WATCH: David Kunkle at Stonewall Democrats

Posted on 16 Feb 2011 at 11:02am

Former Dallas police chief and current mayoral candidate David Kunkle spoke briefly during a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting at Ojeda’s on Tuesday night.

The most interesting thing Kunkle said during his two-and-a-half minute remarks, in my estimation, is that he’d be the city’s first mayor “probably since the ’70s who lives in a real Dallas neighborhood.”

“I live a block and half off Greenville Avenue, right off an entertainment district, in homes that were built in the mid-1920s generally, so I understand city services and some of the problems with them,” Kunkle said.

I’ve posted video of Kunkle’s speech in its entirety above, and as you can see he didn’t specifically address LGBT issues. But I did manage to hit Kunkle up for a few questions both before and after. (He didn’t take questions from the audience after speaking.)

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Spokesman says DISD too busy with budget cuts to discuss trangender homecoming issue

Posted on 16 Feb 2011 at 10:00am
A rally in support of Andy Moreno at North Dallas High School in October. Since then we haven’t heard much from DISD, or the LGBT community, about trying to come up with a policy that would avoid such controversies in the future.

Here’s the reply we received late Monday from DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander, after we inquired about whether district officials have discussed a possible policy change related to gender and homecoming elections in response to last year’s controversy at North Dallas High School:

“I don’t know if there have been additional discussions regarding that particular issue. Most of our time right now is devoted to paying attention to what is taking place in Austin and planning for next year’s budget accordingly. A $253 million budget deficit would wipe out a lot of things in our school district. If I hear of something, I’ll let you know.”

We certainly sympathize with Dahlander and other DISD officials as they try to deal with the impending budget crisis, but we also hope his statement indicates that the district is open to taking up the transgender homecoming issue as soon as possible. After all, it’s been almost five months since transgender girl Andy Moreno was denied a chance to run for homecoming queen at NDHS. The district should be commended for, in the meantime, passing a fully inclusive anti-bullying policy that is the first of its kind in the state. But this doesn’t mean the district’s work — or the LGBT community’s work — is done. For one thing, we need to ensure that the anti-bullying policy is properly implemented and enforced. And for another, while the anti-bullying policy includes gender identity and expression, the district’s employment nondiscrimination policy does not. In other words, it’s now against DISD policy for a student to bully another student for being transgender, but it’s not against DISD policy for the district to fire a teacher for being transgender. And, apparently, it isn’t against DISD policy for an administrator to discriminate against a student for being transgender, as in the case of Andy Moreno. On Tuesday night I sat in a Stonewall Democrats meeting and listened to a gay student talk about the resistance he’s faced from administrators in trying to establish a GSA at Woodrow Wilson High School. So while the budget situation is critical, let’s also remember that for some LGBTQA youth, the issues we’re raising could be a matter of life and death.

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What’s Brewing: Key Prop 8 decision coming; marriage ban advances in Ind.; Gaga hatefest

Posted on 16 Feb 2011 at 7:52am

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The California Supreme Court is set to consider today whether it believes Prop 8 supporters have legal standing to defend the same-sex marriage ban in federal court, after state officials refused to do so. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is currently reviewing the case, has asked the California Supreme Court for an opinion on the matter. And the decision about standing could determine whether the Prop 8 case applies only to California or affects same-sex marriage throughout the country. In other words, this is kinda big.

2. If and when same-sex marriage bans are ultimately declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Indiana apparently wants to be one of the states that was on the wrong side of history. Indiana’s newly Republican-dominated House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. The good news is the amendment can’t actually appear on the ballot until 2014 because it must first be approved by two separately elected legislatures. But in case it hadn’t dawned on you yet, those tea party nuts were lying to your face when they said they only care about fiscal issues.

3. Some gays are turning against Lady Gaga and rejecting their own so-called anthem, “Born This Way,” according to various media reports including this one. But the most amusing critique we’ve seen thus far comes from the Zeitgeisty Report, which suggests that Gaga HATES gay people: “Take for instance the very first part of the song where Gaga comes right out and accuses gay people of having paws instead of hands or feet. Yep, Lady Gaga officially thinks gay people are animals.”

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Police blotter: Hit-and-run on Cedar Springs

Posted on 15 Feb 2011 at 1:23pm

Valentine’s Day got off to a bad start when a motorist intentionally struck two pedestrians near Havana Bar & Grill on Cedar Springs Road early Monday, according to police reports.

Reports say the suspect and the victim, a 39-year-old black male, got into an argument that became a physical fight at about 2 a.m. at 4008 Cedar Springs Road. After a security guard stepped in to break up the fight, the suspect got in a vehicle and intentionally accelerated toward the victim. The suspect’s vehicle struck the victim as well as a witness, before the suspect fled northbound on Cedar Springs Road. The two injured people were taken to Parkland hospital.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said Tuesday that police hadn’t made any arrests.

“Victim is claiming he doesn’t remember what happened,” Janse said. “No one knows the suspect and there are conflicting stories about what really took place. Detectives will continue to try to get to the bottom of what really happened. It is unknown the condition of the victim at this time.”

The suspect’s vehicle is described as a cream-colored, four-door Nissan. Anyone with information can call the Crimes Against Persons Division at 214- 671-3584.

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WATCH: Gay couples request marriage licenses in Austin, clash with counterprotesters outside

Posted on 15 Feb 2011 at 11:28am

KVUE reports that protesters on both sides of the issue showed up Monday at the Travis County Courthouse, where a handful of same-sex couples requested marriage licenses. While the licenses were denied due to Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage, Travis County remains the only jurisdiction in Texas with a domestic partner registry.

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WATCH: Houston puts Dallas to shame by staging Texas’ Big Gay Wedding for Valentine’s Day

Posted on 15 Feb 2011 at 10:47am

While North Texas could only muster one same-sex wedding, 20 gay and lesbian couples participated in a mass ceremony on Sunday at Houston’s Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, in a Valentine’s weekend event called Texas’ Big Gay Wedding. View a slideshow from the ceremony by going here.

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Dallas mayoral candidate drops out of race

Posted on 15 Feb 2011 at 10:26am
Jim Moore

Jim Moore, an attorney with an Oak Lawn-based practice, announced Monday that he is dropping out of the race to replace Tom Leppert as mayor of Dallas. Moore said the decision was based purely on finances; he said he doesn’t have the money to mount a successful campaign and is “not likely to raise the funds needed within the next 90 days.”

Moore also said he is endorsing former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle for mayor.

Here is the full text of his announcement:

“At this time, I am withdrawing as a candidate for Dallas Mayor. This has been a very difficult decision for me and my campaign team, particularly in light of the support I have received from so many. This was a business decision based on finances — we simply don’t have the money it will take to win this election, and are not likely to raise the funds needed within the next 90 days.

“I thank my friends & supporters, trusted advisors, and my campaign team. I have truly enjoyed meeting Dallasites from all parts of our great city during the past 7 months campaigning. I am deeply grateful and humbled by the support I have received from citizens all across Dallas.

“My utmost hope is that the voters will challenge our City Council and the next mayor to work for the betterment of Dallas and to do right by the citizens. We need to hold our civic leaders accountable for economic development, completion of the Inland Port project, the Trinity River corridor project, improved services, and increased support for Dallas schools. Let us work on existing issues facing us now before we build new hotels at taxpayer expense or toll roads that our levees won’t support.

“At this time, I am announcing my support of former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle in his bid for Dallas Mayor, and am asking my friends to support him as well.

“My passion for the City of Dallas is greater than ever, and I am committed to staying active in civic affairs.  Because Dallas deserves Moore! “

The only candidate to file in the mayoral race since the filing period began Monday, Feb. 14, is current District 12 Councilman Ron Natinsky. However, Kunkle, Dallas Parks Board President Mike Rawlings and E. Edward Okpa, owner of the commercial real estate consulting firm Integrated Valuation, have all said they plan to run.

The deadline to file is March 14.

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Mich. school’s policy change presents opportunity to revisit transgender homecoming issue in Dallas

Posted on 15 Feb 2011 at 9:55am
Andy Moreno

Remember Andy Moreno, the transgender girl who was denied a chance to run for homecoming queen at North Dallas High School?

Well, not surprisingly, it turns out that North Dallas isn’t the only school in the country that’s had to deal with this issue. But unlike NDHS or DISD, schools in other districts appear to be learning from their mistakes and drafting policies to avoid a repeat of the problem. For example, the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., reported Monday that students at Mona Shores High School will henceforth select a gender-neutral homecoming court:

The change comes about five months after a transgender student wasn’t allowed to run for homecoming king at Mona Shores.

Oakleigh Reed is registered at the school as a girl, but plans to undergo a sex change upon turning 18. Reed identifies as a boy, and students and teachers at Mona Shores recognize Oak that way, as well.

Reed was disqualified from running for homecoming king in September. Since last fall, school officials have been trying to figure out a way to avoid a similar situation from happening again.

The solution?

The juniors and seniors will vote on a gender-neutral prom court this spring. The policy will stand for future homecoming events, as well. There will be two juniors and two seniors on the courts; the sex of the students won’t be considered.

“I’m so glad that the rules have been changed,” Reed said in a news release from the ACLU. “All I wanted was a chance for all students to participate and be heard. Now, my classmates and I can just focus on having a great time at our school dance.”

We’ve contacted Jon Dahlander, a spokesman for the Dallas Independent School District, to find out whether there have been any further discussions about this issue since the Andy Moreno controversy in October. We’ve also left a message with Dinnah Escanilla, the principal at North Dallas High School who told Moreno she couldn’t run for queen because she was born a boy — a decision that the district stood behind.

We’ll let you know what we find out.


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What’s Brewing: Valentine’s Day recap edition

Posted on 15 Feb 2011 at 8:46am

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. THE GOOD: Legislators in Washington state and Colorado were struck by Cupid’s arrow, as they introduced bills Monday to legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, respectively. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that 24 Maryland senators have now said publicly that they’ll support pending marriage equality legislation, giving the bill the votes it needs to pass by the slimmest of margins.

2. THE BAD: The Indiana House was scheduled to vote Monday on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the measure, which is expected to pass, was postponed because some lawmakers who want to go on record supporting the ban were absent. Meanwhile, lawmakers in New Hampshire are moving forward with hearings on a proposed repeal of same-sex marriage, despite polls showing a majority of residents oppose the repeal. And, in Chicago, six activists were arrested when they refused to leave a marriage bureau after a same-sex couple was denied a license.

3. THE UGLY: If you want to get really angry, or need a reminder as to what the struggle for equality is all about, watch the above video of police in Lima, Peru, using violence to break up a Valentine’s Day “Kisses Against Homophobia” demonstration that took place Saturday. According to Living in Peru, one activist needed 10 stitches to the back of her head.

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Navy says ensign from E. Texas suffered unfair retaliation over anti-gay harassment complaint

Posted on 14 Feb 2011 at 5:13pm

A while back we told you about Steve Crowston, the Navy ensign from East Texas who accused his commanders of anti-gay harassment after he received a list of potential call signs that included “Romo’s Bitch,” “Gay Boy,” “Fagmeister” and “Cowgirl.”

Over the weekend, Crowston sent along word that he’d won a victory in his case.

According to Fox News, the Navy’s Inspector General has ruled that Crowston suffered unfair retaliation after filing a complaint about the harassment, in the form of a bad performance evaluation:

Crowston’s complaint named Commander Liam Bruen, 42, who gave the 37-year-old ensign “the “the worst performance appraisal” in his 16 years of service.

The Navy now says at least one of Crowston’s complaints has been confirmed.

“Department of Navy Naval IG substantiates the allegation that the then commanding officer of VFA 136 gave Crowston an unfavorable fitness report in reprisal for a sexual harassment and hostile work environment complaint he filed,” Navy spokesman Lt. Myers Vasquez told FoxNews.com. The Navy did not name Bruen, but FoxNews.com has independently confirmed his identity.

Vasquez said the department has forwarded its findings on to Bruen’s commanding officer, who will decide what, if any, corrective action to take.

Former Judge Advocate General Jeff Addicott says Bruen’s commander will have little choice but to take strong action.

The story goes on to say that the Navy’s investigation of Crowston’s original complaint is ongoing, and no action will be taken against Bruen until it’s complete.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement we just received from Crowston:

“I’m very pleased to see the system get it right with the reprisal investigation. The system needs to get it right the 2nd time around regarding the anti-gay harassment. It should not take this much effort to have what was clearly anti-gay harassment and hazing by senior Navy leadership be substantiated. I hope my efforts in seeking justice will inspire others out there who have been discriminated against because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Adults can not continue to allow anti-gay harassment and bigotry to occur. We, as adults, must show our children that they are individuals who are allowed to live in America without being prejudiced against, retaliated against, or harassed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Hatred is not okay.”

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