The view from D.C. (Friday afternoon)

Posted on 20 Jan 2017 at 3:27pm

Protesters coming for a gathering

So, I got up stupid early this morning (Friday, Jan. 20, 2017) to catch a flight to Washington, D.C., to cover the Women’s March tomorrow. I’m not a morning person, so being at Dallas Love Field by 5:40 a.m. was not a pleasant ordeal.

But then ….

I was the first one sitting at the gate for the 7:40 a.m. Southwestern flight. But not for long. A group of about five women showed up before too long. I knew they were headed to D.C. for the march by the pink “pussy” cat hats they were wearing. Then more and more women started showing up. Almost every person waiting on the flight was female.

There were “pussy” hats. There were buttons. There were “Women’s March” t-shirts. Most of them knew at least one or two others, but from the atmosphere, it seemed as if everyone had known everyone forever.

People who had extras of the knitted (crocheted?) hats were sharing them with people they had just met. They were sharing the buttons. One woman — not sure if she was traveling for the march or just traveling — had her elderly yorkie — Stewart — with her. She took him out of his carrier and held him up for everyone to see, and Stewart barked as the women gave him a round of applause.

Another woman, there with two friends she grew up with in Oak Cliff, had brought her 14-year-old daughter along. She said her daughter’s classmates look at the girl in awe, sometimes, asking her, “Are you a feminist?” (The pink-and-blonde-haired girl confirms this with a nod and a grin). “She just tells them, ‘It’s not like we’re some kind of cult, you know.'”

Then people started taking photos of the crowd with their phones. “Who all’s going to the march?” yelled one woman, snapping photos quickly with her phone as the crowd cheered and raised their hands. Another, her face beaming as she took photos, declared: “Just think! All this in Dallas! It gives me hope!”

The plane landed in Washington around 11:30 a.m., EST. As I walked off the plane and started looking for the signs to direct me to the Metro, I saw crowds of people stopped, luggage in hand, watching the big screens showing the scene from the inauguration. No one was cheering.

I’ve made it to the apartment where I am staying now — Thank you Karen McCrocklin for being my travel agent and my landlady for this trip — and I am sitting here alone with the balcony door open. Listening to the sounds of the traffic.

There’s a U.S. Park Police helicopter circling over the area (it’s less than a mile from here to the White House). A guy’s sitting in the open doorway on the side of the chopper, feet hanging over the edge, and I think he’s taking photos. Hard to tell from this distance, even with my zoom lens on.

And the sirens! Every few seconds a different police car (or motorcycle) zooms past. They aren’t all going in the same direction, so it’s not like there’s been some incident they are all rushing toward. I don’t know if this is a normal amount of police traffic for an inauguration day or not. Probably so.

And then, there were the bangs just now — like gunshots — just down 13th St. There was a lot of smoke, and since there weren’t people running and screaming and no myriad of police vehicles, sirens screaming, heading that way, I’m gonna go with fireworks, planned and intended fireworks. Maybe part of Trump’s parade? I don’t think so.

There have also been plenty of protestors. Karen has video she took this morning, out the same window I am shooting photos from, of at least two different groups of protestors. And I keep seeing them, in pairs or small groups, even one larger group of about 20 or so, walking down the sidewalks near this building, signs in hand, most of them dressed in black as a sign of mourning.

There have been numerous other groups, she said, protesting yesterday, today — all of them determined to stand up, speak up, fight back, resist what has every indication of being an oppressive regime, a wealth-based aristocracy rather than a meritocracy, where cronyism will get you a seat at the table even when you have no idea what you are doing.

Tomorrow, my temporary roommates and I will join those protesters/mourners in the streets for the Women’s March. And I will be there to record the whole thing with my camera.


Rep. Johnson tells what Obama has meant to her and the LGBT community

Posted on 20 Jan 2017 at 7:00am

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

In this week’s paper, community members talked about working with President Barack Obama and members of his staff. U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson also weighed in with her comments to Dallas Voice about what the president and working with his administration meant to her and to the LGBT community:

President Barack Obama will always be remembered as a visionary and a stalwart supporter of the LGBT community. He fought tirelessly in his efforts to protect every individual from discrimination, regardless of their race, gender identity or sexual orientation. In his eight years serving as President of the United States, President Obama strongly supported marriage equality for all and has fought for equal protections throughout the LGBTQ community by pushing Congress to enact laws that would help these individuals. Not to mention he has been the only President to fully support equality for the LGBTQ community. I am very proud of the many achievements he has accomplished during his Administration. We owe it to the American people to continue our fight to uphold equality under the law for the LGBTQ community. 

As a senior Member of Congress, I will continue to work with my colleagues to push for additional legislation to hold accountable those who choose not to treat LGBTQ individuals with respect and integrity. Additionally he served as a leader and was successful during his presidency by passing the Recovery Act, which saved us form one of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression; he passed the Affordable Care Act, granting more than 20 million people insurance; enacted policies to ensure that higher education would be more accessible for all Americans; remained stern on fighting Climate Change by joining over 170 countries in making a commitment to protect our planet, with the enactment of the Paris Agreement.

I had served with President Obama when he was a member of the U.S. Senate and have had the pleasure of getting to know him as a personal friend. What I will remember most from working with President Obama is his decency and determination when addressing us, his colleagues here in Congress. And his great humor and kindness he has shown the entire nation. He will be greatly missed as I enjoyed my time working with him and his administration.


Confirmation hearing begins for Secretary of Oops

Posted on 19 Jan 2017 at 11:31am

Rick Perry

Former Gov. Rick Perry explained his turnaround on the Energy Department. During his 2012 presidential bid, Perry proposed eliminating the department. Or he would have during a debate had he remembered which departments he wanted to eliminate.

But since then, Perry had a change of heart, because, apparently, he found out what the Department of Energy did.

“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said in a statement prior to his Senate confirmation hearing that began today (Jan. 19). “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

So Perry, had he been elected president, was going to eliminate a department, even though he didn’t really know what it did.

When he accepted the nomination, Perry thought he’d become a cheerleader for the oil industry … and then he was briefed.

According to the Department of Energy website, “The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

Dr. Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, is the current Secretary of Energy. His predecessor was physics Nobel laureate Steven Chu.


Fanning honors AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack

Posted on 18 Jan 2017 at 3:16pm

AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack, left, and her wife

At a ceremony in the Pentagon today (Jan. 18), Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning awarded AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award. The award was presented in Secretary Fanning’s office just prior to his official farewell ceremony.

The award from the Secretary of the Army reads:

Ashley Broadway-Mack is awarded the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award for exceptional service and support to the United States Army and the Department of Defense during my tenure as the 22nd Secretary of the Army. Drawing from more than 19 years as a military spouse, Ms. Broadway-Mack has been an advocate for the timeless importance of military partners and children, while highlighting the need to adjust support and services with an eye for changes in family structure. As President of the American Military Partner Association she demonstrated a steadfast commitment to ensuring our force provides support to meet the changing nature and needs of our military families. Ms. Broadway-Mack’s unwavering commitment and dedication to Soldiers and our nation’s Army is in keeping with the highest traditions of public service and reflect distinct credit on her, the United States Army, and the Department of defense.

“Ashley Broadway-Mack is a phenomenal advocate for our nation’s modern military families,” said AMPA founder and President emeritus Stephen Peters. “Her passion, drive, and vision for a stronger and more inclusive military family community is truly inspirational and has made a profound difference in the lives of so many. We congratulate her on this incredible honor.”

And a congratulations from Dallas Voice as well. Broadway-Mack and AMPA are always a pleasure to work with.



Straus speaks out against SB6

Posted on 18 Jan 2017 at 2:38pm

House speaker Joe Straus

During his acceptance speech after his re-election as Texas Speaker of the House, state Rep. Joe Straus laid out his priorities for the session. Obviously missing was any anti-LGBT legislation, especially Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s notorious bathroom bill.

In a speech to the Texas Association of Business today (Jan. 18), Straus made it completely clear what he thought of Patrick’s bill: He pointed to sporting events that North Carolina lost. One of those tournaments, the Final Four, will be played in Straus’ hometown, San Antonio, in 2018.

Straus based his argument completely on business interests, according to the Texas Tribune.

“Many people where I come from get concerned about anything that can slow down our overall job-creating machine,” Straus said.

He encouraged the business community to speak out against the bill.

TAB has come out strongly against SB6, the bathroom bill.

The day before, Attorney General Ken Paxton called SB6 narrowly focused and, ignoring more than $600 million in North Carolina losses, said it wouldn’t affect business. He told businesses to consider children’s safety. The bill, however, would force trans men to use ladies rooms.


Chorale and other theater groups support Whitener

Posted on 18 Jan 2017 at 1:54pm

Derek Whitener

North Texas’ music and theater community is stepping up to support Derek Whitener, the popular local actor/director who remains in a coma at Baylor Hospital with a fractured skull after being attacked by two men Saturday night, Jan. 14, in the parking lot of the Target store on Haskell.

The attack bears some similarities to a series of attacks against gay men in Oak Lawn that began in 2015.

At its weekly rehearsal, the Turtle Creek Chorale raised more than $1,000 when it passed the hat to support Whitener. Executive Director Bruce Jaster said the Chorale is open to collecting more.

“We’re glad that there’s something we can do, joining with others in the arts community, to help,” Jaster said.

A GoFundMe account has been created and has brought in more than $74,000 so far.

Whitener recently became executive director of Firehouse Theater in Farmers Branch, where he was currently appearing in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. A portion of ticket sales for the show through the end of the week will go towards Whitener’s medical expenses. Tickets are available here.

WaterTower Theatre in Addison, Mama’s Party at Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie and OnStage Bedford are among the theaters that have already announced they’re helping defray medical costs.


Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Posted on 17 Jan 2017 at 3:40pm

Chelsea Manning

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the U.S. military servicemember who was convicted of leaking information to Wikileaks and sentenced to 35 years in Leavenworth, according to the New York Times.

She will be released in May 2017.

Manning is transgender, and began her transition while in prison.

Manning deployed to Iraq in 2009 and worked as a security analyst. While there, she copied hundreds of thousands of military incident logs that documented abuse of detainees by the Iraqi military and suggested Iraqi civilian deaths were much higher than had been reported.

At her trial, Manning confessed and apologized, although she hadn’t accepted a plea deal.

Most previous leak cases resulted in one- to three-year sentences. Manning received 35 years and will be released after serving seven. Over the past year, she attempted suicide twice. Although she asked for a pardon, which would wipe out the sentence, a commutation releases her for time served.


Dallas Women’s March announced

Posted on 17 Jan 2017 at 12:09pm

State Rep. Victoria Neave

Can’t get to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 21? Then there’s the Austin Women’s March that begins at the Texas State Capitol.

Can’t get to Austin on Saturday? How about Dallas?

Freshman state Rep. Victoria Neave announced a Dallas Women’s March that begins at Dallas City Hall, 1400 Marilla St., at 10 a.m.

The event includes a rally, mega phone bank and march. The march that begins at City Hall ends at the AFL-CIO union hall on Washington Avenue, about a mile away.

The rally is hosted by Planned Parenthood, Dallas AFL-CIO, Texas Young Democrats, Moms Demand Action, Battleground Texas, Women Organizing Women Democrats, Together We Will East Dallas, Texas Coalition of Black Democrats Dallas Chapter, Dallas County Democratic Party and Texas Organizing Project.

For those not familiar with downtown Dallas and looking for parking for the rally and march, check here or here. This interactive map shows where and how much parking is in downtown. And then there are sites like and that will help you find a spot and then, apparently, reserve it for you.


Police issue more info on Target assault

Posted on 17 Jan 2017 at 10:55am

Dallas police released more information on the assault of Derrick Whitener at the Haskell Avenue Target Saturday night. The photos are from Target surveillance video. The circumstances of the attack — against a gay man using a wooden rod — are similar to the rash of attacks in Oak Lawn that began in the fall of 2015. This is what police released this morning:

On January 14, 2017 at approximately 11:05 p.m., the complainant, Derrick Whitener, was assaulted with a wooden rod by two suspects in the Target parking lot located at 2417 N. Haskell Avenue. The complainant arrived at Target and as he was walking towards the front entrance of the business, the suspects began walking towards him. The suspects are observed walking away from the complainant after he makes it to the front door. While inside, the complainant reported the individuals as suspicious to Target personnel.  Meanwhile, the suspects remained near the front entrance.

Target security alerted an off-duty Dallas Police officer. Both the security guard and the off-duty officer approached the suspects near the entrance. One suspect walked away, while the suspect with the wooden rod had a brief discussion with the off-duty officer and security guard. The two suspects were asked to leave the property.   At around 11:05 p.m., the complainant exited the business after shopping. As he walked to his vehicle, he was approached by the suspects. They made a threatening statement to the complainant and then beat him with the stick and fled on foot towards the street. A customer in the parking lot reported the incident to the off-duty officer, who then assisted the complainant. The Assault Unit was notified of the incident on January 15th and began the assault investigation.

Detectives were able to retrieve video surveillance of the offense. Detectives will need to interview the victim [who is currently hospitalized following brain surgery to repair damage done in the attack], but have canvased the area for additional video and witnesses. The victim received severe injuries, but is expected to recover. We are asking for the public’s assistance in the identification of the two suspects.

Suspect #1: B/M/18-20, 5’9”, 150 pounds. Last seen wearing a gray jacket, black pants, black backpack, black gloves, gorilla mask, and armed with a 3 foot wooden dowel rod.

Suspect #2: B/M/18-20, 5’9”, 150 pounds. Last seen wearing a black hoodie with white lettering, red/blue jeans, white Nike shoes, black backpack, and a gorilla mask.


Tapes of 2004 Obama interviews with Chicago LGBT press released

Posted on 17 Jan 2017 at 9:59am

Barack Obama at 2004 LGBT fundraiser. (Courtesy Tracy Baim/Windy City Times)

Windy City Times has released the tapes of interviews publisher Tracy Baim did with Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama in 2004.

The first interview was recorded during the primary and the second after he won the primary during an LGBT fundraiser for senate candidate Obama. A transcript of the first interview ran in Baim’s book Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage.

The interviews are linked through the Windy City Times’ story with links to additional coverage the newspaper did of its hometown candidate.