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News Briefs: February 2008

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Lovell named vice mayor pro-tem. Gay candidate wins Fort Worth council race. GLBT students apply for scholarships. Pride Houston announces 2008 festival, parade theme, and grand marshal nominees.

Lovell Named Vice Mayor Pro-Tem

Gay Candidate Wins Fort Worth Council Race

Houstonians Attend Creating Change Conference

Caucus Seeks Election Volunteers

GLBT Students Apply For Scholarships

Equality Texas Foundation Receives $110K Grant For Safe Schools Project

Activist Calls Huckabee’s Antigay Views ‘Alarming’ And ‘Backward’

Former Wisconsin Governor and Gay-Rights Proponent Dies

Pride Houston Sets 2008 Festival, Parade Theme, and Announces Grand Marshal Nominees

Milestones: John B. Connally IV Named Chairman of Bering Omega Board

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LOVELL NAMED VICE MAYOR PRO-TEM

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Vice mayor pro-tem Sue Lovell

On January 2, immediately following her inauguration to her second-term as City Council Member At-Large Position 2, Sue Lovell was named vice mayor pro-tem. Her fellow council members nominated her and unanimously selected her for the post.

Mayor Bill White has appointed Lovell to chair the Transportation, Infrastructure and Aviation Committee on City Council. “As TIA chair, we will take on issues involving METRO, the Port of Houston, Houston Airport System, and the new Freight Rail District, to name a few,” Lovell wrote in her January newsletter.    

Lovell, an out lesbian, was endorsed in her re-election bid by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the national advocacy group that seeks to elect openly gay candidates to public office. Lovell also serves on the 65-member GLBT steering committee for the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton. (City Controller Annise Parker, who was re-elected to her third term in November, is also a member of the steering committee.)

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GAY CANDIDATE WINS FORT WORTH COUNCIL RACE

Closing 2007, Texas added a new name to its list of openly gay elected officials.

Voters in Fort Worth elected Joel Burns to city council in a runoff election on December 18. Endorsed by the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Burns is the first openly gay elected official in Tarrant County, Texas.

Additionally, voters in Texas House District 97, which includes Fort Worth, elected gay-friendly Dan Barrett in the runoff election to replace a retiring representative.

Both Burns and Barrett received endorsements from the Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County and received support from the Human Rights Campaign.

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NAACP chair Julian Bond to speak at the Creating Change Conference.

HOUSTONIANS ATTEND CREATING CHANGE CONFERENCE

Local activists Phyllis Randolph Frye and Josephine Tittsworth will take a Houston presence to Detroit this month when they attend the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. The annual conference organized by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force will take place February 6–10. More than 2,000 GLBT rights advocates from across the country are expected for the weeklong event. Speakers include NAACP chairman and civil-rights leader Julian Bond and openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson. Kate Clinton, the comic and commentator, is emcee for the Creating Change plenary sessions.

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CAUCUS SEEKS ELECTION VOLUNTEERS

Following a highly successful round of endorsements in the 2007 city elections, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is gearing up for the 2008 election season. The caucus seeks volunteers with expertise in the areas of data entry, technology, and fundraising.

Volunteer sessions at the caucus offices are scheduled Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; and Wednesdays, 5-9 p.m. Details: 713/521-1000, www.hglbtpc.org.

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GLBT STUDENTS APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS

As gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teenagers look to life beyond high school graduation, many are applying for one or more of the scholarships available through the community.

The most notable scholarship organization for queer teens seeking higher education is the Point Foundation, which offers awards that can exceed $13,000. Winners also receive leadership training from Point-selected mentors and are introduced to prominent members of the GLBT community through a professional support network. “By identifying and supporting these scholars, the Point Foundation hopes to provide a greater level of acceptance, respect, and tolerance within future generations for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity,” according to the Point Foundation website.

Since 2001, the foundation has sought teenagers who demonstrate strong community involvement, academic commitment, impressive leadership, and financial need. Upon receiving the awards, scholars must keep strong academic records through college and participate in GLBT community service. Details: www.pointfoundation.org.

The national Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) organization offers 17 different scholarships that range from $1,000 to $2,500. The deadline is March 15. Details: www.pflag.org.

The New Jersey-based LEAGUE Foundation awards up to seven scholarships each year, which include the Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarship. The deadline is April 30. The foundation was established 12 years ago with the support of the AT&T professional organization Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender United Employees and has developed into a nationwide scholarship fund. Details: www.leaguefoundation.org.

In addition to those national sources, there are local avenues of financial aid for Houston-area GLBT teenagers entering college. The Peggy Rudd Transgender Scholarship Fund, a project of the Houston Transgender Unity Committee, makes awards to trans-identified students. Scholarships (ranging from $500 to $1,000) will be awarded at the annual Transgender Unity Banquet on April 26. The application deadline is March 15. Details: www.htuc.org.

The PFLAG/HATCH Youth Scholarship Foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in awards to Houston-area GLBT students since 1994. Individual scholarships range from $2,000 over two years to $10,000 over four years. GLBT or non-GLBT high school seniors involved in the community with grade point averages over 3.0 can apply for the scholarships. March 1 is the application deadline.

Details: www.pflaghouston.org.—David Goldberg

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EQUALITY TEXAS FOUNDATION RECEIVES $110K GRANT FOR SAFE SCHOOLS PROJECT

Equality Texas Foundation has received a three-year grant to support its Safe Schools Initiative. The multi-year program aims to secure adoption by Texas public schools policies that address the prevention, intervention, and elimination of bullying and harassment and that are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

The $110,000 grant was made by the Tides Foundation’s State Equality Fund.

The grant will also fund a statewide initiative to support the development of the Texas GSA Network, a resource for leadership development of gay-straight alliances in schools across the state. The network is a program of Out Youth, the Austin organization for GLBT and questioning young people.

“We are equally grateful for Tides Foundation’s support of our partnership with Out Youth for the development of the Texas GSA Network,” Equality Texas Foundation executive director Paul Scott said in a statement. “Studies in other states have linked gay-straight alliances to improved educational outcomes.”

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ACTIVIST CALLS HUCKABEE’S ANTIGAY VIEWS ‘ALARMING’ AND ‘BACKWARD’

In an early January appearance on the NBC news program Meet the Press, host Tim Russert asked presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, “When you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you’re born gay or you choose to be gay?” The candidate replied, “I don’t know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they’re born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice.”

Wayne Besen, executive director of TruthWinsOut.org, a nonprofit organization that educates America about gay life, (and occasional OutSmart columnist), categorized Huckabee’s statement as “alarming.”

“It is alarming that a man with such backward views is a serious contender for the GOP nomination,” Besen said in a statement. “In the real world, people either act on their sexuality in healthy ways or act like Ted Haggard and Sen. Larry Craig–a tragic lesson that seems lost on Mike Huckabee.”

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FORMER WISCONSIN GOVERNOR AND GAY-RIGHTS PROPONENT DIES

On January 2, former Wisconsin governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus died in his Waukesha home. In 1982, Dreyfuss signed the first statewide gay rights law in the nation, making it illegal in that state to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Dreyfus, 81, was a vocal opponent of the state ban on gay marriage and civil unions, which was approved by Wisconsin voters in 2006.

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Web addition:
PRIDE HOUSTON SETS 2008 FESTIVAL, PARADE THEME, AND ANNOUNCES GRAND MARSHAL NOMINEES

Calling for “unity and fellowship amongst our community,” Pride Houston organizers have announced “We Are Family” as the theme of the 2008 GLBT Pride Parade and Festival.

The Pride Parade is set for Saturday, June 28, beginning at 8:45 p.m. at the intersection of Dunlavy and Westheimer in Montrose. An afternoon music festival precedes the parade.

As in previous years, female, male, organization, and honorary grand marshal candidates were nominated by the community at large at the end of January. Kelly McCann, Jenifer Rene Pool, Cristina Martinez, and Barbara Walker are nominees for female grand marshal. Mark Cohen, Dalton DeHart, and Keith Napier are candidates for male grand marshal. Julie Eberly is the sole candidate for honorary grand marshal, and AIDS Foundation Houston and Legacy Community Health Services are nominated for the organization grand marshal.

Adults living in Harris or adjacent counties are encouraged to vote for the grand marshals at the following locations: February 8 at Guava Lamp (570 Waugh Dr.); February 15 at Ranch Hill Saloon (24704 I-45 North, Spring); February 29 at Brazos River Bottom (2400 Brazos); March 1 at Club Eden (20701 Gulf Freeway, Webster); March 14 at Chances (1102 1/2 Westheimer); and March 21 at JR’s Bar & Grill (808 Pacific).

Pride Houston says it will announce the grand marshals at an event on March 24 at Cafe Adobe (2111 Westheimer).

Additional information and the parade application are available at www.pridehouston.org.

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MILESTONES

APPOINTED John B. Connally IV has been named chairman of the Bering Omega Community Services board of trustees. Other new board officers: vice chairman Bryce Linsenmayer, secretary Courteney Harris, and treasurer Randy Mitchmore, D.D.S.

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