DFW News

San Antonio Approves LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections

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RAINBOWgeneric 300x199 San Antonio Approves LGBT Non Discrimination ProtectionsThursday, San Antonio city council approved an ordinance that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s current non-discrimination policy.  The policy applies in cases of city employment, contracting, housing and public accommodations. The controversial ordinance passed with an 8-3 vote. Council members Elisa Chan, Carlton Soules, and Ivy Taylor voting against the measure.

“The San Antonio City Council did the right thing today in updating their ordinances to reflect the basic value that all city residents deserve to be treated equally under the law,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Mayor Julian Castro’s support and leadership on getting this done shows his real commitment to making San Antonio a world-class city where all citizens are treated with dignity and respect. Today’s vote is a victory, but the attacks we saw from our opposition in the run-up to this – particularly the transphobic messaging – remind us of the ruthless tactics they use to promote discrimination against LGBT people.”

The opposition included vocal church leaders who vowed to recall city council members. Their main concerns are the change in law could stifle religious expression and free speech.

“Today our community took a bold stand in demanding that all be protected,” said Jay Morris-Spriggs, a lead organizer with GetEQUAL Texas. “The united voices of our community could not be silenced and we stand not only with a new city ordinance protecting all of the LGBT community, but with a new-found sense of community that will continue forward on the path to full equality.”

Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin have similar ordinances.

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Texas Guard Denies Same-Sex Spouses Benefits

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AFD 130725 016 250x300 Texas Guard Denies Same Sex Spouses Benefits

Tuesday, a Department of Defense policy change went into effect, giving the spouses of LGBT military service members a range of federal benefits. The DoD announced the policy change last month. It is meant to apply to all same-sex spouses of service members in all branches of the military.

…But the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) said it won’t honor the policy change at its state facilities. TXMF includes the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, the Texas State Guard and the Domestic Operations Command.

Friday, August 3, Major General John Nichols, the TXMF Adjutant General, sent a memo explaining that the policy change violates Texas law.

“The TXMF is a state agency under the authority and direction of the Texas state government. Therefore, the TXMF must consider that the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code 6.204 conflicts with the DoD policy extending benefits to same-sex spouses,” states the memo (in part). See the full memo below.

Among the new benefits available to same-sex spouses are military I.D. cards, healthcare coverage, housing allowances and survivor benefits.

A statement sent from TXMF later clarified the stance:

The Texas Military Forces remains committed to ensuring military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled.  As such, we fully support same-sex families enrolling for benefits at the nearest federal installation.

Additionally, our goal in the Texas Military Forces is to provide the benefits available to our Soldiers and Airmen under existing federal law and policy, while also adhering to applicable Texas state law. The Texas Military Forces will continue to follow state law until legal clarification is received from the Texas State Attorney General.

It is important to note that Soldiers and Airmen are NOT being denied any benefits, there are multiple federal locations throughout the state where they can enroll for same sex benefits.

Texas Guard members will still be able to apply for benefits, but only at federal facilities. A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Office would not offer any explanation of how or if it will offer legal clarification. He said they “had nothing to say at this time.”

“To be fair, fairness doesn’t have caveats. If the laws are really going to be equitable, then same-sex couples are going to be entitled to the same rights and benefits that all married couples in this country enjoy as well,” said Cece Cox, Executive Director of the Resource Center Dallas. “It seems like Texas is messing around with its military families.”

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WATCH: Matthew McConaughey Shines in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Trailer

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Everyone watched in wonder as Matthew McConaughey went from this…

…to this.

Now, you can finally see a little bit of what that was all about. Texas-native McConaughey lost nearly 50 lbs for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” due out Dec 6. McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who is diagnosed HIV-positive in 1986. It takes place in Dallas.

The film, which is based on a true story, follows Woodroof as he searches for medical supplies in Mexico to save his life. During his quest to survive and make the most of his life, Woodroof he meets up with a transgender prostitute (Jared Leto) who becomes his friend and business partner.

It’s no wonder McConaughey took the role so seriously. It smells pretty strongly of Oscar nods.

Check it out:

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WATCH: Matthew McConaughey Shines in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Trailer

(GayWebSource.com – Gay Media & Press Network) – Posted by

Everyone watched in wonder as Matthew McConaughey went from this…

…to this.

Now, you can finally see a little bit of what that was all about. Texas-native McConaughey lost nearly 50 lbs for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” due out Dec 6. McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who is diagnosed HIV-positive in 1986. It takes place in Dallas.

The film, which is based on a true story, follows Woodroof as he searches for medical supplies in Mexico to save his life. During his quest to survive and make the most of his life, Woodroof he meets up with a transgender prostitute (Jared Leto) who becomes his friend and business partner.

It’s no wonder McConaughey took the role so seriously. It smells pretty strongly of Oscar nods.

Check it out:

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4 Openly LGBT Texas Politicians Who Want Your Vote

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The first openly-gay politician elected to the Texas House of Representatives is Austin Democrat Glen Maxey. He left in 2003, and it wasn’t until 2012 that another openly LGBT politician won an election, Rep Mary Gonzalez (D-San Antonio).

Now, at least four openly LGBT politicians are campaigning for a seat at the table.

Educator 0 200x300 4 Openly LGBT Texas Politicians Who Want Your Vote

Mary Gonzalez, who identifies as pan-sexual, just launched her re-election campaign. She got a lot of recognition for hitting the ground running. As a freshman legislator, she passed four bills to help reform education and infrastructure in her district.

Gonzalez was born and raised in Clint, Texas. She is currently working to form her own consulting company, Izel Consulting.

She takes a big stance on social and community change, especially on the issues of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Clayton.George 238x300 4 Openly LGBT Texas Politicians Who Want Your Vote

George Clayton, an openly gay Republican candidate, is running for Dallas’s District 102 seat. If elected, he would be the first openly gay Republican to serve in the Texas House. Clayton previously served two years on the State Board of Education. After he publicly came out of the closet, he lost his re-election bid.

Now, he’s telling the Dallas Voice he doesn’t want to be labeled as a ‘gay candidate.’ He said the label promotes inequality. (It also promotes a lot of animosity among conservative Texas political backers, like Donna Garner.)

Celia Israel CANDIDATE 199x300 4 Openly LGBT Texas Politicians Who Want Your Vote

Celia Israel is running for the District 50 seat in Austin (in a special election this November). The Austin lesbian is a real estate agent and community activist. The issues she fights for: Latino, LGBT, public education, small business, healthcare, and voters rights.

Israel was born in El Paso, but has lived in Austin for more than 30 years.

080112gm cargill 1526537a 230x300 4 Openly LGBT Texas Politicians Who Want Your Vote

Michael Cargill is also running in the District 50 special election. He’s the only Republican running for the spot. For the past 10 years, he’s owned Central Texas Gun Works in Austin. His big issues are gun rights, pro-life legislation, and veterans healthcare.

Last year, Cargill ran as a Democrat in his unsuccessful bid for Travis County’s Precinct 2 constable.

[h/t Dallas Voice]

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Equality Texas to Stoli: Keep your Donations

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stoli 300x199 Equality Texas to Stoli: Keep your Donations

via YouTube

Stolichnaya Vodka has had a rough go of it in past few weeks. Gay bars across the country, including several in Dallas, are boycotting the product, in an effort to draw attention to Russia’s recent terrible treatment of the LGBT community.

In an effort to mend some of those relationships, GayCities sent out a press release:

“In lieu of the national Stoli boycott by some in the LGBT community, GayCities has convinced SPI (Stoli’s parent company) to donate $5 for each person whom RSVP’s and attends The Most Original Stoli Guy Live in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and D.C. The participating charities include local chapters of Equality CA, Equality Texas and the HRC, all whom will be present at the events to accept the donation. GayCities is currently in discussions with SPI to select an international beneficiary that works directly in affecting change for LGBTs in Russia. The organization will be revealed live at The Most Original Stoli Guy finale, which GayCities will stream live from NYC this September.”

Saturday, August 17, Station 4 will host the “Most Original Stoli Guy” competition. The event has been planned for months, long before the Stoli boycott. Unfortunately for Stoli, their little PR stunt has backfired. All three organizations that they promised to donate to don’t want their money. Equality Texas wasn’t even aware of the donation campaign.

“We have no relationship with Stoli,” Chuck Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Texas told Anna Waugh of the Dallas Voice. “We would not accept money from Stoli.”

HRC and Equality CA also have said they want nothing to do with the event.

“The Human Rights Campaign is not participating in The Most Original Stoli Guy events and is not accepting any donations related to these events or otherwise from Stoli. The press release indicating our participation was flat out wrong and the event organizers have unfortunately not provided any information to substantiate their claim,” HRC told Joe. My. God.

Oops.

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No Social Security Benefits for Legally-Married LGBT Texans

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7.31.13.SocialSecurity 300x199 No Social Security Benefits for Legally Married LGBT TexansAs previously noted, when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, no one really knew for sure what it meant for gay Texans. Most expect that the decision in United States v Windsor will allow some gay couples new federal benefits. Specifically, those who legally married in a state that allows same-sex marriage and moved to Texas.

“It’s expected that most of the federal agencies that govern these benefits will issue opinions as to how the government will handle accessing these for these particular couples,” said Jessica Dixon Weaver, when I interviewed her shortly after the Supreme Court handed down its decision. Weaver is an Assistant Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.

However, some federal benefits only apply if the state you’re living in recognizes same-sex marriages.

According to the Social Security Administration, that’s the case for social security benefits. So, if a gay couple married in Iowa and then moved to Texas, the couple will not be allowed to apply for social security benefits.

The policy in the SSA’s primary operations manual explains how agencies should determine “domicile” when processing claims:

b. NH is not domiciled in the same state where the marriage was performed

  1. If the NH was married in one of the states listed in the chart on or after the date shown in the “Date Same-Sex Marriages Were Permitted in the States” column; and
  2. The NH was domiciled in one of the states that has a date listed in the “Date Same-Sex Marriages from Any States Recognized” column in the chart above before a final determination; and
  3. The application date is on or after the date that the state of domicile recognized same-sex marriages from any state; proceed to GN 00210.100B.3. “Determining Duration of Marriage.”
  4. If not, hold the claim as set out in EM-13022 REV.

 

[h/t Buzzfeed]

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Playing Politics with Gay Marriage in Texas

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dan branch 300x200 Playing Politics with Gay Marriage in TexasAnother Texas politician is using his opposition to gay marriage in his effort to attract voters. Dan Branch is running to replace Greg Abbott for Attorney General. Greg Abbott, who is historically anti-gay, is running to fill anti-gay Governor Rick Perry’s soon-to-be-vacated spot.

Tuesday, Dan Branch filed a legal brief with the Texas Supreme Court opposing a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the state’s gay marriage ban.

From Branch’s brief:

Opponents of traditional marriage know that Texans believe strongly in the traditional institution of marriage—so Respondents cannot achieve their goals at the ballot box. They also know that they are wrong as a matter of constitutional law—so Respondents also cannot achieve their goals in this Court.

Accordingly, the only way that Respondents can try to impose their vision upon the people of Texas is to trample upon both the legislative process by which Texas laws are supposed to be written, and the adversarial judicial process by which constitutional disputes are supposed to be resolved.

The case that Branch is referring to is one of two cases before the Texas Supreme Court that deal with the issue of gay divorce. While gay marriage is not legal in Texas, some argue that the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act should pave the way to legal gay divorce.

Dan Williams, of Equality Texas, told the Dallas Voice that this is just Branch playing politics:

“As the [appeals court] stated three years ago, and as anyone with an ounce of common sense can tell you, granting a divorce is not creating a marriage,” Williams said. “In fact the law is very clear: the ability to get a divorce is a benefit of living in Texas, not a benefit of marriage. If you don’t believe me, try being a non-resident and trying to get a divorce.”

Texas currently has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

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83 Members of Congress Demand LGBTs be Ensured Safety at Sochi Winter Olympics

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MG 3267  web 300x199 83 Members of Congress Demand LGBTs be Ensured Safety at Sochi Winter OlympicsMonday, 83 members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State, Senator John Kerry, asking what measures the U.S. will take to ensure the safety of LGBT people during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The letter comes in response to the recent anti-gay legislation, and resulting arrests, in Russia.

Some are calling for a boycott of the games, after Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the new laws will be enforced during the Sochi games. This is despite the International Olympic Committee’s assurances that gays will be safe in Sochi during the Winter Olympics.

North Texas Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) and Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth) are among the 83 Congress members who signed the letter.

Full text of the letter:

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We are writing to you regarding the troubling implications of a recently-enacted Russian law criminalizing actions or statements deemed to be in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. In light of the fact that the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia, we would like to know what diplomatic measures the State Department is planning to take to ensure that American LGBT athletes, staff and spectators, and their supporters, are not arrested, detained or otherwise penalized during the Sochi Games.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 30th, will penalize any individuals or groups found to be publicly supportive of LGBT equality. Press reports have indicated that punishable offenses would include public acknowledgment of one’s orientation, displays of affection between same-sex partners, statements in support of LGBT rights, and the use of symbols such as rainbows that are attributed to the LGBT community. Foreign nationals found to be in violation of the law could be arrested and detained for up to 15 days.

According to the Organizing Committee of XXII Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Sochi will be host to over 40,000 athletes, volunteers, and members of the press for the duration of the Games. An additional 75,000 spectators are expected to visit Sochi daily during that time. With the Olympics only seven months away, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the new anti-LGBT law on LGBT Russians, the Olympic community and supporters of LGBT equality.

We are particularly troubled because while the newly signed law is the most recent and most extreme codification of Russia’s maltreatment of its LGBT citizens, it is also part of larger trend of anti-LGBT actions in Russia. In the last month, the Russian government also enacted a law banning foreign same-sex couples and single people from nations that have marriage equality from adopting Russian children. Hate crimes and violent attacks against the LGBT community have been reported, including the murders of two gay men earlier this year. In 2012, Moscow instituted a hundred-year ban on LGBT pride parades, a ban that was deemed illegal by the European Court of Human Rights, but which nevertheless resulted in the arrest and detention of seventeen LGBT activists for displaying rainbow flags. Russia’s record of anti-LGBT legislation and persecution pose serious concerns for the safety of LGBT Sochi Olympic participants and spectators.

On July 17th, the International Olympic Committee issued a statement, obtained by the Windy City Times, acknowledging that the newly-enacted law is contradictory to its policy of non-discrimination and pledging to “work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media.” However, the IOC recognized that it is not equipped to address the issue fully, stating “[w]ider political issues in the country are best dealt with by other international organizations more suited to this endeavor.”

We applaud the State Department’s commitment to ensuring that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons abroad, and the actions your agency has already taken to communicate concerns about the overall direction on LGBT rights in Russia directly to the Russian government. In light of the importance of U.S. leadership on LGBT issues, and the quickly-approaching Sochi Games, we urge the State Department to determine the appropriate course of action to assure the safety and well being of LGBT and LGBT— supporting individuals involved in or attending the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Paralympics. We look forward to hearing from you regarding what efforts have been undertaken, especially efforts undertaken in coordination with other foreign governments, and are committed to working together with you on this issue.

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Tennis Great Martina Navratilova Among LGBT Hall of Fame Inductees

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Martina Navratilova — a former resident of Dallas and Fort Worth — is among the first inductees into the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. Also honored on Friday evening in Chicago: Tennis star Billie Jean King, Olympic Diver Greg Louganis, former MLB umpire Dave Pallone, and NBA player Jason Collins. Altogether, 21 people,three organizations, one sports team, and one corporation were honored.

Navratilova lived in Dallas and Fort Worth during the height of her Tennis career, in the 1980′s.

“It is a tremendous honor and … I hope it gives young people and adults alike who happen to be LGBT and want to be in professional sports another example of why they should continue to strive for their dreams,” Dave Pallone told the AP.

The National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame works to honor LGBT athletes and preserve LGBT sports history. It officially launched in March.

The hall of fame does not yet have an actual location, but organizers are reportedly in the process of fundraising and selecting a site.

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