Friday, November 30, 2007

Wake Up Call For the Oklahoma GLBTF Community

You might have heard of the recent murder of a local gay man. Now charges are being filed, but not as a hate crime. Oklahoma is one of 17 states that does not include sexual orientation as a protected class. Our attorney general last year supported a national move to include sexual orientation as a federally protected class. Guess who vetoed it once it had bi-partisan support from the House and Senate? Now would be a good time for this issue to once again be addressed in Oklahoma. As long as people of the GLTB community are targeted because of who they are, need for legislation is needed. Look into what you can do to help support this issue and stay tuned for a planned vigil for Steven Domer. Here is an article that appeared on the NewsOK website today.

Man won't face hate-crime count

By Devona Walker
Staff Writer

The self-proclaimed general of a white supremacist gang has been charged with the murder of 62-year-old Steven Domer.

Authorities say Domer, who was apparently gay, was targeted because of his sexual orientation. In Oklahoma, however, this slaying does not constitute a hate crime.

Domer was last seen near NW 39 and Pennsylvania Avenue. Darrell Madden and Bradley Qualls reportedly went to the area on Oct. 26 to attack a gay person. Apparently, it was the only way Qualls could earn a "patch” in the gang, authorities allege.

That night they met and got into a car with Domer, authorities said. About 4:20 a.m. the following day, authorities found Domer's car in McClain County. It had been torched and was still burning when it was discovered. On Nov. 4, authorities found Domer's body in a ravine, within three miles of the car. Three days later, Madden was arrested in Ardmore, accused of shooting Qualls to death.

"The evidence we will present, and I think we will convict, will show that Mr. Domer was targeted because of his sexual orientation,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said.

The crime, however, will not be designated a hate crime.

Is the law toothless?
Authorities say Oklahoma's hate crime law has no teeth, has led to the routine underreporting of violent crimes that target gay people and does not consider gay people as a protected class. The crime is classified as a misdemeanor and has no provision for sentence enhancement.

"Let's say a gay man is attacked because he is gay. He looks at the law, it only carries a sentence of 90 days. He thinks this is just going to make them even more angry. He decides, ‘Why bother?'” Prater said. "We know that happens.

"We know that people are targeted clearly due to their sexual preference, but in Oklahoma, sexual preference isn't even a protected class,” he added.

Unlike many states that provided protections for gay people in the aftermath of the beating death of Matthew Shepherd, Oklahoma does not include sexual orientation in its hate crime statute.

Shepherd was a college student in Laramie, Wyo., whose October 1998 murder became one of the most infamous examples of a hate crime in recent history.

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, later convicted of his death, met Shepherd at a gay bar in Laramie. They drove Shepherd to an open field, tied him to a fence, then beat him. Shepherd died days later in a Fort Collins, Colo., hospital.

Many laws not inclusive
Seventeen states do not provide hate crime protections for people targeted based on sexual orientation. Wyoming is among them.

Federal hate crime legislation also does not include sexual orientation as a protected class. Last spring, however, legislation addressing that omission and providing additional resources to local law enforcement to investigate such crimes passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support. That bill was endorsed by 30 attorneys general, including Drew Edmondson in Oklahoma, every major law enforcement union and the majority of the nation's district attorneys.

President Bush killed the legislation with a vow to veto it.

"Law enforcement knows they need it. They have said they need it,” said Brad Luna, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay civil rights organization. "Unfortunately, the religious right have taken this issue and politicized it in such a way. This is not a partisan issue. This is about the safety of our citizens and neighbors.”

Former state Rep. Don Ross tried unsuccessfully to have sexual orientation included in the state hate crime statute back in 1999. He was shut down by a 2-to-1 margin. At the time, legislators said it was unnecessary.

Does law deter reports?
According to law enforcement and gay advocates, the laws have led to underreporting of violence against gays.

"The reasons why gays and lesbians are targeted are very complex. What we do know is that these attacks tend to be much more brutal. And these are not just attacks against the individuals, but it's meant to send a signal to the entire community that you are not welcomed here, and that you are not safe in your own hometown,” Luna said. "When the government stands up and says, ‘We are not going to tolerate it,' that trickles down. When they don't stand up and say we are going to protect those individuals, that, too, certainly has an impact.”

Prater says the state's hate crime law is on "a fairly long list” of issues he wants to address with the state Legislature.

"I would love to see the hate crime statute in Oklahoma be an enhancement statute. And the Legislature has got to decide what classes of people they are going to protect,” he said.

The fact that murders and assaults targeting people based upon their sexual orientation still happen in Oklahoma indicates hate crime legislation is necessary, he said.

Rep. Al McAffrey is the first and only openly gay legislator in Oklahoma history.

"When you are talking about hate, hate is just hate. I don't care who it is. If you are assaulted because of your race, it's just the same as if you are assaulted because of your sexual orientation. You were assaulted because of hate,” McAffrey said. "I just don't understand how people can draw the line.”

Contributing: Staff Writer Jay Marks

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another Polyiscs Video

Polyiscs + Dallas = memories forever! Can't wait till they tour by themselves and play for more than 30 minutes! Myspace was crazy to put them as an opening act!

Catch On Everywhere

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why the Right is Smarter than the Left (Or at Least Quicker at Realizing Things)

So it's political season and things are already getting stirred up. Today, two different conservatives have backed two different presidential candidates. Most notable is Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, who both differ on many social policies, especially on issues that are dear to many conservatives Christians, but like Giuliana, many middle road Republicans are more to the left, such as abortion and gay rights. Another Republican candidate, John McCain, received an endorsement from recently excited presidential runner Sam Brownback, who has a large conservative following. Realizing that the presedential seat could easily go to a woman or heaven forbid a man of color, the conservative lot has recognized that some disagreement is better than a lot of disagreement.

Unluckily the Democratic party is a little slower on this idea. Still feeling empowered by the country's dissatisfaction with the current administration and it's wars, the democratic party is content to still bicker among each other. Most notable was the latest round of Democratic debates in which Hillary Clinton was barraged by the other male candidates. I do not think they solely picked on her because she is a woman, but because she is a powerful woman with the best chance of winning the nomination, which they are all vying.

Well, I could write a lot more but work beckons. Don't forget to vote kiddies! You can read the endorsement stories here!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Chupacabra Sighting!!

'Goat sucker' actually a hairless coyote

SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) -- The results are in: The ugly, big-eared animal found during the summer in southern Texas is not the mythical, bloodsucking chupacabra. It's just a plain old coyote.

Phylis Canion holds the head of what researchers determined to be a hairless coyote.

Biologists at Texas State University announced Thursday night they had identified the hairless doglike creature.

KENS-TV of San Antonio provided a tissue sample from the animal for testing.

"The DNA sequence is a virtually identical match to DNA from the coyote," biologist Mike Forstner said in a statement. "This is probably the answer a lot of folks thought might be the outcome. I, myself, really thought it was a domestic dog, but the Cuero Chupacabra is a Texas Coyote."

Phylis Canion and some of her neighbors discovered the 40-pound bodies of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in Cuero, 90 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Canion said she saved the head of the one she found so she could get to the bottom of its ancestry through DNA testing and then mount it for posterity.

Chupacabra means "goat sucker" in Spanish, and it is said to have originated in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Additional skin samples have been taken to try to determine the cause of the animal's hair loss, Forstner said.