BREAKING: Texas Supreme Court halts enforcement of Houston ERO

Posted on 24 Jul 2015 at 11:08am

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

The Texas Supreme Court released an opinion today (Friday, July 24) halting enforcement of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

The court stated the city council overstepped its boundaries when it invalidated a petition to repeal the ordinance via ballot referendum. The city ruled petitioners did not gather enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

“Any enforcement of the ordinance shall be suspended, and the City Council shall reconsider the ordinance. If the City Council does not repeal the ordinance by Aug. 24, 2015, then by that date the City Council must order that the ordinance be put to popular vote during the Nov. 2015 election,” according to the decision.

The opinion additionally faulted city staff for not verifying differing signatories not having an appeal process when a petition is rejected.

The measure bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also numerous other classes currently protected at the state and federal levels.

The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

The decision is just the latest hurdle facing the embattled ordinance. The Houston ordinance passed in May of last year by an 11-6 vote. After its passage opponents halted the law’s enforcement through lawsuits and appeals. It has been in a legal tug of war ever since.

You can read the full decision here.

Last year, Dallas voters added sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the nondiscrimination clause of the city charter with 77 percent of the vote.


PHOTOS: The Escobar family

Posted on 24 Jul 2015 at 10:51am

Julian Escobar sent us a number of photos to consider for our story “Physician, breed thyself.” We loved the pictures so much that we redid the cover with a picture of Paloma and Valentino. Here are more of the pictures Julian sent.


BREAKING: Boy Scouts lift ban on gay leaders

Posted on 24 Jul 2015 at 7:15am

890px-Boy_Scouts_of_America_corporate_trademark.svgThe Boy Scouts of America voted to lift the ban on gay Scout leaders. The new policy allows local troops or sponsors to decide whether or not to hire LGBT leaders. BSA will no longer ban gays or lesbians from working for the organization.

“On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees,” the Boy Scouts said in a statement on its website. “Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement, ”Today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual adults to work and volunteer is a welcome step toward erasing a stain on this important organization. But including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.”

The Mormon Church, which sponsors more Boy Scout troops than any other religious or secular group, said it would re-evaluate its association with the Boy Scouts. Mormon Scout troops do allow gay scouts.




Business Insider highlights Dallas efforts to become ‘hot new gay destination’

Posted on 23 Jul 2015 at 3:01pm

BIGBusiness Insider published an article this week calling Dallas “one of the most gay-friendly cities in the U.S.” and promoting LGBT travel to the city. The Dallas Visitors and Convention Bureau seems to be behind the campaign to promote Dallas as LGBT-friendly.

Dallas Voice and our upcoming Wedding Party & Expo are both mentioned in the article. The Expo is presented as evidence Dallas is open for business, especially as a wedding destination.

There’s a link to the LGBT Visitor’s Guide on the CVB website. The page links to several resources, with some glaring omissions. For example, under hotels, you can choose properties by location. There’s a Market Center/Love Field selection and Downtown/Uptown, but not one for Oak Lawn, even though on the CVB page, they promote “Oak Lawn” as the LGBT neighborhood. There should be a list for Oak Lawn hotels.

The page also lists nine LGBT events, two of which are no longer in existence, one which is on hiatus and one we’ve never heard of.

We love the enthusiasm of the head of the CVB who thinks people from states all over the country that have had marriage equality — some for years — are suddenly going to think it’s a great idea to come and get married in a state whose attorney general still hasn’t clearly instructed county clerks to follow the law.


Sweeping federal nondiscrimination bill introduced in Congress

Posted on 23 Jul 2015 at 12:18pm
Out Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

Out Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

A sweeping federal nondiscrimination bill protecting LGBT people was introduced in Congress today, earning praise from some of the nation’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations and allies.

The Equality Act, sponsored by out Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., would amend federal laws to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, public accommodations, credit, jury service, federal funding, renting and home ownership.

“You can be married on Saturday, post your wedding pictures on Facebook on Sunday and be fired from your job or kicked out of your apartment on Monday,” Cicilline said in a statement.

Currently only 19 states and the District of Columbia have clear LGBT nondiscrimination protections in employment and housing. Texas is among the states without any statewide protections.

Previous attempts to pass a narrower bill, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act barring employment nondiscrimination based on social orientation and gender identity, have failed. In 2013, a bill with sweeping religious exemptions passed before losing the support of key LGBT groups.

Following the Supreme Court’s June decision constitutionalizing marriage equality, LGBT advocates announced a push for nationwide nondiscrimination laws. The Equality Act is the first attempt to address national activists’ latest push for equality.

“As a gay woman myself, I know the importance of ensuring that there are comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections in place,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said in a statement. “In the absence of these protections, same-sex couples who now have the right to marry in their home states will still be at risk of being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartments without cause.”

Yesterday, Ted Olson and David Boies, the legal team that represented the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry case challenging California’s same-sex marriage ban, voiced support for a comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination law.

The bill is also one of the latest pushes to include gender identity as a protected class.

“This is a historic moment for transgender people,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in a statement. “This bill is especially important as it comes on the heels of unprecedented public attention on trans lives. Despite that, trans people have faced record rates of violence — just this week, we learned of the 10th trans woman of color murdered in 2015. For trans people, equality is a matter of life and death. Congress must understand this urgency as they work toward passing this landmark legislation.”

The bill faces an uncertain fate in an increasingly conservative Republican-controlled Congress.


Bea Arthur Residence breaks ground in NYC

Posted on 22 Jul 2015 at 2:59pm

Bea Arthur

The Ali Forney Center in New York has broken ground on the Bea Arthur Residence, which will provide housing for 18 homeless LGBT youth, according to The Lo-Down.

A three-story building on Manhattan’s East Village is being renovated, in part, with money left to the center by the Golden Girls actress who died in 2009.

The project should be completed by the end of 2016.


Patti Fink and Evilu ‘Pridge’ Pridgeon named 2015 grand marshals

Posted on 22 Jul 2015 at 12:25pm

Patti FinkEvilu-Pridgeon-Web

Local activists Patti Fink and Evilu “Pridge” Prigeon have been named the grand marshals of the 2015 Alan Ross Freedom Parade.

Patti Fink, left, is a longtime LGBT and Democratic Party activist. She serves as president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and as co-host of Lambda Weekly on KNON 89.3-FM. She has served on numerous boards, including the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and Democracy For America. She has also a past co-chair of the HRC DFW National Coming Out Project.

Evilu (Pridge) Pridgeon, right, was one of the earliest healthcare and grief counseling activists and a co-founder of the Oaklawn Community Services, where she served as the Director of the Counseling program.  She currently serves as president of The Dallas Way, which is dedicated to preserving the LGBT Dallas history.

Congratulations, Patti and Pridge!


U-Haul stock jumps as WNBA team announces move to Dallas

Posted on 21 Jul 2015 at 3:27pm

ShockOwners of WNBA’s Tulsa Shock announced it will move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to Tulsa World. Management cited the larger media market and possibilities for additional corporate sponsorship.

The move is contingent upon approval of the WNBA board of governors, made up of all of the league’s teams. One of the team’s minority owners opposed to the moved filed suit. The team moved to Tulsa from Detroit in 2009.

No word yet on where the team will play nor a time table for the move.

While the team is hoping to sell more tickets in a larger venue, one thing is certain. The team will get more accurate media coverage. Here’s Tulsa World’s headline about the Shock’s loss to the Washington Mystics on Monday:

Tulsa Shock loses its fourth straight after 76-69 loss to Washington

Sorry, but we expect very little straight about anything related to that team. Is the newspaper implying that after losing to Washington, the fourth straight player threw in the towel and only their lesbians are reliable? We’re confused.

Welcome to Dallas, ladies. We’re looking forward to some great basketball.


Comprehensive LGBT protection bill to be introduced in Congress on Thursday

Posted on 21 Jul 2015 at 12:15pm
Providence Mayor David Cicilline

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

A comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination bill will be introduced in Congress on Thursday, according to BuzzFeed.

Out gay Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will introduce the bills.

“No one in our community should be at risk of being fired, evicted from their home, or denied services because of who they are or whom they love,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement.

He said the bill is necessary because the “unacceptable patchwork of state-level protections for LGBT people, and more than half of LGBT Americans live in a state that lacks fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws.”

Texas is one of 28 states without a statewide policy protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. It is one of 29 states without laws protecting LGBT individuals in public accommodations.

The bill would “provide explicit, consistent protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” Cicilline wrote in a letter circulated among his colleagues. Those protections include areas often overlooked by many LGBT activists covering seven key federal laws: housing, public accommodations, employment, credit, juries and federal funds, public education, and renting and home ownership.

“The time has come in this country for full, federal equality, and nothing less. A federal non-discrimination bill would create permanent and clear protections to ensure that all employees are hired, fired or promoted based on their performance,” Griffin said. “All LGBT Americans deserve a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families.”


Stonewall Austin names award for Glen Maxey

Posted on 20 Jul 2015 at 2:28pm

Glen Maxey

Stonewall Democrats of Austin is honoring Glen Maxey on Aug. 2 by naming and award for him and presenting the first annual Glen Maxey Award to former Austin City Councilman Chris Riley at Maxey’d Out for Chris. The award recognizes a member or an ally of Austin’s LGBTQ community who, through public service, has made significant contributions to the quality of life in Austin.

Riley served on the Austin City Council from 2009–2015. He sponsored a gender-neutral bathroom ordinance, helping transgender people and others avoid a choice that is uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. He carried the budget amendment for unmarried same-sex partner benefits, which eliminated discriminatory treatment arising from the inability to marry and he sponsored the Austin’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Maxey was the first executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) and left to become the first openly LGBT member of the Texas legislature, serving 1991–2003. Most recently, he’s been busy tracking county clerks complying with the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality ruling.

The event takes place on Aug. 2 at Highland Lounge, 404 Colorado St., Austin. Register online.