2016: A timeline

Posted on 30 Dec 2016 at 7:00am

irelands-with-obama

January
• Chief Justice Roy Moore halts same-sex marriages in Alabama, in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling. • Kroger announces plan to expand, put Oak Lawn branch library on its roof. • Round-Up Saloon hosts a self-defense workshop, in response to ongoing attacks in the gayborhood. • A judge dismisses a lawsuit seeking to oust Dallas DA Susan Hawk. • NECCO Sweethearts features Dallas’ own Jack Evans and George Harris in a video celebrating love. • Dallas TransCendence, a new support group for transgender people and their families, begins meeting. • Resource Center’s food pantry is forced to move from its Denton Drive location earlier than expected when developers move up plans for new construction at that location. • The Rev. Robert Jeffress, the vehemently anti-LGBT pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, endorses Donald Trump for president. • The Creating Change Conference, long known as a bastion of inclusivity, becomes the center of controversy in 2016 when some attendees held demonstrations basically threatening both Jewish attendees trying to attend a religious service (supposedly over Israel’s stance on Palestine) and some transgender attendees disrupted a panel discussion with cisgender men who love transgender women.

February
The first sexually-transmitted case of Zika virus in the U.S. is reported in a gay male couple in Dallas County. • Studies show black gay men are three times as likely to be infected with HIV as white gay men. • Dallas County DA Susan Hawk meets community leaders at Resource Center. • City officials cancel a contract and refuse to allow the Exxxotica convention to be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. • Oak Lawn United Methodist Church becomes a reconciling. • Right-wing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies suddenly of a heart attack. Republicans in Congress quickly make it known they won’t hold confirmation hearings on any Obama nominee to replace him. • A federal court dismisses an indictment against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry related to his decision to use his veto power to try and force the openly-lesbian Travis County DA to resign after she is arrested for DUI.

March
Christian Colbert, a photographer who previously worked freelance for Dallas Voice, is arrested in Los Angeles and charged with murdering his landlord, Ronald Shumway, in Oak Cliff. He later admits he killed Shumway, and is extradited to Texas, where he remains in jail awaiting trial. • Lambda Legal wins a lawsuit demanding survivor benefits for a Texas lesbian whose wife had died. • The U.S. Supreme Court sides with an Alabama lesbian seeking a second-parent adoption of her wife’s biological children. • David Chard, openly-gay dean of SMU’s School of Education, is named president of Wheelock College. • Turtle Creek Chorale peforms “Tyler’s Suite,” composed in memory of gay student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in 2010 after being bullied by his college roommate. • Dallas Voice hosts its second same-sex Wedding Expo. • Black Tie Dinner hires Zach Hess as development director. • Caven Enterprises remodels the Rose Room in Station 4.

April
Lonzie Hershner, owner of Marty’s Live and The Tin Room, announces he is buying Zippers. • The North Carolina Legislature, their panties in a twist because the city of Charlotte wants to protect all of its citizens from discriminaion, calls a special session specifically to pass a law saying Charlotte can’t do that and that transgender people can’t use appropriate public restroom facilities. Gov. Pat McCrory signs the heinous bill, unleashing a shit storm that lasts the rest of the year and costs the state millions in development and revenue. Mississippi follows suit, passing a “religious freedom” bill that allows people to discriminate against LGBT people. • Steven Pomerantz unveils his documentary Taking Back Oak Lawn, about a series of violent attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn at the end of 2015, at the USA Film Festival in Dallas. • The anti-gay pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, announces that his church is offering counseling for Dallas police officers, disturbing LGBT rights advocates who worry that First Baptist’s anti-gay theology will be included in the counseling. • The lawsuit filed against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, is dismissed because Davis’ office has been complying with court orders to issue those licenses. • Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Kent Scribner issues guidelines on how district employees should enact a policy adopted by the board of trustees several years before on dealing with transgender students. Right-wingers promptly
lose their minds.

May
The Resource Center’s food pantry re-opens in its new location, inside the center’s facilities at 2701 Reagan St. • Rockwall City Council votes down a proposed ordinance that would have banned transgender people from using the appropriate public restroom facilities on city property, but only after a lengthy and heated public hearing. • The Texas Department of State Health Services implements new requirements for those accessing HIV/AIDS services through local agencies that receive federal or state grant money. Advocates say the new requirements create even more roadblocks for people with HIV/AIDS who are seeking healthcare. • Prudential Insurance Company of America and John Hancock Insurance both announce they are offering life insurance policies for people with HIV/AIDS. • LGBT people and their allies hold a Deport Hate picnic and bike ride in Tyler’s Bergfeld Park after a man wearing a “Deport LGBT” t-shirt is seen several times riding his bicycle around the neighborhood. • Eric Fanning is confirmed as the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army. • Resource Center holds grand opening ceremonies for its new Community Center and offices. • The North American Gay Volleyball Association’s national championship tournament is held in North Texas. • Stonewall Democrats of Dallas celebrates its 20th anniversary.

June
Gay deputy Derek Boyd files a lawsuit against the Collin County Sheriff’s Office, claiming he was the target of harassment and retaliation after reporting two nurses who made discriminatory comments about LGBT inmates. • Another gay man is attacked in Oak Lawn, as he is walking home from a bar near Lemmon Street, prompting Resource Center CEO Cece Cox and Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell and other community leaderts to meet with Chief David Brown to discuss safety in the gayborhood. • Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted down the National Defense Authorization Act rather than allow it to pass with an amendment that would have protected President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors. • The Mesquite City Council votes to approve an equal employment opportunity ordinance that includes protections for LGBT people, despite protesters complaining about transgender people being allowed to use the appropriate public restroom facilities. • A gunman armed with semi-automatic assault-type rifles  opens fire inside the crowded Pulse nightclub in Orlando, shortly before 2 a.m. June 12, killing 49 people and injuring more than 50 more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Hundreds of North Texans attend vigils in Dallas that same evening and in Fort Worth the next day. • LGBT people and their allies celebrate the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling guaranteeing marriage equality. • The Dallas Wings WNBA team begin play in their first season after moving to Dallas from Tulsa, where they were known as The Shock. • Cathedral of Hope is evacuated during morning services on June 19, a week after the shooting at Pulse, after suitcases are found hidden against the outside wall of the building, with a ticking sound coming from inside. The luggage, it turned out, was left there by a homeless person who intended to return for it, and the ticking sound was coming from a laptop with a dying battering inside one of the bags. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces that the military is lifting its ban on open service by transgender people. • Dallas legend Jack Evans dies. • Dallas Elite women’s pro football team goes undefeated in the regular season and wins the American Conference championship before losing the national championship to the D.C. Divas in a close game, 41-37. • Dallas Voice Executive Editor Arnold Wayne Jones, who handles the Life+Styles section of the newspaper, won first place in news/feature writing and second place in the journalist of the year competition at Houston Press Club’s Lone Star Awards. Dallas Voice staff writer James Russell won second place in the Internet Opinion category.

July
Iconic Oak Lawn bar The Brick holds its last “last call,” closing July 24 after 25 years. With the closing of the Brick, owner Howard Okon retires after 35 years of owning LGBT bars in Dallas. • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton files for an injunction against guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education for schools on dealing with transgender students. • Four Dallas Police Department officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit police department officer are killed by a gunman who ambushed them following a Black Lives Matter march in downtown Dallas. The shooting comes within days of the killing of Alton Sterling by police in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile by an officer in St. Anthony, Minn. • The National Basketball Association announces it is moving its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, N.C., because of the state’s hatefully anti-trans HB2. • The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals declares Texas’ voter ID law to be unconstitutional. • North Texas’ Coalition for LGBT Aging holds its second annual conference, this one in Fort Worth. • Fort Worth ISD released revised guidelines on dealing with transgender students. Right-wing opponents of the original guidelines claim victory. • The Republican Party concludes its national convention after having adopted the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s history and having nominated Donald Trump, lauded by some as the most pro-gay GOP presidential candidate ever. • Cathedral of Hope inducts Resource Center CEO Cece Cox into the church’s Hall of Heroes. • The 13th annual Miss LifeWalk Pageant raises a record $53,000. • The Democratic National Convention is held in Philadelphia, with Hillary Clinton winning the nomination, but not before angry supporters of candidate Bernie Sanders threaten to disrupt the convention. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is a featured speaker on Thursday night at the convention.

August
A federal judge blocks Mississippi’s HB 1523, a “religious freedom” bill that allowed anti-LGBT discrimination as long as it is based on religious beliefs. • Six members of the Pulse staff visit Dallas for a special benefit performance. • Club Dallas celebrates its 42nd anniversary. • Oklahoma state Sen. Al McAffrey wins the Democratic primary for Congress, although he eventually loses in the general election to Republican incumbent Steve Russell. • Resource Center names its 5 Factor recipients for 2016: Culinaire, Steve Kemble, Chris Bengston, Adam Medrano and Rodd Gray. • Rachel Tiven is named the new CEO of Lambda Legal. • Isaiah Smith files a lawsuit against Management and Training Corp., alleging that the company, which runs prisons for the government, discriminated against him because he is gay. Smith worked at the prison in Bridgeport operated by MTC. • Tallywackers, the male version of “breastaraunts” like Hooters, closed. • The Texas Bar Association declines to sanction Texas AG Ken Paxton for telling county clerks they could ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. • Allen Almodovar sues the U.S. Navy, saying that officials at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base at Carswell in Fort Worth allowed his coworkers to harass and discriminate against him. • Dr. Jaimie Vasquez announces that as of Nov. 22 he is affiliating with MDVIP and converting to a concierge practice. • In the wake of the Democratic National Convention, LGBT Democrats in East Texas announce they are forming a new chapter of Stonewall Democrats. • The 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro in August, with a record number of openly LGBT athletes — at least 41 — competing.

September
Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown announces his retirement. • GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump disavows a PAC with an Oak Lawn address that trolled for donations, claiming that anyone who donated would be entered into a drawing two winner dinner with Trump. • Texas AG Ken Paxton sues his own state’s Waller County for refusing to allow open carry of handguns — which is allowed by Texas law — in the county’s government buildings. • Dallas County DA Susan Hawk resigns, saying she is going to focus on dealing with her mental health issues. • A photo taken by former Dallas Voice owner and publisher Robert Moore as he hid behind a car with a Dallas Police officer during the mass shooting of officers in Downtown Dallas provides inspiration for a musical piece commissioned by Turtle Creek Chorale and performed at the opening concert of TCC’s 2016-17 season. • The NCAA decides to pull seven college sports championship games from the state of North Carolina because of the state’s nasty anti-transgender HB2. Two days later, the Atlantic Coast Conference follows suit. • Dallas Voice endorses Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for president. It is the first time in the newspaper’s 33-plus year history that the Voice has officially endorsed any political candidate. • Canadian and United Kingdom embassies in Dallas have floats in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride parade, for the first time in the parade’s history. • Teen Pride moves from Cathedral of Hope to the grounds of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church. • Tom Lang, husband of former Samaritan House CEO Steve Dutton, is murdered on a Miami street by a homeless man. • Rafael McDonnell urges the Collin County Sheriff’s Department to adopt and enforce LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies after a deputy who claimed he was discriminated against was fired earlier in the year. • Former Urban Cowboy bartender Charles Dean Bryant is arrested and charged with the murder of University of North Texas co-ed Jackie Vandagriff.

October
Recording artists Monica and Brandy are headliners at events held as part of the 2016 Dallas Southern Pride weekend. • Black Tie Dinner holds its 35th annual fundraising gala at Sheraton Dallas. Recording artist Deborah Cox and openly-gay singer/dancer Todrick Hall, now playing the lead drag role in Kinky Boots on Broadway, are the entertainment. Dr. Steve Pounders receives the Kuchling Humanitarian Award; actress Debra Messing receives the Media Award; Olympic champion Greg Louganis receives the Birch Equality Award and actress Connie Britton receives the Ally for Equality Award. • Anthony Gurley, a gay man living with his mother in Anna, just north of Dallas, is found dead in a field near the restaurant where he worked on Oct. 4. He had been missing since leaving work early on Sunday, Sept. 18, after saying he wasn’t feeling well. Police did not suspect foul play. • Rabbi Steve Fisch resigns suddenly from his position as rabbi of Congregation Beth El Benah after a disagreement with the board. Nationally-known Rabbi Steve Gutow agrees to step in and lead the congregation’s impending High Holy Days celebrations. • Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association holds its annual Pride parade through Downtown Fort Worth, drawing what is estimated to be one of its largest crowds ever. • AIDS Arms stages its 2016 LifeWalk in Lee Park. • Activist and Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson announces publicly that he has been diagnosed with end-stage esophageal cancer. • Dallas icon Lory Masters, Realtor and nationally-known LGBT activist and fundraiser, celebrates her 70th birthday with a weekend full of events, starting with a roast Friday night at S4 and winding up with a special service Sunday morning at Cathedral of Hope, during which the church unveils a special sculpture commissioned her in honor. • Dallas and Fort Worth both receive scores of 100 of the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. • Venterra Realty, headquartered in Houston, announces that it has purchased both the ilume and ilume Park properties in Oak Lawn. • The legendary Cher comes to Dallas for an event raising funds for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

November
Winslow’s restaurant on Cedar Springs closes. The Fort Worth location remains open. • Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman releases a statement announcing that Assistant Director David Berryman has been fired after admitting that he embezzled funds from the Dallas Pride committee. Berryman promises to repay all the funds, and keeps that promise before the end of the month. No charges are filed. • Red Foundation makes a record-breaking donation of $57,000 to Legacy Counseling Center. • The LGBT community around the country, along with people in every minority community and non-minorities with any sense at all go into mourning with Republican Donald Trump unexpectedly  and unbelievably wins the presidency. Trump immediately begins naming a bevy of bigots to his cabinet. • Dallas County’s openly lesbian Sheriff Lupe Valdez wins re-election with 57 percent of the vote. • Democrats pick up a seat in the Texas House when Victoria Naeve defeats the Republican incumbent in District 107, and openly lesbian state Reps. Celia Israel in Austin and Mary Gonzalez in El Paso win re-election. • LGBT-friendly Dallas County commissioners Theresa Daniel and John Wiley Price are re-elected, and former Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing wins her race to be judge in the 254th District Court. • Black Tie Dinner distributes $1.245 million — it’s largest total in nine years — to its 16 local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign. • LifeWalk officials announce that the 2016 event raised more than $550,000. • The Baptist General Convention of Texas expels First Baptist Church Austin and Dallas’ Wilshire Baptist Church for accepting  LGBT people as full members. • Resource Center celebrates the grand re-opening of its facilities at 2701 Reagan, now known as The Health Campus, and renames the main building there after the agency’s first executive director, activist John Thomas. • Texas lawmakers begin pre-filing bills for the 2017 session, including a number of bills targeting LGBT rights. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announces his intention to make his so-called Women’s Protection Act — a version of North Carolina’s disastrous HB2 — one of his top legislative priorities next year.

December
Resource Center CEO Cece Cox is named to D Magazine’s “Dallas 500” list. • The Oak Lawn branch of the Dallas Public Library celebrates its 20th anniversary in its current location on Cedar Springs Road. • Cassie’s Freakmas, a Monday night drag show at JR.’s Bar & Grill hosted by Dallas Voice columnist and drag queen extraordinaire Cassie Nova, raises more than $7,000 to help pay for Christmas gifts for students at Sam Houston Elementary, thanks to a $5,000 donation by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. • Fairness Fort Worth President and LGBT rights activist David Mack Henderson dies of cancer. • Turtle Creek Chorale hires Dennis Coleman as development director. • Dallas Voice names Resource Center CEO Cece Cox the LGBT Texan of the Year. • Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman announces that beginning in 2017, the city’s annual Pride celebration is being expanded to two days. The Pride parade will continue to be held on the third Sunday in September, but the Festival in the Park, at Reverchon Park, is being moved to Saturday, the day before the parade. • A state District Court in Louisiana strikes down Gov. John Bel Edwards executive order protecting LGBT people from employment discrimination at state agencies and state contractors, saying that the authority to grant such protections lies only with state lawmakers. • The attorney general of the Cherokee Nation issues an opinion saying that a tribal law banning same-sex marriage violates the Cherokee Constitution.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2016.

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