Stonewall Democrats to host watch party for SOTU, which will include 2 special lesbian guests

Ginger Wallace, left, and Lorelei Kilker

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will host its second annual watch party at the Brick tonight during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address.

The Washington Blade reports that two lesbians are among those who’ve been invited to sit in first lady Michelle Obama’s gallery during the address. They are Lorelei Kilker, an analytical chemist from Colorado who was involved in a landmark sex discrimination case against her employer; and Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace, who’s training to deploy to Afghanistan and is the first service member to have a same-sex partner participate in a pinning-on promotion ceremony.

Others who’ll be sitting in the first lady’s gallery include San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has served as grand marshal of the city’s gay Pride parade and who recently signed a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

The Blade also takes a look at the question of whether Obama will endorse same-sex marriage — or otherwise mention LGBT issues — during his speech.

Stonewall’s watch party begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Brick, 2525 Wycliff, Suite 120.

Read the White House’s bios of Castro, Kilker and Wallace after the jump.

—  John Wright

Off-duty D.C. officer arrested in shooting incident involving transgender women

Washington, D.C. police officer Kenneth Furr was arrested after an incident early Friday morning in which he allegedly stood on the hood of a car while firing multiple shots into the vehicle and yelling “I’m going to kill you.” Three of the car’s five occupants were transgender women, the other two were male friends, according to the Washington Blade. One of the men, identified to the Blade by a representative of D.C.’s Transgender Health Empowerment as a brother to one of the trans women in the car, was shot several timesm and two of the women were injured.

Furr, a 20-year veteran of the police force, has been charged with driving while intoxicated and assault with a dangerous weapon. Furr, who registered a .15 on a breathalyzer test when he was arrested, had allegedly gotten into an argument, about an hour and a half earlier, with the people in the car in a drugstore parking lot. Reports indicate that Furr was firing a Glock 9 and that five shells were recovered at the scene. The shooting took place at a different location, according to WTOP FM 103.5.

The T.H.E. representative told the Blade that the argument started when Furr, appearing to be drunk, approached one of the trans women and solicited her for sex and she turned him down.

Officials said Furr was on restricted duty at the time of the shooting due to a medical condition. His service weapon had been turned into the department, and officials said he was not authorized to carry a firearm when the incident occurred. Reports also indicate that Furr had previously been fired from the police department, but was later reinstated.

The shooting involving Furr came within a month and a half of the murders of two trans women, both of whom were shot to death in separate incidents 11 days apart. The two murders happened within two blocks of each other on Dix Street, according to this report from WTOP FM 103.5.  One woman was walking with a friend on July 20, in the 6100 block of Dix, when they were approached by two young black men. The attackers shot one of the women without provocation, the friend told police. On July 31, a trans woman walking the 6200 block of Dix was shot to death by a young black man who asked her for change and then opened fire.

T.H.E. and the D.C. Trans Coalition held a rally Sunday near the site of the latest shooting. The crowd of about 70 who attended included D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells and D.C. Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes who said she was representing Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Bin Laden dead; early voting begins; Texas House to take up anti-bullying bill

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. In case you’ve been under a rock for the last 12 hours, Osama Bin Laden is dead. Watch President Barack Obama’s statement from Sunday night above. You probably thought there was no gay angle to this story, but The Washington Blade has it.

2. Early voting begins today in local municipal elections. For a complete list of early voting locations in Dallas County, go here. If you haven’t made up your mind yet in the Dallas mayor’s race, all four candidates are scheduled to attend a forum sponsored by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce tonight at Cityplace. I’ll be joining Robert Wilonsky and Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer to moderate the forum, which is free and open to the public. For more info, go here.

3. It’s not too late to contact your state representative and urge them to vote for HB 1942 by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, an anti-bullying bill that’s scheduled for debate on the House floor today. Experts say Patrick’s bill represents the last, best chance for the Texas Legislature to address bullying in this year’s session. Equality Texas, which supports the bill, has been urging members to email their representatives by going here.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Bronx Cafe to close Sunday after 35 years; gay staffer for Rep. Johnson dies

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Bronx Cafe, a staple on the Cedar Springs strip since 1976, will close its doors for good after brunch on Sunday, The Dallas Morning News reports (paid subscription required). The Bronx property — four parcels totaling 30,000 square feet — reportedly has been purchased by a sister company of the adjacent Warwick Melrose Hotel. In a statement, representatives from the hotel declined to comment on the company’s development plans because the sale of the property is not yet final. For more, see Friday’s Dallas Voice (no subscription required).

Chris Crowe, shown at a rally in Washington in March, died Wednesday at 29.

2. Chris Crowe, a gay staffer for Democratic Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, died Wednesday at age 29 as a result of complications from a staph infection that damaged his heart, according to The Washington Blade. Crowe was president of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association. Kat Skiles, spokesperson for the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, said: “It’s devastating to fathom an individual as kind, strong and spirited as Chris leaving us due to troubles with of all things — his heart. We send our deepest condolences to his loved ones and family.”

3. A civil unions bill cleared a Senate committee in Delaware on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Lesislature in Washington state approved a bill to recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships from out of state.

—  John Wright

No marriage vote in Maryland House today; Maryland delegate comes out as gay

Although some had expected the Maryland House of Delegates to vote today on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in that state, The Washington Blade is reporting that the vote won’t be happening today. However, a committee hearing on a measure to prohibit discrimination in employment and housing based on gender identity is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. today.

According to the Blade, the House has adjourned for the day, but not before supporters of the measure were able to kill four hostile amendments that would have weakened the bill or killed it outright.

One of the amendments would have allowed religious institutions to refuse to allow same-sex parents to adopt (defeated by those who pointed out it had nothing to do with marriage), while a second would have renamed the bill the Same-Sex Marriage Act.

A third amendment would have changed the measure into a constitutional amendment, thus forcing it back into committee where it would have died; and the fourth amendment would have allowed parents to take their children out of public school health classes including information on same-sex marriage and would have allowed teachers in public schools to refuse to include such information in their classroom curricula.

The House is set to reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

Del. Peter Murphy of Maryland, left, and former Texas state Rep. Glen Maxey

In other news out of the Maryland House, also from the Blade, Democratic Delegate Peter Murphy on Tuesday night publicly acknowledged that he is gay. Murphy, a divorced father of two with grandchildren, said that his family and colleagues have known he is gay for years, and that he has never denied his sexuality orientation. “I just presumed people knew,” he told the Washington LGBT paper.

Murphy’s announcement brings the total of openly LGBT Maryland delegates to seven. The state also has one openly gay senator.

Texas, by the way, has had only one openly LGBT state lawmaker, and that was Glen Maxey who has been out of office since 2003. Maxey was first elected in 1991 to represent the Austin-area district that had previously been represented by Lena Guerrero. Before running for the House, Maxey was the first executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now known as Equality Texas), and since leaving public office, he has worked as a lobbyist and campaign consultant. He ran for Travis County tax assessor-collector in 2007, but lost the Democratic Primary to incumbent Nelda Wells Spears.

—  admin

Anti-bullying bill introduced in U.S. Senate

Democrat Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and lead co-sposnor Sen. Mark  Kirk, an Illinois Republican, along with 17 other co-sponsors today introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. According to a press release from the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the bill is the first time a Senate bill with bipartisan support has specifically addressed bullying and harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat, is expected to introduce a similar bipartisan bill in the House in the coming weeks.

GLSEN said no federal law or policy exists so far requiring schools to adopt policies addressing bullying. Such laws at the state level vary greatly from state to state. Anti-bullying legislation introduced in this session of the Texas Legislature recently had enumerated lists of protected classes, including sexual orientation and actual or perceived gender identity and expression, removed to make it more palatable to right-wing conservatives who control both legislative houses.

Although versions of the Safe Schools Improvement Act have been introduced in previous congressional sessions, this bill introduced today is the first to specifically address cyber-bullying, according to a report by the Washington Blade.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Craigslist congressman sought trans women; Maryland marriage bill in jeopardy

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Republican Congressman Chris Lee, who abruptly resigned Feb. 9 after Gawker published his shirtless Craigslist photos, wasn’t only looking for cisgender women with whom to have adulterous sex. Gawker now reports that Lee had also posted an ad (above) seeking “passable” transsexual or cross-dressing women, which could explain why he resigned so quickly. It could also seriously complicate Lee’s efforts to smooth things over with his wife.

2. A marriage equality bill that passed the Maryland Senate last week is suddenly in jeopardy in the House, where it was once thought to be assured of passage. The Washington Blade reports that the bill is short of the 71 votes it needs, with at least one former co-sponsor having caved under enormous pressure from the religious right.

3. The King’s Speech was the big winner Sunday night at the Oscars, taking home five awards including best picture, best director and best actor. For a complete list of results from the 83rd annual Academy Awards, go here.

—  John Wright

More good news: Maryland Senate approves marriage equality bill in preliminary vote

The Washington Blade reports:

The Maryland Senate voted 25-22 in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples today. It was a preliminary vote that followed debate over amendments. Final passage of the bill in the chamber could come Thursday.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Tammy Baldwin at Black Tie

Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told The Washington Blade on Tuesday there is “zero chance” of passing pro-equality legislation in the new Republican-controlled House next year. Three days before, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin told attendees at Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner pretty much the same thing.

“The last time Republicans were in control of Congress, we fought hard for consideration of pro-equality measures, and we were rebuffed at every turn,” Baldwin said. “Within the new Republican leadership and among the incoming class of members, I don’t see many champions of gay rights. Now it’s my hope the Republican majority won’t revert to its prior agenda, which forced us to play defense, fighting back anti-equality measures, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Baldwin said that while a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” is still “possible” during the lame duck session of Congress, the same cannot be said for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act.

“Unfortunately the chances of enacting these measures are slim to none for now and for the foreseeable future,” Baldwin said. “Now that doesn’t mean we’re going to throw up our hands and give up. We will keep on moving forward, because LGBT equality is a movement, not a moment in time, and as with every great movement of social change, it requires that we have faith — faith that, using the tools of our democracy we can affect change, even when it’s our government that’s denying us our rights.”

Watch Baldwin’s full speech above.

—  John Wright

Reid: Senate will take up DADT repeal next week

John Wright  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday, Sept. 13, that he plans to bring to the floor next week the 2011 defense spending bill that includes an amendment to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell.” But it remains unclear whether there are enough votes to break a possible Republican filibuster of the bill or stave off unfriendly amendments.

Reid’s plan, first reported by The Washington Blade, represents a major breakthrough for repeal advocates, who fear that if the Senate doesn’t take up DADT repeal next week, it may not happen for several years.

Anti-repeal Republicans are widely expected to pick up seats in mid-term elections, and some senators have indicated they would consider only a temporary defense spending bill during the lame-duck session at the end of this year.

“We are both pleased and relieved that Sen. Reid has decided to schedule the defense authorization bill for floor time next week,” said Alexander Nicholson, founder and executive director of Servicemembers United. “We are fairly confident that we will have the 60 votes to break a filibuster of this bill. It would be shameful for lawmakers to vote to hold up an important and expansive piece of legislation like the defense authorization bill simply because of their opposition to one or two provisions within it.”

Servicemembers United and other groups advocating for DADT repeal had launched a major push in recent weeks, pleading with people to call their senators and urge them to take up the bill. Monday’s announcement comes on the heels of a federal judge’s landmark decision last week declaring the military’s ban on open service unconstitutional, as well as some high-profile DADT repeal advocacy from the likes of Lady Gaga.

“We applaud the Senate Majority Leader’s courage and his statement to bring the defense bill to the floor. Now, we must deliver,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “Repeal proponents may well need 60 votes in the Senate to get to this important debate in September.  We are now in the final stretch and we must prevail. Repeal supporters should not stop calling their senators. Sen. John McCain has been a strong and vocal opponent from the start and it is critical that we beat back any filibuster threat, defeat attempts to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments.”

The House passed the defense authorization bill, including Rep. Patrick Murphy’s DADT repeal amendment, in May. Even if the Senate passes the bill, the policy wouldn’t be repealed right away. After the Pentagon completes a study of the impacts of repeal, due Dec. 1, the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must certify that repeal won’t hurt military readiness.


—  John Wright