Angie’s List ‘delays’ plans for expansion in Indianapolis, Seattle mayor bans city employees from traveling to Indiana

Posted on 28 Mar 2015 at 4:50pm


The fallout over Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” continues, with Angie’s List CEOP Bill Oesterle announcing today (Saturday, March 28, that his company is canceling plans for a $40 million expansion in Indianapolis because of the law.

According to, Angie’s List has been headquartered in Indianapolis since it was founded in 1995. The corporation, worth $315 million, had planned to move its headquarters across town, adding 1,000 new jobs over five years.

In a statement released Saturday, Oesterle said the company’s expansion is “on hold until we fully understand the implications [of the RFRA] on our employees, both current and future.” Oesterle also said that the company “is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents.”

The statement said Angie’s List will “begin reviewing alternatives,” and the IndyStar reported that the company has “hinted that moving some parts of the company out of state is ‘on the table.’”

The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law Thursday, March 26, by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, prevents state and local governments from “substantially burdening” a person’s exercise of religion unless a “compelling governmental interest” can be proved.

Although Pence and other supporters insist — at least publicly, that the new law is not intended to discriminate against anyone, most opponents believe it was passed specifically in response to recent court rulings in favor of marriage equality to allow people to refuse to serve LGBT people. Others have pointed out the law could also be used to discriminate against people for a broad range of reasons, including race and religion.

It is modeled after the 22-year-old federal RFRA that the U.S. Supreme Court cited last year in a ruling allowing Hobby Lobby and other “closely held” corporations with religious objections to opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement that they cover certain contraceptives for women.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has barred Seattle city employees from using tax dollars to pay for business trips to Indiana, following in the steps of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Also among those joining the growing negative response are Apple, Inc., the White House, Broadway’s Audra McDonald, $4 billion software firm Salesforce, $50 million annual gaming convention GenCon, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Fortune 500 member Cummins, Eskenazi Health, Eli Lilly and Co., Yelp, Hillary Clinton, George Takei, Pat McAfee, Jason Collins, Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, James Van Der Beek, Sophia Bush, Dustin Lance Black, Mara Wilson, Jack Antonoff, the mayor of Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana’s own tourism board.



BREAKING: Rich Sheridan arrested in anti-gay graffiti case

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 4:24pm

Asst. Chief Randy Blankenbaker and Det. Laura Martin

Dallas mayoral candidate Rich Sheridan has been arrested in connection with the graffiti case from June 2014. He has been charged with marking ”666″  on the Legacy of Love monument and at Cathedral of Hope.

Dallas police Asst. Chief Randy Blankenbaker said defacing a public monument and a place of worship are state jail offenses. In addition, police are filing hate crime charges against Sheridan. The graffiti charges are a third degree felony. The hate crime enhancement could increase the charge to second degree with a penalty of 5 to 20 years in prison.

In addition to the tags at the church and the monuement, the same marks were found in front of The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and Dallas Observer. Several Dallas Voice distribution boxes were also marked, but nothing at Dallas Voice headquarters, even though the target seemed to be the LGBT community.

LGBT police liaison Officer Laura Martin was also at the press conference.

“The LGBT community was significantly alarmed and felt harassed,” Martin said. “Police used every resource to make Mr. Sheridan accountable for his actions.”

Martin said it took this long to make an arrest because of an exhaustive investigation, the length of time it took to find surveillance video and then the delay in getting the case before a grand jury.

So while California considers a ballot initiative to murder all the gays and Indiana’s governor signs an anti-LGBT discrimination law, Dallas pursues those who harass the LGBT community with hate crime charges.

Legacy graffiti

Graffiti on the Legacy of Love monument found the morning of June 29, 2014


Join Sen. Don Huffines for his legislative town hall tomorrow

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 12:18pm

Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas.

Sen. Don Huffines, a freshman Dallas Republican, hosts a town hall from 1–2 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, at the Town North Family YMCA, 4332 Northaven Road.

However much I like spending a Saturday afternoon with a right-wing Republican who looks like the plastic byproduct of a Catholic priest and a Ken Doll, the event is not open to press. Though I could go simply as a concerned Texas resident, I would probably be tossed out. Plus, I don’t even live in the guy’s district.

So hopefully you’ll go and ask questions instead.

Not sure what to ask about? I’m glad you asked! Here are some examples of what you could mention related to LGBT issues:

1) You could ask about his co-authoring SB 673, the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act. It’s the Senate companion to Magnolia Republican Rep. Cecil Bell’s HB 1745. Both would strip the responsibility of issuing marriage licenses from counties and onto the state. They were filed in response to the Travis County Clerk’s decision to issue a marriage license last month to a lesbian couple. (As if the title didn’t give the bill’s intent away already.)

2) You could also ask him about SB 343, which would align local ordinances and laws with state laws. So those nondiscrimination ordinances? Bye, Felicia.

Here’s some other fun stuff to talk about:

1) Ask Mr. Free Market himself about his blatant campaign hypocrisy. The Dallas Morning News reported in 2014 how “Texas housing developers like Huffines had won hundreds of millions of dollars in taxing authority from voters and elected officials to whom they provided homes, jobs or other benefits.”

2) Oh Hell, y’all are smart and have 24 hours to dig through the bills he’s authored and co-authored here.

If you want to check out his campaign finance reports, go here. Click the bubble next to By Filer Name. Type Huffines in the Last/Entity Name text box.  Your search will bring up only the senator’s name. Click 00069651 on the far left.

Remember folks, your elected officials may not represent your views, but they still represent you.

Get out there tomorrow and make sure he hears from you.


Michael Sam said he’s standing up for the kids in speech at Holocaust Museum

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 11:09am

Michael Sam spoke to a sold-out crowd Thursday night, March 26, as part of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s Upstander speakers series.Sam.edit

WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen introduced Sam. He noted not a word has been mentioned about new Cowboys player Greg Hardy and his history of domestic abuse, but some players continue to say how uncomfortable they’d be playing with a gay teammate.

Sam spoke about coming out, how he met his fiance, Vito Cammisano, and Dancing with the Stars.

He said when he came out to his team, the reaction was, “So, we already knew.” Other players realized they had never seen him with a woman.

When Sam first met Cammisano, they were freshmen. Cammisano was drunk at a party and dressed as a Playboy bunny. Sam said he looked like he needed some help, but Sam said Cammisano told him, “Get the ‘f’ away from me.”

Over the next two years, Sam said he ran into Cammisano, who was on the Missouri State swim team, a number of times and he remembers commenting, “I hate that guy.”

Finally they got together, but Cammisano said he couldn’t date someone who was hiding who he was. They broke up and got back together after Sam came out.

When he came out, his college teammates “stood up for me when the media ran outlandish stories about my showering habits.”

Sam talked about his difficult relationship with his family. Two brothers are in jail. Two siblings have died. His mother is a Jehovah’s Witness, so he wasn’t allowed to play football.

“What my father said to me [when I came out] was unforgivable,” he said.

Sam’s father said he loved him but disowned him. He said he still loves his father, but hasn’t spoken to him since then.

He spoke about his current appearance on Dancing with the Stars. When he first stepped into the ballroom, he said, he had never been so nervous in his life — even more nervous than the first time he stepped on the field in a preseason game.

He said his dance partner is working him hard, and because he missed a day of practice to appear in Dallas to speak, she was doubling up his rehearsals when he gets back. On Monday, March 30, he said to expect to see him salsa.

Sam said he didn’t blame homophobia on his current situation.

He said after he came out, he heard from a number — a large number — of players in the NFL who were gay but not out.

One teammate of his had a cousin who tried to commit suicide because she is lesbian. He said he spoke to her, probably saved her life and is still in touch with her. He said saving young people’s lives was more important than appearing in the NFL again.

“I’m doing this for the kids,” he said. “I have to stand up for others.”

The community reaction in the largely straight audience was overwhelmingly positive.

Max Glauben, a Holocaust survivor who was placed in a concentration camp as a teenager after fighting in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, said of Sam’s coming out, “How brave an act this was. Thank God we live in a country where you can do that. I’m real proud that I live in a country that allows freedom of speech, assembly and religion and you can do what you have to do to survive.”


Black Tie Dinner 2015 Preview Party in Fort Worth

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 10:14am

Black Tie Dinner officials on Thursday announced the theme for the 2015 dinner, set for Nov. 14, and the 15 organizations chosen to share in proceeds from this year’s event. Dinner co-chairs Debra Davis and John Lawrimore made the announcements during a kickoff event held at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

The 2015 local beneficiaries are AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services of Dallas, Cathedral of Hope, Celebration Community Church, Congregation Beth El Binah, Equality Texas Foundation, Lambda Legal, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice of Texas, Northaven United Methodist Church, Resource Center, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Uptown Players.

The dinner’s national beneficiary is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Check out the full story in this week’s edition of the Dallas Voice.


Judge in Wichita Falls blocks enforcement of federal FMLA rule for gays

Posted on 26 Mar 2015 at 9:30pm
Ken Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has issued a prelimary injunction that stays the expansion of the word “spouse” to include same-sex spouses for the purpose of the Family Medical Leave Act.

O’Connor issued the injunction in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by Texas Attoney General Ken Paxton, who claims that expanding the definition of spouse would violate Texas’ constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

that amendment of course has already been judged to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution. But Paxton – like other right-wing jackasses such as Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who visited Texas Monday to speak at an anti-marriage equality rally in Austin – apparently wasn’t in law school class the day the teacher explained the Supremacy Clause, which says that when state constitutions are at odds with the federal constitution, the federal constitution wins.

Watch Instant Tea tomorrow for more info.


Parkland Hospital: Dallas trades in its ’65 Chevy for a 2015 Porsche

Posted on 26 Mar 2015 at 2:17pm

From the outside, new Parkland is a modern building, conveniently located at a DART stop with plenty of parking just steps from the building.

From the inside, new Parkland is a technological marvel that’s part Disney, part Star Trek.

Either way, Parkland may just become a hospital of choice for people in Dallas, not just the hospital of necessity.

The new building is filled with innovations beyond what any other hospital in the world has … yet.

Patients arriving by helicopter will be taken by megavator from the rooftop helipad directly to the first floor trauma rooms. The trip will take 32 seconds in dedicated elevators that moves 600 feet per minute. Currently the trip to emergency is counted in minutes not seconds.

Patient rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art TV screens that are not just for entertainment, but play health education videos in 14 languages, can be used to retrieve email, order meals and have cameras that allow nurses to see patients from outside the room and doctors to Skype with patients when not in the hospital.

Smart beds alert staff when a patient at risk for a fall is about to get out of bed.

Each room has a separate documentation station both inside and outside the room.

Linen and trash are whisked away from patient floor by hydraulic chutes and deposited in another building. The only linen carts will be those bringing clean linen to the floor.

Operating rooms are large and outfitted with hi-definition monitors to assist in procedures. Pre-op and post-op are separate facilities.

The new building is also part Disney. Patients have windows with beautiful views and visitors have their own elevators and sittings rooms. Provider rooms are “off-stage.” Staff uses elevators in the center of the building that connect to services visitors and patients never see.

And did they need to cut any amenities originally planned but that became unaffordable as the project progressed? The entire project came in under budget and all services, technology and innovations are included in the final product.

Some stats:
• 17 floors, with helipad on 18th floor (roof), and 6 buildings
• “Megavator” (trauma elevator) can go from the helipad to the ER in 32 seconds
• 2.8 million square feet (current Parkland 1.2 million square feet)
• 862 single patient rooms average 320 square feet (current Parkland semi-private 225 square feet)
• 154 emergency department treatment rooms
• 27 surgical suites (current Parkland 18 operating rooms)
• Average operating room size – 620 square feet at NPH; 325 square feet at current Parkland
• Ambulance parking – 11 spaces at NPH; 6 spaces at current Parkland
• Burn intensive care unit – 12 beds at NPH; 9 beds at current Parkland
• Burn acute care unit – 18 beds at NPH; 17 beds at current Parkland
• 83 adult ICU rooms
• 44 labor and delivery rooms, 4 shelled – total of 48
• 96 neonatal ICU rooms at NPH (90 at current Parkland)
• Neonatal pharmacy – 2,600 square feet at NPH; 100 square feet at current Parkland


Indiana governor signs discrimination bill into law

Posted on 26 Mar 2015 at 1:25pm

Gov. Mike Pence

One of Indiana’s largest companies said it would reduce its investment int he state after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed an LGBT discrimination bill into law today (Thursday, March 26).

“We are forced to dramatically reduce our investment in IN based on our employee’s & customer’s outrage over the Religious Freedom Bill,” Salesforce Marketing Cloud division CEO Scott McCorkle tweeted.

Salesforce is a $4 billion software company based in Indiana. McCorkle also tweeted that the company was canceling any programs that required customers or employees to travel to the state and said all expansion plans in the state are canceled.

Other companies and organization are discussing moving their convention business including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). That denomination’s 6,000-member General Assembly is scheduled to meet in Indianapolis in 2017. Midway Hills Christian Church is a member of that denomination.

The new law allows anyone to claim religious exemption from providing service to gays and lesbians.




PHOTOS: Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington’s Mother Michial awards ceremony

Posted on 26 Mar 2015 at 12:20pm

The Mother Michial Community Service Awards, presented by the Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, took place last night (Wednesday, March 25) at Club Reflection in Fort Worth. Candidates were screened throughout March, culminating in a vote last Saturday at Celebration Community Church.

Emperor and Empress 35 JD Swisher and Scarlett Rayne, who are married in real life, served as the awards show’s emcees.

Numerous bar owners, their staff and volunteers were in attendance.

Among the categories were best male and female impersonators, best bar and charity organization of the year. AIDS Outreach Center won charity organization of the year.


Indiana set to legalize LGBT discrimination

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 3:43pm

IndianaIndiana is set to sanction discrimination. The House and Senate bill just need to be reconciled and the governor promised to sign discrimination into law.

The so-called religious freedom bill protects people who want to use their religious beliefs as a valid excuse for not providing services to gays and lesbians.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the law “would protect people and business owners with strong religious beliefs from government intrusion.” Opponents call it a license to discriminate.

LGBT groups are encouraging people not to spend any money in Indiana and urging conferences scheduled to take place in the state to cancel.

Republican lawmakers pushing the bill said it protects businesses, but some of the state’s largest businesses said the law makes it harder for them to recruit and retain the best employees. Already organizers of GenCon, one of the country’s largest conventions for gamers, have said they will be moving their event out of Indiana because of the new law. And the Christian Church Disciples of Christ s reconsidering holding its 2017 national convention in Indiana.