Weekend health fair aims to ‘bridge the gap’ with free screenings, vaccines

Posted on 05 Apr 2013 at 9:56am
Derrick Spillman

Derrick Spillman

An Oak Lawn health fair and carnival Saturday will bring North and South Dallas together for health screenings and vaccines.

The Stay Strong Movement Heath Fair and Carnival at Walgreens on Cedar Springs Road is a collaborative effort that’s the first of its kind. It came together out of a need for a large health event in central Dallas, DFW Pride Movement Executive Director Derrick Spillman said.

“We just wanted to do something to bridge the gap for people who don’t have insurance and don’t get checkups,” he said.

Spillman helped oversee the planning of the event after coming up with the idea last year. DFW Pride Movement teamed up with the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Texas, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and UT Southwestern Mobile Mammogram Unit to offer screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, body mass, HIV testing and STDs. LA Fitness will have fitness demonstrations and vaccines will also be offered for a fee for illnesses, including the flu, meningitis, tetanus, hepatitis and others.

Spillman said an estimated 50 retail vendors and 20 agencies and organizations will be at the carnival, along with activities for children. He said the goal is to connect people to the resources in the community they may need and encourage them to be health conscious.

“We just felt that this was something that was needed and had never been done,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the event be an annual gathering. “We’re doing it this year and taking it from there.”

Lesbian activist Cd Kirven said the event was helping end healthcare disparities among the LGBT community and other minority groups and would serve as a “lifeline” to those who need care and information.

“It is important to us as leaders in the African-American LGBT community that we help bridge the gap in health disparities among people of color within our community,” she said.  “It is equally important that we work with the community at large to address the lack of health care among people of color.”

Spillman said the groups wanted to have it at Walgreens because the management has worked with the LGBT community before and it was a central location to bring all of Dallas together.

James Ross, Walgreens manager, said he wanted to help the community have access to healthcare.

“With the steady rise in health care cost, I feel it was the right thing to do, to give back to a community that has given Walgreens so much support,” he said.

Felicia Flye-Lewis, HIV prevention program manager at the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Central Texas, said she wanted to work with DFW Pride Movement to spread out her organization’s reach in Dallas.

“We’re showing that we are coming together for a wonderful collaboration and we can better serve the community together,” she said.

Flye-Lewis said she hopes people will take advantage of the free tests and screenings, while also knowing that resources will be there for them if they test positive for anything.

“More than anything, I hope that people see unity,” she said. “We have wonderful services that are free and available throughout the city. I hope they use these services.”

Stay Strong Movement Heath Fair and Carnival, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 6 at Walgreens, 3802 Cedar Springs Road. For more information, go here or email derrickdfwpride@gmail.com. 


And the Black Tie theme is …

Posted on 05 Apr 2013 at 9:41am

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“One Voice” will be the theme for the 32nd annual Black Tie Dinner, organizers announced Thursday night at a Launch Party at T & P Station in Fort Worth.

After BTD co-chairs Ken Morris and Mitzi Lemons delivered the announcement to a crowd of more than 200, a video was played which chronicled the social progress and political evolution of LGBT Americans over the last 40 years. At times it highlighted the darker side of the struggle, including images of Harvey Milk and Matthew Shepard. However, most of the video was dedicated to strides made under the leadership of people like former Congressman Barney Frank and President Barack Obama, demonstrating how significant it is for the GLBT community to be speaking as one.

“By choosing ‘One Voice’ as our theme this year, we look forward to demonstrating how the GLBT community has evolved,” Lemons said in a statement. “Our movement started with one person who stood up for what they believed was fair.  Since then, we have fought long and hard against injustice, yet today we face new battles involving marriage equality and anti-discrimination.”

“Our dream is for everyone in the GLBT community — along with our allies and corporate and community sponsors — to speak as one voice for equality,” Morris added. “It all starts with One Voice singing in the darkness, followed by another voice, then another until everyone is speaking together in support of the same cause.”

The 32nd annual Black Tie Dinner will be held Saturday, November 2, 2013 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas. More than 3,000 people attend the dinner, which raises funds for 17 local GLBT-supportive organizations and its national beneficiary, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

For more information about the Black Tie Dinner or this year’s event, visit www.blacktie.org or call 972-865-2239.

Watch the Black Tie theme video here. More photos from the Launch Party below.


BREAKING: Zedler withdraws LGBT resource center amendment

Posted on 04 Apr 2013 at 6:27pm
State Rep. Bill Zedler

State Rep. Bill Zedler

Arlington state Rep. Bill Zedler withdrew his amendment that would defund LGBT resource centers at state universities when it hit the House floor tonight amid cheers from the gallery.

Matthew Posey, Zedler’s legislative director, told Dallas Voice Thursday afternoon that it’d be “pulled down.” He declined to comment on the decision to remove the amendment.

News of the amendment that stated LGBT and gender centers caused high-risk behavior and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases created an uproar among LGBT advocates.

Petitions and letters opposing the amendment were sent to lawmakers this week.

Daniel Williams, field organizer with Equality Texas, said the organization had been preparing for the amendment for the past year after a similar one from the previous session was filed, which was withdrawn after pressure to stall the appropriations bill.

“Because of Equality Texas’ outreach, there was massive public outcry about the amendment,” he said. “Zedler was under tremendous pressure to remove it.”

Three other amendments that would have some impact on the LGBT community were considered.

An amendment filed by state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, was adopted and will allot grant money to school districts for suicide prevention, mental health and substance abuse programs.

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, withdrew his amendment that would collect data on the number of LGBT people under the age of 24 who seek mental health services.

An amendment by state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was tabled. The measure would require school districts to make reports based on alleged discriminatory incidents based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and other categories.

Amendments are still being debated on the floor. Watch here.


Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio withholds endorsement of Julian Castro

Posted on 04 Apr 2013 at 4:32pm
Mayor Julian Castro

Mayor Julian Castro

Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio did not endorse Mayor Julian Castro in his re-election bid.

Castro signed a Freedom to Marry pledge last year along with mayors from Austin, Houston and several San Antonio suburbs. In his keynote speech at the Democratic Convention, he said gays and lesbians have a right to marriage equality. And he was the first mayor of his city to march in a Pride parade, serving as grand marshal.

But when Stonewall sent him a questionnaire this year, the mayor refused to sign it. According to the San Antonio Express News, Castro just doesn’t like these type of surveys.

“First, I don’t like those surveys, the ones that say, ‘Yes or no,’” Castro told the newspaper. “They don’t need to read a survey. They just need to read my record.”


BREAKING: Texas A&M Student Senate passes anti-gay bill in 35-28 vote

Posted on 04 Apr 2013 at 7:26am

imagesAfter three hours of emotional debate, the Texas A&M Student Senate voted 35-28 Wednesday night to approve an anti-gay measure that would allow students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center if they have religious objections.

Less than 24 hours before the vote, the name of the bill was changed from the “GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill” to the “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill,” and specific references to the GLBT Resource Center were removed. However, opponents of the bill who packed a Student Senate meeting before the vote Wednesday said the name change did not alter the bill’s discriminatory, anti-gay intent.

With the crowd spilling into the hallways, an overflow viewing room was set up, and the Senate meeting had to be stopped several times so administrators could clear fire exits, according to a report in The Eagle of Bryan-College Station. Emotions ran high, with senators cursing and the woman assigned to tally their votes bursting into tears.

A&M Student Body President John Claybrook says he has not decided whether to veto the measure. The closer-than-expected margin of passage means the Senate may not have the votes to override a veto by Claybrook.

Also last night, the University of Houston Student Government Association unanimously passed a resolution opposing a state budget amendment designed to cut funding for LGBT resource centers on college campuses, according to Daniel Williams of Equality Texas. The anti-gay budget amendment from Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, could be voted on by the House later today.

Stay tuned for updates.


WATCH LIVE: Texas A&M Student Senate discusses anti-gay bill

Posted on 03 Apr 2013 at 7:09pm

The Texas A&M Student Senate is scheduled to hold an open forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday on an anti-gay bill that would allow students to opt out of funding the school’s GLBT Resource Center with their activity fees if they have religious objections. Watch the meeting live below.

Stream videos at Ustream


GLBT Chamber announces recipients of 2012 Business Excellence Awards

Posted on 03 Apr 2013 at 6:18pm
Rob Wiley P.C.

Rob Wiley

The Law Office of Rob Wiley, Jeremy Bradford, Cooper Smith Koch, Kristopher Parker and Southwest Airlines have been named recipients of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce 2012 Business Excellence Awards.

The awards will be presented during the eighth annual Business Excellence Awards Dinner: A Tapestry of Business Equality on April 25 at eM The Venue.

“The Awards Review Committee had the nearly impossible task of choosing only six honorees from many excellent nomination; they did an outstanding job,” said Ron Watterson, chairman of the North
Texas GLBT Chamber Board of Directors. “Each year the Chamber awards are said to ‘recognize the best of who we are as business and community leaders.’ I believe that this year’s recipients have defined a new standard of excellence in business and service to the community.”

Here’s more on the recipients:


Texas Senate hears testimony on bill to ban anti-LGBT job discrimination

Posted on 03 Apr 2013 at 12:13pm
Leticia Van de Putte

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

For the first time in history, Texas senators considered a bill this morning that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the Lone Star State.

The Senate Economic Development Committee heard testimony on SB 237, filed by state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said he and six other people testified about the personal impact and and positive effect on economic development the bill would have. Among the speakers were gay former state Rep. Glen Maxey and retired Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, who was the first Purple Heart recipient in the Iraq War.

Smith said Alva gave a “very compelling testimony” that spoke about his experience and support for the bill.

In addition, Craig Briscoe, vice president of human resources for Dell Inc., sent in a written testimony in support of the bill (read it here).

Jonathan Saenz with anti-gay Texas Values and three business organizations submitted written opposition but did not testify in person, Smith said.

Smith said overall he was impressed with the hearing and thought it went well. Concerns about an increase in lawsuits were brought up, but Smith said the bill doesn’t change the procedure for discrimination complaints. Instead, it adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s list of protected categories and complaints would be investigated like those based on race or religion.

Smith said Equality Texas and other advocates for the bill will work with lawmakers to dispel myths that businesses would be at a higher risk for lawsuits if the legislation is passed. He hopes to have enough votes to get the bill out of committee.

The committee’s seven members are: Chairman Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, Vice Chairman Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and Kirk Watson, D-Austin.

Watch today’s committee hearing here.


Activists plan to ‘red out’ DART board meeting in support of DP benefits

Posted on 03 Apr 2013 at 11:06am


GetEQUAL TX is planning on showing up in full force at next Tuesday’s DART board meeting to address the board about its lack of action on domestic partner benefits.

Activists will wear red in honor of marriage equality and stand up when speakers address the board about domestic partner benefits during the open comments portion of the meeting.

The board voted last week to table action on a plan to offer DP benefits until July so the U.S. Supreme Court can decide two marriage equality cases.

Rafael McDonnell with Resource Center Dallas said he wants someone to speak about their delayed action at every board meeting until they take up the issue again in July.

DART’s board meets next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at 483 N. Field St.

For more on Tuesday’s “red out,” go here.


GLBT Aggies gear up for forum on anti-gay Student Senate bill

Posted on 02 Apr 2013 at 8:27pm

Texas A&M Student Senator Chris Woolsey, second from left, is shown in this photo with Gov. Rick Perry from Woolsey’s Facebook page. Woolsey is the sponsor of the GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill.

The LGBT community at Texas A&M University is gearing up for an open forum Wednesday night to discuss a Student Senate bill designed to cut funding for the school’s GLBT Resource Center.

The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill, introduced two weeks ago, would allow students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center with their activity fees if they have religious objections. According to The Battallion student newspaper, about $100,000 goes to the GLBT Center annually — or about $2 per student.

The campus group GLBT Aggies says the bill, similar to one introduced two years ago, is discriminatory and amounts to an attack against the LGBT community under the guise of religious freedom. Just as in 2011, a parallel effort is under way in the state Legislature to defund LGBT resource centers on college campuses in Texas.

“As a community dedicated to respecting diversity, we support measures sincerely aimed at protecting the religious beliefs of Texas A&M students, including those of many within the LGBT community,” GLBT Aggies wrote in a news release about the Student Senate bill last week. “However, while SB 65-70 claims to promote religious freedom, we cannot ignore that it only allows students with one religious belief to control how their student fees are used: only religious traditions that disapprove of LGBT interests are given a voice. A bill truly dedicated to allowing religious designation of fees would make the opportunity available to students of all faiths toward whatever policy creates a moral conflict of interest for them. Given the extremely narrow scope of this bill, we can only conclude that its interest lies not in promoting religious freedom but specifically in targeting the LGBT community. Whatever the intentions of the bill may be, its effect is clearly discriminatory.”