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Posts for September, 2010

Texas School Officials Suggest Parents To Blame for Asher Brown’s Suicide

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2010

After thirteen-year-old Asher Brown committed suicide after years of bullying at Hamilton Junior High in Cypress, Texas, school officials first claimed that they didn’t know Asher was being bullied. Asher’s parents however deny that. “That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars.”

Now school officials are trying a new and far more loathsome and disgusting tactic:

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD said the district’s counseling and psychological teams would be expanding crisis services for students at Hamilton.

“The district, together with the Hamilton community, is saddened by the death of Asher Brown,” the statement read. “A district administrative team is conducting a thorough and involved investigation into the allegations of bullying that have been made since the death of Asher Brown. Although the investigation is not completed, the initial findings indicate that Asher’s personal and family histories were very complicated.” [Emphasis mine]

Meanwhile seventeen-year-old student Jayron Martin has come forward again to remind everyone about the bullying he experienced in the very same school district just last November, when he was beaten with a metal pole. He suffered a concussion from those injuries. That attack occurred after Jayron reported that he had been threatened to two assistant principals, who did nothing to protect him.

How many red flags should administrators be allowed to ignore before they’re held criminally liable?

ABC News Covers Recent Suicides

Jim Burroway

September 29th, 2010

Here is ABC New’s extra web coverage of Dan Savage’s YouTube project, “It Gets Better”:

And speaking of “It Get’s Better,” here’s another contribution from a Muslim gay teen. He grew up in a Shia Pakistani family, and he says to hang in there. It Gets Better:

YouTube Preview Image

Just another dead gay kid, age 13

Timothy Kincaid

September 28th, 2010

On another website I’ve been having a conversation with some folk who “do not perceive homosexuality to be a normal or healthy human variation or way of living.” And they support Focus on the Family in their opposition to targeted anti-bullying programs because such programs are all just a cover to “pass off pro-gay political fluff as curriculum in the guise of bullying prevention.”

And because they support the cultivation and continuance of a culture of disapproval towards homosexuality, they oppose anything that might suggest to kids that it’s ok to be gay. They even fear that telling kids not to pick on others due to sexual orientation might make some vulnerable questioning kid identify with being gay and send him on a path to sin and misery.

I could understand such fears if we were talking in the abstract. I could consider the fear and ignorance behind their concerns and try and find a way to assure them that just because a school accepts gay kids does not mean that it rejects those who believe that sexuality outside of the confines of a bronze age morality code is sinful.

But then I read stories like this one. (Houston Chronicle)

Asher Brown’s worn-out tennis shoes still sit in the living room of his Cypress-area home while his student progress report — filled with straight A’s — rests on the coffee table.

The eighth-grader killed himself last week. He shot himself in the head after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment from four other students at Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District.

Brown, his family said, was “bullied to death” — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class, his mother and stepfather said.

I am so f*cking sick of this. This little boy, 13 years old, was trying to come to terms with his sexuality (he had just come out to his family). His parents were trying their hardest to help. But they could not get his school to support them.

School district spokeswoman Kelli Durham said no students, school employees or the boy’s parents ever reported that he was being bullied.

That statement infuriated the Truongs, who accused the school district of protecting the bullies and their parents.

“That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars.”

And this just makes me insane.

On the last week of his life he was kicked down a flight of stairs. When he tried to retrieve his book bag, other students kicked his books away. The school “turned up no witnesses.”

But is isn’t just the administrators that are morally responsible for Asher’s death. It is also all of those “good Christian people” who support Focus on the Family and their campaign to prevent schools from protecting gay kids.

I can understand how someone might not want a program that “promotes homosexuality.” But I cannot for the life of me understand their priorities. Is it really all that important to them that no one at Asher Brown’s school tell him that he’s okay and stop other students from tormenting him?

Because what we are seeing is the alternative. And I cannot fathom how you could possibly decide that it’s better for small gay children to die than support them.

UPDATE: reader tobyk reminds us that this is the same school district whose administrators refused to help Jayron Martin, a gay kid who was left with a concussion after being beaten with a metal pole.

HIV considered “dangerous weapon”

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2010

Back in October, a fellow by the name of Christopher Everett proved that the gay community is not exempt from including absolutely disgustingly foul creatures. From the arrest affidavit:

On October 20th, 2009 XXXX was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Belton, Texas by Forensic Interviewer, Susan Schanne-Knobloch. During the interview XXXX advised that Christopher Everett invited him to “hang out” at Christopher’s home on the evening of October 16th, 2009. They arranged to meet by using their cell phones. XXXX left his home without his parent’s knowledge and Christopher Everett picked him and they arrived in Copperas Cove shortly after midnight.

Once they arrived at Christopher Everett’s home Christopher began kissing and touching him. XXX then explained that before Christopher Everett took XXXX back home Christopher Everett had penetrated XXXX anally (without the protection of a condom). XXXX also added that Christopher Everett knew his age which XXXX divulged when they first began to communicate through an internet social site called “grinder”. XXXX added that after the incident occurred he learned (through a friend who had also communicated with Christopher Everett through “Grinder”) that Christopher Everett claims that he is HIV Positive.

Everett is 26, XXXX is 16. There is no report on XXXX’s seroimmunity status but I hope that he did not become infected.

From KXXV:

Everett was in the Coryell County jail Tuesday in lieu of a $50,000 bond. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault with deadly weapon, an offense punishable by five to 99 years or even life in prison.

Now is one of those times when I’m glad that Texas is not lenient on criminals. I’ve seen too many kids who trusted a foul creature like Everett before they were old enough or wise enough to know better.

UPDATE:

Reader PR brought a follow-up story to our attention which adds additional detail (kxxv):

During an interview with investigators, Everett admitted he was infected with HIV and did not inform the teen.

He pleaded guilty to Aggravated Assault with A Deadly Weapon in June, with the deadly weapon being the virus.

Everett’s attorney argued for parole, because the victim’s blood tests haven’t tested positive for HIV. State prosecutors said the act was like “pointing a loaded gun at someone, and then it not going off.”

Everett was sentenced in the 52nd District Court to 15 years in prison and must pay a $3,000 fine.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Why the Cornyn meeting matters

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

July 30th, 2010

No one does homophobia like a Texas Republican. This year’s party platform is so ragingly anti-gay that it looks like it could have been drafted by any of the colorful people who make a living off of scaring folks about The Homosexual Agenda.

So, then, why is Texas Senator John Cornyn speaking at a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay group? And, more importantly, what does this say about the current and future state of gay politics within the Republican Party?

For many conservative Republicans, Log Cabin is seen as an enemy to the Party. They are not “real” Republicans but rather (in the words of American Family Association’s Robert Knight) a Trojan Horse:

“It’s important to understand that the Log Cabin Republicans aren’t really a Republican group; they’re a group of homosexual activists who are inside the Republican Party, trying to neutralize the party on the issue of homosexual activism,” he explains. “It’s sort of a voluntary disarmament that they’re advising the Republicans to undertake.”

And for some Republicans, an organization of gay Republicans is no more valid than a club of Republican murders or Republican pedophiles. They would no more acknowledge Log Cabin’s existence than they would of the Republican Socialists Club – it’s an impossible contradiction in terms.

Conservative Republicans – or more accurately, purist Republicans – have long pretended that LCR didn’t exist. And when they did mention the group, it was as an illustration of Who We Are Not Like or in mockery. The term RINO (“Republican In Name Only”) is often applied as a slur against fiscally conservative people who didn’t follow the party’s social agenda.

And this is why it is important that Log Cabin receive official recognition from ranking officials within the Party and by Party structure. As the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn’s presence provides authentication, it says “you are real Republicans.” It says that Robert Knight is wrong, the disagreements between Cornyn and Log Cabin are defining.

And that is a very important acknowledgment. And it adds to a process that is changing the dynamic. Instead of being outsiders, vile scum whose opinions do not even matter (who cares what a rapist has to say?), gay Republicans are becoming family with whom they do not agree. Instead of being dismissed out of hand, your voice can be heard even if it does not immediately persuade change.

And, even more importantly, it sends a message to moderate members of the party that being friendly with gay activists is not political suicide. It says that you can consider pro-gay perspectives and still be considered “a good Republican”. (And I think that we have been seeing this for a while without giving it proper attention).

What will this do on a personal level? Will this shift Cornyn’s opinions or votes? Probably not. But it may change his future language.

Will this result in a change in policy? Probably not. But it may make it less easy for the American Family Association to make wild claims about “what gays are like”. And it may make it more acceptable for rogues to “just disagree” with the party position and support our community on some issues.

Our community says over and over and over that coming out is the most important thing to bring about social advancement. Nothing changes minds more than exposure to a real living gay person whom you like.

And that is also true in politics. Nothing – absolutely nothing – will change Republican Party positions on gay issues more quickly or more effectively than being exposed to gay people. And that is why this is such a tremendously important step.

Texas GOP vice-chair defends party’s extremist anti-gay platform

Timothy Kincaid

July 12th, 2010

If the term “hate-filled homophobic bigotry” does not accurately describe the platform of the Republican Party in Texas, then it’s a term without meaning.

Not content with clauses about the “protection of marriage” or which express dismay at what “the children” are being taught about homosexuality, the Texas GOP makes no bones about what they feel about gay people. They want to take away your children, deny you health insurance, and throw you in jail.

Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

But if you think that sounds harsh, well Texas Republican Party Vice Chair Melinda Fredricks knows who to blame: you. If you weren’t so uppity, trying “to force acceptance, affirmation and normalization of homosexual behavior,” then she wouldn’t have to put you in your place.

From The Courier (which her husband publishes)

Although Fredricks admits she cannot speak for the entire Republican Party, she believes the strong statement was a response to an aggressive homosexual political agenda, including an attempt to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass laws forcing churches to consider hiring homosexuals. Fredricks said “a large portion of our base is Christian, and we believe that homosexuality is contrary to what God says is appropriate behavior.

“People feel threatened that their children have to be taught that it’s an equal lifestyle to heterosexuality,” she said. “At the same time, you can’t say people are subhuman. (Homosexuals) still deserve the dignity entitled to them.”

I’m not sure I quite see the distinction between “subhuman” and the way in which Fredricks views gay people. And I’m not sure just how much dignity one can have when denied even the most basic of freedoms.

A Texas GOP platform that sounds too familiar

Timothy Kincaid

June 22nd, 2010

The Texas Republican Party has a long proud history of blatant homophobia. In 1998, Log Cabin, the gay Republican group, was denied booth space at the state convention. At the 2000 Republican National Convention when gay congressman Jim Kolbe took to the podium to speak about foreign policy, the delegates from Texas, in a deliberate show of disrespect, began “praying” instead of listening. Even though Texas GOP’s favorite son George W. Bush built his 2004 campaign partly on homophobia, he looks downright tolerant when compared to his fellow Republicans back home.

But now the Texas Republicans have topped themselves. In this season of ‘who can be the looniest’, the GOP has come up with a state party platform that sounds as though it was written in Kampala. Here’s what the Texas Republicans have to say about you:

  • Gay people are a threat to straights.
  • Gay people are trying to impose their values through “well-funded, vigorous political and judicial attempts.”
  • Homosexuality “tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases.”
  • Denying civil rights and equality to gay people “promotes health”
  • Schools should not be allowed to present a non-negative message about homosexuality.
  • Gay people should be denied marriage.
  • States which have chosen to allow gay people to marry should be forced to revoke such marriages.
  • No rights or benefits should be allowed or granted to domestic partners.
  • Tax laws should give preference to married heterosexuals.
  • Gay people should have their children taken from them.
  • Gay people should be denied health insurance.
  • Sodomy laws should be reinstated.
  • Those who attack gay people should not face criminal or civil penalties.
  • It should be a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.

I do not wish to downplay the situation in Uganda or to suggest that the level of hatred and fear in Texas comes anywhere near the extent to which our friends in Uganda are threatened. But all of this rhetoric sound far too familiar to me.

The Republicans in Texas who wrote this platform truly to fear you and hold deep animus towards you.

The section on “STRENGTHENING FAMILIES, PROTECTING LIFE AND PROMOTING HEALTH” is included after the break

Read the rest of this entry »

Texas Baptists kick out church that isn’t anti-gay enough

Timothy Kincaid

May 25th, 2010

Jesus hates you, this I know,
for my preacher tells me so.
And if some church should start to doubt,
we’ll just friggin’ kick them out!

Randel Everett

Back in March we told you about Royal Lane Baptist Church in North Dallas who dared (the gall of them) to describe themselves as “a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.”

Well the board at the Baptist General Convention of Texas nearly choked on their Krispy Kremes. Because if there is one thing that a Texas Baptist fears, it’s being thought of as tolerant, open minded, or willing to let others come to a differing interpretation of Scripture.

So when they heard that Royal Lane had actually ordained a gay deacon, they polished up their kicking boot. (Dallas Morning News)

The state’s largest Baptist group officially broke ties today with Royal Lane Baptist Church in North Dallas, citing the church’s acceptance of openly gay deacons.

By an overwhelming margin, the executive board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas voted not to accept funds from Royal Lane. The same resolution asked the church to stop indicating in publications that it is a BGCT affiliate.

Randel Everett, executive director of the BGCT, called the decision “painful” but not difficult.

Of course it might be a bit more difficult for those who it actually impacts.

Doug Washington, a Royal Lane deacon and BGCT executive board member, spoke against the resolution. He said the church has two gay deacons, and he praised them as outstanding leaders.

“To say something is wrong with them is to say God made a mistake,” Washington said. “I can’t buy into that.”

The BGCT requires that executive board members and employees be part of a church in good standing with the denomination. Washington said he would be resigning from the board.

Two Royal Lane members are BGCT employees, and Everett said they would have to find another church if they want to keep their jobs.

It is hard to imagine anyone less Christ-like than Randel Everett. I think Royal Lane Baptist Church should be proud to no longer be affiliated with the likes of him.

Yes, Jesus hates you,
Yes, Jesus hates you.
Yes, Jesus hates you,
my preacher tells me so.

No Corpus Christi in Texas

Timothy Kincaid

March 27th, 2010

corpus christiIn 1997, playwright Terrence McNally wrote Corpus Christi. The play is a Christ tale, not intended to revise the historical and theological Jesus, but to present a parallel adapted to a more current time wherein Joshua, the Christ figure, and his disciples confront societal rejection and internal conflicts in ways that are reminiscent of, but not identical to, those recorded in the Gospels.

Christ tales are not uncommon. Nor do they generally generate controversy. For example, while C.S. Lewis denied that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is an allegory (smart him), it is clearly a Christ tale, and one which has come to be revered by Christians of all denominations. When the Waldon/Disney film was released in 2005, religious reviewers praised the production and churches organized viewings.

But McNally introduced one element in his tale that has resulted in protests, death threats, and even a fatwa. While Christians could handle an animal Christ figure, they were horrified that McNally’s Joshua and his disciples are gay. And they have fought nearly every production of the play.

Corpus Christi (latin for “body of Christ”) is set in the 1950s in the Texas town where McNally was raised, Corpus Christi. So it is only fitting that the latest flap over the play come from Tarleton State University in Texas.

In Tarleton’s advance directing course, students each select a play and produce an abbreviated workshop production. John Jordan Otte, a gay Christian, selected McNally’s play. And the Earth went spinning off it’s orbit, the stars crashed from the sky, and the seas rose up and drowned millions. Or so you would think from the public reaction.

In came the letters and the demands that the school ban this student from blaspheming. Protests were organized and the president of the university wrote an op-ed to both denounce the play and express its limitations (Star Telegram):

The university does not endorse the play.

The play is not a university-sponsored production in the Fine Arts series at Tarleton.

The play is a project for a class. It is not intended for the public any more than a student’s math assignment.

The performance is part of the student’s project. It is not open to the general public. The audience includes only the class members and relatives invited to attend.

The play is a class assignment in an advanced directing course. Students were allowed to pick any play to produce an abbreviated workshop performance.

Direct costs associated with the production are paid for by the student director.

The actors are volunteers, and no student is required to be in the play.

Any student in the class who finds the material objectionable will not be required to attend.

President Dottavio called the play “offensive, crude and irreverent” and said it had “no artistic or redeeming quality”. He mad it clear that were it not for that pesky First Amendment, he’d put an end to it. And to further discourage viewing, the production was rescheduled and attendance was restricted.

The production called “Corpus Christi” was to be performed, at the school in Stephenville, at 4 p.m. Saturday.

A news release provided Thursday to The Associated Press says the student-produced play will now start at 8 a.m. Saturday. A private audience of invited guests and relatives of the cast will be the only people allowed to watch the play, the school said.

But that was not adequate for the Lieutenant Governor, who apparently is a complete idiot. David Dewhurst, running for re-election, weighed in (Dallas Morning News)

Says Dewhurst in a statement: “Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech, but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans.”

And is seems that censorship ruled the day. Last night, the school released the following statement:

The four student-directed plays, including “Corpus Christi,” scheduled to be performed at Tarleton State University on Saturday, March 27, 2010, have been canceled this evening by the professor. The professor cited safety and security concerns for the students as well as the need to maintain an orderly academic environment as reasons for canceling the plays. The performance of these four class plays will not be rescheduled.

This is sad for the students, infuriating for those who love liberty, and embarrassing for Texans who are trying to live beyond the stereotype of “good ol’ boy”. But there is little doubt that ‘God fearing, Bible believing Christians’ are celebrating their victory over the homosexual agenda.

Which is both ironic and fitting.

I am certain that few who complained about the production have seen it. I have.

My church hosted a bare-set production a few years ago. Having heard that it was sacrilegious and blasphemous and disrespectful, I was a bit hesitant about what I was going to see. But what I found was a presentation that did not seek to mock or demean the Christian faith, but rather to make it relevant.

The play removes the Christ story from its distant setting, its forgotten political/religious squabbles, and a culture that is foreign both in place and thinking. It takes the focus off of the trapping of the story and looks at what happens when the outcast challenges the religious structure. It was a touching, thought provoking, and intensely spiritual journey that left me with a greater respect for the life and message of Christ.

So it is ironic that Christian folk are up in arms at a play that inspires and deepens faith. But, considering that it also challenges where we each fit in the oppressed/oppressor dynamic and asks us to step outside our presumptions and dogma and look at what Christ represents, it is only fitting that churches should find it so threatening. And the response of the authorities illustrates the current relevance of Corpus Christi.

Speaking of Futile Boycotts

Jim Burroway

January 20th, 2010

Pastor David Grisham wants to boycott Houston because that city elected a lesbian for mayor.

“This is not about the Mayor personally,” Grisham says, no doubt bringing some relief to Annise Parker. “It’s not about personality, it’s about principle. The election of an [openly] homosexual person to a major public office brings with it a radical homosexual agenda. That in and of itself makes a statement.”

Pastor Grisham is behind the Repent Amarillo web site (warning: loud sound effects), which sports an Army of God logo. His”spiritual mapping” page includes a handy rundown of Amarillo’s four gay bars and a few gay-friendly churches. Nice to know for those traveling through.

Houston Elects Annise Parker As Mayor

Jim Burroway

December 12th, 2009

Annise Parker wins.In very light voter turnout, Houston voters elected Annise Parker for mayor. With Houston being the nation’s fourth largest city. Parker becomes the first lesbian mayor to lead a major American city.

In a runoff election against local attorney Gene Locke, Parker won with 53% of the vote, with all but a handful of votes counted. Parker ran as a fiscal conservative, was the subject of blistering anti-gay attacks by some members of the local evangelical community.

Texas kid beaten with metal pole, entirely preventable

Timothy Kincaid

November 19th, 2009

LanghamCreekHighSchoolFew hate crimes are specifically preventable. It is not often that the intended violence is known in advance and reported to authorities. Which makes the case of Jayron Martin so frustrating and infuriating.

A fellow student warned Jayron that a group of students planned on beating him because he’s gay. So Jayron reported the threat to two assistant principals, who did nothing to protect him.

When Jayron got on the bus to go home (as the school opted not to call his mother) so did the group of attackers. Jayron then told the bus driver and begged for help. He didn’t get any.

So he ran. As fast as he could. Which wasn’t fast enough.

Unable to make it home, he ran into a neighbor’s house; but this didn’t deter his attackers. They followed and one beat Jayron with a metal pole while eight others watched.

It wasn’t until the owner came downstairs with a shotgun, and cocked it, that they ran off leaving Jayron with a concussion, bruised and bleeding.

Those who oppose gay-straight alliances or other support systems for gay students like to pretend that gay students face no greater threats than any other students. And when situations occur, they comfort their biases with the thought that the student must have provoked the situation or didn’t take the expected steps to protect himself.

I wonder what excuse they will give this time. But, then again, I also often wonder how they sleep at night.

Washington Blade, SOVO Shut Down

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2009

Word is spreading around the Internet that Windows Media, publisher of the Washington Blade, Houston Voice, Southern Voice, South Florida Blade and other LGBT news outlets, has gone out of business over the weekend in Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. SOVO editor Laura Douglas-Brown posted a note on Southern VoiceFacebook page confirming the shutdown:

With deepest regret, as editor of SoVo, I have to tell you that we arrived at the office to learn that our parent company, Window Media, has shut down. While the 20 years of SoVo have come to an end, our civil rights movement is only beginning. I am personally grateful to all of the staff, and to all of you who have had the courage to share your stories. It has been the honor of my life to help you tell them.

Project Q Atlanta reports that Southern Voiceemployees showed up to find that the locks had been changed and a note taped to the door, asking employees to return on Wednesday to collect their personal belongings.

This is a horrendous loss to the LGBT community. The Washington Blade began just forty years ago as The Gay Blade, a free one-paged mimeograph newspaper. It grew to become one of the most powerful voices for LGBT issues in the nation, having broken many important stories over the year covering the political beat in the nation’s capital. The editorial and reporting talent at the Blade is one of the best in the industry, and not just the specialty niche LGBT news industry. Few reporters have a Rolodex like veteran reporter Lou Chibarro. (Even fewer are still using a genuine Rolodex as Lou reportedly does.) The talent at that small paper would be the envy of any other publication, LGBT or mainstream. It would be very difficult to overstate the magnitude of this loss.

Ft. Worth Adds Transgenders to Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2009

RAINBOW_1_11-11-2009_Tarrant_JL104DQK.standalone.prod_affiliate.58

Ft. Worth City Council last night expanded the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to include transgender people by a 6-3 vote. City council also discussed a broader range of issues important to the LGBT community, including offering domestic-partner benefits and expanding the city health insurance plan to cover gender reassignment procedures, including sex changes. Discussions were contentious, both inside the packed hall and outside, where protesters from both sides had gathered. The Dallas Voice reports:

There were no arrests or major physical altercations, but there was plenty of taunting and some heated verbal exchanges. Participants from both sides later accused the other of elbowing and pushing, and one of the counterprotesters admitted to ripping a gay Pride flag.

The Day After Election Day

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2009
Submitted by BTB reader Elliot Ryan

Submitted by BTB reader Elliot Ryan

Feelings will be running raw this morning. Having yet another state placing a portion of its own citizenry in the second-class column is never easy to take. There will be plenty of time for post-mortems; I guess you could say I’ve already gotten a jump on mine before the campaign was over.

But I think it’s very important to keep in mind what Protect Maine Equality has been able to do. They have put together one of the most outstanding grass-roots efforts I’ve ever seen in a political campaign, and for that they’ve provided a road map for future campaigns to follow. Nobody has done a better job at motivating thousands of individuals to give of their time, and nobody has put together a better get-out-the-vote effort. The fact that the vote was this close is a testament to those great accomplishments.

Meanwhile, we have an important victory in Kalamazoo, where the religious right pulled out all the scare tactics at their disposal to try to defeat a non-discrimination ordinance. It didn’t work. The ordinance was upheld by 7,671 to 4,731 — 62% voted for equality in Kalamazoo, which is now the sixteenth city in Michigan with a non-discrimination ordinance.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Referendum 71 is holding on by a razor-thin margin. The Seattle Times says that it looks promising, since most of the outstanding votes are in areas where the measure was passing. Washingtonians vote by mail, and since the law requires that ballot be postmarked by election day, they will continue to trickle in during the days to come.

In Houston, openly lesbian mayoral candidate Annise Parker will go up against Gene Lock for a December 12 runoff. Openly gay Mark Kleinschmidt was elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Charles Pugh garnered the highest number of Detroit city council votes among all the city-wide at-large candidates to become that city’s first gay city council president. And in New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia, legislative battles are heating up for marriage equality.

There are steps forward and steps back. The struggle isn’t over. We lost this one, but we pick ourselves up and go on to the next one. Our community has forged a unique strength that way, and we’ve learned to do this in ways we didn’t want to, whether it was to respond to Governmental censorship, employment bans, Anita Bryant, the AIDS crisis when nobody else could be bothered, or these state-by-state ballot initiatives. They do wear us down, but they don’t wear us out. We pick each other up, dust ourselves off, and we go on to the next battle. It’s what we do.

Being Gay Grounds for Judicial Disqualification for Texas Republicans

Timothy Kincaid

November 3rd, 2009

Social conservatives will often tell you that they aren’t anti-gay, they just oppose the homosexual agenda. They don’t hate people, you see, just the sin they are committing.

Don’t believe them.

As an illustration, let’s look at what’s going on in Texas. There, Republicans are all up in arms about a judicial recommendation. (Dallas News)

Last month, Hutchison and fellow GOP Sen. John Cornyn endorsed two applicants for chief prosecutor in the Western District of Texas, which includes Austin, San Antonio and El Paso: Robert Pitman, a U.S. magistrate in Austin, and San Antonio criminal defense lawyer Michael McCrum.

Pitman is highly regarded in legal circles. In a recent bar poll, lawyers rated him the most competent judge in Travis County.

But Pitman is entirely unacceptable to socially conservative Republicans in Texas.

Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition, a former member of the Republican National Committee – and, like nearly all prominent social conservatives in Texas who have picked sides, a Perry supporter – called the recommendation “very unusual and disturbing.”

The “unusual and disturbing” thing? Pitman is gay.

That’s it. No scandal. No issue about qualification. No indication of judicial activism or unusual decisions. He’s just gay.

And in Texas, it may hurt Hutchinson’s campaign to replace Rick Perry as Governor. It has become a campaign issue.

Just to be clear, the sole motivation for conservative Texas Republicans opposing Pitman or criticizing Hutchinson’s endorsement of him is anti-gay bigotry. It is as simple as that.

Texas Judge Challenges Marriage Ban

Timothy Kincaid

October 2nd, 2009

From the Dallas News:

Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan ruled that two men married out of state could divorce in Texas. She also stated that the Texas marriage ban violates the US Constitution.

Although the case is far from settled, and the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage is a long way from being thrown out, Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan’s ruling says the state prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had intervened in the two men’s divorce case, arguing that because a gay marriage isn’t recognized in Texas, a Texas court can’t dissolve one through divorce.

Callahan, a Democrat, denied the attorney general’s intervention and said her court “has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction.”

The political establishment in Texas will whip itself into a froth making sure that Callahan is reversed and gay people can return to being second class citizens, just as the Texas voters like it.

Equality Texas Offices Vandalized

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2009

Equality Texas VandalismEquality Texas’ offices in Austin were vandalized last weekend. A large pane glass window at the front of the building was broken out, but nothing inside the building was taken. There are  no other reports of vandalism in the neighborhood, despite the fact that other businesses in the area are physically easier targets. The Equality Texas office window is several feet above ground. Executive Director Paul Scott suspects that EQTX may have been singled out, although he concedes that there’s no proof of that.

Judge Jerry Buchmeyer (1933-2009)

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2009

buchmeyer_portrait2The Dallas Voice is reporting that Federal district court Judge Jerry Buchmeyer has passed away. Judge Buchmeyer declared Texas’ anti-sodomy law unconstitutional in 1982, writing, “Homosexuals are not ill or mentally diseased… Homosexuality is not communicable… There is simply no rational connection between the acts proscribed by [the law] and the claimed interests of morality, decency, health, welfare, safety and procreation.” Judge Buchmeyer’s ruling in Baker v. Wade was later overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas’s anti-sodomy law remained on the books until 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it in Lawrence v. Texas, a ruling that also swept away all other remaining anti-sodomy laws nationwide.

One of may notable points in Baker v. Wade is that Judge Buchmeyer had to deal with Paul Cameron, who was just starting out in his career as an “expert witness” on homosexuality. Let’s just say Judge Buchmeyer wasn’t impressed with Cameron’s professionalism. In his written opinion, Judge Buchmeyer condemned Cameron by name for having “himself made misrepresentations to this Court,” and called out two specific examples:

(i) his sworn statement that “homosexuals are approximately 43 times more apt to commit crimes than is the general population” is a total distortion of the Kinsey data upon which he relies–which, as is obvious to anyone who reads the report, concerns data from a non-representative sample of delinquent homosexuals (and Dr. Cameron compares this group to college and non-college heterosexuals);

(ii) his sworn statement that “homosexuals abuse children at a proportionately greater incident than do heterosexuals” is based upon the same distorted data–and, the Court notes, is directly contrary to other evidence presented at trial besides the testimony of Dr. Simon and Dr. Marmour. (553 F. Supp. 1121 at 1130 n.18.) n30

We have more details on those distortions here. Judge Buchmeyer’s smackdown stung Cameron, who is still complaining about it on his Family Research Institute web site nearly thirty years later.

Judge Buchmeyer was nominated by President Jimmy Carter as federal judge for the Northern District of Texas on August 3, 1979. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 4, and received his commission on October 5, 1979. He served as chief judge from 1995 until his retirement in 2002. According to Wikipedia, he was known around the courthouse as a Talking Heads fan, and after retirement he maintained a legal humor blog with the Texas Bar.

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