Vigils were held Friday night across Texas for Mollie Olgin & Kristene Chapa.
AUSTIN - from KTBC Fox7
HOUSTON - from KTRK ABC13
CORPUS CHRISTI - from Kiii3
SAN ANTONIO - from KSAT12
Vigils were held Friday night across Texas for Mollie Olgin & Kristene Chapa.
AUSTIN - from KTBC Fox7
HOUSTON - from KTRK ABC13
CORPUS CHRISTI - from Kiii3
SAN ANTONIO - from KSAT12
Portland is a small town in South Texas. It's a town where you know your neighbors, where a trip to H-E-B is a social outing 'cause you're going to run into at least two people you know. It's a town where your child's teacher shares her home number and invites you over for tea, where you're on a first-name basis with the owner of the local diner. And your family doctor answers his phone on a Sunday.
We moved to Portland three years ago from the Midwest. I expected all the stereotypes about small-town Texas to be true: ten-gallon hats, holsters, horses, over-the-top Christians, low IQ's, small minds and big bigots. The move was not a voluntary one. In fact, many fights were battled and many tears were shed. I have two young children and I was not excited about raising them in such a place.
But I found a wonderful town, full of warm, open people. I found a beautiful coastline and absolutely stunning sunsets. I found the best kids' librarian in the country and the most amazing bookstore on this planet. I found BIG families and lots of open space. I found the biggest bigot I've ever encountered, but she was balanced by the most out-spoken advocate for diversity I've ever encountered.
Portland is an old-fashioned town. It's definitely behind-the-times, which is part of its charm, I suppose. I've had a handful of friends there tell me that I'm the only pro-choice person they know. Or that they've never met a gay activist, "there aren't any gay people in Portland, anyway!" Sigh.
Seems like most Portlanders were born and raised there; graduated from high school, married their sweetheart and bought a house down the street from their parents. It's charming and it's quaint and I don't mean that in a condescending way. There's something really comforting about that and, as someone who's moved across the country, there's definitely a twinge of jealousy. Being so cradled by a community, being in the bosom of a big family, growing up in a small town and keeping those same friends, raising kids with the same folks you grew up with. . . there's a safety net and a comfort there that I'll never know.
But that's also a very limited experience and that isolation really keeps Portland from progressing, socially. But it is starting to open up, to get more "outsiders" moving in from all over the country, bringing their more progressive ideas and ideals. Much of Portland is open to this change, but there are those who are resistant. Those who love it there because it's a small Christian town where they don't have to worry much about gays or feminists, where they love that the dress code requires boys to have short hair and girls to keep their shoulders covered at school.
I've seen change come slowly to the area. A girl last year in neighboring Corpus Christi fought tooth-and-nail to start a gay-straight alliance at her high school. The response to this girl's request was nothing less than repulsive and the school refused her until the ACLU stepped in. But it brought some gay activists out of the woodwork and it seems that the activist community in South Texas is now slowly finding its legs. I have no doubt that this tragedy will grow the ranks of LGBT activists in South Texas.
So as I watch this tiny town in South Texas appear more and more on the news as this horrid tragedy is played out, I think about the wonderful people there and the changes that will come. Changes most of us have taken for granted outside the confines of small towns. I think about the handful of gay folks I know there and I think about how much more uncomfortable, threatened they feel now.
But mostly I'm thinking about the gay youth I met and I want to tell them that Portland isn't a bad place, it's just a small town. That if they head out of South Texas, they'll find a whole different world waiting for them, ready for them in a way that Portland's just . . . not. And that Portland will catch up; it's just going to take a while. And it's going to take some activism.
So if any South-Texans head out into the big world, they should definitely bring a piece of that big world back to South Texas.
Posted by "Equality Texas Supporter" who wishes to remain anonymous.
Houston's pride celebration is this Saturday and Equality Texas will be there! We've got a booth at the festival from 1 - 7 pm and will be handing out Equality Texas Swag. More importantly we'll be letting people know how they can get involved in the effort to make Texas a place where all people are treated equality regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. (Check out the map below to see our booth location.)
The parade kicks off at 8:15 pm (those of you who've been to Houston during June will understand why the parade is after sundown).
We're still looking for volunteers who can help out during the festival. If you've got an hour to spare to sit in our booth and talk to people e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope to see you there.
View Equality Texas at Pride Houston in a larger map
Starting at the top, Gilberto Hinojosa was elected the first Latino state party chair. He is from Rio Grande Valley and a clear ally. I heard his speech at the Stonewall caucus where he talked about his support of marriage equality through the lens of how he would feel if his daughters weren’t able to marry the person they loved. I’m personally excited about what he can do for the state party, which hasn’t won a statewide election since 1994.
In addition to the party chair, elections for the State Democratic Executive Committee took place. One example is the election of Paul Tran, an out gay Asian cisgender male from Dallas. He replaces longtime SDEC member Ken Molberg. The many turnovers are significant as at the SDEC’s last meeting in November 2011, they decided to not put marriage equality on the primary ballot. Having more LGBT members on the SDEC will allow for them to share their personal stories and make it more difficult for the body to vote against it another time.
Meghan Stabler, a white transsexual woman, was elected to be a national delegate to the 2012 Democratic state convention. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Human Rights Campaign and a member of the Obama 2012 LGBT Leadership Circle. She brought her very cute daughter.
Additionally Glen Maxey won his race to be on the Democratic National Committee. He was elected the first out gay white cisgender Texas legislator. He succeeds Sue Lovell on the DNC where he will fight to spend money in Texas to make it a swing state. I think I gave out over 100 “Ya Basta” stickers to attendees to help out with his race.
Soon to be the second ever out legislator in Texas and the first woman from her district, Mary Gonzalez, a cisgender Latina lesbian, was recognized as a rising star for her election to the state house in El Paso. After spending months @replying her on twitter (@MaryG_HD75) I had the fantastic opportunity to finally meet her and I can say that district 75 has elected a strong new leader who is so much more than just a ‘gay’ candidate. She brings her many identities to the job and will boldly represent their needs in the House including the high levels of poverty and crucial infrastructure developments in the roughly 200 Colonias in the district.
Also running to be an out member of the Texas house is Ann Johnson, a white cisgender lesbian from Houston. I had the fortune of attending the Victory Fund candidate and campaign training with her this February in Tampa Florida. She is a very thoughtful and deliberate attorney who I know will make an excellent legislator. Proving how much of a fighter she is, Ann Johnson attended the convention Stonewall caucus meeting the day after knee surgery on crutches. Johnson is running for House District 134.
After the election of the new party leadership and speeches by candidates, we adopted the platform which for the first time included strong language for marriage equality and second parent adoption. It also included a plank for workplace protection laws as currently hardworking LGBT Texans can be fired just for being who they are.
While all the talk of marriage was heartening, I would have liked to have seen a greater emphasis on the multitude of issues that face LGBT Texans. Issues of race, class, and gender identity can get drowned out with the focus on marriage equality. It made me feel like we were reduced to marriage and our full lives were made invisible. I hope that trend is reversed at the national convention, where the major platform discussion will be on marriage equality. I urge all LGBT people attending the national convention to include all our issues and parts of the community in the discussion and not only marriage.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
Conservatives are abuzz over a new study by University of Texas at Austin associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus that purports to claim children of straight married parents do better on a number of social, emotional and relationship outcomes than the children of same-sex parents. Homophobic groups like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Family Research Council and Texas Eagle Forum are trumpeting the study as proof of the dangers of gay parenting.
In reality, the study is fatally flawed in its methodology and cannot make any accurate conclusions about same-sex parenting.
Read additional reports on the Regnerus study:
The bottom line is the study is not about same-sex parenting. The study did not compare married gay parents to married straight parents. The study does demonstrate the need for stability in a home environment in order to provide the best possible outcomes for children. The children in this study (now 18 to 39 years old) were not afforded that stability because same-sex couples were not allowed to marry in the past.
We can agree with the study's findings that stability and a loving environment are critically important in the upbringing of children. That is all the more reason to support marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Equality Texas advocates and lobbies for the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
Equality Texas Foundation educates and engages the public about policies and their effect on Texans of all sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions.
Lobby Day 2013 is March 11, 2013!
Join us across the Web
|The Fayette Co Courthouse in La Grange|
For the last couple of months the Equality Texas Foundation has been working with local volunteers to bring our Equality Project Training to La Grange, a town about an hour east of Austin. If you’re not familiar with the Equality Project it’s our day long training designed to teach people about LGBT issues in the legislature and how to establish and maintain relationships with elected officials.
What’s been interesting, as I travel around the state, is the response I’ve gotten from people when they learn we’re organizing in La Grange. Inevitably it’s been some variation on:
“Good luck with that! Are there even any LGBT in La Grange?”
Well for starters: of course there are LGBT people in La Grange! But beyond that, asking if there are LGBT people in La Grange is the wrong question, the right question is:
“Are there people who want to live in a state where everyone is treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression in La Grange?”
The answer to that is a resounding YES!
I started working on bringing the Equality Project to this part of the state because it is represented in the Texas House by Rep. Louis Kolkhorst, who chairs the House Public Health Committee. Public Health decides the fate of several pieces of important legislation, including bills designed to insure that gay and lesbian parents have the same legal rights with respect to their children that straight parents have (an issue supported by 68.8% of Texas voters).
I called every phone number we have for people in Kolkhorst’s district and managed to get in contact with an energetic (straight) retired lawyer named Vickie who agreed to meet me for coffee. Vickie brought two friends with her to that meeting and the four of us talked about what was happening in their community and about how Equality Texas could help.
Together we decided that it was a good idea to bring the Equality Project to La Grange. So this Saturday, June 16th, we’re going to spend the day learning how to effectively communicate with elected officials.
What’s amazing is that it’s not just going to be Vickie, her two friends and myself at the training. So far 14 people have signed up to attend and we’re hopeful we’ll have even more on Saturday.
From one person, to three, to fourteen… and who knows where we’ll go next.
That’s why Equality Texas is in La Grange, because it’s crucial that people there and in Temple and Killeen and La Porte and every other Texas city, big and small, talk to their elected officials and tell them that they want to live in a state where everyone is treated equality, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
If you are in the La Grange area (and I have every confidence that some of you are) and would like to attend Saturday’s training you can sign up here. If you would like to bring the Equality Project to your town, no matter how small, contact me at email@example.com
Democratic consultant and writer
But Obama's not the only Democrat who came over the fence from the wrong side of history. As a campaign consultant, I helped elect congressmen who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and cosponsored the Federal Marriage Amendment, in effect going along with marital segregation to get along in politics. I told myself that it was my job to elect Democrats, and it was their job to change the world. I gritted my teeth through the separate-but-equal fiction of civil unions, and when Obama made his announcement, my first thought was about how my clients might be hurt by this issue. On the central civil rights issue of my generation, I have not covered myself in glory.
When I was a young man, I would have judged myself harshly. I used to hate politicians such as the late Bob Bullock, the late icon of Texas Democratic politics, for a similar reason. When I moved to Texas in the early 1990s to work for Gov. Ann Richards, I was told that Bullock, then the lieutenant governor, had voted for 11 pro-segregation bills when he served in the Texas House in the 1950s. When I heard that, I formed a hardened opinion of the man. Bullock was on the wrong side of history. Much later in life, I found out that Bullock played a key role in making it possible for blacks to win seats in the legislature in the 1970s, forcing me to reconsider how I viewed the man's career.
The arc of history is long and bends toward progress, but it usually starts in a bad place. Former congressman Chris Bell knows this, because he went through his own reevaluation on gay marriage. "I was pleased and certainly understood where he [Obama] was coming from, because I do think it has been an evolution for a lot of people, including myself," he said recently.
Bell's first campaign was for an at-large seat on the Houston City Council in 1995. "My very first fundraiser was at a gay friend's home," said Bell, where he remembers getting a question about marriage equality. Before he could answer, one of the hosts cut off the Q-and-A. "Someone pulled me over and said, 'You just have to stay away from that issue. There's not even agreement within the gay community on that issue. It's lethal,'" Bell recalled.
It was a different time, but that's what some folks said about segregation. Had he been allowed to answer it, "I think I would have said I was opposed to it," Bell said. "That was before we had any discussion about civil unions. Back then the big issue was domestic partner benefits for city workers. That was considered radical."
Bell ran for Houston Mayor in 2001 on the same ballot as a local referendum to repeal the domestic partner benefits. When the issue came up at candidates' forums, he proudly defended his votes in favor of the law, thinking the issue was a sure winner. He was wrong, and both he and the law lost badly on Election Day.
"Then, all of a sudden, I wind up in Congress, and people are talking more and more about gay marriage and civil unions," said Bell. Civil unions seemed like a good idea, he said, but not gay marriage.
As long as I've known him -- and I worked on his mayoral race, managed his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, and consulted for his subsequent state senate run -- Bell had always sincerely supported LGBT equality but stopped short when it came to marriage. "When you grow up and marriage means one thing," said Bell, "and you're being asked to think about it in a completely different context, it takes some time to get your arms around that."
After Bell left politics in 2008, his views on marriage equality started changing as rapidly as the world around him. He learned that gay and lesbian marriages split up less often than heterosexual ones. His friends attended gay weddings out of state and told Bell how touching and, well, normal it all seemed. Soon Bell had decided that "what's fair for the straight community is fair for the gay community, as well," and in 2010 he spoke at the wedding of his former congressional chief of staff, John Michael Gonzalez, to his longtime partner. "By the time they got married, it was icing on the cake, I guess," said Bell.
Bell is like thousands of other Democrats out there who don't get to explain their change of heart onThe View, stuck with a public record that puts him at odds with his own feelings, not to mention future generations.
"Young people just don't understand what we're talking about. That kind of bigotry is absolutely foreign to them," said Bell. "The confusion will be why it was such a big issue back in the day."
The parallels to racial integration are unmistakable, and Bell sees "some parallels there," though he qualified, "It wasn't like I was George Wallace, standing in the door of the school."
"I didn't really know that you needed marriage to have equality. Now it sounds pretty stupid to say that," he said. "This day and age, you can't imagine someone taking a stand against someone for the color of their skin. Folks will look back and maybe see some of this in the same light."
|Paul Broussard in 1991 (left)
and Jon Buice today (right)
Almost exactly twenty-one years ago, on July 3, 1991, ten young men from The Woodlands, TX drove to Houston's historically LGBT neighborhood to "beat up some queers." By the end of the night one gay man, Paul Broussard, would lie dying, bleeding onto the sidewalk from the wounds that would later claim his life.
The Woodlands ten, as the group would come to be known, drove through the streets of Houston's Montrose neighborhood asking strangers if they knew the location of a popular gay bar. Broussard, friendly and trusting enough to help a stranger, gave the men directions, marking him as the randomly selected target of their hate.
Attacked with steel-toed boots, nail-studded 2x4's, and a knife, Broussard suffering abrasions, a broken rib, bruised testicles and three stab wounds. His attackers rummaged through his pockets for souvenirs, while his wounds bled.
Now Jon Buice, the man who held the knife that night, is up for parole.
Equality Texas joins a coalition of concerned citizens and elected officials asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to ensure Buice completes his sentence. All ten men responsible for Broussard's brutal death were convicted for their crimes, but only Buice, the man who repeatedly stabbed Broussard, remains behind bars.
|Broussard and his mother, Nancy Rodriguez|
Paul Broussard died because Jon Buice and his friends thought that no-one would mourn the death of a "queer."
Paul Broussard died because Jon Buice and his friends thought it was entertaining to beat, kick and stab another human being for no reason other than he was gay.
Paul Broussard died because Jon Buice and his friends refused to acknowledge that LGBT people have families and friends and communities where they are loved and needed...
Please join Equality Texas and people from around the state in contacting the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and asking them to ensure Jon Buice completes the sentence he received for the brutal murder of Paul Broussard that balmy June night.
You may contact the Board at:
State of Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Review and Release Processing
TDCJ Parole Division
PO Box 13401
Austin, TX 78711
Please reference: Jon Buice (TDCJ #630496)
You can view Equality Texas' letter to the board here.