Texas marriage equality plaintiffs witness Supreme Court hearing

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 1:13pm
Mark Phariss, left, and Vic Holmes

Mark Phariss, left, and Vic Holmes this morning in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, the Texas marriage equality case plaintiffs from Plano, attended the Supreme Court hearing today (Tuesday, April 28). Holmes was dressed in his Air Force uniform.

According to Phariss, he barely got into the courtroom. Lined up since the weekend, they were No. 49 and 50 to get in. This morning, someone from a group called Faith in Action cut in the line and so Phariss wasn’t allowed into the building at first. Others, who had been in line with them, shamed the Faith in Action line-cutter into giving up her seat.

“Does your religion teach you to steal?” others asked her.

At the end of the first round of arguments in favor of marriage equality, a protestor who had been in the courtroom began shouting. Phariss said it took four people to escort him out of the court and he could still be heard when he was down the hall.

One of the arguments was that the gay and lesbian community is subject to animus. He said the protester seemed to make that case for the attorneys arguing for equality.

After watching the arguments, Phariss said he expects a 5-4 decision in favor of equality. While the court said it would decide two issues — whether states must recognize marriages performed elsewhere and whether states must offer same-sex marriage — he called the recognition issue a sideshow.

“I don’t think that mattered or will be relevant to what will happen,” he said.

During arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia tried to push the idea that if marriage is made a constitutional right, clergy will be forced to marry same-sex couples. Justice Kagan, who is Jewish, had the clearest rebuttal, saying most rabbis don’t perform interfaith marriages and have never been forced to. No clergy will be forced to marry anyone, she said.

Justice Ginsburg offered one of the clearest arguments against the anti-equality arguments.

“We’re not taking anything away from heterosexuals,” she said in response to the idea that so-called traditional marriage loses something if any two people can marry.


Audio of second half of Supreme Court hearing now available

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 1:12pm

Supreme-Court-building-permissionThe audio of the second half of the Supreme Court hearing is now available. The link is here.

The argument is recognition of out-of-state marriage. The marriage equality argument is the right to remain married.


Dallasites in D.C. for marriage equality

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 12:33pm

Jesse and Adam

Former Dallasite Jesse Garcia, left, and Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano were among those outside the U.S. Supreme Court Building today in Washington, D.C., rallying in support of marriage equality as the Court hears oral arguments in the landmark marriage equality case. We found this photo on Jesse’s Facebook page.


Audio of first half of oral arguments in marriage equality case

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 11:28am

Supreme-Court-building-permissionThe Supreme Court made the audio of the first arguments in the same-sex marriage case available. The attorney speaking on behalf of same-sex couples is Mary Bonauto.

Here’s the link.

C-Span is covering the Supreme Court hearings outside the court. That link is here.


Downpour moves SCOTUS rally to Sue Ellen’s; hundreds gather to support equality

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 9:55am

Despite flooded streets in Oak Lawn, hundreds of people turned out for a rally Monday night (April 27), the night before the U.S. Supreme Court was to hear arguments on marriage equality. The event moved from the Legacy of Love Monument to Sue Ellen’s because of the weather.

The LGBT community, allies and TV crews packed the second floor of the bar for a rally that lasted several hours and included speakers, singers and spoken word, and was topped off with wedding cake and champagne.

About a dozen people — from a Greenhill School sstudent and Texas Christian University student to allied pastors and community activists — gave short rallying speeches. Lambda Legal’s Omar Narvaez delivered the keynote, calling for an end to laws criminalizing HIV status, an end to anti-trans legislation and an end to LGBT youth homelessness — linking these and other battles for justice to not just marriage equality but to the social justice movement overall.

Emily McGaughy writes for AfterEllen.com. In her remarks she said she and her wife had to choose between a legal wedding out of state and a wedding in Texas that included family and friends.

“Tomorrow is a step in the right direction for equality,” she said. “It won’t solve all problems, but it’s a big step.”

Greenhill School student Josh Rudner said he realized he was gay at 11. He kept that bottled up inside himself for a year before telling his family.

“You can’t choose who you love,” he said, “but you can choose to love yourself.”

His father is now president of Equality Texas Foundation and is attending the Supreme Court hearing.

The Rev. Alex Byrd compared marriage bans today to slave owners preventing slaves from marrying. He said the purpose was to destabilize the community.

The Rev. Colleen Darraugh of MCC of Greater Dallas said, “Your religious freedom should not come at the expense of my religious freedom.”

Community activist John Seelig brought a message from Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson: “We can all feel the momentum,” Wolfson told Seelig. “America is ready for the freedom to marry.”



BUSINESS NEWS: GLBT Chamber celebrates 10th anniversary

Posted on 27 Apr 2015 at 1:14pm

Tony Vedda

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday night, April 24, with its Celebration of Excellence Dinner, held at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.

Chamber officials presented a number of awards during the dinner, including presenting Mark Arthur Shekter with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Shekter owns Surrealty Corporation, a real estate agency, and Graphic+Design+Group+International. He is known for his work as an architectural and interior designer, but he is also known for his years of volunteer work in Dallas’ LGBT community. Shekter founded Meals on the Move, or MOM, which for several years delivered meals to people with HIV.

Other individuals recognized for their contributions to the community were Capt. Kathi Durst, chief pilot for American Airlines; Andy Smith, executive director of the Texas Instruments Foundation; Roger Thomson, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Brinker International; and Zack Hicks, chief information officer for Toyota Motors North America.

The 2014 Business Excellence Awards were also presented at the event. Business of the Year honors went to Liberty Burger, founded by Mariel Street and sponsored by Prudential Financial. The Extra Mile Award went to Pride Pharmacy, led by President John Shero and sponsored by American Airlines. The Community Impact Award went to ilume Management Services, led by President Luke Crosland and sponsored by Raytheon.

The Corporate Ally Award went to Haynes & Boonem LLC, with Theo Foster as LGBT diversity chair. Det. Christopher Gorrie of the Fort Worth Police Department, sponsored by Allied Stone, won the Emerging Leader Award. Robin Pulford with American Airlines accepted the Supplier Diversity Award, sponsored by Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. And the Member Service Award with TravelOUT owner Michael Henshaw, sponsored by Pride Pharmacy.

In the final award presentation of the evening, chamber Chairman Larry Paschall named the chamber’s president and CEO, Tony Vedda, as winner of the Chairman’s Award.


Two ways to help with Nepal disaster relief

Posted on 27 Apr 2015 at 10:38am
Shannon Haiti

Shannon Shepard, left, in Haiti in 2011 building houses with Habitat for Humanity

Over the weekend, an earthquake hit Nepal and at least 3,600 are believed dead at this time.

Here’s a way to help.

Shannon “Shep” Shepard is a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. He’s done a number of local builds in the U.S. and spent time in Haiti after their earthquake on a build with Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. When he lived in Dallas, Shep was a member of Congregation Beth El Binah, a volunteer at Ranch Hand Rescue and a producer of Robert Camina’s film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge as well as his upcoming Upstairs Inferno.

Shep works for Microsoft and was transferred several years ago from the Irving office to Seattle. His fundraising page indicates he’s still raising the $5,000 to participate in this build. He told me this morning he’s already paid for his trip and anything raised now will go directly to Habitat for Humanity to help with immediate needs.

His trip is scheduled for Nov. 1 when there will still be a need for housing. Recovery from a devastating disaster takes years. Obviously, with the current situation, the need for housing has suddenly grown exponentially. I can think of no other organization better prepared to provide housing than Habitat for Humanity.

Shep has been working on raising money for this build for over a year. I know him personally, and I know that he funds the cost of his trips himself. His volunteer work helps give people their lives back.

By the way, he’d hate this kind of coverage, which is why I’m not telling him I’m making this appeal until after it’s out there.

Here’s another suggestion for donating to Nepal disaster relief:

An LGBT organization that will get your money directly to those doing relief work is The Rainbow Fund. Founded in 2000, Rainbow World Fund is the world’s first and only all-volunteer, LGBT-based humanitarian aid organization. All money donated to The Rainbow Fund goes directly toward relief work and no money toward administrative costs.


This is why marriage equality matters

Posted on 24 Apr 2015 at 4:30pm

Here’s a video from the Liberty Education Forum. Nothing else needs to be said.


Ted Cruz: I still hate gays, and here are 2 bills to prove it

Posted on 24 Apr 2015 at 3:34pm
Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Declared 2016 presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in his ever-vigilant efforts to save the United States from the horrors of marriage equality, has filed two pieces of legislation to protect states’ ability to discriminate against LGBT citizens. The bills are intended, obviously, as an end-run around the U.S. Supreme Court, which will be hearing oral arguments in four marriage equality cases next Tuesday (April 28), and which is expected to rule sometime in June, likely in favor of marriage equality.

One of Cruz’s bills would establish a constitutional amendment shielding states that define marriage as between one woman and one man from legal action, according to Bloomberg News. The second would ban federal courts from weighing in on the issue again until such an amendment is adopted.

Cruz, a Tea Party darling here at home in Texas, is trying to “broaden his appeal to evangelical voters in early voting states, namely Iowa, by sending a message to the court,” Bloomberg News suggested. The newspaper also notes that Cruz’s anti-equality marriage bills would face “solid opposition” in the U.S. Senate, but that his intent is “to force his competitors [in the 2016 Republican primaries] to keep the issue alive even if the court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.”

Or perhaps, this was just part of his effort to reaffirm his anti-gay credentials after attending a fundraiser Monday night (April 20) in Manhattan at the home of gay, white, rich real estate developers Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, owners of Parkview Developers. That event, he claimed, proves he is “’a big tent Republican’ instead of a panderer.” He issued his statement making sure everybody knows he is an anti-gay bigot who opposes marriage equality just a couple of hours before introducing his two bills.

Earlier this month, on his first trip to Iowa as a declared presidential candidate, Cruz declared that any Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality nationwide would be “fundamentally illegitimate.”

Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee filed similar legislation last year, but those bills died when the session ended.

Just in case anybody wants to send good ol’ Ted a note to let him know what you think of his bills, click here.


About one in six married same-sex couples’ state doesn’t recognize their marriage

Posted on 24 Apr 2015 at 11:34am

Same-sex couplesThe number of legally married same-sex couples in the United States has tripled in the last year, according to a new poll by the Williams Institute’s research director Gary Gates and Gallup’s editor in chief Frank Newport.

The new estimate suggests that 390,000 out of nearly 1 million same-sex couples are married. Estimates from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey had the figure at 130,000.

While there’s no way to know exactly how many same-sex couples there are in the U.S., the research suggests about one in six married same-sex couples live in states that currently don’t recognize their marriage. Only 12 states do not offer marriage equality and do not recognize out of state marriages. Missouri recognizes marriages but on St. Louis and Kansas City perform them.