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News Briefs: August 2008

Annie’s List endorses Annise Parker for mayor. HATCH expands. Community Center starts scholarship. Lambda Legal files lawsuit after Georgia Assembly fires TG woman. U.S. Census ignores same-sex marriages. Out lesbian named U.S. poet laureate. And more.

By Nancy Ford

Annie’s List Makes Early Endorsement of Annise Parker for Houston Mayor in 2009

HATCH Expands to Tuesdays

Community Center Establishes Scholarship Fund

U.S. Senate Votes to Lift HIV Immigration and Travel Ban

Lambda Legal Files Federal Lawsuit after Georgia General Assembly Fires Transgender Woman

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Controversy Addressed in Congressional Hearing

U.S. Census to Ignore Same-Sex Marriage Partners

San Francisco’s ‘One Love’ Campaign Jumps on Same-Sex Marriage Industry

Out Lesbian Chosen U.S. Poet Laureate

Dubai Cracks Down on ‘Homosexual Behavior’

Activists Target Hotels as Antigay Marriage Proposition Vote Nears

GLAAD Rates Television Networks on Inclusive Programming

Ten Quickies



On July 17, Annie’s List, one of Texas’ largest political action committees and a financial resource for Democratic women running for elective office in the state, announced its endorsement of Annise Parker in Houston’s 2009 mayor’s race.

“While too early for Parker to make a public announcement, Annie’s List is declaring its intentions to be strongly behind her candidacy in the race, dedicating the formidable financial and campaign infrastructure resources that come with an Annie’s List endorsement,” the Annie’s List statement read in part.

The e-mail praised Parker’s performance during her terms as a City Council member and City Controller, including the growth of Houston’s economy, the overall drop in the crime rate, the rebuilding of the downtown area, and the addition of new parks, new stadiums, and the light rail.

In an e-mail to supporters titled “A Big Thank You to Annie’s List,” Parker responded in part with the following:

“Most of you know that I am seriously considering a run for Houston mayor in 2009, when the seat will be open and I will be finishing my final year as Controller. . . . When the time comes to make a public announcement you will be the first to know. . . . My dear friends at Annie’s List are wisely looking ahead to next year, and . . . issued a strong endorsement of my candidacy for mayor. Focusing on next year’s elections is their job—and they do it well. That’s just one of the reasons I am so honored and thankful to have their support. . . . My focus is still on serving the city as Controller to the best of my ability—a serious job entrusted to me by the voters. . . . Again, my deepest thanks to Annie’s List. I look forward to their continued support, and my continued conversations with you about Houston’s future and the 2009 mayor’s race.”

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Last month, the Montrose Counseling Center’s HATCH youth group began expanding its services to include another night of programming. Each Tuesday, 5–9 p.m., HATCH offers a safe place for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth, along with their allies, to hang out, meet with a peer-led support group, and participate in a weekly activity.

HATCH also meets Fridays, 7–10 p.m. and Sundays, 6–9 p.m. Tutoring is also available, by reservation. Details: www.hatch.org.

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At a June 26 commemoration of the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision, the Houston GLBT Community Center announced the establishment of a scholarship fund in honor of John Lawrence and the late Tyrone Garner, the two petitioners in the Supreme Court case that overturned antigay sodomy laws. The community center intends to award the first scholarship in 2009 to a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender student pursuing higher education who has demonstrated a commitment to public service within the GLBT community.

Details about the John Lawrence and Tyrone Garner Scholarship, including the application form, will be available later this year. Inquiries may be sent to LawrenceScholar [email protected].

The scholarship fund is a project of the Houston GLBT Community Center. The amount of the first Lawrence/Garner Scholarship will be announced at a later date and will be determined in part by the amount of funding available, according to community center representatives.

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The U.S. Senate voted July 17 to repeal language that bars people with HIV/AIDS from entering the U.S., as part of the legislation reauthorizing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The Senate approved PEPFAR by a vote of 80 to 16.

The repeal provision in the PEPFAR bill removes the anti-HIV language from the Immigration and Nationality Act, and restores the determination of whether HIV is a “communicable disease of public health significance” to the discretion of Department of Health and Human Services.

“When the United States finally stops discriminating against HIV-positive people, we will send a powerful signal to the world that it’s not acceptable to stigmatize the millions of people living with this disease,” said Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality.

Houston immigration lawyer, John Nechman of Katine & Nechman, L.L.P., echoed Tiven’s sentiments.

“Texans, or anyone else, for that matter, should be appalled that Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison were among only 16 senators to vote against repealing the ban,” Nechman added. “For years, Immigration Equality has made ending the HIV ban one of its top priorities and deserves tons of credit for helping to push this deplorable law to the point of extinction.”

The bill now moves to conference committee before being sent to the Oval Office.

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On July 22, Lambda Legal announced a federal lawsuit against Georgia General Assembly officials on behalf of Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who was fired from her job by the General Assembly’s Legislative Counsel, Sewell Brumby, as a legislative editor. Glenn was fired after stating her intention to live as a woman in accordance with her health-care providers’ recommendations.

“The leaders of the state of Georgia should be an example of fair-mindedness and ethical decision-making,” said Cole Thaler, transgender rights attorney in Lambda Legal’s Atlanta office. “Our client was a successful and professional employee who was fired because her boss didn’t like who she is.”

Glenn worked for two years as an editor and proofreader of bill language. Glenn v. Brumby et. al asserts that Glenn’s firing violated the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee because it treated her differently due to her female gender identity and her nonconformity with gender stereotypes.

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As this issue of OutSmart went to press, the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the impact of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning service by openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers. The hearing was the first since Congress enacted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” 15 years ago.

“This hearing begins a conversation about the national security impact of losing qualified, capable servicemembers,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “We commend Congresswoman Susan Davis, chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, for her leadership in reviewing this obsolete law.”

Testifying against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were U.S. Army Major General Vance Coleman (Ret.), U.S. Navy Captain Joan E. Darrah (Ret.), and former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric F. Alva.

General Coleman, who served as a division commander and whose decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Service Medal, sits on the SLDN Military Advisory Council.

Captain Darrah’s assignments included serving as deputy director of the Human Resources Directorate at the Office of Naval Intelligence. A graduate of the Naval War College, she also belongs to the SLDN Military Advisory Council.

Sergeant Alva was the first American wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served in the Marine Corps for 13 years.

Since its implementation in 1993, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has resulted in the dismissal of more than 12,500 men and women from the armed forces. The cost to U.S. taxpayers for maintaining the ban is estimated at more than $363 million.

SLDN hopes Congress repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and passes H.R. 1246, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which permits lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to serve openly in the military without discrimination.

The hearing took place July 23 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

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According to a report published by the U.S. Census Bureau, officials have announced their final 2010 census report will not include same-sex marriages, regardless of whether such marriages are legal in a state. Officials plan to edit the responses of same-sex married couples to show them in census tabulations as “unmarried partners,” the San Jose Mercury-News reported. The decision was dictated by several federal mandates, including the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, officials said.

“To have the federal government disappear your marriage, I’m sure will be painful and upsetting,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the California newspaper. “It really is something out of Orwell. It’s shameful.”

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The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law estimates that gay weddings could add $250 million to the state of California’s economy over the next six months.

Hoping to cash in on that estimate, the One Love website has been launched, showcasing select high-profile San Francisco businesses offering a full range of wedding-related services. Event planners, honeymoon destinations, relationship counseling, and photographers are among listed businesses.

A portion of the businesses’ profits are earmarked for local gay-supportive charities, according to website founders, Ali Berlin and Diana Bianchini.

Plans are in the works to expand the campaign throughout the U.S. Details: www.theonelovecampaign.com.

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With her works compared to Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, award-winning poet Kay Ryan has been chosen by the U.S. Library of Congress as the nation’s 16th poet laureate.

Ryan, 62, lives in Fairfax, California, with her longtime partner, Carol Adair.

Previous U.S Poets Laureate include Frost, Maya Angelou, and Ryan’s immediate predecessor, Charles Simic.

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According to the Associated Press, police in the opulent Muslim city-state of Dubai have detained 17 foreigners for allegedly displaying public homosexual behavior.

Police spokesman Zuhair Horoun said all the suspects are men who were either visiting or working in Dubai.

Dubai’s Gulf News also reported in July that police had detained “40 cross-dressing tourists.” The paper quotes Dubai’s police chief as saying the arrests are part of a campaign against “transvestites.”

“Any man or woman who dresses up and behaves like the opposite gender in public will be questioned and legal action will be taken against him or her,” Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai police chief, said in a statement on the Dubai Police website.

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California activists supporting same-sex marriage are calling for a boycott of California businesses owned by an individual who is financially supporting a constitutional amendment opposing marriage equality.

Doug Manchester, owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, made a political donation in support of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment initiative scheduled to appear on the state’s ballot in November. The proposition seeks to overturn the California Supreme Court’s recent decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

Activists are calling for a boycott of Manchester Grand Hyatt as well as the Grand Del Mar in San Diego.

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Last month the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released its second annual GLAAD Network Responsibility Index, naming the ABC television network the leader for the second consecutive year.

ABC’s popular series Brothers & Sisters , Desperate Housewives , and Ugly Betty propelled the network to receive GLAAD’s highest ranking. NBC and Fox remained the two lowest-scoring networks, with their GLBT-inclusive hours dropping slightly from the previous season.

Among the sampling of cable networks evaluated, FX featured the largest number of GLBT-inclusive hours of original programming; TNT offered the fewest.

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One of ten 10-minute shorts chosen for Scriptwriters/Houston’s 10×10 Annual Showcase of New Plays, playwright Eric James’ In the Morning focuses on an older man and his younger partner arguing about the possible end of their gay May/December romance.

“The younger partner wants more attention and affection from the older partner, who seems to be incapable of providing that,” James, senior program manager for five years at Bering Dental Clinic, says.

This is not James’ first experience seeing his work come to life on the boards. Two of his plays were presented at Stages in the late ’90s, in conjunction with Edward Albee’s prestigious playwrights’ workshop at University of Houston. And this is the third consecutive year 10×10 has chosen one of his plays for production.

“It’s a great festival for new writers and aspiring writers,” James, pictured here outside Montrose Public Library, enthuses. “Like we say, if you don’t like one of the plays, just wait 10 minutes and you’ll get another one!”

Now in its 18th year, the festival is not gay-focused per se , although gay themes permeate the festival. Out playwright Fernando Dovalina’s Ballad of the Lonely Gatekeeper is also among the selections.

The festival goes up August 15 and 16, 8 p.m., and August 17, 5 p.m., at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd. Tickets: $10–$15. Details: 713/589-8730.

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Bay City residents Wayland Bryant-Thomas and Samuel Thomas Jr. were joined in legal matrimony on July 2, 2008, at 11 a.m. in Los Angeles, California, at the Albertson Wedding Chapel. “We are the first gay couple in our area to get married legally in California,” Wayland says. “Of course, it is not yet legal here in Texas, but since we have been together for 11 years, it does not matter. We are married in our hearts.”


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