Another Texas judge rules state’s marriage law unconstitutional

Posted on 24 Apr 2014 at 1:03pm
JudgeNellermoe250

Judge Barbara Nellermoe

Another Texas judge ruled that Texas, marriage amendment is unconstitutional.

While the Texas Supreme Court continues to delay ruling on two same-sex divorces, Judge Barbara Nellermoe in San Antonio ruled today that the marriage law is unconstitutional, and she can proceed hearing a couple’s divorce and custody case.

In one of the divorce cases before the Texas Supreme Court, Dallas Judge Teena Callahan ruled the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and proceeded to grant the divorce. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year declaring DOMA unconstitutional and ruled the Texas marriage law also unconstitutional.

Today’s ruling in the San Antonio case involves a lesbian couple who married in Washington, D.C. in 2010.

Kristi Lesh became pregnant and gave birth last year, and the couple split up later in the year.

Lesh argues that since she’s the biological mother, she should retain full custody, since Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. Allison Flood Lesh says a straight couple would generally be granted joint custody or visitation, and she should be awarded the same privilege.

So Kristi believes she had the right to take advantage of marriage when it suited her, but for the purposes of divorce, she’s acting like Greg Abbott, pleading the marriage doesn’t exist.

The judge agreed with Allison and called for a hearing.

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Dallas City Council amends FMLA policy

Posted on 23 Apr 2014 at 12:03pm
O'Donnell

Interim Assistant City Attorney Theresa O’Donnell and her wife

Dallas City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a change to its Family and Medical Leave policy. A city employee may now take time off to care for a “designated care recipient.”

While that allows partners who are living together to take unpaid leave to take care of a spouse, it doesn’t address some situations.

When interim assistant city manager Theresa O’Donnell’s daughters were born, she was denied leave because she wasn’t on the birth certificate. It’s not clear if the new policy would cover a situation like hers.

Because two-parent adoptions by same-sex couples in Texas are possible but must be done separately, only the adoptive parent of the couple would be eligible under the new policy at the time of an adoption. A lesbian city employee might be able to take FMLA leave to care for her spouse who has given birth, but not to care for the newborn.

Employees are eligible for family leave after working for the city for a year, including a minimum of 1,250 hours. Previously, employees could use FMLA leave to care for an opposite-sex spouse, child, parent or for a relation who is a military service member with a serious health condition or situation resulting from that service member’s active military duty.

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Martinez gets Victory Fund endorsement

Posted on 23 Apr 2014 at 11:03am
Sara Martinez

Sara Martinez

Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund announced its latest round of endorsements in this year’s elections. Sara Martinez, who is running for Justice of the Peace in Dallas County, is on the list. Martinez already has the endorsement of Stonewall Democrats. In the runoff, she faces Melissa Bellan.

Martinez is running for Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, Place 1, which covers much of North Oak Cliff and Oak Lawn.

Early voting runs May 19 through May 23 and the runoff is May 27.

Of the 18 new endorsements, Victory Fund announced one other candidate from Texas — Jim Evans, who is running for Harris County family court judge in Houston.

Kay Floyd, running for state Senate in Oklahoma, also received one of the Victory Fund’s endorsements this week. Floyd is currently a state representative from Oklahoma City. She is running for state Senate, hoping to replace gay state Sen. Al McAffrey, who is vying for U.S. Congress.

Another local candidate who already received the Victory Fund endorsement is John Turner-McClelland who is running for Denton County Fresh Water Supply Board.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund works to elect LGBT leaders to public office.

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Oak Lawn listed as 8th-best neighborhood in U.S. for millennials

Posted on 22 Apr 2014 at 10:28am

3102-oak-lawn-avenue-dallas-tx-75219Niche Ink, a website dedicated to education analysis, reported Monday that Oak Lawn is the eighth-best neighborhood in the U.S. for young people to live in. The organization  put together a list of the best metro areas for millennials. They ranked the metro areas in the U.S. using a dozen factors, including data from the U.S. Census, FBI crime rates, and Niche Ink user opinions on the best places for life after graduation. They then calculated the best neighborhood for young people in each of those cities. (You can read the full methodology here.)

The report said “Oak Lawn is one of the wealthiest areas of Dallas with a lot of urban professionals, townhouses, condos, and apartments. There are a lot of good restaurants, bars, and clubs, particularly for the LGBT community. Fifteen percent of its population is aged 25 to 34, and it has a median rent of $874. The average income is $29,830.

Midtown in Houston came in at No. 21, and South River City in Austin ranked No. 2. We can live with Austin beating us out. Houston? That’s never going to happen. And the average income in Oak Lawn is $29,830? Well, I need a raise.

To see the listings, click here.

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Which picture makes openly straight City Councilman Philip Kingston look more gay?

Posted on 21 Apr 2014 at 10:04am

In which picture does openly straight Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston look more gay? In his Black Tie picture with City Council partner Adam Medrano or in his NOH8 picture with City Council partner Adam Medrano? Philip’s wife Melissa wants to know.

Philip sent me the first two pictures posing Melissa’s question. I’ve added two more, just to throw fuel on the fire: In his Cedar Springs picture at the opening of Out of the Closet with City Council partner Adam Medrano or in his Pooch Parade picture with city council partner Adam Medrano?

Philip & Adam Black Tie

Philip & Adam at Black Tie Dinner

Philip & Adam NOH8

Philip & Adam at NOH8

Philip & Adam Cedar Springs

Adam & Philip at Out of the Closet opening on Cedar Springs with an elegantly attired sister

Philip & Adam Pooch Parade

Adam & Philip judging the Pooch Parade in Lee Park

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City, county officials attend Out of the Closet opening

Posted on 19 Apr 2014 at 12:40pm

DSC_2449There was even a baby. Dozens of people, including representatives from the city of Dallas and Dallas County showed up Saturday morning to support the opening of Out of the Closet, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s new thrift store on Cedar Spring Road.

But the store, beaming with a vivid paint job that transformed the former Union Jack into chic thrift, offers more than clothing and household goods. HIV testing is available and a full-service pharmacy will be added in three to six months. AHF Regional Director Bret Camp told the crowd that AHF has 22 clinics in the U.S., two of them in Dallas and Fort Worth.

“AHF serves 300,000 patients worldwide and over 4,000 a day in HIV clinics,” he said.

The return of an HIV clinic to that block on Cedar Springs, prompted one county official to say that the fight against HIV has returned to where it began.

“This is where the HIV fight began,” said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services. “… but we still have a long way to go.”

Dallas City Councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston were there, along with Rod Givens, District Director for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s office, and Tony Vedda, president and CEO of North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. The store’s opening coincides with the Cedar Springs Merchant’s Association’s weekend of the Cedar Springs Arts Fest and Easter in the Park. Cedar Springs Road will be closed today from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the arts fest.

To see more pics of the opening, go here.

Read more about the weekend festivities here.

 

 

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Cathedral of Hope participates in Good Friday walk

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 10:21am
Jim-Mitulski

The Rev. Jim Mitulski

On Friday starting at 10 a.m., the Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance (DACPA), a non-partisan alliance of grassroots Christians, clergy and theologians seeking to promote the teachings of Jesus, sponsors the 8th Annual Good Friday Walk through downtown Dallas.

The walk this year focuses attention on issues of economic justice, in particular the need for a living wage, the sin of greed and serving wealth, and the related issue of immigration (“welcoming the stranger”). As in 2013, the group will also acknowledge a major teaching of Jesus, his opposition to violence, by reciting the prayer of the mother of Ana Marquez Greene, a young girl killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in a stop in the park in front of the Federal Building.

The walk will begin near First Presbyterian Church, 1835 Young Street, the corner of Young at Harwood. The route then follows Main Street west to the Rosa Parks statue at the West End station, the northeast corner of Elm and Lamar, with a stop at Pegasus Plaza, Main at Akard streets. The walk will then proceed toward the last stop, Dallas City Hall Plaza, pausing on the way at Belo Park in front of the Federal Building to pray for an end to gun violence. The walk is scheduled to end around 11:45am.

Reflections will be provided by:

• Rev. Kerry Sumpter Smith, Pastor, Greenland Hills United Methodist Church

• Rev. Jim Mitulski, Interim Pastor, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ

• Rev. Gregg Alan Smith, Associate Pastor & Director of the Community Outreach Center, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church

• Rev. Jeff Hood, Southern Baptist Pastor, Prism Church in Denton

• Rev. Lisa Coleman

Reflective and inspirational music will be provided by Kristi Hassell, Music Minister, Greenland Hills United Methodist Church and the Gospel Choir from Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ.

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Gay Realtor calls out Texas PAC for backing anti-gay candidates

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 9:16am
Bob.McCranie

Bob McCranie

The Texas Association of Realtors and its funding arm, the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee, have long endorsed and funded anti-LGBT candidates. But one Realtor is hoping to change that in the coming years, if not sooner.

Bob McCranie, owner of Plano-based Texas Pride Realty, has grown tired of the Texas organizations endorsing and funding anti-gay candidates, including the four at the top of the ticket this year who oppose marriage equality: Greg Abbott for governor, David Dewhurst for lieutenant governor, Glenn Hegar for Texas comptroller of public accounts and George P. Bush for Texas land commissioner.

McCranie isn’t on the endorsement board but has donated to the PAC in the past. He said marriage equality is a Realtor issue because marriage involves property rights, but when he’s brought up his objections to the endorsements in the past, he’s told  Texas is a red state so not many candidates support LGBT equality. The endorsement board even has openly gay members.

“What I’m told is ‘You won’t change Texas’ Texas is a very red meat state,’ but I want my associations of realtors on the local, state and national level to let their candidates know that this is an important topic for us,” he said. “I want them to be aware that they are standing beside candidates that are adamantly homophobic who ring the fire alarm of homophobia to get their voters out. And we just blindly endorse them.”

The endorsement for attorney general hasn’t been announced yet, likely pending the runoff between state Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, and state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

Branch, who represents Oak Lawn, co-authored Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and he filed a brief in a gay divorce case before the Texas Supreme Court last year defending the state’s amendment and requesting the court to overturn a lesbian couple’s divorce.

Paxton, along with anti-gay state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, filed a bill last year to put the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the state Constitution. The act, which the Legislature passed in 1999, prohibits local or state agencies form allowing people to express their religious beliefs, including discriminating against LGBT people. The recent bill never made it to the floor for a vote.

Campbell, who filed an anti-transgender marriage bill last year, also was endorsed. But out state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, was also endorsed this cycle.

McCranie said the recent bill by Paxton and Campbell goes against the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, which requires that everyone be treated equally. And he hopes the Texas PAC doesn’t endorse Paxton or anymore anti-gay candidates in the future.

“These laws break the code of ethics,” he said. “Why are we endorsing candidates who support this? No matter what the party is.”

The Realtors Political Action Committee funded Mississippi legislators who authored the state’s Religious Liberty Bill, which RPAC-endorsed Gov. Phil Bryant later signed. RPAC is the National Association of Realtors’ PAC.

NAR President Steve Brown, who’s openly gay, recently called McCranie to discuss his concerns and gave him a statement on religious freedom bills.

“Attempts to authorize and encourage discrimination in housing or real estate services under any banner are ethically wrong and wholly inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics,” the statement reads in part. “It’s unquestioned that where the Code of Ethics and the law conflict, the Code must give way to the law. But we will continue to tell the public, and legislators should be on notice, that the Code’s duties, which often set a higher bar than law or regulation, do and will continue to prohibit discrimination in providing real estate services despite what the law may permit.”

The statement pleased McCranie, who said he’d continue to advocate for more inclusive candidates in the future and encourage others in the real estate industry to do the same.

“My perspective is LGBT Realtors and real estate professionals are hounded all the time to donate to the industry PAC,” McCranie said. “And the industry PAC doesn’t seem to consider LGBT property rights and discrimination to be an issue, and so I’m really trying to raise the conversation in the industry about this.”

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Vigil planned for Dallas man murder near Beaumont

Posted on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:53pm

Kevin-Moyer

A vigil and balloon release honoring Kevin Moyer will take place Saturday in Lee Park.

Moyer was brutally murdered on April 3 while traveling on business. Two suspects have been arrested. The third man is still at large.

The vigil will take place at Lee Park’s atrium at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Oak Lawn library’s Angie Bartula named Librarian of the Year

Posted on 16 Apr 2014 at 4:01pm

BigDReads.113821Oak Lawn Library’s branch manager Angie Bartula was named Dallas Librarian of the Year.

“She won talent, swimsuit AND personality,” North Oak Cliff branch manager Ray Sablack said.

To celebrate, D Magazine is staging a festival at the deck park downtown.

“On the 26th, we are having a huge festival at Klyde Warren Park celebrating storytelling of all forms,” said D Magazine’s Community Engagement Manager Krista Nightengale. “It’s a free event that’s open to the public.”

Bartula encouraged people to bring a book to the park and spend the afternoon reading.

However, in the event she’s unable to fulfill her reign as Dallas Librarian of the Year …

“Hey,” Bartula objected. “Why wouldn’t I be able to fulfill my term?”

Absolutely no reason at all.

Since becoming Oak Lawn’s librarian, she’s expanded the LGBT section at her branch and encouraged other branches to begin LGBT sections as well, which Sablack has done in North Oak Cliff. She recently partnered with Dish, at ilume across the street from her branch, to host author lesbian Leslea Newman for a reading.

She’s active throughout the community, welcoming senior citizens, a crime watch and a North Dallas High School group. She’s encouraged a knitting group that meets at the library, a homeowners group and loves to help people with their job searches.

Well deserved, Angie, and we’re looking forward to the D Magazine centerfold in May.

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