Drawing Dallas • 11.25.11

As ‘Twilight’ returns, Skylar Brooks shows blood sucking can be a service

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Skylar Brooks, 24

Occupation: Testing coordinator, Resource Center Dallas, and shift manager, Starbucks

Spotted at: Exxon on the Run at Maple and Oak Lawn

A twinkle in her unbelievably pale blue eyes and an effervescent smile are the first things you notice about this fine Virgo. Born in Monroe, La., and raised in Euless and Bedford, the perpetually positive Skylar considers herself a clown and a jokester — smiles and laughter come to her quite freely. She came out at 16.

She loves the nightlife. Skylar loves to dance, and her freestyle moves on the floor have garnered her three “dance off” wins at Station 4. She also loves to sing, especially R&B (Brian McKnight is a favorite). She auditioned for American Idol last year, and while she didn’t get through, says she’s determined to try again. Her love of music and dance is hereditary: Her mother was on the drill team and danced ballet, and her father plays drums and the trumpet and loves to belt out a song.

In addition to indoor activities, she plays midfield and forward in a local soccer league, and basketball for fun. Skylar loves to travel, she has a special affinity for the Caribbean (Dominican Republic, Bahamas).

Enter love  “Three months in, I knew she was the one,” says Skylar of her fiancé, Shereen, whom she met through mutual friends 18 months ago; they have a wedding set in Vermont next June. Both of their families are excited for them.

Skylar’s goal is to become a surgical technician. Her motto: “I help people one blood draw at a time.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

ANNIVERSARIES: Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong, George Amerson and Mike Grossman

ARMSTRONG-YOUNG  | Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong celebrated their 40th anniversary Monday, April 18. The couple met on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1971 through the Gay Liberation Front organization there. They had a civil union in Vermont in 2000 and were legally married in California in August 2008.

 

GROSSMAN-AMERSON  | George Amerson and Mike Grossman marked their 40th anniversary Wednesday, April 20, after celebrating the event with a gathering of family and friends the previous weekend. Grossman is a Minneapolis native who had lived in Dallas a year when he met Amerson, a native of west Texas who had already lived in Dallas several years when they met. The couple say they are most proud of their children, Laura and Devon Cloud and Barney and Stephanie Grossman, and their grandchildren, Miles and Rachel. The two work in residential real estate, Grossman for 50 years and Amerson for more than 35 years.

—  John Wright

Delaware may be next civil unions state

Delaware State Capitol

With a marriage bill advancing in neighboring Maryland, Delaware lawmakers have proposed civil unions for that state, according to WBOC in Dover.

Equality Delaware helped craft the legislation. The bill is intended to give couples with a civil union the same state rights as married couples and gives religious groups an exemption from participating.

A poll released this week shows that 48 percent of people in Delaware support full marriage equality. Only 31 percent were strongly opposed. Others were not sure or fell in the middle. In neighboring Maryland, where a marriage bill is close to passing, 51 percent of the population supports marriage equality.

Delaware Right to Marry statewide director Bill Humphrey said that opposition to marriage equality “dropped dramatically” in states like Vermont and Massachusetts as people saw firsthand that same-sex marriage has no negative impact on their lives.

—  David Taffet

Swearing-In An Ally in Vermont

Last week I was in Montpelier, Vermont to see my friend Peter Shumlin sworn-in as Governor. He is an American hero to supporters of LGBT equality.

As Senate President in 2000, Peter Shumlin worked closely with then-Governor Howard Dean and shepherded through the nation’s first civil unions bill. In 2009, along with House Speaker Shap Smith, Shumlin led the successful legislative effort for his state’s marriage bill (overriding a Governor’s veto with not one vote to spare). Last week, he tapped the Director of Vermont Freedom to Marry, Beth Robinson, who successfully argued in favor of marriage equality before the Vermont Supreme Court, to be his General Counsel.

While those events alone were reason enough to fill me with pride as I sat next to Peter’s wife Deb as Peter took the oath of office, something else stirred my emotions more deeply.

I first got to know then-Minority Leader Shumlin, and Vermont, fifteen years ago. In 1996, the Clinton White House asked me to consider leaving my job in the Administration to run President Clinton’s re-election effort in the Green Mountain State. Peter and I became fast friends as we worked together across the state, to recruit fair-minded legislative candidates and help them get elected. Success that year led to Peter’s ascension to Senate President, and a majority that, several years later, would pass civil unions.

The aftermath of civil unions saw Vermont’s reputation as a friendly and caring state severely tested. Neighbors shunned neighbors, family members shunned their own, and campaign sign wars and a war of words escalated. During the election campaign of 2000, Governor Dean wore a bullet proof vest at public events. Election Day 2000, mere months after enactment of the civil unions law, was a defeat for fair-minded Vermont legislators. While Peter Shumlin held onto his majority in the Senate, and, with HRC’s staff support Howard Dean barely escaped his election needing to be decided by the legislature, House control changed hands.

It would take two election cycles of driving from Brattleboro to Burlington, from St. Albans to St. Johnsbury, recruiting and training candidates, to finally regain fair-minded control of the House.

When I was in the House Chamber in 2009 when Vermont passed the marriage bill, the biggest hugs I received were from those legislators who remembered the tough election after civil unions and were proud that the family of Vermont came back together and lived up to her state motto, “Freedom and Unity.”

And last week, some of the tears of Inaugural joy shed by legislators were by those same fighters for fairness.

Peter's wife Deb and daughters Olivia and Rebecca

Since 1996, I have gotten to know hundreds of Vermont families. I have stayed overnight in too many homes to recall. I have gotten to know Vermonters over breakfast in their kitchens, lunches on park benches and dinners on their lawns.

I have seen Peter Shumlin’s little girls who used to jump on my bed at six in the morning grow into articulate but still fun-loving and beautiful women. Vermont has taught me to cherish one’s connection to nature and neighbor more than the political connection.

Today, as we demand results quickly, as we are too quick to judge, as we chat more on Facebook and have fewer meaningful conversations looking into someone’s eyes, I, like the hundreds of people in the Vermont State House was brought to tears hearing the Vermont State Song sung by the Vermont Youth Orchestra Choir: “Home is where the heart is and these Green Mountains are my home.”

Peter Shumlin fought hard and sacrificed to become Governor of Vermont, but his victory is rightfully savored by so many because Vermonters know that progress takes time; equality does not have a button on a microwave. His parents, his family, his colleagues, former Governors, and even his political opponents recognize that Peter and hundreds of others have fought for years to make Vermont and our country live up to her ideals.

Vermont may be a small state, but it has done great things for our country. Under Peter’s leadership, watch Vermont continue to make us all sing, America, the Beautiful.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

2 rulings from New York's highest court expand parental rights for same-sex couples

New York Court of Appeals in Albany
New York Court of Appeals in Albany

New York’s highest court ruled that a Vermont civil union establishes parental rights for the non-biological parent. The ruling, in the case brought by Lambda Legal, was unanimous.

The court, however, did not overrule a 1991 decision that said only biological or adoptive parents may seek custody and visitation rights. However, the latest ruling strengthens recognition of same-sex relationships in a state that doesn’t issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian ouples.

In September 2009, Vermont’s marriage equality law replaced civil unions.

Last year, a marriage equality law proposed by New York’s governor passed the Assembly but failed in the Senate. New York does recognize marriages and civil unions performed elsewhere, thanks to an executive order and several legal decisions.

In a related case, the court ruled 4-3 that a woman is entitled to seek child support from her former partner. The partner is not the biological parent, but the couple raised the child together until they split.

—  David Taffet

Arrest warrant issued for Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller
Lisa Miller

An arrest warrant has been issued for Lisa Miller, according to Associated Press.

Miller is the woman who had a child with her partner, Janet Jenkins, in Vermont. When the couple split, Miller moved to Virginia, hooked up with Jerry Falwell’s church and has defied the Vermont family court’s orders ever since.

A Virginia court ruled that the Vermont court had jurisdiction in the case. The Vermont judge first ruled that Jenkins had visitation rights. When Miller defied the orders, the judge in the case ordered full custody for Jenkins.

In December, Miller disappeared. The child was to have gone to Jenkins on Jan. 1. The judge gave Miller until this week to appear in court. When she did not appear, the judge ordered her arrest.

—  David Taffet

Lisa Miller given 30 days to appear in court

Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller

The judge in the Lisa Miller custody case has given Miller 30 days to appear in court. He could have issued a contempt of court citation.

Miller was the biological mother of a child she had while in a relationship with Janet Jenkins. The couple lived in Vermont.

Within a year of their daughter’s birth, Miller ended the relationship and moved to Virginia where she became involved with Jerry Falwell’s church. Jenkins sued for joint custody and won. Miller refused to abide by earlier court rulings and the Vermont family court judge changed full custody to Jenkins. A Virginia court ruled that the Vermont court had full jurisdiction in the case.

On Jan. 1, the transfer of custody was to have taken place. Miller and their daughter have not been seen since the beginning of December.

The judge set a Feb. 23 court date. If Miller does not appear in court, he could issue an arrest warrant.

—  David Taffet

Vermont-Virginia custody battle takes another turn

Janet Jenkins has been fighting in court for years to get access to her daughter Isabella, and as of Jan. 1, she will be given custody of the child, thanks to a court order by Judge William Cohen.

Isabella is the biological daughter of Jenkins’ former partner, Lisa Miller, who conceived the child after she and Jenkins moved from Virginia to Vermont to have a civil union. But after the little girl was born, the couple broke up. And Miller decided she was no longer gay and moved, with Isabella, back to Virginia where same-sex unions are not recognized and where she thought the courts would be on her side in the ensuing custody battle.

But Jenkins filed suit in Vermont courts to get visitation rights with Isabella. The Vermont courts sided with Jenkins, and the Virginia courts basically went along with that precedent. But still, Miller has consistently refused to abide by the courts’ rulings and has refused to let Jenkins see the child.

Finally, Judge Cohen got fed up with Miller and has decided that Jenkins will get custody of Isabella, effective Jan. 1.  Jenkins has agreed to visitation for Miller.

ProudParenting.com has more on the story.

—  admin

In case you missed the NPR piece, 'Where's The Change? Gay Activists Ask'

You can read it here. Even though today we heard good news from Vermont giving same-sex couples the right to marry, Liz Halloran details the slow moving actions of the Obama administration regarding LGBT rights.

But despite the historic gains made by the nation’s gay community, this year has largely been one of disappointment for many whose hopes were pinned on President Obama’s promise of change after two terms of an openly hostile Republican administration.

It sort of bursts the bubble of excitment from today’s news but Halloran gives a good review. It could practically be used as a guidebook for the work still needed to move forward.

—  Rich Lopez