GayBingo steps in with West and Boston disaster relief donations

gaybingo-dallas-2013After a week filled with disasters, GayBingo announced that $1 from every ticket sold and 10 percent of all donations made will go to help people in Boston and our neighbors in West.

GayBingo takes place in the Rose Room at S4 tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. This month’s theme is Priscilla Queen of the GayBingo in honor of the show that will be coming to the Fair Park Music Hall in May.

Speaking of disaster relief, West City Councilman (and former KNON DJ) Al Vanek sent word that cash donations may be made online by credit card or a check may be sent to either of the town’s banks:

POINTWEST Bank
200 W. Oak St.
West, Texas 76691

State National Bank
100 N. Main St.
West, Texas 76691

—  David Taffet

El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke among strongest new LGBT allies in Congress

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

The new 113th Congress was sworn into office Thursday. Six openly LGBT representatives will serve in the new House of Representatives, and Tammy Baldwin became the first openly LGBT person to serve in the Senate.

In addition, Texas has five new Democrats in its delegation including strong LGBT allies. Locally, that includes Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.

Elsewhere in Texas, Beto O’Rourke, whose district includes El Paso and far west Texas, worked hard for the LGBT community when he served on the El Paso City Council.

O’Rourke recently sat down with Dallas Voice to talk about a wide range of issues, including his long-running support for LGBT equality.

In his primary campaign, O’Rourke said he called marriage equality a core civil rights issue. He said position on the issue was a reason he unseated incumbent Rep. Silvestre Reyes.

—  David Taffet

Pastor threatens recall drive if DP benefits restored in El Paso; council to vote today

Pastor Tom Brown of Word of Life Church was the driving force behind a ballot measure to repeal DP benefits in El Paso.

The pastor behind a ballot initiative to repeal domestic partner benefits in El Paso is threatening to launch recall petitions against city councilmembers who vote in favor of an ordinance to restore them.

The council is slated to vote on the ordinance this morning that would restore benefits taken away under a ballot initiative approved by voters in November. Mayor John Cook introduced the ordinance last week after a federal judge upheld the ballot initiative.

The El Paso Times reports that today’s vote on the ordinance is expected to be close. Pastor Tom Brown, who spearheaded the ballot initiative, is threatening recall elections against Cook and any council member who votes in favor of the ordinance. From the EPT:

The initiative was intended by its authors just to end benefits for 19 unmarried partners of employees. But it also cost more than 100 others — including members of the City Council — benefits because of the way it was worded.

Brown said the mayor is now trying to override the will of the voters.

“We’re doing it because the mayor is trying to overturn the democratic process,” Brown said on Monday. “This is the first ordinance the people of El Paso have ever passed. If (what Cook is trying to do) works, it will be the end of direct democracy in El Paso.”

Cook said he proposed the ordinance as a matter of principle, not because it’s popular.

“I’m not going to change my position because of threats,” the mayor said.

City Rep. Susie Byrd, who supports Cook’s ordinance, was even more blunt.

“I don’t think public policy should be shaped by bullies or bigots,” she said.

—  John Wright

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

19-year-old kidnapped, sexually assaulted in possible hate crime in Texas' Big Bend area

A 19-year-old West Texas man was kidnapped and repeatedly sexually assaulted on Sunday in a possible hate crime that’s being compared to the 1998 murder of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard.

The Big Bend Gazette, a monthly newspaper in Alpine, reports on its Web site that the victim was kidnapped by two men outside a bar in Terlingua, near the Texas-Mexico border and Big Bend National Park.

The victim was driven in his own vehicle to a remote location in south Brewster County, where the suspects sexually assaulted him and set his car on fire, according to The Big Bend Gazette. The victim was then taken to a private residence in the same area, where he was again sexually assaulted. The victim managed to escape from the home and ran 3 miles across the desert to a highway, where he was eventually found by a sheriff’s deputy at 1 a.m. Monday.

The victim is recovering, and the two suspects have been arrested, according to The Big Bend Gazette. Daniel Martinez, 46, is charged with sexual assault. Kristopher Buchanan, 27, is being held on outstanding warrants from other counties. Additional charges against both suspects are pending.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson didn’t return phone messages left by Dallas Voice on Wednesday.

John Waters, publisher of the Big Bend Gazette, said Wednesday that it’s unclear whether the attack was an anti-gay hate crime. But he said he contacted Equality Texas on Tuesday to get more information about anti-gay hate crimes in the wake of the incident.

Equality Texas political director Randall Terrell, who spoke with Waters, told Dallas Voice on Wednesday that although many of the facts aren’t yet known, “It sounds like Matthew Shepard all over again.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for updates on the case.

—  John Wright

San Angelo mayor's saga puts yet another human face on anti-gay immigration laws

J.W. Lown
J.W. Lown

Remember J.W. Lown, the former mayor of San Angelo who abruptly left office in May to be with his gay lover, an undocumented immigrant? Texas Monthly has a nice follow-up piece on Lown in its September edition, which you can read by going here. The story talks about how most people in the conservative West Texas city — including Lown’s evangelical Christian campaign treasurer, a Bible-thumping colleague on the City Council and even the little old ladies at the bridge club — weren’t really surprised to find out he was gay, and didn’t really care because he was such a good friend and mayor. The author also managed to get in touch with Lown, who recounts from Mexico the touching love story that led to his disappearance just a few days before he was to be sworn in for a fourth term. Above all, Lown’s ordeal serves as a bitter reminder about immigration inequality and the need for the Uniting American Families Act.

“The laws of our country are harsh for illegal immigrants. And I understand that. But same-sex couples don’t have the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Otherwise we could simply have a civil union and cure the problem. That’s not possible.”

—  John Wright