East coast victories for LGBT candidates

While we’re waiting here in Houston for the results of today’s municipal elections the Victory Fund reports of victories for LGBT candidates on the East coast where polls closed an hour earlier than Texas.

State Del. Adam Ebbin (D-District 30) was elected to Virginia’s state Senate today, making him the Commonwealth’s first openly gay senator.

“I am honored by the trust the voters have showed in me,”  Ebbin said in a statement. “During the campaign, I listened to the voters’ concerns and will work on behalf of the values we all share: improving our public schools, expanding our transit system and cleaning up Virginia’s environment. I will make sure their voices are heard…”

“Alex Morse, a 22-year-old graduate of Brown University, has just been elected mayor of Holyoke, Mass., a city of nearly 40,000 residents near Springfield…”

“Zach Adamson has won his race for city council in Indianapolis, giving the city its first openly LGBT city council member.”

“An incumbent on the Largo, Fla., City Commission who attacked her openly gay opponent over his sexual orientation has lost her reelection bid to him tonight. Michael Smith defeated Mary Gray Black, who has a history of anti-gay and anti-trans activism on the commission.”

—  admin

Defining Homes • Ask the EXPERTS

With the economy still in a wicked mess, reports are that the latest trend in homebuying is not buying. Renters are on the rise. But are they? Real estate source Inman reported in January that it is cheaper to buy in the majority of the country’s larger cities. Keith Jurow reported last year on World Property Channel that a Harris Interactive survey found renting a better option. So which is it? We asked locals in the industry how the trends are swaying the Dallas housing market and the frustrations behind them.

……………………

Michael Litzinger

Michael Litzinger
William Davis Realty Uptown

The trend has affected my business significantly. The firm I recently moved to seems to be more in tune with today’s market. Their streamlined, online process requires less paperwork which makes it better for the client, a much quicker turn around for me and better for the environment.

Leasing does move property these days, and I am just glad the industry moves in some fashion whether it’s leasing or selling.

I do think the trend has affected us locally somewhat, but not nearly as severely as in most other areas. I still feel good about the Dallas market.  I know Realtors in other areas that can’t say the same.

Buyers are decreasing to some degree. Even with low interest rates, I’ve had a lot of buyers come to me and then disappear.

 

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Derrick Dawson

Derrick Dawson
Texas Pride Realty

As an active and producing Realtor also working in property management, I’d say the rental trend has picked up significantly, but that doesn’t mean it’s been ideal for property renters/owners or for the multi-family industry. The rental market has been stable but faces some challenges based on broken leases due to financial hardship or unemployment. Many are playing it safe by downsizing or combining rental homes based on economic conditions, being fearful of keeping their jobs and saving for the future.
Today is a buyer’s market and an ideal time to get out of the rent race. The downfall to the buyer’s market that I have seen personally is buyers and investors taking advantage of desperate people in today’s markets, possibly causing detriment to individuals or families in their time of need but also bringing down values in those areas making it harder for others to sell.

 

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Dan Flynn

 

Dan Flynn
Dave Perry-Miller InTown

The trend of leasing over buying has changed the way I preview properties in my area. Leasing is so hot now, I’ve looked at rentals and try to know the different apartment communities close by. Now I am much faster to respond to leasing needs.

I process far more leases to build my future list of clients. I try to educate and prepare them for the buying process down the road. Using a Realtor to find the perfect place to lease makes a lot of sense for those wanting to buy in the future but also for those who don’t really want to do the legwork.

I recently represented a seller who could not sell his property for the amount he was hoping for. Finding qualified buyers in his market and price range wasn’t easy. Another Realtor’s client was interested in leasing the property so

I had to have that conversation with my seller. The seller decided to go with the lease. While sales are still going strong, leasing has increased. While this really is the time to buy, I think all the media attention scares buyers. Potential buyers need to know that the market is stable here and we are one of the cities leading the nation in sales right now.  Go buy a house now or pay more for it later both in price and interest rates.

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Keith M. Thomas

Keith M. Thomas
1111 Apartment Locators

Although the economy has definitely affected us here, it is worse in other areas of the country. Dallas continues to grow and so I feel the trend’s impact on Dallas has been positive.

My company is a fully licensed real estate brokerage company and we handle all residential and commercial real estate transactions yet, our primary business is apartment locating. We want to maintain focus on renters, but we’ve created strategic partnerships with other real estate companies and have a referral program with them. We work closely with our clients to help with all of their real estate needs.

For homes that have reasonable mortgages there is good news. In Dallas, the rental market has significantly gone up, especially from 2010 to present to a  94-97 percent occupancy rate.

Buyers become renters for two reasons: First, they are able to get a nicer home for a lower monthly payment. And second, it doesn’t make sense to buy unless you’re planning to stay. However, buyers are increasing, oddly enough. MetroTex Association of Realtors reported that last August 2010 there were 1,223 properties sold and this August 2011 there were 1,485.

It’s a landlords’ market. Rents are at a premium and good ones go fast. When I show my clients rentals, they want to think about it, I encourage them to act quickly, because the unit is gone within a day or two. Why should homeowners take a loss on waiting for a qualified buyer, when they can rent quickly and hold out for the market to improve?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pet of the week • Ramona

Ramona is a 4-month-old, white/black domestic long-haired kitten. She is the last of her litter waiting to find a family to call her own. She is extremely sweet and loves to crawl up on your shoulder and meow in your ear. Please come and meet Ramona at Operation Kindness.
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Many other great dogs and cats are available for adoption from Operation Kindness, located at 3201 Earhart Drive, 1 street south of Keller Springs and 2 blocks west of Midway Road, in Carrollton. The no-kill shelter is open 6 days a week: Monday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Tuesday; Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The cost is $110 for cats, $135 for kittens, $150 dogs over 1 year, and $175 for puppies. The adoption cost includes the spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, vaccinations, heartworm test for dogs, leukemia and FIV test for cats, and more. Those who adopt two pets at the same time receive a $20 discount. For more information, call 972-418-PAWS, or visit OperationKindness.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

UPDATE: Police release description of missing vehicle belonging to NE Dallas murder victim

Earlier we told you about the two men found dead in a burned Northeast Dallas apartment. Police are still not releasing the victims’ names because their bodies were so badly damaged in the fire that they’re waiting on the medical examiner to positively identify them. However, police have now released a description of the vehicle belonging to one of the victims, which is apparently missing. The vehicle is a silver, four-door 2002 Saturn L200, with a license number of 5CVDN. If you see it, call 911.

Again, police have confirmed that they believe the two victims were a gay couple, but they aren’t treating the murders as a hate crime. Police also say they don’t know the motive for the crime, prompting some to question how a hate crime can be ruled out. We posed this question to DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse:

“Detectives will not elaborate at this time,” Janse told Instant Tea. “It may hamper the investigation.”

—  John Wright

American Family Association Not Thrilled Religious Hospitals Can No Longer Keep Gays In The Waiting Room

Any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid financing must allow LGBTs to see their loved ones just as they would for hetero visitors beginning Jan. 16, the Department of Health and Human Services announced, solidifying President Obama's April mandate. A written policy is required, stipulating legal relationships are no longer a factor in granting visitation. Guess who's less than thrilled?

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—  admin

Still Waiting For Peter LaBarbera’s Follow-On Piece On “Obama-Care” And “Sex Change Operations”

Recently, Peter LaBarbera wrote a piece for his Americans For Truth About Homosexuality website, entitled New HRC Corporate Scorecard Demands Coverage of Transsexual ‘Sex-Change’ Operations. (I responded in the PHB piece More “Truth” On “Sex Change Operations”?)

Image: Peter LaBarbera; Link: 'Sometimes you feel like a nut..'In LaBarbera’s October 23, 2010 piece, he stated:

Next week: how the Obama administration is telling LGBT activists to lobby for “sex change” operations to be covered under “Obama-care.”

By my math, “next week” has pretty much come and gone; today (November 6, 2010) is the last day of “next week.”

But hey, LaBarbera’s piece on LGBT Activists, “Obama-care,” and “sex change operations”  would be better late than never, right?

If you’d still like to read that Americans For Truth About Homosexuality piece on how “the Obama administration is telling LGBT activists to lobby for ‘sex change’ operations to be covered under ‘Obama-care’,” you can go to the Americans For Truth About Homosexuality Contact Us webpage, and get the information on how to call its Executive Director, send the Executive Director email, or send the Executive Director snail mail.

Hey, I’m about darn sure Executive Director of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (and you knew that the Executive Director was Peter LaBarbera, right?) would like to hear how this delayed piece on LGBT Activists, “Obama-care,” and “sex change operations” is of interest to you, and you’re waiting with baited breath to read it.

I know I’m still waiting to read this upcoming piece — I’m sure the piece is going to be a hoot!
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Waiting for Rights Never Works

It’s been a common mantra coming from the Democratic Party, the Obama Administration, large beltway equality groups like the Human Rights Campaign, and many others for years: just be patient and wait.  waiting-list.jpgWe’ll get to you and your basic civil rights eventually, but we’re a little busy.  Stop griping and hop on board or you’ll be a wedge distraction that makes us lose elections.

So how has that plan worked out?

The LGBT community has been blamed, cajoled, insulted, courted, and ignored depending on whether our votes and dollars are needed, yet when it comes time for real leadership on issues that matter to basic, day-to-day rights, we are told to wait. Now, after the disastrous midterm elections, we’ve lost the chance of a generation to push forward on civil rights and equality for LGBT people.  

We waited and once again got burned.

In the majority of states, we can still be fired, kicked out of homes, or denied services just for being gay.  Want to talk about jobs, jobs, jobs?  Make it so I don’t lose mine for mentioning I went to the grocery store with my husband over the weekend.  Want to talk wars, terrorism, and national defense? Stop kicking out qualified LGBT service members to coddle bigots in the military.  Want to talk taxes and “small government”? Stop overtaxing my family because the federal government refuses to recognize my marriage and wants to tell me who I can love.

These are real issues that LGBT people face every day.  These are things that impact the lives of those that can’t afford to buy their way around discrimination with privilege and cold-hard cash that allows them to “vote with their wallet” over basic human rights.  To tell us to wait is to tell us to not live our lives fully and with the confidence in basic things needed to survive.
We’ve seen the devastating effect that societal oppression of LGBT people has on younger generations as bullying and suicide stories hit the news everyday.  Yet have we moved beyond simply lamenting these loses and worked to force change that would make their lives easier?  Have we done all we can or are we simply waiting?

We’ve seen the popping up of groups that go around the “conventional wisdom” of the larger equality organizations, like the Prop 8, DOMA, and DADT court challenges that look to topple bigoted laws that congress, political leaders, and pet lobbyists refuse to tackle or show real leadership on.  These very court cases have been mocked and looked at with disdain by politicos, even as they force the progress we need.

We’re at a crossroads.  We can continue to watch our rights traded away in the name of political “compromise” or we can refuse to wait.  We can say that delay is simply being complicit to bigotry.  We can demand action and leadership even as we take the fight to the courts and the American public ourselves.  

If we don’t learn the lessons of the past, history is doomed to repeat itself.  We can no longer be patient.  We can no longer wait.  Equality can happen, but we have to carry the load- each and every one of us.  Patience in politics is a fallacy and the death of progress.  We have to be agitated and engaged.  We have to apply pressure.  Waiting is never an option and we must never accept it.

We have to make our issues a priority, because no one else will.  Lesson learned.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Waiting for provisional ballots in non-discrimination measures in Bowling Green

The right-wing effort failed on at least one of the measures to repeal two non-discrimination ordinances in Bowling Green. The margins are very close, but our side won one and is waiting for provisional ballots in the other:

An attempt to repeal two city ordinances that expanded anti-discrimination protections had mixed results in Bowling Green Tuesday.

By a narrow margin in unofficial results, voters upheld an ordinance that expands the list of protected classes in the city’s fair housing code to include sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, and marital status, among others.

But by a similarly slim margin, voters repealed a second ordinance that protected those same groups from discrimination in employment, at business establishments and educational institutions, and for city services.

I’m hearing that there are 500 provisional ballots still to be counted. Most of those are Bowling Green students. So, this could still be a double victory.

The Toledo FOX channel reported that the anti-gay forces thought they had won:

The victory party was short lived Tuesday night for the opposition to the anti-discrimination ordinances in Bowling Green.

While the initial “100 percent” of the votes on the Wood County Board of Elections’ Web site showed both ordinances being handily rejected by voters, those results were changed around 11 p.m. when early voting numbers were added in.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Tragedy waiting to happen? Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia allow loaded guns in bars

Looking at the states in question, perhaps we should not be surprised, but seriously, how is this a good idea ANYWHERE in this gun-loving, hair-trigger temper, liquored-up society? (NYT):

Happy-hour beers were going for at Past Perfect, a cavernous bar just off this city’s strip of honky-tonks and tourist shops when Adam Ringenberg walked in with a loaded 9-millimeter pistol in the front pocket of his gray slacks.

Mr. Ringenberg, a technology consultant, is one of the state’s nearly 300,000 handgun permit holders who have recently seen their rights greatly expanded by a new law – one of the nation’s first – that allows them to carry loaded firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

…The new measures in Tennessee and the three other states come after two landmark Supreme Court rulings that citizens have an individual right – not just in connection with a well-regulated militia – to keep a loaded handgun for home defense.

…State Representative Curry Todd, a Republican who first introduced the guns-in-bars bill here, said that carrying a gun inside a tavern was never the law’s primary intention. Rather, he said, the law lets people defend themselves while walking to and from restaurants.

The purported mitigating factor here is the gun-toter cannot drink alcohol in the establishment. If these laws are challenged in states with big urban city centers and gun restrictions fall by the wayside, you can imagine the chaos that will ensue.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright