Langbehn receives citizens medal at White House

Janice Langbehn, left with President Barack Obama

Janice Langbehn was among 13 recipients of a citizens medal awarded by President Barack Obama on Oct. 20. She was chosen from among thousands of nominations. As a result of her experience of being denied access to her dying partner, the president issued an executive order requiring hospitals to allow gays and lesbians to name a partner as family for visitation and to make medical decisions.

From an email sent to Dallas Voice by the White House:

Janice Langbehn, Lacey, WA
While on vacation with her family in February 2007, Janice Langbehn’s partner, Lisa Pond, suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. Langbehn was refused access to her partner, who had experienced a brain aneurysm and later died alone. With the help of Lambda Legal and GLAAD, she filed a federal lawsuit and worked to get her story out to the nation. Janice’s story received attention from President Obama, who personally apologized to her for the way she and her family was treated. He went on to revise hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples, which went into effect this past January for any hospitals receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds. Langbehn receives the Citizens Medal for her efforts to ensure all Americans are treated equally.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Civil unions in Rhode Island; marriage in Maine; White House Pride reception

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Rhode Island Senate on Wednesday approved a civil unions bill that’s already passed the House, but LGBT groups are calling on Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee to veto the measure because they say its religious exemptions are too broad. For example, church-affiliated hospitals could deny same-sex partners visitation or decision-making, and religious employers could refuse family medical leave.

2. Two LGBT groups are set to announce this morning that they’re launching a citizens initiative to put marriage equality back on the ballot in Maine in 2012. Maine voters rejected same-sex marriage 53-47 percent in 2009 after the Legislature approved it, but new polls show a majority in the state support marriage equality.

3. Speaking at an LGBT Pride Month Reception at the White House on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said, “I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community.” Obama also said he plans to certify DADT repeal “in a matter of weeks, not months.” Watch video of Obama’s full speech below, and read a recap of the event here.

—  John Wright

Resource Center Dallas’ Cece Cox to attend LGBT Pride Month Reception at White House

Cece Cox

Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, will be among those attending the third annual LGBT Pride Month Reception hosted by President Barack Obama next week at the White House. Cox said she was honored to receive an invitation to the reception set for Wednesday, June 29, and plans to take her partner, Barbara Houser, who serves as chief U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Texas.

“I think it speaks very welll of what Resource Center Dallas has done, and our role in being educators and advocates for this community,” Cox said of the invitation. “I’m incredibly honored to represent what Resource Center does.

“There are some serious issues on the table that I will hope there will be some substantive dialogue and answers to,” she added. “There are opportunities for him in regard to making progress for our community.”

The White House typically doesn’t release many details about Pride Moth receptions in advance or provide lists of invitees. The first LGBT Pride Reception in 2009 featured national LGBT leaders from around the country. The second one in 2010 was mostly LGBT youth and leaders from state equality groups.

“This year I’m surmising because of others that I know who are going, it is LGBT community leaders, meaning I think more of a local focus,” Cox said.

Cox said she felt it was important to take Houser.

“She’s a federal employee who has served her country in her position, and is still not entitled to all the rights and benefits that she and I would be entitled to if we happened to be able to be legally married,” Cox said. “I think when there’s an opportunity to represent as a couple, we think that’s important.”

—  John Wright

President Obama coming to Texas

President Barack Obama

According to an email I got today from the White House Press Secretary’s office, President Obama is headed to Texas next week.

The president will travel to El Paso next Tuesday, May 10, and then will stop in Austin before heading back to Washington, D.C.

Although the “official” email from the press secretary’s office said details on the visit would be released when they become available, an Associated Press report published today by the Houston Chronicle indicates that the president is visiting Chamizal National Memorial on the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, and Julie Hillrichs with the Texas Border Coalition said her group, which represents mayors, county judges and economic development commissions in the border area, hopes the president will address border security issues during the trip.

According to the National Parks Service’s website, “The Chamizal Convention of 1963 was a milestone in diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States. Chamizal National Memorial was established to commemorate this treaty, which resulted in the peaceful settlement of a century-long boundary dispute. The Memorial provides visitors with an opportunity to better understand the culture of our borderland.”

The AP report also says President Obama will be stopping in Austin for a fundraiser while he is in the Lone Star State. He’s likely to get a relatively warm welcome in Austin, which is the most liberal city in Texas. But folks in other areas — and maybe even some Austinites — might not be too happy to see him, considering the Obama administration just turned down the state’s plea for a major disaster declaration in the wake of wildfires that have destroyed more than 400 homes and some 2.2 million acres since last November.

—  admin

WATCH: Joel Burns speaks about his brother’s death during Fort Worth City Council meeting

Nearly six months after he delivered his “It Gets Better” speech, gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns broke down again Tuesday during a City Council meeting — this time as he remembered his younger brother who died a few weeks ago.

Cody Burns, 27, of Stephenville was killed March 12 when he lost control of his pickup on a dirt road in Erath County.

Joel Burns

“It’s hard to find meaning in a loss like this, someone who’s 27 years old,” Joel Burns said, his voice wavering. “And I don’t want people to think that it was within God’s plan to take Cody. God didn’t cause that accident. God didn’t need another cowboy in Heaven and took Cody, but I do think it’s within God’s plan that we as human beings are compassionate and console one another through loss, and I have certainly experienced that in recent days, as has my family, and I want to thank so many of you for being there for all of us through this very difficult time.”

Burns also took the opportunity to promote seat belt use. He said his brother was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident because he didn’t believe in them.

“If you’re someone who believes in the myth that seat belts don’t save lives, I want you to reconsider, and I want you to talk to the people that you might know that don’t put on their seat belt,” Burns said. “Again, I don’t know that Cody would be alive today if he had his seat belt on, but I’ll tell you that the guy sitting next to him literally unbuckled his seat belt and he walked away from the wreck.”

Finally, Burns encouraged people to call their loved ones. He said he was at a bullying conference at the White House in Washington a few days before Cody’s death. After the conference, he texted with Cody, who had seen him on the news and wrote, “You didn’t make too much of a fool of yourself.” Joel Burns said he’ll cherish that text as his last communication with Cody.

Burns said he called his mom and dad and sister after the conference, but he put off calling Cody until the weekend because he had another appointment to get to.

“Man would I give anything to have that five-minute phone conversation that I didn’t have, that I put off for a couple days,” Burns said. “So if there is one other thing, other than wearing your seat belt, to take from this, I would encourage you if there’s somebody that it would just break your heart to go through life without having that five-minute conversation with, when this meeting is over you should give them a call.

“Cody’s life was an incredible one, and I will miss him every day,” Burns said. “I will miss him on happy days and I will miss him on sad days. He was indeed a miracle, and I thank everyone for your support in recent days.”

Mayor Mike Moncrief thanked Burns for his comments.

“As you always seem to do, you take a negative, and you try to add a lesson, whether that lesson is seat belts or whether it’s bullying or whether it’s contacting a loved one or someone you care about while you’re thinking about it and not as an afterthought,” Moncrief said. “That is something I think we all appreciate about you. As we adjourn today, we will do so in Cody’s honor.”

—  John Wright

Obamas open conference on bullying at White House

President and Mrs. Obama at White House anti-bully conference

President and Mrs. Obama welcomed educators, parents and students to the White House to discuss bullying this morning. The First Lady made the opening remarks followed by the President.

MRS. OBAMA: Good morning.  Thank you. (Applause.) Everyone, please.  Good morning, and welcome to the White House.

I want to thank all of you for joining us here today to discuss an issue of great concern to me and to Barack, not just as President and as First Lady, but as a mom and a dad. And that is the problem of bullying in our schools and in our communities.

As parents, this issue really hits home for us.  As parents, it breaks our hearts to think that any child feels afraid every day in the classroom, or on the playground, or even online.  It breaks our hearts to think about any parent losing a child to bullying, or just wondering whether their kids will be safe when they leave for school in the morning.

—  David Taffet

Burns to attend White House anti-bullying summit

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host an anti-bullying conference at the White House on Thursday, March 10. City councilman Joel Burns will attend.

Students, parents and teachers will discuss how to stop bullying with the president and first lady. They issued an invitation on facebook to join the conversation about stopping bullying at

The president and first lady will open the meeting in the East Room of the White House. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will participate in the afternoon.

Topics listed for discussion in smaller groups include in-school policies, in-school programs, community-based programs, cyber bullying and campus-based programs. confronts the issue of bullying against the LGBT community squarely addressing the issue on the site’s front page and linking to a section of resources that begins with a statement of rights.

A 2009 survey of 7,000 LGBT youth found that:

  • Eight in 10 LGBT students had been verbally harassed at school
  • Four in 10 had been physically harassed at school
  • Six in 10 felt unsafe at school
  • One in five had been the victim of a physical assault at school


—  David Taffet

White House bullying conference set

According to an e-mail sent this afternoon from the office of the White House press secretary, President Barack Obama, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting a Conference on Bullying Prevention at the White House on Thursday, March 10. The conference will include “students, parents, teachers and others” from “communities from across the nation who have been affected by bullying as well as those who are taking action to address it.”

The announcement said participants will have the chance to talk to the president and “representatives from the highest levels of his administration” on how to work together to prevent bullying.

—  admin

President Obama appoints 1st male, 1st openly gay White House social secretary

Jeremy Bernard (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Jeremy Bernard, a native Texan formerly on staff at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, today became the first male AND the first openly gay person to serve as social secretary in the White House,according to this report in the Los Angeles Times.

Bernard worked in the financial industry in California and was a consultant for Obama’s 2008 campaign. He also served on the LGBT Advisory Committee for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office, the L.A. Police Department and the mayor’s office. And he’s done work on behalf of A.N.G.L.E — Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality — and the National Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

In appointing Bernard, President Obama said, “Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People’s House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways.”

—  admin

‘A-List’ casting in Dallas! Now you can be FAMOUS for being a selfish jerk!

Admit it: You watch The Real Housewives because you see yourself in those characters. Are you kept by a “big papa” like Kim? A crazy, in-your-face bitch like NeNe? A big-haired, table-up-ending psycho like Teresa? Or maybe you crashed a White House party. Only you could do it better and be fabulous at the same time. And with more product in your hair.

Well, now’s your chance.

As Logo’s The A-List: New York winds down its popular inaugural season, the company that produces it is expanding its franchise a la the Housewives. That means new cities, and first among them: Dallas. (Los Angeles is also casting.)

If you want to be the new Reichen (although, let’s face it: You’re probably more an Austin), you can go to and fill out a questionnaire. Casting agents will then be in town from Dec. 6 through 23 doing on-site interviews to find the gays they want to follow for a few months.

Here are some of the questions you get to answer (and some suggested responses guaranteed to get you noticed):

• “Have you ever been arrested?” (Answer: It’s not that I was arrested — it’s what I did for the arresting officer in the squad car that got my record cleared) …

• “What does your significant other do for a living?” (Trust me: Being my significant other is a full-time job) …

• “Are you sexually active?” (No, I just lie there) …

• “Are you trying to have children!” (Yes! I’ve been fucking my boyfriend daily for a year but he’s still not pregnant … too bad I went to public school in Texas and didn’t get decent sex ed) …

• “Why do you think you are A-List?” (I’m self-absorbed and shallow, and gossip constantly about others while failing to see those same traits in myself … Why? What have you heard?)

We have a weiner! See ya on TV!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones