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Hunky Theatre Arts Teacher Inspires Entire High School To Show Off Their 'Uptown Funk': VIDEO


Whether you're in Harlem, Hollywood or Jackson, Mississippi this performance of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" is sure to rouse you. The video comes from Dallas' A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School and the school's theatre arts teacher Scot Pankey. Said one student who participated in making the video, "This is a great example of how a bunch of technology students let go of their fears, trusted their teacher and got down to Uptown Funk!!!"

Let Mr. Pankey and the students of A. Maceo New Tech High uptown funk you up, AFTER THE JUMP...

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HRC Likely Won't Defend Plano, Texas Equal Rights Ordinance, Calls It 'Transphobic'


Things are not looking good for Plano, Texas' recently passed Equal Rights Ordinance. 

As we reported earlier this week, opponents of the ordinance turned in over 7,000 signatures on petitions to repeal it — more than double the number needed to put it on the ballot. 

Granted, these folks may be prone to fraud and forgery, but still, given that the evangelical megachurch serving as their base of operations has almost 40,000 members, you'd think they'd be able to gather enough valid signatures. So chances are there's gonna be a ballot measure in May.

Ballot measures on nondiscrimination ordinances haven't gone well for LGBT people in conservative Southern cities of late, even when the community is united. But that won't be the case in Plano, because the Human Rights Campaign says it's probably not going to help defend the ordinance, according to a report from The Texas Observer.  

HRC, which has poured hundreds of thousands into similar fights in some other cities, called the Plano ordinance "transphobic" because of an exemption that would bar people from using restrooms, locker rooms and similar facilities according to their gender identity. 

The exemption apparently was included to pre-empt attacks over transgender bathroom use. But here's the thing: Anti-LGBT groups are making those attacks anway, and the strategy has backfired by dividing the community. 

Equality Texas and a local LGBT group say they'll defend the ordinance despite the exemption because it's a step in the right direction. But HRC's Cathryn Oakley told the Observer:

“The language in Plano is very problematic and in terms of investing a lot of resources in an ordinance that has a lot of problems, it’s difficult to see why that’s necessarily the best use of resources. If we had been consulted in the drafting of this bill, we would have withdrawn our support, and given that, it’s hard to justify defending it as valid. .. 

"I think the story coming out of Plano is about a city that really wanted to do the right thing, and I wish that this had unfolded differently, because I think that there were good intentions, but things fell apart. I think incremental process is important, I think municipal work is incredibly important, but incremental doesn't mean leaving part of the community behind. That's not an acceptable version of incremental."

Somewhere, the haters are sitting aroud licking their chops, because we've just played right into their strategy: Divide and conquer. 

Watch a report on the petition to repeal the ordinance from Fox 4, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Company To Take Down Ex-Gay Therapy Billboard In Dallas, Says It Was Misled By Advertiser


The president of the advertising company that's hosting an "ex-gay" therapy billboard in Dallas says the company was misled about the nature of the sign or he wouldn't have allowed it to go up.  

Yesterday Towleroad broke the story about the billboard ad paid for by David Pickup, a well-known practitioner of ex-gay therapy in Dallas — and one of the authors of a plank endorsing reparative therapy in the Texas GOP platform. 

Terry Kafka, president of Impact Outdoor Advertising, told Towleroad on Wednesday that Pickup led the company's sales manager to believe the billboard was an advertisement for couples therapy. Kafka said he hadn't even heard of reparative therapy until he began getting complaints about the billboard on Wednesday. 

"We were misinformed," Kafka said. "I'm not a proponent of it. I'm not on that bandwagon. When we have a controversial advertisement, we always discuss it internally, and we didn't even discuss it because our sales person was under the impression it was for couples therapy." 

Kafka said the sign has been up for two-and-a-half weeks and was scheduled to come down Jan. 26 anyway. 

"We're going to attempt to get it down sooner but that's the worse-case scenario," Kafka said, adding that he will not renew the contract or lease billboard space to Pickup again. 

"I have no interest in promoting that," Kafka said. "I have no interest in doing business with him." 

Pickup refused to address Kafka's allegations.  

"I can't comment on that, because nobody contacted me from the company," Pickup said. "I thought that the main thing this sign would do was raise awareness for those people who really want and need this therapy." 

Pickup would not say whether the billboard has generated new business. Asked whether he expected it to be controversial, he said, "I wasn't certain what would happen." 

If you'd like to thank Kafka for his decision, send them an email through the form here.  

Passenger Gets Slap On Wrist For Drunken, Anti-Gay Assault Caught On Video At Dallas Airport


The passenger who went on a drunken, violent, anti-gay rampage that was caught on video at DFW International Airport in October will pay $474 in fines for the incident, according to a court spokeswoman. 

BenhamMcCleish Christmas Benham (right), now 28, of Shelbyville, Tennessee, assaulted two people while yelling anti-gay epithets, before other passengers tackled him to the ground and he was arrested on Oct. 23. 

A bystander captured the incident on video and posted it on YouTube, where it's been viewed more than 5 million times.

Benham was charged with public intoxication and simple assault, both class-C misdemeanors each punishable by a maximum $500 fine, but no jail time. The case was referred to the Municipal Court in the city of Grapevine, Texas. 

Cindy Eteaki, court manager for the city of Grapevine, told Towleroad on Wednesday that Benham posted a cash bond to get out of jail and entered a conditional plea of no contest at the time. Because Benham failed to appear in court, his bond will be forfeited and he will be convicted on both counts, Eteaki said. Benham's bond was $262 dollars on the assault charge and $212 on the public intoxication, for a total of $474.

The FBI has declined to comment on whether it is investigating the incident as an anti-gay hate crime under the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act of 2009. 

Expert Pete Schulte, an openly gay criminal defense attorney and former police officer from Dallas, has said he believes authorities mishandled the case — and Benham should have been charged with class-A misdemeanor assault, punishable by up to one year in jail: 

“I’m sure the individual who was punched felt a little pain based on the video,” Schulte said. “Class-C assault is offensive contact without any pain.

“He could be charged with resisting arrest if they decide the person who broke his ankle was attempting to arrest him,” Schulte added. “It appears that DFW airport police may have not done a great job in this case.”

Benham had previously been in trouble for theft and animal abuse.  

Watch video of the attack, AFTER THE JUMP ... 


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LOOK: Dallas Billboard Promotes 'Ex-Gay' Therapy


The above billboard promoting so-called reparative therapy has gone up in Dallas.  

Pickup.DavidDavid Pickup (right), a well-known local practitioner of reparative therapy, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the billboard, which advertises his business, is up along U.S. Highway 75 near the Royal Lane exit.

Pickup is a licensed marriage and family therapist who helped write a plank endorsing reparative therapy that was added to the Texas GOP platform last year. 

The Dallas Morning News interviewed Pickup for a story about the plank in June: 

Licensed marriage and family therapist David Pickup in Dallas said that homosexuality is an attachment issue “based on severe emotional wounds.” He believes unfulfilled needs become sexualized as children grow up.

“What reparative therapy does is it uses psychodynamic processes to access those deeper wounds that are hidden underneath the homoerotic impulses,” Pickup said. “It resolves the male identity wounds and helps the guy get those needs met.”

Also promoting the billboard on Tuesday was Jeremy Schwab (below right), who heads a Dallas ex-gay ministry called Joel 2:25 International and reportedly was the driving force behind the Texas GOP reparative therapy plank. 

Schwab"Hopefully, this will help get the Truth to those who can benefit," Schwab wrote below a photo of the billboard on Facebook. 

Last month, a billboard promoting reparative therapy in Virginia sparked controversy. One of the models whose image was used on the Virginia billboard said he was a proud gay man and local LGBT activists rallied against the sign

One might anticipate a similar response in Dallas, where a sign advertising a sermon titled "Gay Is Not Okay" sparked LGBT protests outside First Baptist Church several years ago.  

Two states, New Jersey and California, in addition to the District of Columbia, have passed laws restricting "ex-gay" therapy for minors. 

After the Texas GOP endorsed reparative therapy in its platform, the state Democratic Party responded with a plank opposing the practice, which has been discredited by virtually all of the relevant medical organizations.

Equality Texas has also submitted petitions seeking to ban reparative therapy to the state's mental health licensing boards. And the issue might very well come up during the state legislative session that began Tuesday. 

Ted Cruz' Anti-Gay Bigot Father Joins Growing Battle Over LGBT Protections In Plano, Texas: VIDEO


Sen. Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, has joined the effort to repeal LGBT protections in Plano, Texas. 

The elder Cruz, who lives in nearby Carrollton, spoke Wednesday at a press conference in Plano (above) organized by the Texas Pastor Council, the shadowy Houston-based group that's leading a petition drive to overturn Plano's recently passed Equal Rights Ordinance.

From The Dallas Morning News' report on the press conference: 

"This is an attack on Judeo-Christian beliefs in America," Cruz told a Plano crowd. "It's time people of faith become involved in the political arena." ... 

Mike Buster, executive pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, called the ordinance a travesty. “We believe the Plano City Council is attempting to silence people of faith in the workplace,” he said. ... 

Incoming state Rep. Matt Shaheen said he and several other local lawmakers are drafting a bill that would prohibit cities from enacting ordinances that go beyond existing anti-discrimination protections.

 CBSDFW.com has more: 

It was standing room only when leaders of the anti-ordinance coalition called on supporters to help gather signatures and force a vote to get rid of the equal rights law.

“This ordinance needs to be repealed. If it’s not repealed, then we’ll go to the courts, and we’ll spend and cause the city to incur tens of thousands of dollars,” said Jeff Mateer of the Liberty Institute.

The new ordinance extends to gays, lesbians, and transgender people the same legal protection that shields other minorities from discrimination.

“The city council took the step of outlawing certain religious expression in the workplace. This was wrong, and this was abuse of government power,” said Matt Shaheen who was recently elected to represent Texas House District 66 which covers western Plano.

Opponents of the ordinance need to gather 3,822 signatures by Jan. 20 to put a repeal of the ordinance on the ballot.  

PlanomayorLater Wednesday, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere (right) held his own press conference to defend the ordinance and clear up misconceptions about it. The city has also posted extensive information on its website. 

From CBSDFW.com: 

Not everyone in the crowd agreed with the speakers. Joe Riggs says as a gay man living in Plano, the position of the group concerns him.

“I think it sends the wrong message to people. There’s room for everyone in Plano, and there’s no reason to discriminate on people based on their sexual orientation, their gender, or any other reason,” Riggs said.

In response to the news conference, Plano’s mayor told reporters at City Hall that the time to debate the ordinance is over.

“A city of excellence reflects the rights of everyone and discriminates against no one. The ordinance is fair. It’s legal, and it’s constitutional,” LaRosiliere said.

Also Wednesday, the Texas Pastor Council again attacked Houston Mayor Annise Parker — this time over the city's decision to seek a non-jury trial in a lawsuit challenging the city's Equal Rights Ordinance. Opponents of the Houston ordinance sued the city after it rejected their petition because it didn't have enough valid signatures. 

Opponents of the ordinance have requested a jury trial, instead of a bench trial in front of a judge — which is standard in cases related to elections, The Houston Chronicle reports. The Pastor Council is apparently trying to spark right-wing outrage over the jury trial issue similar to the controversy over the city's decision to subpoena pastor sermons. But it doesn't seem to be getting much traction. The trial is set for Jan. 19. 

The Houston Chronicle reports: 

Conservative opponents suing the city over its equal rights ordinance are pushing, along with several City Council members, for the upcoming case to go before a jury, a move the administration said is unprecedented and would defy election law. ... 

Critics sued last summer after Mayor Annise Parker and Feldman announced that they had failed to gather enough valid signatures to send the issue to voters. That case is set to start Jan. 19 in state district Judge Robert Schaffer's courtroom. In a petition filed last year, critics asked that the case instead go to a jury trial.

Parker and Feldman defended the city's position Wednesday, describing the filing to prevent a jury trial as routine.

"If you're afraid you're not going to be able to win in court, you start trying to win in the court of public opinion," Parker said. "Apparently, that's what's been going on here."

Watch CBSDFW.com's report on the Plano press conference, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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