Movies on the lawn at Lee Park

Arlington HallThe Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy presents movies on the lawn as part of its celebration of the 75th anniversary of Arlington Hall.

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, Gone With the Wind will be shown at 7 p.m. and on Wednesday, Oct. 22, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington will be shown at 7 p.m.

Bring lawn chairs or blankets to this free event.

Ruthie’s Rolling Food Truck will be parked on Hall Street and beer and wine will be available for sale.

For members of the Lee Park Conservancy, there’s a VIP reception each night at 6 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Emerson Collins’ TV show is back for a second season


Emerson Collins

One of our favorite Texas Voices is Emerson Collins. This week he wrote Broadcast News for us.

Emerson will be spending time in Dallas working on Del Shores’ Sordid Lives sequel.

But Emerson can be seen on Bravo’s show The People’s Couch. He’s one of the couch potatoes who comments on Bravo shows as well as some of the network hits. At least Bravo understands that its other shows are crap and lets Emerson and friends rip into them. Here’s a clip from the new season.

—  David Taffet

Arizona is the latest marriage equality state

arizonaArizona became marriage equality state No. 31 this morning when a federal judge struck down the state’s ban calling it unconstitutional.

There’s no word yet on when the state will begin issuing marriage licenses. Arizona is in the Ninth Circuit, which recently struck down marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. Those states and Alaska became marriage equality states this week.

Suits are pending in Kansas, South Carolina, Montana and Wyoming. Decisions are expected in those states soon. By the end of next week, there may be 35 marriage equality states.

In Texas, we’re working hard to ensure that we go down in history as last in equality as No. 50.



—  David Taffet

Candlelight vigil for Ebola-stricken nurses

Ebola VirusBapnar, a company that does healthcare staffing, is hosting a candlelight prayer vigil for Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, the two Presbyterian Hospital nurses who became infected with the Ebola virus.

The event, called “An Evening for Our Nightingales” takes place at Dallas City Hall Plaza, 1500 Marilla St., on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited.

Both nurses have been transferred to other hospitals — Pham to Emory in Atlanta and Vinson to National Institute of Health in Baltimore — that seem better equipped to care for them and are outside the media hysteria going on in Dallas. Both are being treated with experimental drugs.

We wish them both a return to good health soon and a quick return home.

Speaking of media hysteria, Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd is about the only other writer here in Dallas addressing the Ebola cases with facts rather than frenzy. Here’s a link to her wonderful column: Good sense will inoculate you against Ebolaphobia.

And here’s an interesting fact. While the right wing wants to close the southern border so that no one can sneak in from Africa and wants to impeach President Barack Obama for his handling of the Ebola “crisis,” Obama is naming an Ebola czar after three cases in the United States. President Ronald Reagan didn’t mention AIDS until more than 20,000 gay men were dead from the disease.

—  David Taffet

Cliff dwelling

The city’s oldest home tour includes 10 homes, four of them built right into the cliff


THIS GAY HOUSE | Homes on the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League Tour of Homes spotlight the area’s terrain and incorporate steep dropoffs into dramatic settings. (Photos courtesy Old Oak Cliff Conservation League)


DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League tour of homes includes three homes south of Kiest Park this year, the most in those neighborhoods in the tour’s history.

Former OOCCL President Michael Amonett is excited about the variety of homes and neighborhoods highlighted in this year’s tour, but especially in the work going into homes in new areas of Oak Cliff. One of the things that makes some Oak Cliff homes so interesting is how builders set some homes into the cliff to create yards and views unlike anything else in the city, he said.

“Four of the homes [on this year’s home tour] are built into the cliff,” Amonett said.

He also said only four of the 10 houses on this year’s tour are gay-owned. That’s down from the usual number, but shows the commitment of the entire community to maintain and restore their homes and yards.

One of the homes built into the cliff belongs to Judy Pollack.

“There used to be a tattoo parlor downstairs,” Pollack said, describing her house’s colorful history. “I turned it into an exercise studio.”

Her screened porch, which she called the treehouse, stands 20 feet above her backyard and overlooks Five Mile Creek that flows through a small canyon in that part of Oak Cliff.

A bridge connects two parts of Pollack’s home, which was built in the 1970s. She updated the house by gutting the kitchen and bath and using Patagonian rosewood for the floors.

Bill Robertson’s home is in Kiestwood, also south of Kiest Park. He purchased his house from the original owner, an elderly woman who had let it fall into disrepair. By the time he acquired the house, vines were growing through the walls and six raccoons had taken up residence.



“We sit on top of a hill,” Robertson said of his home, which is situated on 2.5 acres with a steep drop off to the creek. Robertson said there are 40 steps down to the lower patio in the back.

While he left the original floor plan, Robertson is doubling the size of his sunroom, the only add-on since the house was built in 1961. The floors and cabinets are also original but have been resurfaced.
Robertson said the stonework inside is another interesting architectural element that originally attracted him to the house.

As a bonus stop, this year’s OOOCL home tour includes a visit to the Oak Cliff Bank Building, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. AIDS Services of Dallas and former Councilman Domingo Garcia have offices in this building.

The building’s oddest feature is its elevator bank. There are no buttons to push inside the elevators. Punch in the floor to call the elevator and when the car arrives, it indicates which floors it will stop on.

Last year’s tour brought in $30,000, which was returned to the neighborhoods for a variety of projects, including street sign toppers to designate streets included in Oak Cliff’s strong neighborhood associations, along with other projects sidewalk improvements to median beautification projects.

The OOCCL tour is the largest in the city as well as the oldest. The tour was started in 1975 by neighborhood preservationists at a time when Oak Cliff was seen as one of the city’s declining slums rather than the collection of strong neighborhoods with skyrocketing property values that it is today.
Old Oak Cliff Tour of Homes, Oct. 18–19 at noon–6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at Ticket Central at Simply Austin, 8th and Bishop or at any of the homes for $25 and $15 for seniors. Tour is rain or shine.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 17, 2014.


—  David Taffet

Nurturing scholars

LEAP Scholarship winners talk about how the GBLT Chamber made a difference in their lives


ONE SMALL STEP | Larisa Maxwell, left, met attorney Rebecca Covell through the LEAP Scholarship program and is now practicing with her firm. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Pam Hancock has won the North Texas GLBT Chamber’s LEAP Scholarship twice. And now teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage where, she said, she can’t see Russia from her front door.

Hancock was celebrating this week because her marriage in her new state was recognized as a result of a court ruling over the weekend. She was also excited that another round of LEAP Scholarships is due to be awarded. Her scholarship meant she was able to finish her dissertation and apply for her current position.

She said LEAP was the first LGBT scholarship she applied for and received.

“I received it at the exact time my funding was running out,” she said. “It was perfect timing that allowed me to get equipment necessary to finish my dissertation.”

But, Hancock said, winning the LEAP Scholarship meant more than just funding.

“Beyond the financial, the whole board took me under their wing,” she said. “That was just as valuable as the financial contribution.”

Hancock called LEAP’s nurturing approach to assistance “holistic” and said board chair Candy Marcum’s ideas helped her complete her degree.

LEAP, which stands for Leadership Education & Advocacy Program, began awarding scholarships three years ago, according to Marcum. Funding comes from one annual fundraiser, previously known as the Holly Jolly Ball. Marcum said that was too close to Christmas and Thanksgiving, so this year the LEAP board pushed the event back to Halloween and renamed it Spooktacular.

Spooktacular takes place on Saturday, Oct. 18 and features a silent auction, a costume contest and a cork pull — match a cork with a bottle to win the bottle of wine.

As successful as LEAP has been in its first years, Marcum said she wants the program to grow.

“I’d like us to give more and more every year,” Marcum said, noting that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce awards $1 million in scholarships.

Marcum said LGBTs, children of LGBTs and allied students are all eligible to apply for LEAP scholarships. The application should be online at in February.

The funds may be used for anything from trade school or community college to undergraduate or graduate studies.

“The best way to get ahead is with an education,” Marcum said.

Larisa Maxwell won a LEAP scholarship last year, enabling her to complete her law degree at Texas A&M.

“I thought it was a great honor to be recognized,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell’s scholarship also involved a bit of nurturing from the LEAP board and eventually helped in kicking off her career.

Her work in the community is among the things that impressed the board in granting her the award. In Dallas, Maxwell volunteered at Lambda Legal. At A&M, she restarted the OUTlaw group for the school’s LGBT law school students.

Maxwell also traveled to Austin to lobby legislators with Equality Texas during the last legislative session. Among the bills being considered that session was one to cut funding for state schools with an LGBT resource center. A&M was the principle target of the bill.

Since graduation, Maxwell has returned to Dallas and is working in Rebecca Covell’s law firm. Covell is an estate-planning and business attorney with more than 25 years experience working in the community who met Maxwell through the GLBT Chamber and LEAP.

Maxwell continues to show her appreciation for being a scholarship winner by serving on the LEAP board and chairing the silent auction committee for Spooktacular.

Maxwell said she funded most of her graduate education through loans.

“The scholarship eased my financial burden,” she said, “and let me stay focused on school work more.”

Now, as a LEAP board member, her focus has turned to helping other LGBT students finish their degrees and graduate with less of a financial burden.

Spooktacular takes place in the Great Room at ilume Park, 3109 Douglas Ave. Oct. 18 at 7–10 p.m. $50.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 17, 2014.

—  David Taffet

Meeting set for destruction of Oak Lawn property

IMG_6133The Dallas Board of Adjustment meets on Monday, Oct. 20 to hear oral testimony on granting variances to the property on Hall Street at Turtle Creek Boulevard. The owners would like to tear down the last remaining house facing Lee Park along with all of the trees to build a 10-story tower.

Plopping a 10-story building on this single-family lot will make Oak Lawn more oakless and more lawnless and make Lee Park less inviting.

The Oak Lawn Committee is already on record as not supporting the proposed changes.

The applicant proposes changing setbacks so that the tower will cover most of the property. While nothing in the status of the building prevents its demolition, there’s no reason to allow developers to violate new standards that have been put into place for properties around the park.

George Poston, owner of the property, applied for and was denied, setback variances in 1999.

In addition to input at the meeting, comments may be sent to the administrator of the Board of Adjustment, Steve Long. All correspondence sent will be distributed at the meeting to all board members.

The Board of Adjustment meets at Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla St. on Monday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. A guard at the desk near the west entrance will direct visitors to the right elevators and meeting room.

094 application materials application to destroy property

Oak Lawn Committee letter opposing variances

1999 minutes refusing changes by board in 1999

—  David Taffet

Updated information on handling the Ebola virus

Ebola VirusParkland Hospital and area doctors are trying to deal with the Ebola crisis by getting out the facts and minimizing the hysteria generated by broadcast media.

Parkland released a video about the procedures its staff is taking to minimize contact with the virus and a reference page with links and information about the virus and how it is spread.

Dr. David Lee from Uptown Physicians sent his patients a letter acknowledging the fear, predicting several more cases will appear in Dallas but minimizing alarm by assuring the virus will be contained.

Here’s Dr. Lee’s letter to his patients, reprinted with his permission:

Ebola Virus

David Lee on Oct. 15, 2014 1:37:37 p.m.

We understand the worries being expressed by patients concerning the Ebola virus. It is a scary virus, but one which eventually will be contained in the US. I do suspect we will see more cases in Dallas and the US, but there is no reason to be alarmed at this time. Unlike the flu virus which is easily spread, the Ebola virus is only spread by direct contact with bodily fluids. We are instituting protocols at Uptown Physicians Group to screen for any potential patients with Ebola before they come to our clinic. To be clear, if you think you may have been exposed to someone with Ebola, DO NOT COME TO OUR OFFICE. Please call our office and/or send a portal message and we can help direct your care. You will need to go directly to an emergency room which is equipped to test for Ebola and institute quarantine if necessary. Labcorp does not offer testing, so we cannot test anyone in our office for Ebola. If you have traveled to Western Africa or potentially have been exposed to someone with Ebola, again, you will need to go directly to the emergency room.

Flu season is on the way, and there is currently a viral syndrome causing upper respiratory symptoms circulating in the community, so differentiating which viral illness you have becomes very important. Thus when you call to make an anointment, you will be asked about any potential travel or Ebola exposure. Again, if there is any chance you could have been exposed to Ebola, DO NOT COME TO OUR OFFICE. We will direct you to an emergency room where testing, quarantine, and treatment can be initiated.

Below is a CDC statement which was released today:

“On the morning of Oct. 14, the second healthcare worker reported to the hospital with a low-grade fever and was isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the second healthcare worker who tested positive last night for Ebola traveled by air Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms.

Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13.

CDC is asking all 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13 (the flight route was Cleveland to Dallas Fort Worth and landed at 8:16 p.m. CT) to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232 4636).”

If you were on this flight, please call the CDC ASAP for further instructions. As further pertinent information becomes available, we will send updates.


Uptown Physicians Group

And here’s Parkland’s video. The precautions are the same as those being used at Presbyterian where two nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the “index patient,” were infected with the virus.

This is a training video demonstrating the precautionary methods Parkland would use with a patient presenting symptoms of Ebola. The level of virus when a patient presents with simple fever is much lower than when a hospital is treating the patient with severe symptoms and these precautions should be sufficient. Doctors I’ve spoken to recommend full hazmat suits to treat an Ebola patient in isolation.

—  David Taffet

Idaho becomes marriage equality state number … umm… lost count

When Idaho’s Atty. Gen. Lawrence Wasden withdrew his request for a stay on Monday, Oct. 13 and Gov. Butch Otter decided on Tuesday to stop challenging the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on marriage equality, that cleared the way for Idaho to become a marriage equality state.

While Texas and Mississippi continue to battle for last place, Idaho became marriage equality state No. 29. Or 32. We lost count.

Marriages started today in Idaho. Facebook friend Cindy Gross from Boise sent these pics and called the day very exciting. Gross works with the Add the Words campaign trying to get sexual orientation and gender identity added to Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

“Couples getting married today didn’t want their pictures taken because they were afraid they’d lose their jobs,” she said.

But Boise was celebrating with city officials performing weddings. She said lots of straight people were out celebrating along with everyone else.


—  David Taffet

Supreme Court puts part of Texas abortion law on hold

sneakers davis

The sneakers Wendy Davis wore while filibustering the abortion bill

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked key provisions of a 2013 law to restrict abortions in Texas adding regulations that forced clinics to close.

Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Texas could immediately force abortion clinics to upgrade to hospital-level facilities. The Supreme Court put that provision on hold.

Another provision requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital was put on hold for clinics in McAllen and El Paso.

The Fifth Circuit is considering the overall constitutionality of the law that propelled Sen. Wendy Davis to national fame because of her filibuster against it.

“The court recognized that these deeply personal decisions should be made by a woman with the guidance of her family and her doctor,” Davis said in an email sent to Dallas Voice. “The actions by Austin politicians like Greg Abbott had closed all but eight Texas reproductive health centers and harmed the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of women throughout the state.

“While politicians like Greg Abbott support making abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest, I’m thankful that women can continue to make their own personal decisions.”

Although the decision was unsigned, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia said they would have ruled against the clinics.

“We’re seeing the terrible impact these restrictions have on thousands of Texas women who effectively no longer have access to safe and legal abortion,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, in a statement. “We’re relieved that the court stepped in to stop this, and we hope this dangerous law is ultimately overturned completely.”

Until the Supreme Court weighed in, the only clinics still open were in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. Several others are expected to reopen bringing the total up from eight to 13 clinics.

—  David Taffet