Lambda Legal: TX Governor-elect Greg Abbott Must Stop 'Horrific Violence and Sexual Abuse' Affecting LGBT Prisoners


When transgender inmate Passion Star appealed to Texas prison officials to protect her from a gang member who said he owned her, they responded by moving her even closer to the inmate.

The next morning, the gang member attacked Star, calling her a “snitching faggot,” and slashed her face eight times with a razor, according to Lambda Legal. Even after the attack, prison officials refused to move Star, who identifies as female, to protect her from violence in the general population.

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Star in October, accusing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice of deliberate indifference to threats of sexual assault and violence against Ms. Star in TDCJ’s male facilities. 

AbbottNow, the LGBT civil rights group has launched a petition calling on Republican Gov.-elect Greg Abbott, who takes office in January, to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. 

From Lambda Legal: 

Texas is one of only seven states that has refused to comply with PREA. Texas is also home to five of the 10 prisons with the highest rates of reported rapes in the country, as documented in a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is widely understood that sexual violence in custody disproportionately affects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inmates.

“Gov. (Rick) Perry has refused to comply with PREA, and Texas is among the states leading the nation in rates of reported rapes in its prisons. Governor-elect Abbott needs to fix this mistake and implement PREA,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Jael Humphrey said. “While Texas fiddles, LGBT inmates like Passion Star endure horrific violence and sexual abuse.”

According to Just Detention International, which works to eliminate sexual abuse in detention facilities, LGBT inmates are 15 times more likely to be victims of prison rape than non-LGBT inmates. JDI says Texas is home to more facilities with high levels of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse than any other state. The group also says it receives more letters from survivors of sexual abuse in Texas prisons than from any other state.

In filing its lawsuit on behalf of Star, Lambda Legal alleges she has been raped, forced to submit to undesired sexual acts to escape violence, and threatened with sexual assault. Star has filed dozens of grievances, complaints and requests to be placed in safekeeping, but instead of taking measures to protect her, TDCJ officials have told her to “suck dick,” “fight” or to stop “acting gay” if she doesn't want to be assaulted: 

“Somebody, somehow, needs to shed light on what is taking place here in Texas prisons,” Star said in a written statement. “TDCJ officials get away with so much and disregard so many legitimate threats to people’s safety. It needs to stop somewhere. I fight for my life every day in here. Safety from rape and assault is not a privilege; it’s a right. I hope that this lawsuit will help make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

To sign Lambda Legal's petition, which will be delivered to Abbott once he takes office, go here.  

Posted Dec. 19,2014 at 3:02 PM EST by in Greg Abbott, Lambda Legal, Rick Perry, Texas | Permalink | Comments (9)

The 108 Athletes, Coaches, and Sports Figures Who Courageously Came Out This Year: LIST


As we mentioned on our "80 Most Powerful Comings Out of 2014" post earlier this month, this was certainly the year of the athlete - with more than 1/3 of our list coming from the sports world.

But even our list (the largest of any previous year) was just a drop in the 2014 bucket. The team over at Outsports compiled an incredible list of 108 athletes, coaches, officials, and sports administrators who came out publicly this year. Some names on the list overlap with our own, such as NCAA player Derrick Gordon and Australian Bobsled hunk Simon Dunn, but there are dozens more that are no less deserving of the spotlight for courageously coming out this year.  

Outsports has the breakdown by sport:

BunchSwimming - 14
Football - 11
Track & field/Running - 10
Basketball - 9
Soccer - 7
Diving - 4
Tennis - 4
Baseball - 3
Volleyball - 3

Other sports represented: Aussie Rules Football, bobseld, boxing, cheer, fencing, field hockey, figure skating, gymnastics, hockey, hurling, kayak, lacrosse, luge, mixed martial arts, rowing, rugby, skiing, ski jumping, snowboarding, softball, strength, trampoline, triathlon, Ultimate and wrestling.

Broken up by gender, 80 are men and 28 are women.

Check out the full list over at Outsports here.

And if you haven't yet checked out our own list of the big names who came out in 2014, what are you waiting for?

[pictured right: Tristan Bunch, triathlete]

Posted Dec. 19,2014 at 2:32 PM EST by in I'm Gay, Sports | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wyoming Republicans Lash Out At GOP Governor Matt Mead For Not Appealing Gay Marriage Ruling

Back in October, Republican Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead declined to appeal a federal district judge's ruling striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban. 

Mead recognized that since the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Wyoming, had struck down similar bans in other states, and that since the U.S. Supreme Court had declined to review the decision, such an appeal would be futile. As a result, same-sex couples began marrying in Wyoming.

Mead.MattTwo months later, GOP leaders in Goshen County are still smarting over the outcome, and they've decided to lash out at Mead (right). Thirty-three members of the county party's central committee have written a letter to Mead — along with the Senate president and the House speaker — slamming the governor for not appealing the decision.  

The Casper Star-Tribune reports: 

“We hold that Gov. Mead was remiss in not strenuously supporting and defending our platform planks on family and marriage which was manifested in his failure to appeal the same-sex marriage ruling of the U.S. District Court,” the letter states.

“While the opportunity to appeal has regrettably passed, we call on all our Republican office holders and leaders to do all they can from this point forward to support and promote our official party platform planks relating to family and marriage.”

Mead, who was re-elected in November, issued a statement in response to the letter saying he continues to oppose same-sex marriage: 

“But we need to recognize where we are with the courts, and I do recognize that. This group or other groups are free to pursue any recourse they believe is available. Interestingly, when I was fighting the case in Wyoming federal district court and a separate case in Wyoming state court, I did not hear from this group.”

Jeran Artery, chairman of Wyoming Equality, had this to say about the letter: 

“The Goshen County Republicans are on the wrong side of history,” he said. “I wonder, when they issue a statement like that and sign their names to it, what their grandkids and great-grandkids are going to think of this.”

And Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of National Log Cabin Republicans, said: 

“If you are a fiscal conservative, continuing a stringent opposition to civil marriage equality in the wake of these bans getting struck down, one after another, is in many respects doing a disservice to the taxpayers of the state,” he said.

Last month, a poll found that 53 percent of Wyoming residents now support same-sex marriage, compared to only 39 percent who oppose it. 

Meanwhile, LGBT advocates in Wyoming hope the marriage ruling will create new momentum for a bill to outlaw anti-LGBT discrimination.  

Other county GOP groups reportedly intend to send similar letters criticizing Mead for not appealing the ruling, but despite their efforts, it sounds as though Wyoming may be on its way to living up to its nickname: The Equality State. 

Posted Dec. 19,2014 at 2:02 PM EST by in Discrimination, Gay Marriage, Gay Rights, Wyoming | Permalink | Comments (5)

These Human-Handed Pets Perfectly Nail The Holiday Family Dinner Tradition: VIDEO


Freshpet's new ad features a group of 13 dogs and 1 cat all gathered round the table for a holiday family dinner that is sure to have you reminiscing about your own holiday dinner experiences from past years.  And by that, I mean the ad features all the personalities that likely show up at your own holiday get-together - the heavy drinker, the asocial texter, the kleptomaniac, and the relative who always muches off of others' plates.



Continue reading "These Human-Handed Pets Perfectly Nail The Holiday Family Dinner Tradition: VIDEO"

Posted Dec. 19,2014 at 1:32 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (6)

Anti-Vaxxers Pose 'Legitimate Question' On Whether Vaccines Will Turn Your Kids Gay

Gay Vaccine

The anti-vaccination movement has officially hit peak crazy. As if the movement weren't absurd enough on the face of it all, the vactruth.com Facebook page is asking the 'legitimate' question of "Do you think vaccinating a child with vaccines, that are made up of endocrine disrupting chemicals, can affect the outcome of a person's sexuality?"

As the New Civil Rights Movement points out, "Not all questions, actually, are legitimate."

If one were to be charitable, this discussion could be interpreted as people who have just enough knowledge of medicine and science to be dangerous making connections that don't exist and getting worked into a frenzy over it. More likely, however, is that the anti-vaxxers are using homophobia as another scare tactic to turn parents away from inoculating their children. Because, as we all know, one of the side effects of being made immune to rubella is a 10% likelihood of an increase in fabulosity.

Besides, even if this delusional train of thought actually had any basis in reality, given that the earth's current population is presently well beyond sustainable levels a sudden global surge of non-reproducing 'mos would do the planet a world of good.

Posted Dec. 19,2014 at 1:02 PM EST by in Medicine | Permalink | Comments (22)

FBI: North Korea Responsible for Sony Cyberattack

Kim jong-un

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has concluded that North Korea is responsible for the massive cyberattack against Sony last month that leaked thousands of corporate emails and set off a domino effect of events that eventually led to the cancellation of the theatrical release of the Seth Rogan and James Franco comedy film The Interview.

The Washington Post reports:

“The FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions,” the bureau said in a statement.

The statement said the conclusion was based in part on a “technical analysis” of the malware used in the attack, which “revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed.” The FBI said the attack was also linked to several Internet protocol addresses “associated with known North Korean infrastructure.”

North Korea’s actions were “intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves,” the FBI said.

CNN adds:

U.S. officials have said the government will retaliate for the attacks and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the response would be "proportional."

"Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests," the FBI said in the release.

President Obama is expected to address the cyberattack at a planned news conference later today. 

Posted Dec. 19,2014 at 12:32 PM EST by in North Korea | Permalink | Comments (11)

Enjoy Towleroad? Great!

Follow us on your favorite networks, and consider sharing or "liking" a post a week. It's helpful and appreciated.