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News Briefs: March 2008

Caucus, Stonewall Democrats Endorse Candidates for March 4 Primary

Locals protest marriage laws at county clerk’s office

Politicos Line Up Behind Nominees

Celebs Fly In to Support Candidates

Voting Continues for Parade Grand Marshal Nominees

Diana Foundation Marks 55 Years of Fundraising with March 29 Event

Horsing Around: Artist Paints Equines for Rodeo

Todd Partridge receives counseling center award

Arrests, persecution of HIV-positive men increase in Egypt

Caucus, Stonewall Democrats endorse candidates for March 4 primary

At its February 6 meeting, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus political-action committee endorsed a record number of candidates for the 2008 Democratic Party primary on March 4. Candidates were endorsed after screening with the caucus PAC to determine their support of equal rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community as well as their positions on other issues.

Caucus PAC-endorsed candidates:

U.S. Senator: Rick Noriega
U. S. Representative District 10: Dan Grant
Texas Railroad Commissioner: Dale Henry
Texas Supreme Court, Place 7: Sam Houston
Texas Supreme Court, Place 8: Susan Criss
State Rep. District 46: Brian Thompson
State Rep. District 127: Joe A. Montemayor
State Rep. District 129: Sherrie L. Matula
State Rep. District 133: Kristi Thibaut
State Rep. District 138: Virginia Stogner McDavid
State Rep. District 140: Arando Lucio Walle
State Rep. District 145: Carol Alvarado
State Rep. District 146: Borris Miles
State Rep. District 147: Garnet Coleman
State Rep. District 148: Jessica Farrar
First Court of Appeals, Place 5: Leslie C. Taylor
District Judge, 61st: Alfred “Al” Bennet
District Judge, 80th: Tanner Garth
District Judge, 125th: Jim Wrotenbery
District Judge, 127th: R. K. Sandill
District Judge, 151th: Mike Engelhart
District Judge, 152nd: Robert Schaffer
District Judge, 164th: Alexandra Smoots-Hogan
District Judge, 174th: Ruben Guerrero
District Judge, 176th: Shawna L. Reagin
District Judge, 179th: Randy Roll
District Judge, 190th: Andres Pereira
District Judge, 215th: Steven Kirkland
District Judge, 337th: Herb Ritchie
District Judge, 339th: Maria T. Jackson
District Judge, 351st: Silvia Pubchara
Family District Judge, 312th: Robert Hinojosa
District Attorney: C. O. “Brad” Bradford
Harris County Judge: David Mincberg
Harris County Attorney: Vince Ryan
Harris County District Clerk: Loren Jackson
Harris County Sheriff: Adrian Garcia
Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector: Diane Trautman
Harris County Dept. of Education Trustee, Position 5, At Large: Debra Kerner
Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3: Dexter Handy
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 1: Dale Gorcznski
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Place 1: Raymond Stewart
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 6, Place 1: Richard C. Vara
Harris County Constable, Precinct 1: Jack Abercia
Harris County Constable, Precinct 7: May Walker
Precinct Chair 1: C. Patrick McIlvain

“Very difficult decisions had to be made, and I am very proud of the work everyone has done to make this one of our largest endorsement rosters,” caucus president Jenifer Pool says. “We look forward to our success in the March primary.”

Houston Area Stonewall Democrats made its endorsements for the primary election at a February 9 meeting. Many of the endorsed candidates match the caucus PAC endorsement list. For the Stonewall Democrats endorsed candidates, visit www.houstonareastonewalldemocrats.com.

Log Cabin Republicans-Houston had submitted questionnaires to selected Republican candidates but had received no responses by mid-February and did not intend to make endorsements in the Republican primary, according to Noel Freeman of the Log Cabin chapter.

Two local judicial candidates, Andres Pereira and Steven Kirkland, have received endorsements from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which supports openly GLBT candidates across the nation. In other Texas primary races, the Victory Fund has endorsed Lupe Valdez, who is seeking a second term as Dallas County sheriff; Glen Maxey, the former state representative who is a candidate for Travis County (Austin) tax assessor collector; and Brian Thompson, candidate for District 46 (Austin) state representative. Another Victory Fund-endorsed candidate, Randi Shade, is a candidate in the May 4 election for Austin City Council.

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Politicos line up behind nominees

Ahead of the March 4 Democratic primary election, a number of Houston-area elected officials with GLBT community ties have announced support for one of the Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

At press time, politicians who have publicly endorsed or supported Clinton include U.S. Congressional representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Gene Green, City Controller Annise Parker, City Council members Sue Lovell and James Rodriguez, Harris County commissioner Sylvia Garcia, and state representative candidate and former City Council member Carol Alvarado. All have received the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus in their current or previous races.

Parker (who also contributes a monthly column to OutSmart) and Lovell are members of the national GLBT steering committee for the Clinton campaign. Lovell, Green, and Lee are three of the much-discussed super delegates who may play a major role in selecting the final nominee. Lovell is also a member of the Democratic National Committee.

Politicians who have endorsed or supported Obama include state representatives Alma Allen, Garnet Coleman, Borris Miles, Senfronia Thompson, and Sylvester Turner, and City Council member Peter Brown. Former City Council member Ada Edwards has also endorsed Obama. Thompson is a superdelegate. The political caucus has endorsed these politicians this year or in the past.

The leading community political organizations, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, the Houston Area Stonewall Democrats, the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, and Log Cabin Republicans-Houston, did not endorse presidential candidates by the OutSmart press deadline.

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Celebs fly in to support candidates

Ugly Betty star America Ferrera stumped in Houston for Hillary Clinton.

As the primary season heated up in Texas, celebrities began winging into Houston to drum up enthusiasm for their favored presidential candidates. The celebs supporting Hillary Clinton included America Ferrara, star of the gay-positive ABC series Ugly Betty, who spoke at a February 17 rally at 6th Street Bar & Grill in the Heights. Barack Obama-supporting celebs included comedian George Lopez, who spoke at a February 16 event at the Houston for Obama headquarters in Midtown.

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Locals protest marriage laws at county clerk’s office

Same-sex marriage rally at the county clerk’s office Feb. 14.

On February 14, a group of nearly 40 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender activists and allies marched from City Hall to the Harris County Clerk’s office to protest laws that prohibit same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses. The action was part of local Freedom To Marry Week activities, organized in Houston by the Foundation for Family & Marriage Equality. Other Freedom To Marry events included the annual same-sex wedding celebration, held on February 17 at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church. Thirty-seven couples participated in the ceremony.

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Voting continues for parade grand marshal nominees

Pride Houston organizers have announced the following nominees for Grand Marshal positions for the 2008 GLBT Pride Parade.

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. AIDS Foundation Houston and Legacy Community Health Services are nominated for the organization grand marshal.

Adults living in Harris or adjacent counties may vote for grand marshals at the following locations: 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). Voting also takes place at the Pride Houston office (1415 California) each Saturday through March 15, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

As in previous years, the community at large nominated female, male, organization, and honorary grand marshal candidates at the end of January. Pride Houston will announce the grand marshals at a March 24 event at Cafe Adobe (2111 Westheimer).

The Pride Parade is set for Saturday, June 28, beginning at 8:45 p.m. at the intersection of Dunlavy and Westheimer in Montrose. Details: www.pridehouston.org.

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Diana Foundation marks 55 years of fundraising with March 29 event

Once known for extravagant shows, the Diana Foundation has scaled back its gala.

The Diana Foundation, once best known for its annual elaborate variety shows, celebrates 55 years of fundraising in the local GLBT community with its event “Diana at 55” on March 29. As one of the oldest active gay philanthropic organizations in the nation, the Diana Foundation has scaled-down its yearly events but continues its work.

Established in 1953 by a group of gay men as an Academy Awards-viewing party, the foundation has since raised in excess of $2 million for local causes. This support has included early operating funds for AIDS Foundation Houston; start-up funds for the McAdory House, which was a residence for people living with AIDS that operated in the first years of the HIV crisis; and early support for the Montrose Clinic (now Legacy Community Health Services following the clinic’s merger with the Assistance Fund, another Diana beneficiary). Other community organizations that have received Diana Foundation funds are Bering Omega Community Services, the Colt 45’s Houston AIDS Trouble Fund, and the Pet Patrol.

Dallas entertainer Linda Petty will perform at the Diana Foundation black-tie dinner and show, which begins at 7 p.m., at the Houston City Club in Greenway Plaza. Proceeds from ticket sales ($150) from the 2008 show benefit the Houston GLBT Community Center and Saving Animals/The Mickey Hagey Center for Animals. Tickets: 713/639-2000.

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Horsing around: Artist paints equines for rodeo

A Kermit Eisenhut rodeo horse.

Kermit Eisenhut is one of the artists painting 28 fiberglass horses displayed around the city during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March. Eisenhut, who frequently contributes work to gay and AIDS causes, has completed 12 of the hand-painted mustangs, most of which will be displayed at Reliant Stadium throughout the March 3-22 rodeo. Some of the horses will then be auctioned for charity. The public art project developed from the Cow Parade in 1999, which originated in Chicago and then developed into a popular nationwide effort.

When he isn’t painting horses, Eisenhut leads the weekly HIV+ Healing Art Group at Art League Houston.

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Todd Partridge receives counseling center award

The Montrose Counseling Center board of directors has awarded real-estate professional Todd Partridge with its 2007 Stella Scott Annual Volunteer Award. The award is given annually to the person who in the previous year has provided outstanding support for the counseling center.

“Todd Partridge went well beyond the call of duty, not only helping us negotiate the purchase of our new building at 401 Branard Street, but also by showing the old building time and time again, until we finally had a contract for sale,” Montrose Counseling Center executive director Ann J. Robison says. “His tireless enthusiasm never ceased throughout the entire process.”

Partridge donated a significant portion of his commission to the Montrose Counseling Center Permanent Endowment, according to Robinson. Partridge recently sold his real-estate firm, Partridge Properties, to Suzanne Anderson Realtors. He now concentrates on his work as an artist as well as management of The Lovett Inn, which he owns with his partner, Dan Lueken.

Montrose Counseling Center moved into its new home on Branard in June 2007. This new building allows the nonprofit organization to consolidate all its programs under one roof and to expand its services.

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Arrests, persecution of HIV-positive men increase in Egypt

Cairo police arrested four more men suspected of having HIV, signaling a wider crackdown that endangers public health and violates basic human rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement released on February 15.

These arrests bring to 12 the number of men arrested in a campaign against people police suspect of being HIV-positive. Four have already been sentenced to a year in jail and eight are still in custody.

“In their misguided attempt to apply Egypt’s unjust law on homosexual conduct, authorities are carrying on a crackdown against people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Rebecca Schleifer, advocate for the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “This not only violates the most basic rights of people living with HIV. It also threatens public health, by making it dangerous for anyone to seek information about HIV prevention or treatment.”

As in all previous cases, authorities forced the new detainees to undergo HIV testing without their consent. All those testing positive have been held in Cairo hospitals, chained to their beds.

The wave of arrests began in October 2007, when police intervened between two men having an argument on a street in central Cairo. When one of them told the officers that he was HIV-positive, police immediately took them both to the Morality Police office and opened an investigation against them for homosexual conduct. Police demanded the names of their friends and sexual contacts during interrogations.

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