Bathroom bill passes Senate committee

Posted on 24 Jul 2017 at 3:16pm

Hundreds of people stood on line on Friday, July 21, to testify before a Senate committee hearing a bathroom bill to discriminate against transgender people.

The bill requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth certificate in public schools and government buildings. The bill would invalidate nondiscrimination ordinances in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who proposed the bill, said the legislation is intended to protect the public from sexual predators without giving evidence of sexual predators dressing as the opposite sex in order to have sex with them in bathrooms. That’s probably because it’s never happened.

Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, predicted that the law, if passed, will end up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. He cited Title IX that protects against discrimination based on sex in public schools.

The bill has faced overwhelming opposition by the business community as a potential financial disaster for Texas. Speaker of the House Joe Straus, however, opposes the bill as morally bankrupt. He said he doesn’t want the suicide of a transgender person on his conscience.

The bill passed out of the Senate committee by a vote of 8-1 and will be voted on by the full Senate this week. That will give the House three weeks to kill it or let it die.

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An inside look at ‘The Bodyguard’ with Deborah Cox

Posted on 21 Jul 2017 at 3:52pm

Deborah Cox, a longtime favorite in the LGBT community, is in Dallas right now, starring in the stage version of The Bodyguard, in the role made famous on the silver screen by Whitney Houston, and she sat down recently with Dallas Summer Musicals to give her fans an inside look at the production.

The show is presented by Dallas Summer Musicals  through July 30, 2017 at Music Hall at Fair Park. Click here for details and ticket information.

The show then moves to Fort Worth, playing Aug. 1-6 at Bass Performance Hall. Click here for details and ticket information.

Watch the video below:

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Attorneys fees awarded to plaintiff in Kim Davis case

Posted on 21 Jul 2017 at 2:14pm

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Kentucky to pay attorney fees for same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses by Kim Davis.

Davis is the Rowan County Clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Obergefell marriage equality ruling. Bunning jailed her several days for refusing to do her job until a compromise was worked out that allowed other people in her office to issue the documents. Davis claimed a religious objection to the ruling.

Bunning could have held Davis personally liable or he could have charged Rowan County with the $222,000 award. Instead, he ruled the state regulates marriage and charged the amount to Kentucky, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Since Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses, Kentucky has removed the names of county clerks from its licenses, which Davis said was a victory because that all she was asking.

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Juvenile sentenced in attack on Derek Whitener

Posted on 21 Jul 2017 at 2:08pm

Video surveillance footage from outside the CityPlace Target helped police identify suspects in the assault of Derek Whitener. One of the two has been sentenced to 7 years probation.

One of the two teenagers arrested in connection with the January attack on Derek Whitener has been sentenced to 7 years probation, according to CBS 11. The second suspect,, 17-year-old Zantrall Sauls, is still awaiting trial.

The two allegedly attacked Whitener, artistic director for the Firehouse Theatre in Farmer’s Branch, on Jan. 14 as he left the Target at CityPlace on Haskell Ave. The suspects hit him in the head with a pipe, fracturing his skull. Whitener had to undergo brain surgery because of the attack, and was hospitalized until Jan. 28.

His attorney, Chris Hamilton, told CBS that Whitener will likely never be the same because of the attack.

Video surveillance footage helped police identify the two attackers, and the juvenile, whose name is not being released because of his age, was the first to be arrested, on Jan. 27. Sauls was arrested on Jan. 30.

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LGBT groups and allies hold press conference in rotunda while Senate committee hears anti-trans bills

Posted on 21 Jul 2017 at 10:04am

Equality Texas, Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Texas, the Texas Freedom Network and the Transgender Education Network of Texas holds a press conference this morning, Friday, July 21, in the Texas Capitol rotunda as the Senate State Affairs Committee holds a hearing on anti-transgender bills SB3 and SB91.

Those bills, commonly known as the bathroom bills, would block cities and school districts from protecting trans Texans in schools and other public facilities.

Among those speaking are two parents of trans children, a pastor, and two transgender women. Also scheduled are Lou Weaver, transgender program coordinator, Equality Texas; Kali Cohn, staff attorney, ACLU of Texas; and Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel, HRC.

The bills are expected to pass the Senate committee and be approved by the full Senate quickly. Various legislative maneuvers are planned in the House of Representatives to kill the bills.

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Mayor announces city council committee appointments

Posted on 20 Jul 2017 at 3:57pm

The Five Amigos (who need a new name)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced his committee assignments for city council members for the new term. The council has recessed for July and reconvenes in August.

Councilman Adam Medrano continues as chair of the LGBT Task Force, which he’s headed for the past four years. The Oak Lawn councilman will also serve on Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee and Mobility Solutions, Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee. (So blame Adam for your potholes).

Omar Narvaez, the first openly gay council member elected in a decade, was assigned to the Economic Development and Housing Committee, The Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee and the AD-Hoc Legislative Committee.

In his campaign, housing in West Dallas was his primary issue. And the gay guy is always assigned to the arts committee. That tradition dates back to council members Craig McDaniel and Veletta Lill, who both chaired the committee. (Oh, come on, don’t tell me Veletta isn’t a gay guy).

Narvaez will also chair the Senior Citizen’s Task Force, which is appropriate since many of us think of him as a little old lady.

None of the Three Amigos — Scott Griggs, Philip Kingston and Medrano — now looking for a new name for because they’ve added two members — Mark Clayton and Narvaez — is a committee chair. The Three Amigos often vote as a block and have opposed the mayor on issues like paving the river to turn it into a highway.

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Jeffrey Payne reveals campaign logo

Posted on 20 Jul 2017 at 12:31pm

Jeffrey Payne, the former International Mr. Leather champ and local leather legend, is serious as a heart attack about seeking the Democratic nomination for Texas governor, as we reported earlier this week. And if actions speak louder than words, then look at the action Payne has taken: He’s launched a new logo, brand and hashtag to get his campaign off the ground. He’s also set up a Facebook page. Every journey begins with a first step.

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Episcopal Church denounces bathroom bill

Posted on 20 Jul 2017 at 12:30pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

The national Episcopal Church denounced the bathroom bills that the Texas Senate is considering. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, urged Speaker of the House Joe Straus to continue opposing the discriminatory proposals.

They wrote: “As the presiding officers of the Episcopal Church, we are firmly opposed to ‘bathroom bills’ and particularly reject the idea that women and children are protected by them. As clergy who remember racist Jim Crow bathroom laws that purported to protect white people, we know the kind of hatred and fear that discriminatory laws can perpetuate.”

Straus said he didn’t want anyone’s suicide on his conscience as a result of a law he allowed through the Texas House of Representatives. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made passage of a bathroom bill a top priority.

The Episcopal Church is schedule to hold its nine-day General Convention in Austin in 2018 and is threatening to move it if a bathroom bill passes.

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UPDATED: Texas Senate holding hearing on bathroom bill Friday, phone bank Thursday

Posted on 19 Jul 2017 at 3:06pm

Sen. Joan Huffman

UPDATE: HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz needs volunteers to staff a phone bank Thursday, July 20, from 4-8 p.m., to call constituents and remind them to contact their state senators and state representatives and urge those elected officials to vote against anti-transgender bathroom bills during the special session of the Texas Legislature.

Ruiz stressed that phone bank is not necessary because training will be offered on site. She also said that while those participating will have access to a laptop, it would help if volunteers who are able to bring a laptop and mouse would do so.

The phone bank will be set up at the Dallas County Democratic Party office, 4209 Parry Ave. Email Ruiz at Criss.Ruiz@hrc.org for information and to volunteer.

Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has announced there will be a hearing on Sen. Lois Kolkhorst’s anti-transgender bathroom bill at 9 a.m. Friday, July 21, at the Texas State Capitol.

The actual language of this version of the bill has not been released. Opponents of the discriminatory bill have established a Facebook page to post updates about the hearing.

Opponents are also organizing ride-sharing/carpool efforts to get people to Austin for the Friday morning hearing. Check here to sign up to participate.

In HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz is working to set up a Dallas-area phone bank for Thursday, July 20, to get volunteers to call constituents and remind them to call their state senators and representatives to express their opposition to this and other bathroom bills. Check back here for updates.

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First female DPD chief appointed

Posted on 19 Jul 2017 at 12:50pm

U. Renee Hall

City Manager T.C. Broadnax has announced that Detroit Deputy Police Chief U. Renee Hall has been chosen as the new chief of Dallas Police Department.

Press release from Dallas City Hall:

City Manager T.C. Broadnax today [Wednesday, July 19] announced that U. Renee Hall will become the first female police chief in the city’s history. Hall is deputy chief of the Detroit Police Department, where she directed the city’s Neighborhood Policing Bureau.

“I am honored to be chosen to lead the Dallas Police Department at this critical time in its history,” said Chief Hall. “I look forward to building on the successes of the past, preserving community trust and ensuring the safety of our officers and the entire Dallas community.”

More than 55 community and business leaders participated in panel interviews of the top seven candidates, a process Broadnax described as diverse, inclusive and participatory.

“Chief Hall is a proven leader with a stellar background and a passion for public service,” Broadnax said. “These are qualities I believe are critical as we tackle crime to make our city safer while addressing organizational and policy issues within the department.”

Hall has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Grambling State University and master’s degrees in security administration and intelligence analysis from the University of Detroit Mercy. A graduate of the FBI National Academy, she also completed the Police Executive Leadership Institute and is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

As deputy chief in Detroit, Chief Hall developed and implemented comprehensive community policing and mentor programs, forged partnerships and established trust within minority communities while also building strong relationships between officers of all ranks and community stakeholders. Under her leadership, the city of Detroit experienced a 40-year low in homicides and double-digit reductions in violent crime for three consecutive years.

Her responsibilities also included oversight of police services for six precincts and 720 sworn and non-sworn personnel.

Hall is expected to begin her duties as Police Chief on Sept. 5.

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