HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
JUNE 24.2005 3
local news briefs
Another appeal is expected in lesbian adoption case
The attorney for Kathleen Van Stavern, who was awarded joint custody of her former partner's biological
daughter in April, said she has been notified that there
will be yet another appeal in the case. Van Stavern and
Julie Ann Hobbs were partners in 1998 when Hobbs gave
birth to a daughter through artificial insemination. In
2001, Van Stavern adopted the child. The couple split up
in March of 2004, and Van Stavern sought joint custody.
Hobbs fought the petition on the grounds that the adoption was not legal at the time because only spouses of
biological parents were eligible to adopt. Those restrictions have since been eased. Hobbs has appealed the rulings of several different judges. The case finally went to
trial in April, and after five days of testimony, a jury
awarded joint custody to Van Stavern. Shannon T Kathleen Van Stavern, who won
Warren, attorney for Van Stavern, said she has only joint custody of her former partner's
been notified of an appeal and has not yet been daughter in April, will be back in
informed of specific points of the case. court again for another appeal.
A million Web site hits
for Houston Pride
As of late Wednesday, the Pride Houston
Web site had received 1.2 million hits for
the month of June. "It just blows me
away," said Pride Houston President Nick
Brines. "We're averaging about 110,000
hits a day." He predicts a successful Pride
Festival and Parade on Saturday.
Free HIV tests offered for
National HIV Testing Day
The African-American State of Emergency
Task Force, Houston Department of Health
and Human Services and OraSure
Technologies, Inc. will offer free HTV tests
at several locations in Houston Friday, June
24, to observe National HIV Testing Day For
a list of testing sites, call 713-794-9169.
From staff and wire reports
A memorial service is planned Sunday for former
Houstonian Michael Springer.
Service for Michael Springer
set for this Sunday in Houston
A memorial service for Michael Springer,
who at one time headed up the Houston
Regional HIV/AIDS Resource Group, is
planned at 4 p.m. Sunday at Covenant
Church/4949 Caroline. Springer, 55, died
May 6 in Dallas. A reception will follow
Helen Lois Alexander Cassidy
advocated equality for all
Helen Lois Alexander Cassidy, 65, an attorney and activist, died June 11. Cassidy
received her law degree from the
University of Houston Law Center and
became board certified in appellate law.
She served as chair of both the Appellate
Practice Section and the Criminal Law
Section of the Houston Bar Association as
well as chair of the Appellate Section of
the Start Bar of Texas. She worked as
staff counsel for inmates at the Texas
Department of Corrections, as a hearing
examiner for the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission and was named
Chief Staff Attorney for the Fourteenth
Court of Appeals. After 15 years at the
Court of Appeals, she entered private
practice. Cassidy was a Democratic
precinct chair, the first chair of the Texas
Women's Political Caucus and a national
board member for the National
Organization for Women. She marched for
civil rights in the 1960s, for women's
rights in the '70s and gay rights in the '80s.
A memorial service is planned at 2:30 p.m.
Sunday at the Magnolia Ballroom, 7X5
A balloon release will mark
The passing of Margie Armstrong
Margery Stewart Armstrong, 54, who
managed several successful flower shops
and worked for Randall's in Houston and
Galveston, died June 16. A native of
Lancaster, England, Armstrong was also a
poet and a dancer. A balloon release is
planned in her memory at 6 p.m. Sunday
at Mary's, 1022 Westheimer. In lieu of
flowers, her survivors ask that those who
knew her undertake an act of kindness
toward a stranger.
Ellis resigns as head of
state's gay lobby group
Political figures and gay
activists say Ellis made
a significant contribution
By BINNIE FISHER
Randall Ellis has resigned as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights
Lobby of Texas (LGRL), just as a special
legislative session begins in Austin.
Ellis announced his resignation on June
17, two and a half years into what turned
out to be a productive period for L-GRL.
In a press release, LGRL said, "The
organization has seen substantial
growth and maturation under Ellis'
Ellis told the Voice this week that he
needs a break and is planning to take time
off before accepting another position.
"I am going to take a few weeks break,"
he said. "The first thing I plan to do is
plant and keep my lawn alive this summer. Next, I am going to finish working on
my thesis for my master's in public health
as I contemplate my next move."
Ellis said there are a couple of possibilities on the horizon that may be of
"I already have a few projects lined up
to make sure we continue to elect progressive candidates at the local, state, and federal levels," he said. "My time at LGRL
has been an incredible experience."
LGRL Board Co-Chair Jill Ireland
acknowledged that Ellis' contributions
have been many.
"Over the last two and a half years
Randall has accomplished many things
for LGRL, both legislatively and operationally," Ireland said. "He and his staff
have taken our organization to a new
level, and we are extremely grateful for
his hard work and dedication. We wish
Randall the best and we look forward to
watching his continued success."
Ellis came to his job at LGRL after
having served as an aide to Rep. Garnett
Coleman (D-Houston). Coleman was
among a contingent of legislators who
say they will miss Ellis.
"Randall has an incredible work
ethic," Coleman said. "Whether working
on issues of public health, social justice,
or LGBT equality, he has risen to all the
challenges put before him. I look forward to continuing to work with Randall
in his future endeavors."
Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston)
praised the work Ellis did on the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.
"Randall demonstrated outstanding
leadership on the marriage amendment," she said. "The strategy that he
developed helped us change the hearts
and minds of lawmakers."
Randall Ellis has stepped down as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas.
The amendment garnered the
required two-thirds majority it needed
in the House and Senate and will be on
the statewide ballot Nov. 8.
"Although the amendment passed, we
were able to educate many of my colleagues in the Texas Legislature, and we
took a giant leap forward on marriage
equality for LGBT Texans." Farrar said.
"His work has laid the foundation for a
Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio)
said although Ellis never seemed to give
up when lobbying for equal rights, he
spread a calming influence over the legislators with whom he worked.
"The past two sessions have been
extremely difficult for LGBT Texans,"
Villarreal said. "I could always turn to
Randall to develop a calm and thoughtful response to the relentless attacks
from the far-right. He will be missed."
Activists in Houston expressed similar sentiments. Sue Lovell. who is a candidate for Houston City Council, agrees
that Ellis' leaving creates a void in leadership at the state level.
"Every GLBT person in the state of
Texas owes a debt of gratitude to Randall
Ellis," she said. "It's a big loss in leadership. I personally want to thank him and
wish him the best in the future."
Tammi Wallace, president of the
newly formed Houston Equal Rights
Alliance (HERA), worked closely with
Ellis qn Houston's Equality Knocks
voter identification drive.
"It's amazing what LGRL and Randall
were able to do in this last legislative
session," she said. "We wish him the
best of luck on his next step."