Lesbian lawyer says images in program were stereotypes; presenter says complaint was unwarranted
In response to concerns that it was offensive to the LGBT community, the State Bar of Texas has opted to edit the videotape of a recent educational presentation on nontraditional relationships that featured gays alongside hermaphrodites, aliens, robots and clones.
The 30-minute presentation, titled “21st Century Issues Dealing with Nontraditional Relationships: Dividing Property Between Unmarried Persons,” was made by attorney C. Luke Gunnstaks of Plano during a continuing legal education seminar in San Antonio.
State bar leaders reviewed the videotape, which will be posted on the Internet for use by attorneys statewide, in response to a complaint by Karen J. Langsley, a lesbian attorney from Dripping Springs who is chair of the state bar’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues section.
“I’m just really pleased to see that the bar did exactly what I think any reasonable, rational organization should do, which is look at it, make an assessment, listen to concerns and take some action,” Langsley said, adding that she made the complaint as an individual and not as a representative of SOGII. “The images that were in that presentation played to all the crazy stereotypes.”
Gunnstaks did not a return a phone call seeking comment on edits to the videotape, but in a previous interview with Dallas Voice, he defended the presentation.
Gunnstaks said the subject of same-sex relationships is always controversial and he was forced to cram the content of his lengthy accompanying paper into a limited timeframe. He prefaced the presentation with warnings saying those who are easily offended should leave the room.
Gunnstaks said slides in the presentation with titles like “Sodom and Gomorrah” brought some historical perspective to the debate. He also said references to things like aliens and robots were designed to alert other attorneys to scenarios that may arise over the next 100 years.
During the presentation, Gunnstaks suggests that Texas should come in line with other states and countries that have adopted legal protections for gay couples. He also exclaims on more than one occasion, “Who are we to judge?”
“I don’t know where this woman’s coming from,” said Gunnstaks, who added that he decided to join SOGIII after learning of Langsley’s complaint.
“I think she’s not representing the interests of her section. I’m a champion of same-sex marriage and civil unions, and yet she’s wanting to ban me,” he said.
Kim Davey, a spokeswoman for the state bar, said 40 to 45 of 167 slides were removed from the presentation.
“We did take a look at it, and based on the reaction of folks on our staff to anything they felt might be considered offense or controversial, the presentation was edited,” Davey said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2007