WATCH: DV editor compares Scouts policy to DADT on ‘Inside Texas Politics’

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The Boy Scouts’ new policy allowing gay youth but banning gay adult leaders is the new “don’t ask, don’t tell.” At least that’s what I told Inside Texas Politics during a “My Voice, My Opinion” segment on the Sunday morning news show this week. My 60-second commentary begins shortly after the 8:40 mark in the video below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Dallas Voice senior editor goes all up ‘Inside Texas Politics’

Screen shot 2013-03-18 at 11.47.50 AMBadly in need of a haircut, I appeared on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics on Sunday to discuss a proposed Dallas City Council resolution in support of marriage equality and statewide LGBT employment protections. In my 60-second commentary, I chose not to use the name of the council member who authored the resolution, so as to avoid the issue being politicized, since he’s in a contested race against another incumbent. But host Jim Douglas kind of blew my cover in his intro when he mentioned the council member’s name (even though he left off a letter). Oh well, it is what it is, as they say. Watch my latest “My Voice, My Opinion” at the 8:20 mark in the video below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Why is Texas’ ‘homosexual conduct’ law still on the books?

I went on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics this week to talk about Texas’ “homosexual conduct” law, which remains on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court 10 years ago. Watch my commentary at the 8:30 mark in the video below.

—  John Wright

Rawlings to meet with LGBT leaders

Protest planned outside City Hall over mayor’s refusal to sign marriage pledge

STRAINED RELATIONS | Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, shown during an interview with Dallas Voice last year, is under fire from the LGBT community for not only failing to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage — but also for his handling of the controversy. (Brent Paxton/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Activists from GetEQUAL plan a rally outside Dallas City Hall on Friday night, Jan. 27 to call on Mayor Mike Rawlings to change his mind and sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, Rawlings is set to meet privately Saturday, Jan. 28 with a group of 20-25 LGBT leaders to discuss his decision not to sign the pledge.

However, LGBT activists said this week that their beef with Rawlings, who took office last summer, now extends beyond the pledge itself.

They said they’ve been very alarmed by the language and tone Rawlings has used in defending his decision not to sign the pledge in the media.

Most recently, on Wednesday, Rawlings told WFAA-TV that the marriage pledge — signed by more than 100 mayors across the country, including from all eight cities larger than Dallas — was an example of “getting off track” and that the issue of marriage equality is not “relevant to the lion’s share of the citizens of Dallas.”

“Sadly, I think the more he talks about this in the press, the more he digs in as completely out of touch,” said Patti Fink, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. “He’s really pissing off our community. We really have a much deeper, more profound problem than this pledge. … This mayor is naïve. We’re not irrelevant, and we are a part of the lion’s share.”

Fink noted that DGLA issued a rare warning against voting for Rawlings in 2011.

“We certainly hoped that he would prove us wrong when we put a warning on him last year, but I fear that perhaps that warning was well justified, because it certainly appears from this encounter that he puts business before civil rights, which was the essence of our warning,” Fink said.

Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, said he wasn’t available for comment Thursday. Rawlings told Dallas Voice last week that although he personally supports marriage equality, he didn’t sign the pledge because he wants to avoid social issues that don’t impact the city.

Daniel Cates of GetEQUAL, which is organizing Friday night’s protest, also questioned Rawlings’ handling of the controversy. On Monday, Blackmon told Dallas Voice that Rawlings was skipping a “Meet the Mayor” community meeting in Kiest Park because it would be unfair to subject other residents to an LGBT protest. “He just does not want to put them through that,” Blackmon said.

Cates called such language “damaging and destructive” and said it smacks of “thinly veiled homophobia.”

Rawlings’ decision to skip the Kiest Park meeting appeared to backfire when residents who showed up called him “cowardly” for dodging the protest.

“I think he’s got the worst PR team on earth,” Cates said.

Cates said Friday’s “Sign the Pledge” rally, set for 7 p.m. outside City Hall, will include speakers and a chance for people to address personal notes, including family photos, to the mayor. Cates said he planned to hand-deliver the correspondence to Rawlings at Saturday’s meeting.

“The goal is really for our mayor to finally have his policy match what he says his personal views are,” Cates said. “We are going to continue to apply pressure, and that can stop whenever he wants.”

Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of the Resource Center, organized Saturday’s invitation-only meeting between Rawlings and LGBT leaders.

Cox said she reached out to the mayor’s office last week after his explanation for not signing the pledge “sent up about 100 red flags.”

Saturday’s meeting, which is closed to the media, is scheduled for an hour and a half. In addition to the marriage pledge, Cox said she hopes to address other LGBT-related city issues including transgender health benefits, pension benefits for the domestic partners of employees, nondiscrimination requirements for contractors and mandatory diversity training.

Pam Gerber, one of Rawlings’ prominent LGBT supporters during last year’s campaign, said she’s willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and she hopes something positive will come out of the meeting.

Gerber noted that even though neither DGLA nor Stonewall Democrats endorsed Rawlings, he appeared at a gay Pride month reception his first day in office and later rode in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

“If he absolutely will not sign it, then how do we leverage this opportunity to bring something good about for our community?” Gerber said. “I’m not 100 percent confident that he won’t change his mind, because he is a good man who is incredibly well-intentioned. But if that’s the case, then we need to be pragmatic about it and figure out how to move forward and make gains for the LGBT community, instead of looking at the whole thing as all or nothing.”

Fink seemed less optimistic, and she said no matter what, it’s unlikely the conversation will end this weekend.

“This is an education hill we must climb together as a community and engage him as much as possible,” Fink said. “He is not leaving us behind because we are going to be pulling on the cuffs of his trousers every step of the way, and he will not marginalize the LGBT community of Dallas.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Thanks to opposition, Keller High School GSA outgrows its old digs, moves into Lecture Hall

(From the KHS Gay Straight Alliance's Facebook page)

Just days after we published Andrea Grimes’ cover story about Gay Straight Alliances in the Fort Worth school district, WFAA-TV aired this report about the controversy over the formation of a GSA just up the road in Keller. Turns out some students opposed to the new GSA at Keller High School recently launched a Facebook page called, “Abolish the GSA, Gay-Straight Alliance, at Keller High School.”

“This page is for Keller High School students who disagree with the recent formation of a GSA, or Gay-Straight Alliance, at our school for religious, personal, political and various other such reasons,” states the FB page, which currently has all of 49 fans.

The page claims it isn’t a hate group, but the creator later acknowledged it had offended people and apologized for the misunderstanding. The creator also stated that the page will be taken down — but not for two weeks because Facebook won’t allow it to be removed sooner:

“Just cause I’m shutting the page down doesn’t mean I won’t stop battling the GSA at Keller, this was taken as a hate page, of which it was NOT intended to be, so therefore a page with a misleading message should not be allowed. The GSA WILL be abolished, unless a counteracting straight/heterosexual/conservative club is organized. If y’all think y’all have won, you haven’t. Have a nice day! : )”

Another anti-GSA Facebook page, “Straight Club,” has also popped up. But the Keller school district says the creators of the pages won’t be disciplined because they were created after school hours.

So, how has all of this affected the Keller High School GSA itself? Well, it would appear as though the anti-GSA pages have backfired quite miserably. On Tuesday, the KHS Gay Straight Alliance wrote the following on its own page: “We are growing, and hopefully continue to grow as time moves on. A side effect of this though is we no longer fit in room 145. Meetings will now be held in the Lecture Hall, same date and time, new awesome location.”

Watch WFAA’s report below.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Montana Lance; Troy Aikman; bills targeting gay marriage advance

Montana Lance was bullied because he had a lisp.

1. The parents of a 9-year-old boy who took his own life at school last year have filed a wrongful death suit against the Lewisville (Texas) Independent School District. Montana Lance’s parents claim the district failed to protect him from bullying and harassment. Montana had a learning disability and a lisp, which led to other students harassing him for being “gay,” according to The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). The federal lawsuit was filed on Friday, the one-year anniversary of Montana’s death. Montana (above) was found hanged in the nurse’s bathroom at Stewart’s Creek Elementary School in the Colony. (Watch video below from WFAA-TV.)

2. Former Cowboys QB Troy Aikman, long the subject of gay rumors, has separated from his wife after more than 10 years of marriage. There’s no word on what led to the separation, and we suppose it’s really none of our business, but we can’t help but wonder. Aikman is set to work the Super Bowl on Sunday for Fox.

3. Bills targeting gay marriage advance in Wyoming, Iowa.

—  John Wright

Eddie Bernice Johnson at Stonewall Democrats, and The DMN’s big Stephen Broden cover-up

We’ve had some difficulty posting the above clip of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson speaking at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Then again, if we had posted it last week as originally intended, we wouldn’t have been able to talk about Republican challenger Stephen Broden’s comments two days later saying that a violent overthrow of the government is “on the table” if this year’s elections don’t produce a change in leadership in Washington. Broden, a member of the Tea Party, told WFAA-TV reporter Brad Watson that a violent overthrow is “not the first option,” but is “on the table.”

“We have a constitutional remedy,” Broden told Watson. “And the Framers say if that don’t work, revolution.”

Doesn’t Broden, who’s African-American, realize that if the Tea Party were to take over, racial minorities would be in serious danger? The sad thing is, many in the Tea Party likely agree with Broden. What’s also sad is that The Dallas Morning News had endorsed Broden.

Well, a day later Broden backed away from his comments, and The DMN retracted its endorsement. “In 2010, the only way to bring about change is through the ballot box,” Broden insisted.

The DMN went on to say that its editorial board had decided to withdraw its recommendation of Broden in the race against Johnson, and instead was making no endorsement. Do you mean to tell us that they just now discovered that Broden is a total nutjob? Check out this passage from The DMN’s story:

As Broden’s interview drew more attention, other details of his background emerged Friday.

He confirmed having been arrested in May 2009 outside the White House. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, he was praying in a restricted area and was cited for failing to obey a lawful order.

Broden said he was doing so on the National Day of Prayer to protest President Barack Obama’s decision not to mark the day with a public ceremony.

After a series of warnings, Broden and another pastor were arrested. They were released after paying a small fine – “less than $100,” he said.

Wait a second, do you mean to say that The DMN hadn’t been aware that a candidate for MAJOR office has an arrest record? The newspaper conducts backgrounds checks on all candidates, from Congress to school board, but they hadn’t discovered this? Give me a break. They’ve known about it for a long time, but they chose to withhold it from their readers because they supported Broden.

All you have to do is Google Broden’s name and you’ll come up with several stories about his arrest for praying outside the White House during the National Day of Prayer in 2009, in protest of President Barack Obama’s decision not to participate in the event. According to the stories we found about Broden’s arrest, he told the media that one of the reasons for the protest was his opposition to gay marriage:

“We prayed that God would either stay the hand of judgment or quicken the hearts of men and women of faith for them to recognize that they need to come to the streets, they need to come to the public square and make it clear that we are not in favor of same-sex marriage, we are not in favor of this scourge … [of abortion], we are not in favor of the kind of trickery and gamesmanships that are being played in the house of Congress and the house of the Senate. We are fed up, and we are tired of what this nation is doing and what our leaders are doing relative to their role and responsibility for protecting our freedoms.”

—  John Wright

FWPD apologizes to WFAA for calling report 'incomprehensible' and 'unethical'

The Fort Worth Police Department issued a press release Friday apologizing to WFAA-TV and producer Chris Guillory for calling their reporting about an April 30 murder near the Rainbow Lounge “incomprehensible and unethical.” WFAA’s original May 1 story has since been removed from the station’s website, but here’s a line from it that I lifted for this blog at the time: “Investigators are not sure of the circumstances that left the unidentified man dead in the parking lot of the business in the 600 block of South Jennings Avenue.”

As it turned out, the man’s body was found in the 500 block of South Cannon Street, a few blocks away, prompting FWPD to slam WFAA in an Editor’s Note for linking the crime to last year’s raid on the gay bar. Now then, here’s Friday’s apology from FWPD:

The FWPD apologizes to WFAA-TV producer, Chris Guillory, and to WFAA-TV for calling their initial coverage of the tragic events of April 30, 2010 “incomprehensible and unethical” as well as “purposefully misleading” and would like to thank WFAA-TV for running a correction to the initial story.

FWPD hereby retracts the above-mentioned statements and suggestions. Although the story posted on WFAA-TV’s web site was attributed to Chris Guillory, FWPD acknowledges that Mr. Guillory was not the reporter at the scene.  Any characterizations about the story attributed to Mr. Guillory are specifically retracted.

FWPD will continue to monitor media characterizations of news events for accuracy and will strive to address inaccuracies in a rapid and professional manner.

As far as I know, we’re the only outlet who published the Editor’s Note, although it presumably was distributed to all media. So for the record, we’re sorry too, WFAA, although I’m pretty sure you can’t sue us.

—  John Wright

Police say there's no link between apparent robbery/murder and the Rainbow Lounge

An 72-year-old man found beaten to death last night in Fort Worth was inside a vehicle two blocks from the Rainbow Lounge, not in the bar’s parking lot as reported earlier by a TV station, police said Saturday.

Authorities have established no link between the victim, whom they did not identify, and the gay bar on South Jennings. They said the man’s death appeared to be a result of a robbery, and there is no reason to believe it was a hate crime.

According to a press release from the Fort Worth Police Department, officers were summoned to Hemphill and West Cannon at about 9:45 p.m.

A witness directed officers to a parked vehicle in the 500 block of West Cannon. Inside the gray Mazda four-door, police found a 72-year-old male who’d apparently suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

—  John Wright