Posts Tagged As: Texas

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


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.

Conservative Christian Furious That God Loves Gays

Jim Burroway

September 10th, 2009

Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved EveA coalition of churches in Dallas/Ft. Worth have gotten together and erected gay-affirming billboards along I-30, the heavily-traveled freeway which connects the two neighboring cities’ downtown:

Rev. Jon Haack, with Promise Metropolitan Community Church, said, “If we go back to the gospel readings, we don’t find anything within those texts that discriminate or exclude against gay and lesbian people. Gay and lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people are part of God’s creation too.”

David loved Jonathan more than women

That’s not sitting well with conservative Christians in the area. They’re making their displeasure known in hateful emails being sent to the billboards sponsors. The gay affirming churches are up against a very entrenched culture. The only opposing pastor that Dallas’ CBS 11 interviewed responded by comparing LGBT people to adulterers, wife beaters and  murderers:

Pastor Sam Dennis, of Parkway Hills Baptist Church in Plano, says Christians shouldn’t hate gays. He disagrees however with the billboards’ use of scripture to back a pro-gay message. “I’m hard pressed to find that scripture advocates that it’s alright to live in a gay lifestyle. Just like I’m hard pressed to find that scripture advocates that’s it’s alright to live in an adulterous relationship or as a wife abuser or as a murderer.”

How anyone can claim to not hate gays and in the same breath compare them to murderers is beyond me. Do they really hope to lure LGBT people to their way of thinking that way?

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Fires Three Over Rainbow Lounge Raid

Jim Burroway

August 28th, 2009

Police making an arrest from inside the Rainbow Lounge (Dallas Observer)

Officers and agents arresting Chad Gibson during the Rainbow Lounge raid in Ft. Worth, Texas (Dallas Voice)

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission fired three agents who were involved in the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas. That raid left bar patron Chad Gibson seriously injured with bleeding on the brain, following rough treatment by TABC and Ft. Worth police officers who slammed Gibson against the wall and onto a brick floor.

TABC announced that they fired Agent Christopher Aller, Agent Trainee Jason Chapman and Sgt. Terry Parsons this morning. Alan and Chapman accompanied Ft. Worth police officers on the night of the raid. Two others were disciplined. They were Capt. Robert “Charlie” Cloud, who oversaw the Dallas and Ft. Worth TABC offices, and Lt. Gene Anderson, who was Sgt. Parsons’ direct supervisor. Cloud received a written reprimand and Anderson was suspended without pay for three days and placed on six month’s probation.

TABC also made some administrative changes and instituted new training requirements beginning January 2010. A separate TABC investigation into the issue of the agents’ excessive use of force is still ongoing.

Last month, TABC administrator Alan Steen apologized for the agency’s role in the raid and blasted his agents for falling to “follow the damn policy.”  Ft. Worth police have suspended joint operations with TABC and have announced policy changesto deal with bar checks in the future. FWPD’s internal investigation is continuing.

Ft. Worth Police Change “Failed” Policy In Response To Rainbow Lounge Raid

Jim Burroway

August 21st, 2009

Ft. Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead blamed a “policy failure” for the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge. That raid, conducted in conjunction with agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, resulted in allegations of excessive force and landed one patron in the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital with brain injuries.

Chief Halstead, in a brief to the city council earlier this week, said that an investigation into the raid is continuing, but he is already committed to making several policy changes without waiting for the investigation to finish:

“Under the new policy there will be three distinct differences between an actual bar check, bar inspection, and bar investigation,” he writes.

…Halstead told the council that bar checks will stay in place, but he described them as a low-key, communications point between officers and bar owners.

If bar checks find problems, he said, the department will progress to a bar inspection, which will be subject to two levels of supervisory review and documented problems.

The bar investigation will be the “strongest form” of policy, he said. Only then would other agencies be involved, and experts would be in charge, he told the council.

Halstead also said that joint operations between Ft. Worth police and TABC remain suspended.

A similar investigation by the TABC revealed nineteen state policy violations. TABC administrator Alan Steen publicly apologized, saying his agents failed to “follow the damn policy.”

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