#Texas

College Student Banned From Having Same-Sex Guests In Dorm

Maybe Austin isn't as progressive as we thought?

A University of Texas (UT) student living in a private dormitory is accusing the residence of discriminating against her. The Scottish Rite Dormitory (SRD) is private all-female home for more than 300 women. The UT freshman, Kaj Baker, says she’s the only one at SRD not allowed to have ANY guests.

Apparently there have been complaints about her and her female friend using the study lounge too much.  Without the school speaking up, we do not know if the complaints highlight poor activity, but apparently the couple fell asleep once in the lounge.

CBSAustin reports on the issue.

 

 

“They told me that girls need to feel safe here, and I asked her if we made people feel unsafe. She said, ‘I'm not going there. I'm not going there just yet,’” Baker recalls. Baker recorded a half-hour meeting with SRD officials. She shared those recordings with CBS Austin. In one clip Baker asks what rules she’s broken but does not receive an answer.

Scottish Rite Dormitory strives to create an environment which allows our residents to focus on completing their higher education goals while meeting our Parent's expectation of creating an atmosphere that fosters the growth and well being of their daughters while attending the University. We have no further comment. Thank you.

- Email response from SRD director Mary Mazurek

“If this guest ban was simply about the rules then us being gay or me being gay should have never been brought into it at all,” Baker says.

Of course this does not speak ill of Austin, but it does point a finger at a private business that has allegedly chosen to discriminate against one of its tenants.


Have any of our college readers dealt with a similar case of discrimination?


h/t: CBSAustin

Out Texas Councilman Loses Seat After Nude Photos From Grindr Lead To His Recall

While this November 6th’s midterm elections saw several LGBTQ politicians being elected into office, one gay man from Texas was sadly kicked out.

19-year-old Cross Coburn was an openly gay councilman at Groves, Texas only a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, Coburn, who had only served one year of his two-year term, had become the subject of a sex scandal earlier this year.

According to the New York Times, Groves City hall received an anonymous package nine months ago. The package delivered in February contained nude photos of Coburn that were sent through Grindr. Shortly afterwards, Coburn was called into a meeting over a “personal matter.”

“At that point I was confused,” Coburn told the NY Times. “I was a little shocked. I didn’t know what he meant.”

At the meeting, Coburn was presented with the photos. According to Coburn, he was then offered the option of resigning or relenting to an unspecified investigation. Coburn refused both options.

According to Texas Monthly, the local news caught wind of the package. After that, Coburn’s morals were brought into question by the conservative community. This eventually surmounted in a recall petition that garnered over 900 signatures.

“Someone organized the equivalent of a tar-and-feathering to get him removed from office,” said Chuck Smith, the chief executive of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas, to the Times.

In response, Coburn shared that he didn’t regret the messages or the photos.

“I regret that it got out, but I will never regret being human,” said Coburn. “I do not believe that me having consensual conversations with another adult has any merit to how I can perform my duties.”

After the recall was greenlit, over 2,400 citizens (62 percent of the votes) voted against Coburn.

That said, Coburn isn’t taking this situation lying down. He is now challenging the recall and has filed a complaint with the District Court of Jefferson County.

In the now filed complaint, Coburn says that some recall petition signatures were forged, that Mayor Brad Bailey and Councilman Kyle Hollier helped arrange the recall campaign, and that he was initially blackmailed on Grindr.

In addition, Coburn notes how this controversy has instill a new sense of political energy within him.

“It has given me a sense of duty,” he remarked.

h/t: New York Times, Texas Monthly

Shooter Outside Texas Gay Nightclub is Still At Large

A typical night at one of San Antonio’s gay watering holes, Pegasus Nightclub, turned into a nightmare for patrons. According to My San Antonio, a customer was kicked out of the bar around 12:30 a.m. on Monday October 8th and returned shortly after and opened gun fire on patrons outside of the bar near a taco stand. Two men and one woman were struck by the gun fire that sent San Antonio’s gay strip running in a frenzy. According to San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, the man, in his 40s, had apparently had too much to drink and it appears he returned to retaliate. The suspect remains at large.

Mike Rodriguez, manager of Pegasus shared with KSAT.com:

Two gentlemen were getting food. A man behind them said it was taking too long, called one of the gentleman a name. They started to argue and fight security broke it up, escorted them out. One of the gentleman went to his car and got a gun, stood at the corner and fired three shots.

The victims of the shooting, who are all in their 20s, suffered non-life threatening injuries and were transported immediately to Brooke Army Medical Center. They are expected to make full recoveries.

The incident is under investigation, seeking camera footage and questioning any witnesses. It is not known if they shooter had any direct relationship with the victims.

Pegasus Nightclub offered their sympathies to their patrons and everyone involved:

 

They're also taking a little time to process and recharge before opening their doors again to the public

h/t: My San Antonio, KSAT.com

Robot Sex Brothel Set To Open In Houston

Are robot sex brothels the wave of the future?

Businessman Yuval Gavriel has opened one location in Toronto, called KinkySdollS, and has announced a second location in Houston set to open in the next few weeks.

Before launching his new business endeavor, he consulted with an attorney to check out any possible legal issues.

"He went through all the laws and all of the regulations and currently there are no regulations for this kind of service," Gavriel said.

However, one lawyer did advise him to perhaps avoid the use of the word “brothel.”

Instead, Gavriel will be running a “showroom” where for $60 customers can have a half-hour 'try before you buy' with a life-sized doll that’s “warm and ready to play.”

After the “test drive,” folks will return the robots for cleaning.

Response to the announcement has, of course, managed to bring outrage from some folks calling for regulations against sex robot brothels.

According to John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, sex robots are currently legal in 49 states. The lone holdout would be Alabama which has a state-wide ban on sex toys.

Lawmakers in the U.S. House have already unanimously passed the CREEPER Act authored by Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., in June to ban importation and interstate commerce involving sex dolls that resemble children. The Senate hasn’t acted on the legislation at this time.

A non-profit group called Elijah Rising, whose mission is to end sex trafficking, has launched a  petition protesting the “showroom” in Houston. The effort has already garnered over 6,700 signatures.

One local citizen, Andrea Paul, told Fox News affiliate KTRK, "There's kids around here and it's a family-oriented neighborhood and I live right here and to have that here is just gross."

Comments on a Fox News post about the “showroom” echoed that sentiment, but there were also some that ranged from more accepting of the concept to downright hilarious:

• “This is better than prostitution, so I don't see anything wrong with it. Weird, but not immoral.”

• “Not for me; however it does not violate my rights nor anyone else’s, nor does it come at any cost to me. So, I say ‘have at it.’”

• “These robots are the future. Men can have a relationship, a friend, a fling, or not, and don’t have to worry about it kissing and telling, or just plain making up a story. This is awesome. Finally, the female replacement we’ve longed for since Eve got Adam in trouble. Finally; sports, beer, video games, and this. Jackpot!”

• "Brings a whole new meaning to the term 'computer virus' I wonder if there is an antibiotic for that??"

• "I sure hope they are able to open soon. My roomba has a birthday coming up and I want to take him out. Saw him chasing the cat again the other day, so I want someone more his type!"

Gavriel told the Washington Examiner that he’s currently in talks with investors to open more locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. He hopes to have 10 locations open by 2020.

All of the news footage seems to feature female robots. No word on whether Gavriel will include male robots as well.

(h/t Washington Examiner)

Hillary Clinton Cut From History Lessons In Texas Public Schools

The Texas State Board of Education voted last week to remove former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, from the state’s history curriculum.

According to DallasNews.com, the move came as part of an effort to “streamline” educational materials for millions of students who attend public schools in the Lone Star state.

The vote came after considering recommendations from volunteer work groups who say the state requires students to learn about too many historical figures.

In addition to Clinton, other historical figures like Helen Keller didn’t make the cut.

Members of the volunteer work groups came up with a 20-point grading scale to determine which figures in history warrant being included. According to reports, Clinton scored a 5; Keller, a 7.

In removing Clinton from the mandatory curriculum, it was estimated teachers would save 30 minutes of instructional time.

Apparently, 30 minutes was too much time to spend on the first female presidential candidate of a major political party.

It’s worth noting that the state school board is made up of 15 members - 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

This is cause for concern on a couple of fronts.

First, clearly there will be no education on the contributions of LGBT pioneers like Harvey Milk (the first openly gay person elected to public office), Edith Windsor (who sued the U.S. government for the right to have her marriage recognized) or Barbara Gittings (the mother of the LGBT civil rights movement).

So, LGBT kids in Texas won't learn of important contributions from people like them throughout history.

Second, due to the millions of students in Texas, the state orders millions of textbooks.

That makes the state incredibly influential on national publishers, and means the state school board is in a position to request hundreds of changes to textbooks to suit the state’s right-leaning requirements.

For instance, the New York Review of Books reports that in one instance, publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston was asked to make 400 revisions to a health textbook. Part of those changes included deleting toll-free numbers for gay and lesbian groups as well as teenage suicide prevention organizations.

See where this is going?

Once changes like these are made, schools across the country in other states may be buying them for their students without knowing how some of the decisions were made regarding what is or isn’t included.

And one more thing to consider: remember those “volunteer work groups” in Texas making the recommendations about curriculum?

The non-profit Texas Freedom Network took a look at just who made up those panels, chosen by the Texas Board of Education, in 2014.

It turned out that of the 140+ individuals appointed to the panels, only 3 were current faculty members at Texas universities or colleges.

The review showed that political activists and individuals without educational or teaching degrees were selected for the panels.

And those folks were deciding what did or did not go into the textbooks that would educate millions of children across the country.

So, yeah, what happens in Texas, doesn’t necessarily stay in Texas.

The final vote on curriculum recommendations takes place in November.

(h/t DallasNews.com)

Texas Restaurant Apologizes After Waiter Uses Gay Slur At Customers

A Mexican restaurant in Texas apologized after one employee used a anti-gay slur against customers.

According to Dallas News, a high-school principal named Sandra Clement was enjoying a night out with her son and his boyfriend on Thursday when things went south.

The group had decided to eat at the Agave Jalisco Restaurant, but would soon regret it.

Apparently, a male employee pointed to them after Clement’s son hugged his boyfriend. He then yelled out “jotos,” an anti-gay term in Spanish, to them before repeating it several times while on his way to the kitchens.

Clements then complained about the moment online and word eventually reached the restaurant itself. They then quickly responded by firing the employee in question and issuing out the following apology on Facebook.

“Agave Jalisco Restaurant wants to offer our most sincere apology. We want to make a statement regarding the event that happened on August 30, 2018. Where a young man and his boyfriend were allegedly called a derogatory slur in Spanish and taunted. Agave Jalisco is an independently, family owned, business. We the owner’s and management know the seriousness of this issue, and want to state that we do not condone or accept this type of homophobic behavior from any single person whom is a part of the team of Agave Jalisco.”

“In the incident, it is stated that the management was contacted and did nothing to fix the problem or apologize. This is true, but the wrong Agave Jalisco was contacted on accident. Again, we are independently owned and the Agave Jalisco contacted the day of, was the one located at 5922 S Staples St, not our restaurant located at 2001 Ayers St. If we would have known about this issue sooner we would have addressed it swiftly and aggressively.”

“Agave Jalisco restaurant is a full service Mexican restaurant that aims to please customers with good food, great service, and most importantly an atmosphere where you can enjoy your meal in peace, free of judgement. We are family owned, we have taught our family and children to go out into the world, and treat everyone, the same way that they would want to be treated. This matter was looked into for several hours, in order to find out how and why this happened.”

“Unfortunately we can not control the actions of our employees 100% of the time and sometimes we have issues come up. However in our findings we found that the employee who allegedly said these derogatory, homophobic statements, was no longer fit to give any type of customer service with Agave Jalisco and it’s team. This employee will be terminated. In order to ensure that this never happens again, we will also be making the entire Agave Jalisco team take a sensitivity class as soon as possible.”

“We want to reiterate that the actions of this employee in no way reflect Agave Jalisco Restaurant and it’s values or beliefs. The Clement family has been reached out too, in order to offer a personal apology. We are writing this statement now as a public apology the Clement family, Miguel Clement, and his boyfriend. We here at Agave Jalisco are truly sorry for what happened that day, and will strive to always make Agave Jalisco a loving, accepting business, free of judgement. We will make sure this never happens again.”

Clement then thanked the restaurant in a Facebook post:

 “Our son, his boyfriend, and our family applaud Agave Jalisco for taking swift action in addressing the unfortunate incident. Although they cannot control every employee, they have stepped up to ensure they are held accountable. Much appreciated! We encourage all community members to join us in supporting Agave Jalisco as they have shown true character and compassion. I will delete all social media posts I made on the incident so we can move forward as a community. I can’t put into words how thankful we are for all the love and support our son and his boyfriend have received. Above all else, let’s be kind.”

h/t: Dallas News, Caller Times

What's The Big Deal About Lesbian Sheriff-Turned-Governor-Nominee Lupe Valdez's Missing Gun?

Lupe Valdez has already made history. In 2005, Valdez made headlines as she ran for Dallas County Sheriff as an openly gay Latina democrat… and won.

Since then, Valdez has been remembered for being a living landmark when it comes to LGBTQ advocacy and activity in politics and community services. That has skyrocketed her towards an attempt at Texas governor, but one mistake during her exit from the sheriff’s office may now be her undoing.

The problem is that Valdez has been running on a tight gun control campaign. She even wrote for the Houston Chronicle that, “Many of the ideas like increased mental health counseling and enhanced security are essential."

Now according to the Washington Post, her own gun has gone missing.

Back on December 31 of last year, Valez left her job as sheriff. When doing so, she had to return a state owned Beretta 9mm that she had borrowed from the range masters. Unfortunately, they have now reported that the gun is missing and has been classified as lost or stolen.

“Once I was notified that my weapon was not accounted for, I did my due diligence to locate the weapon. To my knowledge, my weapon was misplaced during the transition,” Valdez said to the Dallas Morning News.

“As a leader, I take responsibility for any error that happened during my transition regarding my weapon,” Valdez added. “I take gun ownership seriously and I have cooperated with the department.”

What makes this worse is that Valdez earlier presented the idea that people should be held accountable for the misplacement and reckless security of their guns.

That said, it hasn’t been announced if Valdez will need to pay for the missing gun (which costs about $649.99).

Of course, her political opponent has used this for an opportunity to attack.

Incumbent Governor Greg Abbott (R) wrote on Twitter, “Lupe Valdez wants to run the state of Texas but can’t even keep track of her gun? Texans deserve better.”

Not one to blink, Valdez says she will continue to fight for gun reform despite these recent events.

“I promise this: I will not stop talking about common sense gun reform and will not be strong armed by my opponent to silence the debate on gun violence and responsible ownership,” she said.

But, news coverage has had a field day with this situation (as seen above). This is certainly a bad lok for her campaign.

Will this event cause an irreversible hitch in Valdez’s path towards the governor's seat? We’ll find out in November.

h/t: The Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle

Texas Has Its 1st Major Party LGBT Candidate For Governor

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made history in Texas last night, becoming the first openly LGBT and first Latina candidate to win a major party nomination for governor, defeating her opponent Andrew White.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Valdez told supporters, “I am constantly hearing this is going to be such an uphill battle. Please, tell me when I didn’t have an uphill battle.” 

“I am getting darned good at uphill battles,” she added.

Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston and president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, was jubilant: “Tonight Texans made history by making Lupe Valdez the first openly lesbian woman to win the gubernatorial nomination from a major political party — the latest in a series of groundbreaking wins for LGBTQ candidates in the state.”

Valdez now turns her focus to incumbent Governor Greg Abbott, who has amassed a $41 million war chest for the general election. In six months, Valdez has only raised $200,000.

Also in Texas, Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian Filipino-American and Iraq War veteran, won her contest in the 23rd Congressional District over Rick Treviño. She will challenge two-term Republican incumbent Will Hurd.

Out lesbian Lorie Burch triumphed in the Democratic runoff in the Dallas-area Third Congressional District to face Republican newcomer Van Taylor in November. 

And openly gay Eric Holguin cruised to victory in the Democratic runoff for the Corpus Christi-area 27th Congressional District. Holguin will run against Republican Michael Cloud this fall to replace now-retired, scandal-ridden U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold.

Good night for Texas!

A Former Police Employee Got Away With Murdering His Neighbor After Using The "Gay Panic" Defense

A former police employee got away with murder after using the “gay panic” defense.

69-year-old James Miller from Texas is a retired civilian employee of the Austin Police Department.

After retiring, Miller spent of a lot of his time playing music. One of his past times was to meet up with his 32-year-old neighbor named David Spencer and play with him.

But one night in September 2015, Miller was shocked to find his neighbor and friend coming onto him. Apparently, Spencer closed in for a kiss, but Miller told him he wasn’t interested.

“We were playing back and forth and everything, and I just let him know — Hey, I’m not gay,” Miller, stated in an affidavit, according to Austin NBC-affiliate KXAN.

Things calmed down from there between the two before they suddenly escalated again. In James Miller’s account, Spencer came onto Miller again and Miller’s instinct was to pull out his knife and stab Spencer twice.

While in court, Miller says the he felt threatened by Spencer who was at least eight inches taller than him.

“He had height advantage over me, arm length over me, youth over me,” Miller said, according to the American-Statesman. “I felt he was going to hurt me.”

A few hours later, Miller showed up at a police station to turn himself in. He was then charged with murder, but he would later get his conviction lowered thanks to the “gay panic” defense.

After three years of court cases, Miller was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and not murder or manslaughter.

Because of this, he’s been sentenced to six months in jail and not prison. Plus, he has to carry around a portable alcohol monitor for the next year, be on probation for a year, complete 100 hours of community service, and pay $11,000 to Spencer’s family.

Despite Miller still being convicted of the murder, many are upset that his “gay panic” defense allowed him to lower his conviction.

The “gay panic” defense is legal in 48 states besides California and Illinois. Many see it as offensive due to the nature of the defense. It centers on the belief that the murder of gay people is somehow inherently justified.

D’Arcy Kemnitz, the executive director of the LGBT Bar Association, spoke to the Washington Post about the case and said:

“This is something from the very darkest of ages, based on the idea that if a gay guy hits on a straight guy, then the straight guy gets to do whatever he wants to do to him, including a homicide.”

She also added: “If there’s a secondary chilling effect, when an individual gets to attack or indeed murder someone and walk away with a slap on the wrist or scot-free, it tells us that we’re still vulnerable,” she said.

h/t: The Washington Post

A Federal Judge Just Made An Important Decision Concerning Job Discrimination in Texas

If you thought that nationwide, all American citizens were protected from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity, you’d be wrong.

In the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, which are run by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, no federal court has made employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. But, someone just got really close.

In Austin, Texas, an engineer by the name of Nicole Wittmer went through a case against energy company Phillips 66 who Wittmer says didn’t hire her because she’s transgender.

The end of that court case happened recently. Unfortunately, Wittmer didn’t win as the chief judge, Judge Lee Rosenthal of the Southern District Court of Texas, says that Wittmer’s specific case didn’t have enough evidence.

That said, Rosenthal also said that if Wittmer’s case was stronger, she would have had cause to sue under federal law and the court would have ruled with the integrity to fight employment discrimination based on gender identity.

"We're certainly disappointed that this particular ruling did not fall in her favor," Wittmer’s lawyer Alfonso Kennard Jr. told The Dallas Morning News. "The silver lining here is it has helped to define the landscape for people who have been discriminated [against] in the workplace due to their transgender status."

"This ruling is earth-shattering — in a good way."

As for Rosenthal, who was appointed in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, she says that it was decisions made by other jurisdictions that has helped her come around the to idea of extending Title VII, which protects citizens from job discrimination based on sex, to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Within the last year, several circuits have expanded Title VII protection to include discrimination based on transgender status and sexual orientation," Rosenthal wrote. "Although the Fifth Circuit has not yet addressed the issue, these very recent circuit cases are persuasive. ... The court assumes that Wittmer's status as a transgender woman places her under the protections of Title VII."

While this is a loss for Wittmer, this could be the start of a major win for LGBTQ workers in Texas (and maybe Louisiana and Mississippi too).

h/t: The Dallas Morning News

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