Wednesday, May 30, 2007

National Poll Shows Increasing Tolerance

Gallup has just released new polling data that indicates dramatic shifts in the way Americans view homosexuals. A historically strong majority of Americans feel that homosexual relations should be legal and that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle. Additionally, support for marriage equality is surging nationally, just as support for gay adoption is surging in Houston. Since 1977, the number of Americans who understand that homosexuality is an inborn trait, not a learned behavior, has also grown dramatically. This is extremely significant, as Gallup has found that people who understand the true roots of sexual orientation are much moire likely to advocate for equality and tolerance.

Gallup has also uncovered interesting correlations between homosexual preference and political affiliation. As would be expected, a majority of Republicans feel that homosexuality is unacceptable. Interestingly, a strong majority - 60% - of independent voters are tolerant of homosexuals. Nearly 3/4 of Democrats are also tolerant of homosexuals.

It seems clear that American voters are no longer so sharply divided in their views on homosexuality. With Republican self-identification declining and self identified Democrats and independents on the rise, politicians need not hedge in their support for GLBT Americans anymore. As GLBT activists, we have the ability to further progress public opinion towards complete tolerance. We need only talk about our lives, our families, and our hardships, and our political power grows. We have the momentum. Lets run with it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

John Edwards' HRC Questionnaire

Presidential candidate, John Edwards, has been setting himself apart from his rivals, by reaching out to the GLBT community. Most recently, he has made his answers to the H.R.C. candidate questionnaire public. Here's how he answered their questions:

1. Currently, there is no federal law protecting individuals from job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Qualified, hardworking Americans can still be denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise be discriminated against just because of their sexual orientation in 33 states and because of their gender identity in 42 states As president, would you support and work for passage of a federal bill that would prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. Workers should be judged by the quality of their performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. While in the Senate, I cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I also believe that stronger enforcement is necessary to prevent employment discrimination by federal agencies.

2. Currently the federal hate crimes law does not protect all Americans from bias-motivated violence. Would you support federal legislation that adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to existing federal law giving authority to the federal government to investigate and prosecute violent crimes (H.R. 1592)? This authority already exists for crimes committed because of the victim's race, color, religion and national origin and because they were attempting to exercise a federally protected right.
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. Everyone is entitled to live in dignity without fear of violence. We should strengthen the ability of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute hate crimes based on race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity. While in the Senate, I cosponsored legislation to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

3. New treatments have improved the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS, but those treatments are expensive, and not available to everyone who needs them. Years of flat-funding for the Ryan White Care Act has forced states across the country to institute waiting lists, limit formularies, and other cost containment measures. The CARE Act provides access to lifesaving treatment and care for over half a million low-income Americans with HIV/AIDS. Would you support increased funding for this critical program?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. There is an urgent need for more resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As a member of the
U.S. Senate, I was proud to fight for greater funding for the battle against HIV/AIDS, and I co-sponsored the Ryan White CARE Act. As president, I will continue the fight for the funding that this program critically needs.

4. Would you support the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), S. 860, federal legislation that would allows states the option to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV positive Americans. Currently, only Americans that can be considered disabled are eligible for Medicaid coverage, excluding those who are HIV positive but have no symptoms of the disease?
X Support __Oppose


Would you support increased funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and research?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to grow in the
United States and around the world. I support allowing states to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV-positive Americans and more funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research. My plan to guarantee quality affordable health care for every man, woman and child in America will empower people to prevent, test, and treat HIV without fear of losing benefits if they change or lose their job.

5. Would you support the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act which would create a federal grant program to channel money to states that choose to teach comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education for
America's students that includes science-based prevention methods?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I support comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education for young people that includes information on both abstinence and contraception.

6. Currently, only
Massachusetts recognizes equal marriage rights for same sex couples. Do you believe the civil institution of marriage (with absolutely no requirements imposed on religious institutions) should be made legally available to two committed adults of the same sex?
__Support X Oppose

If you do not believe that civil marriage for same-sex couples should be made available to same-sex couples on the same basis as opposite sex couples, is there any legal construct you do embrace that would extend legal recognition to same sex couples?

Comments :

If a state has taken the steps to recognize same sex couples and their families for purposes of state-based benefits, rights, privileges and responsibilities (such as marriage in Massachusetts and civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut), should the federal government recognize the state's legal recognition of such couples and families for purposes of federal benefits and tax treatment?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I believe that couples in committed, long-term relationships should have the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities, whether they are straight couples or same-sex couples. I support civil unions to guarantee gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples, including inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, equal pension and health care benefits, and all of the 1,100 other legal protections government affords married couples. I support the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act provision that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships. Gay marriage is an issue I feel internal conflict about and I continue to struggle with it. However, I believe the right president could lead the country toward consensus around equal rights and benefits for all couples in committed, long-term relationships.

7. According to a 2004 GAO report, over 1,100 benefits, rights and privileges are provided to married couples and their families in federal law that are not available to same-sex couples. Do you support extending federal benefits, rights, privileges and responsibilities to same-sex couples (and their children) provided the partnership meets certain federal standards of commitment and mutuality of interest?
X Support __Oppose


Specifically, do you support the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover domestic partners and their children?
X Support __Oppose


Do you support modifying the Social Security System to pay survivor benefits to the same-sex partners of gay and lesbian people?
X Support __Oppose


Do you support fair and equal tax treatment of same sex couples on the same basis as married couples?
X Support __Oppose


8. Many gay and lesbian people serve in the federal government but do not receive the same health insurance and other employee benefits of married couples. Do you support domestic partner coverage for gay and lesbian employees of the civilian federal workforce?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I support extending health care and other benefits to the committed gay and lesbian partners of federal employees.

9. While 47 states allow gay and lesbian people to adopt children, some legislators are pushing to prohibit capable, committed adults from adopting because of their sexual orientation. As president, would you support giving appropriate judicial authorities the full authority to make decisions on adoption based on the best interest of the child, without bans based solely on sexual orientation?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I believe that gay and lesbian parents should be able to adopt children just like any other parents. There are over 120,000 children waiting for homes in our nation's foster care system. Adoption placements should be decided by judges and adoption agencies based upon the best interests of the children. Both members of a same-sex couple raising children together should be able to form a legal relationship with their children.

10. Would you support the Uniting American Families Act, which would enable an American citizen to petition for immigration sponsorship for a same-sex partner, and the INS would treat the relationships between opposite and same-sex couples in the same manner under the immigration code?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I believe that all families should be treated in the same manner by our immigration laws.

11. Would you support a congressional repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which would allow gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers the right to serve openly in the military as is currently the policy in nearly every NATO country (H.R. 1246)?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I oppose the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving in our military.
The military ought to treat all service members equally and in a way that promotes national security, without regard to their sexual orientation

Monday, May 21, 2007

Noel Freeman and Andy Neill Endorse Melissa Noriega

Earlier this Spring the Houston GLBT political Caucus faced a tough decision. Three impressive candidates sought our endorsement, as they began their campaigns for Houston City Council. In the end, we got behind Melissa Noriega, because she demonstrated extremely strong viability and a commitment to GLBT equality. She now enters the run-off campaign with a wide lead over her rival, and I'm happy to report that, in the last week, both Noel Freeman and Andy Neill, the two other candidates who originally screened with us, have formally endorsed Noriega.

Noel Freeman made his announcement in a press release, May 14th.

Former Houston City Council candidate Noel Freeman has officially endorsed Melissa Noriega for the June 16 runoff for the Council seat vacated by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs last November. Noriega received the most votes in Saturday‚s special election.

Freeman, a moderate Republican, endorsed Noriega due to her ability to provide stronger influence in
Austin on behalf of Houstonians and a personal
relationship that has grown during the campaign. "While Melissa and I may disagree ideologically on several issues, we agree on a number of issues that are very important to me, and her relationships with state legislators of both parties will serve Houstonians well," Freeman said. "We have also had the chance to get to know each other better over the course of the campaign, and I believe she is the candidate who really has Houston‚s best interests at heart."

By endorsing Noriega, Freeman seeks to reinforce the need for a stronger non-partisan environment on
Houston's City Council. "I wish we could truly embrace the
non-partisan nature of Council that was intended when our City Charter was written." he said. "After all, political affiliation doesn't determine whether or not your trash gets picked up or if your house is going to flood when it rains."

Andy Neill posted his endorsement on his website on May 16th.
As a registered Independent and a candidate for City Council during the current Special Election cycle, I have been granted a truly unique vantage point from which to assess fellow competitors and their messages of change for the City of Houston. It’s from that perspective that I feel compelled to endorse candidate Melissa Noreiga for the vacant At-Large position 3 seat in the upcoming runoff.

Melissa Noriega has earned my admiration and respect with her compassion, sincerity, and firm grasp of the complex issues that affect our citizens on a daily basis.

encourage everyone to do their homework on the issues that affect them
and their
families and make their own choice. I however have made mine and I am proud to support Melissa Noriega over the coming weeks.

I look to forward to watching both Noel Freeman and Andy Neill, as they continue to enrich our city with there service. If either decide to run run for office again -- and I hope they do -- I deeply wish that they seek our caucus' endorsement again. Their ideas were compelling and exciting, and our city is lucky to have such exceptional young leaders. I'm sure Melissa is deeply honored to have their support.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A New Report Details the Costs of Discrimination

In March The Williams Institute, a think tank that examines sexual orientation and public policy, released a new study that details the costs of denying gay, lesbian, and bisexual parents the right to adopt and provide foster care.

Here are some of the most noteworthy conclusions:
  • Currently in Texas, there are over 3,500 adopted children in LGB families. Texas ranks fourth in the nation for LGB adoptions.
  • If the Texas Legislature banned GLB foster care, considering the costs of new foster parent recruitment /training and the additional costs of institutional and congregate care facilities, Texas would have to spend an estimated $2,500,00 dollars a year to make up for these valuable, lost LGB parents.
  • In the United Sates, an estimated 14,100 foster children are living with LGB parents. These children make up approximately three percent of all foster children in the U.S.
  • A national ban on GLB foster care would cost the government from $87 to $130 billion dollars each year.
  • Nationally, an estimated 2 million LGB people are interested in adopting. Over 50 percent of gay men and 41 percent of lesbians want to have a child.
  • Same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more educated, and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents.
The complete report is fascinating. Its presentation is admirably objective, and its methodology appears very sound. This type of study is so important, as it helps us destroy stereotypes of LGB. In addition to all the new numbers this report has produced, I was surprised to learn that a number of other influential professional organizations and institutions, including the American Medical Association, The American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, have made public findings that encourage GLB adoption and foster care.

Check out the William's Institute.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Victory Fund Candidates

The Victory Fund trains and endorses GLBT people seeking public office. This spring they’ve endorsed four candidates in Texas. There are so many excellent, out and proud, GLBT candidates these days. It's really amazing how much progress we've made. There's even a possibility that both Dallas and Houston will have openly homosexual mayors in just as few years. amazing!

Here's how the Victory Fund describes their candidates:

Elena Guajardo

Candidate for City Council, San Antonio

Elena Guajardo, the first openly LGBT person to be elected in San Antonio, is seeking reelection for her second and final term. Elena Guajardo made history in 2004 when she won a seat on the San Antonio City Council, becoming the first openly LGBT person to be elected there.

Joseph Hernandez

Candidate for City Council, District 3, Dallas

With a record of extensive community involvement, Joseph Hernandez is running to replace Ed Oakley, now running for mayor, on the Dallas City Council. When elected, Joseph will become the second consecutive LGBT candidate to represent the 3rd District.

Chris Moss

Candidate for City Council, Frisco

Chris Moss is running as a first-time candidate for the Frisco City Council. If elected he will make history by becoming the first openly LGBT elected official in the city. Chris is currently an openly LGBT appointed official serving on the Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission.

Ed Oakley

Candidate for Mayor, Dallas

If elected, Ed Oakley will become the first openly LGBT mayor of one of the ten biggest cities in America. Ed is currently serving in his third term on the Dallas City Council. As one of the few mayoral candidates representing the southern sector of Dallas, Ed has the advantage of a connection to this constituency, which has become extremely important in delivering elections to Democrats over the last few years. He has already been endorsed by several local leaders, including fellow Councilman Bill Blaydes, a Republican. Moreover, the Dallas area has been very good to openly LGBT candidates in recent elections. They now have an openly LGBT County Sheriff, Lupe, an openly LGBT District Clerk, Gary Fitzsimmons, and openly LBGT County Judge, Jim Foster.

Go Vote!

GLBTube #4

This week's crop-o-clips are all home grown, right here in Texas.

1. Does Dallas have an openly gay mayoral candidate? Does the Dallas Voice produce news videos on YouTube? I think this clip will answer those questions and more.

2. Just last month, Houston’s own Bayou City Boy’s Club threw their infamous, annual Jungle Party to raise money for charity. Watch this clip, and maybe you'll see a neighbor or friend among the Twinky tarzans and the hip-shaking homos. Oh man! is that a Jungle Jack I see?! This segment was produced by HereTV - the people that bring you Dante's Cove and The Liar. Damn... I knew Jack was famous, but I had no idea!

3. A study in contrasts: This clip from KLRU's show Special Session profiles two freshman legislators, Houston State Senator Dan Patrick and Corpus Christi State Rep. Juan Garcia. After so many shameless publicity stunts, Patrick, an embarrassment to all Houstonians, surely needs no introduction. Juan Garcia, on the other hand, is someone our community should be watching. Some of you may remember Garcia's nail-bitingly close victory over Gene Seaman last fall. He's an ambitious Democrat, who's done alright by the GLBT this session. Maybe we can push him to take the lead on some things next time. I love how hard working and humble Garcia looks when profiled next to Patrick.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Elect Noriega: The Knockout Punch to Tom Delay

Cross posted at Burnt Orange Report

The May 12th special election to fill the Houston City Council seat vacated by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs has received very little press coverage, and everyone agrees that Election Day promises low voter turnout. Coming off all the exciting victories of 2006, this race seems to be flying under the radar, but electing Melissa Noriega should be important to progressive voters everywhere. It’s certainly important to Houston’s GLBT community, as we have the opportunity to replace an adversary on council with a friend, but, beyond that, it seems to me that electing Noriega would deliver one more knockout punch to the regressive, corrupt politics of Tom Delay.

As Election Day approaches, I get more and more excited about Melissa Noriega. Earlier this spring, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus enthusiastically endorsed Melissa, because she articulated a sincere commitment to GLBT equality and demonstrated incredibly strong viability. It was clear then that Melissa was certainly going to make a very strong run, and today, our early impressions of Noriega are being fulfilled in impressive ways. Just check out her F.E.C. filings. The Noriega campaign is doing a great job, out raising all other the other candidates by a large margin. If she wins, all Houstonians can count on her to be a principled, reasonable, and effective leader, but I think her victory has a broader, historic significance. The whole sordid tale of corruption, indictments, resignations, law suits, write-ins, and “Gibbs Gaffes” ends with the election of Melissa Noriega.

Let’s review the squalid saga that led up to this election:

§ January 3, 2006: Jack Abramoff, long time associate of Tom Delay, pleads guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy charges.

§ March 7, 2006: Tom Delay wins a contested district 22 primary election by the smallest margin of his career.

§ March 31, 2006: Tony Rudy, Tom Delay’s former deputy chief of staff, pleads guilty to corruption charges connected to the Abramoff scandal.

§ April 3rd, 2006: Tom Delay announces that he will, in fact, not seek reelection, in the wake of Rudy’s guilty plea. Delay also announces that he will resign from the United States House of Representatives effective June 9, 2006

§ August 3, 2006: a three member panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the decision of a district judge stating that Delay’s name must stay on the November ballot. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected a request for the Supreme Court to hear the case before the November election, effectively ending Delay’s hopes of removing his name from the ballot.

§ August 17, 2006: Houston City Council Member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs becomes the officially endorsed Republican write-in candidate to face Democrat Nick Lampson in the race for House District 22.

§ November 7th, 2006: Nick Lampson wins the election to represent district 22. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs wins a special election to serve the remainder of Tom Delay’s term, forcing her to resign her Houston City Council seat.

§ November 15, 2007: Just eight days after winning election, after rumors of intense contention, seven Gibbs’ staff members resigned in mass walkout. One staffer conceded that after working with Gibbs for just over a week she “was not a boss we wanted to work for.”

§ January 31, 2007: With a strong contingent of progressive leaders standing behind her, Melissa Noriega kicks off her campaign to replace Gibbs on Houston City Council.

Even though this race has received very little attention, electing Melissa Noriega is so important. Her victory will send a strong message, rejecting the corrupt politics of Tom Delay.

Her victory is not assured, though. Send her some money. Volunteer with the GLBT Caucus. We’re block-walking, rallying, and phone banking all the way to election day. Let’s knock them out.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Guest Post: Melissa Noriega Campaign Thanks the GLBT Caucus!

Cross posted at Burnt Orange Report


This is the Melissa Noriega Campaign. It’s time to vote! Early voting in the May 12th special election to fill the unexpired term of Shelley Sekula-Gibbs for Houston City Council At-Large, Position 3 begins today, April 30th, and continues through Tuesday, May 8th. Election Day is Saturday, May 12th.

And, it’s time to thank the Houston GLBT Caucus for all of your work knocking on doors, making phone calls, putting out yard signs and getting out the word about Melissa. This City Council seat is important. The person who wins has the opportunity to be a part of ensuring our city has a vibrant future. Melissa Noriega is the candidate who will pull diverse groups together around common ground, to make our neighborhoods safer, our environment healthier and our government more effective.

This election is not a done deal. While Melissa has received many important endorsements, including the Caucus, the Houston Chronicle, police, fire, Labor, elected officials and other business and community members, it’s now up to the voters to go to the polls and make their voices heard.

This is expected to be a very low turnout election. It’s important that everyone stay focused and work from now to election day to get out the vote, whether it’s by making phone calls to voters, emailing everyone you know to encourage them to vote for Melissa or talking to your friends and co-workers about the election. Early voting is important, as the number of polling locations for Election Day has been reduced. An interactive early voting map, with locations and schedules, can be found at

If you haven’t had a chance to meet Melissa, you can do that this week at Wednesday’s Caucus meeting.

Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 PM

GLBT Political Caucus Wine Reception and General Meeting

Havens Center
1827 W Alabama St, Houston, TX

Thank you again, for your endorsement and - Let’s Get Out the Vote for Melissa!

The Melissa Noriega Campaign