texas appeals court decision and force the state to recognize their gender (for marriage purposes) as something other than what was assigned at birth, to change their gender later on in life and force county clerks to recognize the changed gender. Such an outcome will create confusion for county clerks, for the courts and no doubt will be used by the GLBT community to undermine our marriage laws, which affirm traditional marriage, between one man and one woman.

Protect traditional marriage, support SB 723.

If you haven’t already contacted your senator and asked them to oppose this bill, this disgusting action alert from the Liberty Institute should provide plenty of motivation to do so. Email your senator by going here.

—  John Wright

Gay marriage ban keeps moving toward Minn. ballot

MARTIGA LOHN | Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage moved closer to getting on Minnesota’s 2012 ballot Monday, clearing a Republican-led House panel after its first Senate committee approval last week.

If both chambers approve the proposal, voters would be asked next year whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage solely as union of one man and one woman.

The amendment’s prospects have improved this year after last year’s elections gave Republicans full control of the Legislature for the first time in nearly four decades. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton opposes the amendment but doesn’t have the power to block it.

The 10-7 party-line vote by the House Civil Law Committee seemed almost preordained, with the panel’s Republicans voting yes and Democrats no. Minnesota law already prohibits gay marriage and prevents the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries. But Rep. Steve Gottwalt, the bill’s sponsor, said he wants voters to be the ones to define marriage in Minnesota, not lawmakers or judges.

“It is not about hate, it is not about discrimination, it is about defining in Minnesota’s constitution the definition of marriage,” said Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud.

The amendment’s opponents predicted it would unleash a divisive political campaign that could tear apart families and communities.

“How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether God actually wants them around?” said Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, drawing applause and shushing from panel chairman Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake.

Religious leaders of various backgrounds testified on both sides of the issue about the importance of families.

Pastor Sergio Choy of Bloomington’s Ministerio Maranatha Church spoke in favor of traditional marriage, adding that redefining the institution to include same-sex unions would be comparable to trying to make water out of hydrogen or oxygen alone.

“It is one mother and one father, one man and one woman who make up the foundation of the family,” Choy told lawmakers.

Gay-rights supporters warned legislators they risked overstepping their role and going against the tide of history as acceptance of gay relationships increases.

“This is not the religious law committee — this is the civil law committee,” said David Cummer, an elder at Grace Trinity Community Church in Minneapolis. “You guys have not been elected to the College of Cardinals. You are not members of the state church of Minnesota.”

The bill now heads to the Ways and Means Committee, its last stop before reaching the full House. The Senate version will go before a rules panel before reaching the floor.

—  John Wright

FEEDBACK: Cancel DMN subscriptions, Saving Easter in the Park, Tell TCA what you think

Cancel DMN subscriptions

The policy of the Dallas Morning News, which excludes same-sex marriage announcements while printing “traditional” marriage announcements, is discrimination, pure and simple. I just cancelled my subscription to the News, as I do not want my money supporting such discrimination. I urge other News subscribers to do the same, telling the News the reason for your cancellation.

Joe Ball, via e-mail


Saving Easter in the Park

Over 20 years ago, Oak Lawn was different. Known for our gays residents, artists and bohemians, Oak Lawn was a destination and a diamond in the conservative rough that was Dallas, Texas. People traveled miles for the safety, solace and solidarity provided just entering Oak Lawn’s boundaries. Events dotted the year. Obviously they were heavy on the gay side but they also were heavy with people that loved and didn’t judge us.

Easter in the Park was one of those events, and it was the most diverse of them all. Even the Dallas Symphony showed us the love by spending a cherished religious holiday with the scourge of the Christian community — we, the lowly homosexuals, and our proud brethren.

Fast forward to 2011. Those people we sought refuge from, that always showed us fear and contempt, infiltrated Easter in the Park and took our tradition away from us. The event was to be moved and made more “family friendly.”

I guess no one told them we were family already and our traditions bind us.

Gentrification is the same dance in any country and in any city. Bohemians, artists and gay people move to architecturally rich but neglected parts of town and make lemons into lemonade. Transformative magic happens, property values go up, tourism increases and good press abounds.

Then waves of yuppies come, each being a little less tolerant than their predecessor. They do not share the live-and-let-live mentality that allowed the first batch to come in the first place. They demand chain establishments and upscale amenties and folks with the income to afford them.

Long ago created to protect Oak Lawn’s character and history, the Oak Lawn Committee abandoned that mission ages ago. The last bit of history they let be destroyed were all the apartments that fell between Wycliff, Douglas, Rawlins and Hall. What were once charming duplexes and apartments are now what John Waters might call a “communist day care center.”

The committee is chock full of developers, and their last decade seems to have been dedicated to the three-story rectangle and the wonders it bestows on mankind. If you are unable to reside in one of these for $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000, then pity you, please leave. Be careful Oak Cliff. You’re next.

It isn’t just developers’ fault. The block on Cedar Springs where JR.’s resides used to be a historic collection of quaint storefronts that mirrored across the street. Now a collection of cavernous cinderblock buildings house our bars. They are so large and impersonal, they require a few hundred people to achieve the intimacy 50 used to provide. If we lose Easter in the Park, then we lose a piece of ourselves and where we came from. Those that fought for where we are today would be mortified. I hear them turning in their graves.

I intend to show up in Lee Park on Easter and have a contest with myself to see how gay I can look for the family-friendly crowd. When it comes to respect, I give what I get.

Michael Amonett, via e-mail


Tell TCA what you think

Please call the Turtle Creek Association and Cathy Golden at 214-526-2800 and voice your opposition to the hijacking of the Easter in the Park event, done apparently to exclude gays this year, which was thwarted only by heavy arm-twisting. Read the press; join the Facebook fan page and, most importantly, show up! Ms. Golden can have her own “family-friendly” Creek Craze on April 17 if she wants. I was born into a family and have a family of choice and consider myself friendly. Doesn’t that make me “family-friendly”? Perhaps not in Ms. Golden’s “hetero-Republican-marriage-and-two-kids” world, but the world has changed a lot. I remember when Lee Park was a cruise spot with a popular tee room; it was all some people had. I personally think it’s fantastic that youth today have no clue what a cruise park or a tee room is. There are real role models to aspire to today and real, healthy community events —including Easter in the Park.

This is really quite typical of how things tend to operate. We move in to an area, organization or event and make it fabulous — and then get run off. I will oppose any change that Ms. Golden wishes to bring that would take us all back to the “golden days” when gays were marginalized on a grand scale, forced into the bushes, darkened cruise spots and closets. Change is coming folks; change is here. We’re here; we’re queer; get over it! Oh and one more thing: Thank God for drag queens and trannies. If it were not for them, we as the gay community would not exist. Look back on Stonewall and remember; we must never forget to honor the bravest amongst ourselves. I stand in awe of people who are just who they are and live life day after day against threats of violence, hatred, homophobia, misogyny (which is where I personally believe that homophobia has it’s real origin), and just live out loud!

Daniel Shipman, via Instant Tea

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Anti-gay bills dead or stalled in Iowa

Newt Gingrich

It appears that Republican efforts to force a referendum to appeal that state’s same-sex marriage equality law are dead, at least for the time being — as are a couple of other anti-gay measures.

The Des Moines Register reports that one of two resolutions being considered that would have put same-sex marriage to a referendum vote has died, and the second has stalled. A resolution that had been passed by the Republican-controlled House is effectively dead after Democrats in the Senate chose not to advance it.

A bill that would have allowed businesses to deny services or public accommodations to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs has failed, as has a second measure that would have prohibited country recorders from giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a referendum could be held on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

Three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of a unanimous ruling in 2009 that overturned the gay marriage ban in Iowa were ousted in recall election efforts last November. A small group of Iowa House Republicans is calling for the other four justices to be impeached. They have not yet filed any articles of impeachment, the Register reports, but that could happen at any time.

In related news, other sources — including TPMMuckraker.com — are reporting that Republican former Congressman Newt Gingrich, himself a veritable bastion of traditional marriage values, helped get the justice recall effort jump-started last year in Iowa by rounding up about $200,000 to help Iowa For Freedom campaign for the recall.

Gingrich, by the way, is on his third marriage. He left his first wife for his mistress when his first wife was hospitalized and fighting for her life against cancer. Then he married the mistress, only to cheat on her with another women to whom he is now married. Gingrich is also contemplating a run for the White House in 2012; he launched a website to “test the waters” Thursday.

—  admin