McAffrey in runoff for nomination in Oklahoma U.S. House race

Posted on 30 Jun 2016 at 10:16am
McAffrey.Al

Former state Sen. Al McAffrey

Former state Sen. Al McAffrey is in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for Oklahoma’s U.S. Representative District 5. Although he received the most votes, Oklahoma requires a majority to get the nomination.

McAffrey received 10,009 votes or 36.81 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

In the runoff, he faces Tom Guild who got 9,996 votes or 36.76 percent of the vote.

The third place candidate was Leona Leonard with 7,187 votes or 26.43 percent.

McAffrey represented a portion of Oklahoma City in the state legislature, first in the House and later in the Senate. When he was elected, he was the first openly gay person elected to the legislature in Oklahoma. Both his House and Senate seat are still represented by LGBT legislators.

The runoff is on Aug. 23 with early voting on Aug. 18-20.

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Two trans women win congressional primaries

Posted on 29 Jun 2016 at 4:42pm
Misty Plowright

Misty Plowright

Two trans women won primaries on Tuesday, June 28, and will be on the ballot for a U.S. House and a U.S. Senate seat.

Oddly, both are named Misty.

Utah Democrats chose Misty Snow to run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Lee. Democrats in Colorado’s 5th Congressional district, which includes Colorado Springs, chose Misty Plowright as their nominee. The district includes the headquarters of the anti-gay hate group Focus on the Family.

Snow won by 20 points after her opponent came out in favor of restrictions on abortion rights. Plowright is an army veteran who beat her opponent by 16 points.

Both are considered long shots in the general election. Outside of Salt Lake City, Utah is a solidly Republican state and the Colorado Springs area is extremely conservative, even if the rest of the state is not.

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Mississippi blocked from enacting anti-gay law

Posted on 29 Jun 2016 at 2:17pm

 

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Attorney Roberta Kaplan at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing in 2015.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves has struck down a recent Mississippi law that discriminated against same-sex couples. He ruled that Mississippi circuit clerks can’t cite their own religious views to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who represented Edie Windsor in the case that found parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, also represented two lesbian couples in the state’s marriage equality lawsuit in 2014. She filed a motion in the marriage equality case. Reeves found in favor of marriage equality and after the Obergefell decision, his ruling was certified by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The new “religious liberty” law would have gone into effect on July 1. Kaplan argued the law would create uncertainty for same-sex couples who wouldn’t know which clerks would stand in the way of their constitutional right to marry. The state shouldn’t be able to continue to create new legal barriers to marriage, she argued.

According to the Jackson Clarion Ledger, Gov. Phil Bryant recently received an award from the Family Research Council for signing the bill into law.

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Huckabee pays Survivor for copyright infringement

Posted on 28 Jun 2016 at 3:28pm
HUCKABEE ASIA

Mike Huckabee

In an out-of-court settlement, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has to pay the band Survivor $25,000 for infringing on their copyright for playing the song “Eye of the Tiger” at a rally for Kim Davis, according to CNN.

Davis is the Rowen County, Ky. County Clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those couples were infringing on her religious freedom by asking her to do her job.

Half of the amount owed was paid in May. Huckabee asked the Federal Elections Commission if he could start a legal defense fund to raise money to pay the debt. The FEC responded and told him he’d have to pay it himself.

Apparently, the song appeals to Republicans. Mitt Romney used the song, but stopped after a warning. Newt Gingrich settled out of court after he was sued to using the song without permission.

Davis recently asked a court to drop her lawsuit after Kentucky lawmakers removed county clerks’ names from marriage licenses in the state.

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Rain causes Oak Lawn parking garage to collapse

Posted on 27 Jun 2016 at 7:31pm
Taylor Apartments

Photo courtesy of Brandon Hillhouse.

I don’t have much information yet, but I have received word that the sudden downpour that hit the Oak Lawn area around 6 p.m. has caused the parking garage at the Taylor Apartments to collapse.

Taylor Apartments are located at 3100 Carlisle St. Stay tuned for details.

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Jones, Russell win in Houston Press Club’s Lone Star Awards

Posted on 27 Jun 2016 at 4:03pm
Dallas Voice Executive Editor Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Voice Executive Editor Arnold Wayne Jones with his three Houston Press Club Lone Star Awards

Dallas Voice Executive Editor Arnold Wayne Jones came home from the Houston Press Club’s Lone Star Awards with three trophies this past weekend, and former Voice news writer James Michael Russell won one.

Arnold won first place in the “Newspaper Under 50K Circulation, News or Feature Story” category with Soup 2 Nuts, his profile of Pink Magnolia restaurant owners chef Blythe Beck and Casie Caldwell. (Judges praised the piece as “a fun story … It felt as if I knew Blythe and Casie by the end … full of sass and wonderful quotes.”) Second place in that category went to Michael Duke with the Jewish Herald-Voice for his story, “Bereaved Family Focuses On Lives After Deadly Flood.”

Arnold won second place in the Newspaper Print Journalist of the Year  category, behind Dianna Wray of Houston Press in first place, and ahead of third place winner Leif Reigstad, also of Houston Press. Arnold’s moving tribute to his mother following her death last year helped win him Journalist of the Year honors.

Arnold won third place in the Newspaper General Commentary category for his review of the restaurant Uchi, Uchie coochie, could she cook! Michael Duke at Jewish Herald-Voice won first place with his story “Israel Was Reborn Despite The Holocaust” and Houston Press’ Margaret Downing won second place for “The Rise and Crashing Fall …”

(Had there been a category for most creative headlines, Arnold would no doubt have won hands-down. Matter of fact, he would have won first, second and third place.)

James won second place in the Internet Opinion category for his “Bought and Sold” series of blogs on Texas lawmakers who have proven to be more beholden to big bucks than to Texas voters. First place went to Houston Press’ Cory Garcia.

For a complete list of Lone Star Award winners, go here.

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Rev. Stephen Sprinkle: The power of lament and fierce love

Posted on 27 Jun 2016 at 1:45pm
The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School, flanked by other ministers, ended the protest with prayer. Other ministers attending included Chaplain Aaron Burk, the Rev. Mark Weathers of University Christian Church, the Rev. Heather Dunham of Universal Life Church, and the Rev. Russell Dalton with Brite Divinity School.

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School, flanked by other ministers, ended the protest with prayer. Other ministers attending included Chaplain Aaron Burk, the Rev. Mark Weathers of University Christian Church, the Rev. Heather Dunham of Universal Life Church, and the Rev. Russell Dalton with Brite Divinity School.

The following are remarks delivered by the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle during the rally outside Stedfast Baptist Church Sunday morning, June 26, as part of a demonstration to confront hate speech by Stedfast’s pastor, Donnie Romero.

Lament, Discover, and Repair
A message for the I AM DONE Stedfast Baptist Church Protest
Sansom Park, Texas, June 26, 2016
Stephen V. Sprinkle
Brite Divinity School

The Orlando massacre has forced America to stare into the abyss of our broken society. We have recoiled from what we have seen: not only the brutality of fear and loathing that took so many lives at the Pulse nightclub that night, but also the sickening complicity of a national culture that has set up the conditions for the slaughter of our people for generations.

Our feelings of remorse and loss are real and sharply painful; our burning anger is hot and real, as well.

But we cannot allow the abyss of race hatred, misogyny and heterosexist privilege to paralyze us with fear or anger — not again!

If others must continue the endless finger-pointing, let them. Not us, not again, not now!

We have a gaping hole in the American character to fix, and it will take all of us to do it, queer folk of faith, faith-free queer folk and allies alike. The spiritual resources that belong to American LGBTQ people are at hand, and we must discover how to use them to heal our broken hearts, our troubled minds, and to repair the ruins that yawn up at us from the abyss that bears so many names:

  • Orlando
  • Mother Emanuel A.M.E.
  • Sandy Hook Elementary
  • The Upstairs Lounge Inferno
  • Wisconsin Sikh Temple
  • Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
  • Aurora, Colorado, and
  • Virginia Tech, and more.

We must act according to the sources of our power, no matter what makes us afraid. The practice of lament clears the spiritual space that makes effective action possible.

Sadness can empower our souls as well as dis-empower them. We can erect shrines that tie us to the past, or we can discover the power to lament as a people until hope takes the place of despair.

Phyllis Trible, the ground-breaking author of Texts of Terror who told the stories of the wrong done to biblical women, has said that mourning alone changes little. But true change comes from insight, a change that can inspire individuals and even a whole generation to repentance.

She writes: “In other words, sad stories may yield new beginnings.”

God knows, we have sad stories, and plenty of them. What we must find is the courage to cry out in public acts of lament that change despair into hope.

Rabbi Denise Eger, lesbian and president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, shows us how to turn sorrow into a new kind of power for good:

Sister that I never held near,
Brother that I never embraced, our memory is almost lost:
The one we don’t talk about.
The loving one who never married.
The one for whom no Kaddish was said.
Your loneliness calls out to me:
I know of your struggles, we are not strangers,
And if my path is easier, I will not forget who walked it first.
We call you to mind, but did you not sometimes think of us,
Your children, lovers across the years,
Those who would follow and would think of you and bless your memory
And call you to mind?
With David and Jonathan, we will not forget you,
With Ruth and Naomi, we will not forget you,
In the name of God you are our sisters and our brothers, and we ask that you be remembered for peace.

When we cry out to God from the depths of our collective sorrow, as my friend, Dean Joretta Marshall, of Brite Divinity School says, we begin to discover new possibilities for memory, compassion, empathy, and vision.

As we collaborate publicly in acts of lament when we are overwhelmed, we discover new ways to collaborate together in “life-giving hope.”

Protests are important, but they do not capture the spiritual power of crying out together so that our despair may turn into hope, and inspiration gives our activism fresh ideas to address the venom the LGBTQ community faces, much of it inflicted in the name of religion.

Sorrow is not a destination. We need movements, not monuments or shrines, movements of “life-giving hope.” So, together, before all the world, with our enemies included, we cry out until despair begins to transform into something new.

We remember before God the tens of thousands of our LGBTQ family martyred in years gone by. We remember those who died in the Inquisition, the Middle Passage, the Witch Craze, the Holocaust, and the struggle for civil rights.

We refuse to forget those, driven to despair by a world that hated them and who they loved, who took their own lives rather than face any longer the intolerable.

And we cannot forget those who lived out their days lonely, repressed, and afraid to reach out for affection and comfort, too hurt to give or receive the love they craved.

To us, in the memories we share in our seasons of lament, they have all become the martyrs of God, signs that we must make the world better than they found it. In the name of love, we pray, “O God, remember the sacrifices of these martyrs, and help us to bring and end to hate and oppression of every kind!”

We say and we believe that “Love Wins!” But in the struggle to repair the world, we have learned that love must be ferocious to win the new world we seek for ourselves, our children, and for everyone.

The story of the struggle for our human rights has lessons to teach, and one of the undeniable lessons of our history is that LGBTQ people have never been “given” anything. The heterosexist society in which we live never surrenders its power willingly. Our freedom has had to be won.

If our great theme is LOVE, from the right to love the one we choose, or the love of country that inspired us to defy Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to the love of human life itself because we are a people who are represented everywhere — in every group and race, and in every known social demographic from the beginning of recorded history — then we know from our own collective experience that love must be fierce in order for it to survive.

There is something divine in love like that, a divine imperative that will not be forestalled any longer, or postponed, or sidetracked. From the days of our forebears in the 19th century, we began to network across the boundaries of nations, to count the ever growing number of ourselves, and to realize that we were a powerful people united by a new sense of the possibilities of love.

Today, we are strengthened by amazing allies from every walk of life who understand that their future and ours are bound up with us in a contest to determine whether diversity and pluralism will prevail in our world, or whether patriarchal fear of immigrants, gender non-conformity, non-Caucasian people, and non-Judeo-Christian faiths — fears intensified by the rejection of the leadership gifts of women — will drag us backward.

Our most powerful ally in LGBTQ history, President Barack Obama, has shown us what a love with real backbone looks like. Like many of our allies, the president had to evolve in this thinking about what justice and equality for LGBTQ people called him to do. Once he got there, to the place of true equality and justice, he became our full-throated advocate.

His spiritual mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., taught him to face challenges with “the fierce urgency of now.” We LGBTQ people found that vision to resonate powerfully with our experiences of struggle beyond any counted cost, and, inspired by President Obama, we have recast Dr. King’s idea in our own way. We serve a vision inspired by “the fierce urgency of love.”

“The fierce urgency of love”:

  • Love that refuses to be anemic in the face of hard times.
  • Love that has a spine, and bows before no opponent.
  • Love that will not back down, and will not back up.
  • Love that knows how and when to get loud and be proud.
  • A love where Everybody is Somebody, and nobody is a nobody.

Our activism at its best is motivated by the fierce urgency of a love that will not permit churches, synagogues, and mosques to remain silent on the sidelines of the struggle for justice, for silence in the face of injustice is its own form of spiritual violence.

The fierce urgency of love compels us to give no free passes when religious leaders of any stripe breathe out venom and hatred toward marginalized people. That is why we oppose religious intolerance to the same degree we oppose political and economic harms done to LGBTQ people in North Texas and anywhere else.

We have learned the lessons of ferocious love: that hate speech from any pulpit or from any rostrum in a governmental chamber is the ammunition that kills and maims real people, as surely as any bullet. We cannot permit any leader to hijack religion and force it into the service of oppression of any kind any longer without our calling out such an outrage.

As Rev. Dr. Cody J. Sanders, the pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church near Harvard Yard, a proud gay man says:

“For LGBTQ people, the mechanisms of oppression have nearly always been waged first against our souls. But it never ends there. This spiritual violence has led to innumerable suicides, hate crime violence beyond what we know through the collected statistics, and the marginalization of LGBTQ people in the very institutions they should feel most at home: their families, their churches, and their communities.”

Sanders calls for spiritual reparations for the harm done to the souls of LGBTQ people, a fierce love of God and neighbor that seeks to heal the hurt and repair the broken world. Like Sanders, in the name of love, we must fiercely call for real and practical actions:

  • For LGBTQ homeless youth in our cities,
  • For effective ways to prevent LGBTQ suicides,
  • For funding for LGBTQ seminarians so that they can become faith leaders throughout America,
  • For the recruitment of qualified LGBTQ candidates to run for public office,
  • For literacy in LGBTQ life and history, and engagement between established cisgender and straight clergy with queer leaders in their communities, and especially
  • For churches and religion-based non-profits to stand up to their denominations and parent organizations when they participate in anti-LGBTQ discrimination by thought, deed, or silence.

Sanders concludes with the forthright demand of a community that knows how to stand tall and true, and has the courage to repair a broken world even in the face of spiritual opposition:

“Churches owe LGBTQ people a spiritual debt,” he says, “for the decades upon decades of violence against our souls. It’s time to start paying up.”

The Hebrew prophets sounded like that, didn’t they? That is an important dimension of the spiritual heritage of the LGBTQ human rights movement that was first born and nurtured in churches and synagogues in the pre-Stonewall era, and right up until this very day.

I work alongside lesbian, gay, and straight colleagues of courage at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, who like Cody Sanders, want to transform the world in which we live. So, with the whole Cloud of Witnesses, from the time of the Hebrew Prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Prophet Muhammad, to the millions of LGBTQ people and our allies right here and right now, together with the Prophet Isaiah, we say:

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

Our greatest asset as a Queer/LGBT community, you see, lies in far more than our numbers, our economic strength, and our political allies. It lies in our spirituality of collaborating hope, hope forged in the furnace of our tests and trials, made powerful by the vision of a better world than we have ever known.

Our enemies are real. Their guns and their words spit fire and death. They misunderstand, sometimes with lethal consequences, who we are and what we contribute to the common world in which we all dwell.

But we know wherein our power truly lies, for as our Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde, taught us, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

Rise up, then!

We LGBTQ people were never meant to settle into paralysis, depression and despair on the far side of the pit our adversaries dug for us. It is time to build a bridge across the abyss that swallowed up our Orlando sisters and brothers. Bring your energies, your tools, and your resolve. We have at hand the resources of a rich spirituality, and a fierce, divine love.

There is a world to repair.

 

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BREAKING NEWS: SCOTUS says domestic violence offenders can’t buy guns

Posted on 27 Jun 2016 at 12:52pm

Screen shot 2016-06-27 at 10.26.53 AM

Even though congressional Republicans’ refusal to act last week means that suspected terrorists on the U.S. no-fly list can still buy guns, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today (Monday, June 27), people convicted of domestic violence cannot legally buy guns.

The ruling came in the case Voisine v. the United States, in which two Maine men convicted on state domestic violence charges were later found with firearms and charged with violating a federal law that prohibits domestic abusers from having firearms, according to Amy Howe with SCOTUSblog. “The question was whether their convictions qualified under the statute,” Howe wrote.

Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong, the two plaintiffs in the case, had argued that their state domestic violence convictions didn’t automatically qualify as misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence because the state-law provisions “can be violated by conduct that is merely reckless, rather than intentional,” Howe explained. But the court ruled that “A reckless domestic assault qualifies as a ‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; … . That conclusion follows from the statutory text. Nothing in the phrase ‘use . . . of physical force’ indicates that [the statute] distinguishes between domestic assaults committed knowingly or intentionally and those committed recklessly.”

Read the complete opinion here.

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CoH marks one-year anniversary of marriage equality

Posted on 27 Jun 2016 at 12:01pm
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The Turtle Creek Chorale performs at Cathedral of Hope to mark the one-year anniversary of marriage equality.

Cathedral of Hope marked the one-year anniversary of marriage equality with a program that included music, speakers, cake and lots of champagne on Sunday, June 25. The Turtle Creek Chorale performed at the beginning and end of the event.

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas said more than 300 marriages have been performed at the church since the Obergefell decision brought marriage equality to Texas a year ago.

“And they’re still together,” he said. “We didn’t tear apart the sanctity of marriage.”

He said it never get tiring saying the words, “By the power invested in me by the United Church of Christ, the state of Texas and the U.S. Constitution” when performing a wedding.

He noted LGBT opponents have tried to create wedge issues between segments of the community.

“We will not let that happen because we are stronger together,” Cazares-Thomas said.

On the issue of gun control, which Human Rights Campaign has taken on, he said, “Gays know how to get shit done.”

Judge Tonya Parker spoke about marriage equality day at the Allen Courts Building. She had been trying to conduct a normal day of business in her court, but Judge Eric Moye interrupted that as he walked into her courtroom while she was speaking to opposing attorneys at the bench. Moye just approached the Parker, walked around the bench and up to her and gave her a hug. He told her he wanted to be the first to celebrate with her.

All of the other judges in the building circulated an email and decided she would be the first to perform a wedding. When a couple arrived for her to marry, all of the other judges, dressed in their robes, sat in the jury box in solidarity to watch her officiate.

The message, Parker said, was that same-sex couples are welcome in Dallas County and that they don’t have to seek out the one judge who will perform their wedding. They’re welcome in any court. All will do weddings, name changes and adoptions, just as they would do for any couple.

Parker said she talks to couples before the ceremony and was asking them what term they prefer. She said she heard repeatedly couples were saying, “Partner is fine.” That frustrated her and when she hears that now, she tells them, “You know, today you can get an upgrade.”

County Judge Clay Jenkins told the crowd that he watched the marriage equality decision read on TV with his daughter Madeleine. Her reaction was, “Every child’s parents should be able to get married.”

“Kids get it,” Jenkins said.

He called the marriage-equality decision a victory for all children whose families would now be treated equally.

Texas marriage equality plaintiffs Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes called marriage equality day a year ago and their wedding day in November two of the happiest days of their lives. When the decision was announced, Phariss said, the couple was at Love Field waiting for a flight to Austin to speak at the Capitol.

When the decision was announced, Phariss said he began crying. As he blubbered, he was rushed through the security line. He was escorted onto the plane as he continued crying and was given what he described as extra special service as he continued crying uncontrollably during the flight. He said everyone must have thought he was going to a funeral, rather than a celebration.

Cece Cox called marriage equality decision day “my favorite day.”

She said the work isn’t done yet and called on the Dallas City Council to ban reparative therapy in the city of Dallas.

She called out Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for his “hate and lies.” On the morning of the Orlando massacre, Patrick tweeted out that people “reap what they sow.” Although he removed the tweet because of severe criticism, he never apologized for blaming the victims. Instead he blamed an aide for posting it.

Jennifer Campisi is the mother of a 9-year-old trans boy. She said when she was pregnant, she read all the parenting books. None of them, she noted, had even a paragraph on raising a trans child.

Equality Texas prepared a video that included marriage equality as well as the Oak Lawn attacks. Board President Steve Rudner said Texas Competes now has 1,000 businesses on board including 34 Fortune 500 companies with operations in Texas.

Chris Chism, the Cathedral’s choir and others performed as well. Cake and lots of champagne followed the program.

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Northaven UMC votes to perform all legal weddings

Posted on 27 Jun 2016 at 10:33am

Northaven UMC’s retired pastor, the Rev. Bill McIlveney, center, was brought up on charges by the denomination after performing a wedding for George Harris and Jack Evans at Midway Hills Christian Church in February 2014.

Northaven United Methodist Church has voted 270-5 to perform same-sex marriages.

The vote was “to support and honor marriages of couples licensed to be married on an equal basis.”

In a public statement, the representatives of the church wrote, “The decision by the Northaven congregation is in full alignment with the ministry of the church, its mission field, its commitment to social justice and inclusion, and to the core precepts of the United Methodist Church. The Northaven vote empowers the church to extend pastoral care to all of its members in the important area of marriage.”

At its recent meeting, the United Methodist Church made some movement on same-sex marriage, but delayed any change in policy by appointing a committee to study the issue.

In its statement, Northaven made clear it was not making a political statement. No same-sex marriages were scheduled and no public announcement, other than usual wedding announcements, would be made.

Announcement of the vote came a day after the death of Jack Evans. Evans married George Harris in a religious ceremony after a 53-year engagement at a service held at Midway Hills Christian Church. The Rev. Bill McElvaney, retired pastor of Northaven UMC presided. McElvaney was brought up on charges after the wedding. Northaven’s senior pastor, the Rev. Eric Folkerth, attended along with dozens of other Methodist ministers from around the state.

Evans and Harris were legally married a year ago today (June 26, 2015) in the first civil ceremony for a same-sex couple held in Dallas County. Again, Folkerth didn’t preside, but attended. Instead, his wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, performed the wedding.

Northaven’s statement concludes by saying marriage is “an intensely personal and pastoral event.”

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