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From Texas Standard.

Keeping a secret can be hard, especially within some corners of small-town Texas. Lou Anne Smoot of Tyler, Texas kept a secret for most of her life. But she’s now the author of a book sharing her story. The memoir, “Out: A Courageous Woman’s Journey,” is about Smoot’s experience coming out as gay as a 60-year-old Southern Baptist, and what that meant for her faith and family.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Cecilia Melchor had a friend visiting from out of town last Wednesday. The 22-year-old UT-Austin student didn’t necessarily want to go out, but her friend insisted. They grabbed some dinner before heading to the Chuggin’ Monkey on East Sixth Street.

Melchor had to use the restroom. When she was finished, the bouncer approached her.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Traditional wisdom and cultural tropes might lead you to believe that women in Texas outspend their male counterparts when it comes to personal care items, clothing, and accessories.

That stereotype is mostly true, but in Austin there’s a growing group of men that might be bucking that trend: female illusionists. Some are transitioning into another gender. Others dress like females for fun or for show. 

It's unclear what Michael Sam's future in the NFL will bring. He is only on the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys, which means he's unlikely to take the field any time soon. As everyone has heard many times by now, he will be the first openly gay player in the league. No matter how exhausted some are with reports about Sam, his sexuality and what it does or does not mean for his football career, his story matters.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters /Landov

By now, you've probably seen the photo from President Barack Obama's recent Austin visit: the president smiling and extending a fist bump to a cashier at Franklin Barbecue.

If you've followed the story further, then you may be familiar with what prompted the exchange: the cashier, comedian and performer Daniel Webb, exclaimed "Equal rights for gay people!" when the president approached the counter. When Obama asked Webb if he was gay, he answered, "Only when I have sex."

Originally reported by The Austin Chronicle, the story has been written up everywhere online.

Support and protection for reparative therapy has been included in the 2014 Republican Party of Texas Platform. But a leading mental health organization said this further stigmatizes and shames the Texas LGBT community.

The reparative therapy platform was introduced by Cathie Adams, executive director of the Texas Eagle Forum and adopted without any changes:

An appeal brought by a photographer who refused to take pictures of gay weddings was turned down by the Supreme Court on Monday morning. The court also refused to hear a challenge to a ban on campaign contributions by corporations, and allowed a district court case over U.S. surveillance to continue.

The photography case was brought by Elane Photography, a New Mexico business run by a husband-and-wife team who said their First Amendment rights allowed them to refuse service to a woman who had sought to hire the company to photograph her commitment ceremony with her partner.

Sam Ortega for KUT News

Last May, Jason Collins – a 12-year veteran of the NBA – made history when he penned an editorial in Sport Illustrated revealing he was gay. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," he wrote. "But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."

The issue of homosexuality in sports has certainly become a topic of discussion, from the politics of the Sochi Olympics to NFL hopeful Michael Sam coming out as gay. But many athletes feel there is still a long way to go before gay players are fully welcomed into sports.

The ruling this week calling Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional prompted plenty of reaction from politicos.

One of the lesser-known politicians to sound off: Dana DeBeauvoir. As Travis County Clerk, she's decidedly downballot of the state's top races. But DeBeauvoir is also uniquely affected by the decision, since the county clerk's office is responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Austin and Travis County.

When the ruling was announced, DeBeauvoir offered a ringing endorsement:

“Because of the stay order in the ruling, the County Clerk cannot issue marriage licenses to gay couples at this time. This is a joyous day, but we will have to wait a little longer to actually deliver the justice and equal rights gay couples so deserve.” 

A national same-sex marriage rights group has launched an effort across several states in the South to campaign for marriage equality.

Southerns for Freedom to Marry, a branch of the New York-based group Freedom to Marry, has mounted a $1 million campaign across nine states including Texas.

youtube.com/TheNewYorkTimes

Last night, former Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam announced he is gay. Sam came out during an interview with The New York Times. If a team drafts Sam this spring and signs him, he will become the first openly gay active player in National Football League history.

There's a Texas connection to this national story: Sam is a native Texan, who attended Hitchcock High School in Galveston County. Sam earned first-team All-District honors as a senior in 2008, as both a defensive end and an offensive lineman.

New Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that same-sex marriage is legal, validating initiatives in several counties allowing the practice in the absence of a specific state law.

The ruling on Thursday means that New Mexico joins 16 states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage.

The Associated Press says:

Two same-sex couples from Texas are waiting for a decision on a temporary injunction filed in federal court against the Texas laws that ban same-sex marriage. The case in Texas is just one part of seven cases in other states with the goal of having the U.S. Supreme Court resolve the issue.

The Senate has approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which gives workplace protections to workers and job applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The bill would apply to any private employer that has more than 15 employees; it includes an exemption for religious groups.

The measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace passed by a vote of 64-32 — a slightly stronger showing than an earlier vote to move forward on the legislation, which passed 61-30.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has directed the National Guard Bureau to resolve a dispute that is making it difficult for same-sex couples to receive military benefits.

The Pentagon started to recognize same-sex marriages soon after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act this summer. But some states are resisting.

Roy Varney for KUT News

Over the last three years, nearly 100 colleges and universities across the nation have added non-discrimination policies that included protection for transgender students from harassment and bullying. 10 of those universities are in Texas. However, even with the increase in non-discrimination policies, there is still a lack of awareness and visibility for many transgender students.

Shane Whalley is the Senior Program Coordinator at the Gender and Sexuality Center in the University of Texas at Austin. Whalley first came to UT as a graduate student, and has seen a lot of changes that include the 2008 non-discrimination policy and the installation of 43 gender-neutral bathrooms across campus. Additionally, Whalley says that there have been changes to the way transgender people are viewed.

Former President George H.W. Bush's presence as a witness and guest at the marriage of two women in Maine last weekend is being treated by some as his quiet endorsement of same-sex marriage.

Photos: Austin Pride Parade 2013

Sep 9, 2013
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: Austin Pride festivities paraded through down Austin Saturday night. KUT was there to document it all; take a look at our slideshow below, powered by the KUT Flickr page.  

Original post (Sept. 6): Austin’s annual Pride celebration, which kicked off Sept. 1, builds to a close this weekend. The theme of this year’s events, held by the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation? “Love Unites.”

Tyler Pratt/KUT News

A citywide debate over whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals should be included in San Antonio’s non-discrimination policy came to a fiery end on Thursday.

Before a crowd of hundreds at City Hall, the San Antonio City Council adopted an ordinance aimed at preventing discrimination against people because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Tyler Pratt, KUT News

A recent story of a North Texas man that took social media by storm has unique legal issues for same-sex couples across Texas.

Lon Watts says he was forced to move from his home of 12 years, and was banned from caring for his partner who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, after a legal battle with his partner’s family.

Laura Rice, KUT News

The City of Austin and the Austin Tenant’s Council are hosting a community forum Saturday focused on housing discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

flickr.com/mr-pi

Austin resident Alyshia Foster grew up outside Dallas. When she was nine, she started taking medication to deal with depression.

“There had been this festering ugliness and self-hatred and I felt it was killing everything beautiful about it and I didn’t know what it was," Foster said.

flickr.com/thed34n

The Southern Baptist Convention has approved a resolution opposing a new Boy Scouts of America policy that lifts a ban on gay membership.

The decision was made earlier today, at the group’s annual convention in Houston.

The resolution itself does not demand that affiliated churches discontinue their sponsorship of troops. But the resolution voices its support for churches that choose to do so, while reiterating earlier declarations calling for the removal of the various leaders that instituted the new Boy Scouts policy this past May.

LGBT Elders Face Extra Challenges

May 31, 2013
flickr.com/mr-pi

LGBT Pride Month begins June 1. While many situations are unique to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience, you many think aging is not. But there are increased risks for LGBT seniors. 

flickr.com/alexander_shenkar

Today, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board bypassed a potential legislative sunset, meaning state legislators will not shutter the group’s doors under the Sunset Act.

That bill, however, also contains a contentious little provision in the form of an amendment – a provision that some say would allow college groups to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference and religion.

The amendment from Rep. Matt Krause, R- Fort Worth, would allow officially recognized, religious college organizations the right to ban those who “demonstrate opposition to the organization’s stated beliefs and purposes,” according to language in the amendment.

Update: More signs from the City of Austin that Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion won't mean any changes for now: a memo from City Manager Marc Ott on the matter. It reads, in part: 

While we will continue to evaluate the Attorney General’s opinion, it continues to be our belief that the City’s domestic partner group benefits program is not prohibited by the Texas Marriage Amendment, and that the Texas Legislature did not intend the Amendment to have that effect when it was placed before the voters in 2005.

The Attorney General’s opinion does not require the City to take any specific action, and we do not intend to change domestic partner eligibility for our benefits program at this time. 

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," National Basketball Association center Jason Collins writes in a Sports Illustrated essay posted Monday, "but since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."

With that, the 34-year-old veteran of 12 NBA seasons and six pro teams becomes the first active player in the four major American team sports to come out.

A&M "Religious Funding" Bill Vetoed

Apr 5, 2013
http://www.flickr.com/photos/-marlith-/

A bill passed in the Texas A&M student senate died Friday after the university faced public criticism.

Texas A&M student body president John Claybrook vetoed the "Religious Funding Exemption Bill,” which would have allowed students to opt-out of funding the campus’ Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Resource Center.

(We most recently updated the top of this post at 1:45 p.m. ET.)

There seem to be four solid votes on the Supreme Court — and possibly a fifth — to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages, NPR's Nina Totenberg told us after Wednesday's oral arguments before the nine justices.

But there's a big "if."

As in: There's possibly a 5-vote majority to strike down the law if the court first decides it should even issue an opinion.

Tyler Pratt for KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court continues its examination of same-sex marriage today, taking up arguments in one part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Yesterday, as the court took a look at Proposition 8 – the constitutional ban on gay marriage in California– two rallies hit the Texas State Capitol: one to promote traditional values and another to support same-sex marriage.

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