Texas is out as host for Gay Games

Posted on 01 Mar 2017 at 9:40am

baseballThe Federation of Gay Games has released its short list of three cities still in the running to host its 11th event in 2022, and Dallas — and Austin — are out the running.

As of this morning, the finalists have been whittled down to Guadalajara, Mexico; Hong Kong; and Washington, D.C. Other semifinalists whose cities didn’t make the cut are Denver, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. San Antonio also put in a bid, but was eliminated in the first round.

The 2018 games will take place next summer in Paris. The 2022 location will be finalized this May. (Personally, I’m pulling for Guadalajara because it’s closest!)


Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson responds to Trump’s speech

Posted on 01 Mar 2017 at 9:26am

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson released the following response to President Trump’s first address to Congress:

On Immigration:

“A border wall will not achieve the goal that President Trump seeks to accomplish, and I disagree with its premise to keep all immigrants out of our country. Furthermore, building a 2,000-mile-long wall along our southern border is not only a knee-jerk reaction to our issues with immigration, it is fiscally irresponsible. Refusing entry to people who seek safety from danger and violence is anti-American and unconscionable. Comprehensive immigration reform, not constructing yet another barrier, is the best solution to resolve this issue.”

On the Affordable Care Act:

“Tonight President Trump once again called on Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, while providing no real plans for a replacement. Thus far, the Trump administration has only released an executive order that was without substance regarding healthcare, and a proposed rule that is nothing more than a delay tactic for their repeal and replace process.

“Over the past six years, nearly 30 million Americans have gained reliable coverage and seen an end to many of the unfair practices of the pre-Affordable Care Act insurance industry, including the end of lifetime limits, no discrimination for pre-existing conditions and free preventive care.  The Affordable Care Act did not just provide health insurance for millions of Americans, it reformed payment systems, introduced innovative care delivery reforms, and much more. To suggest that the system is ‘collapsing’ is off base.

“My hope is that we will find a way to work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner to come up with real policy solutions to repair the Affordable Care Act and continue to provide healthcare for all Americans. However, we will not idly stand by and allow Republicans to dismantle the health and economic security of hard-working Americans.”

On Transportation:

“During his campaign, President Trump touted his intentions to introduce a $1 trillion plan that would invest in our nation’s infrastructure. Five weeks into his presidency, we have yet to see a concrete plan to that end. This suggests that any tax plan to emerge from this administration would most likely rely heavily on tax credits for private entities, versus the federal direct spending that is so desperately needed. This approach is entirely off-mark.

“Nearly one in four bridges in the United States is structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, 65 percent of our nation’s roads are in less than good condition, our rail and bus transit systems are facing a $90 billion backlog, and dozens of our busiest ports are congested beyond reason. This is simply unacceptable. Our nation needs a real, comprehensive transportation infrastructure plan that combines direct federal spending with public private partnerships; not tax breaks for private investors for projects that would already be constructed anyways.”


Will Dallas turn even bluer in 2018?

Posted on 28 Feb 2017 at 1:59pm

State Sen. Don Huffines

Will there be some changes in who represents Dallas after the 2018 elections?

Democrats have their sites on Rep. Pete Sessions’ seat. A majority of voters in Sessions district voted for Hillary Clinton. Sessions ran with only Green Party and Libertarian Party opponents in the 2016 race.

In the Texas Senate, even Republicans are getting sick of state Sen. Don Huffines, whose district extends into parts of Oak Lawn. Republican Rep. Jason Villalba tweeted, “Is it time for new leadership in #SD16? I am a little tired of hearing how my own state Senator is incapable of almost every duty he has.” And, “So honored to visit w/ & honor @RichardsonISD #PTA today. Disappointed @DonHuffines ruined their day.”

After Richardson ISD students visited both Huffines and Villalba in the Capitol offices, @yadayadayo  tweeted, “@JasonVillalba thank you for treating students in RISD with more respect then @DonHuffines. Discussion can be civil, even if you disagree.”

The disagreement in Huffines office centered on school vouchers. Students argued vouchers wouldn’t cover enough to get them in to Dallas’ best private schools.

The Texas Tribune reported Huffines answered, “Do you want me to give them $15,000? Is that what you want? So they can all go to Hockaday, so they can all go to St. Mark’s? You want to give them a full tuition? That is the most selfish thing I’ve ever heard.”


Dale Hansen comments on trans rights and a transgender teen wrestler

Posted on 28 Feb 2017 at 10:41am

WFAA Channel 8 sportscaster Dale Hansen commented on the transgender boy from Euless who was forced to wrestle against girls and won the state championship. Two years ago, Hansen’s commentary about Michael Sam went viral nationally, partly because he was the only sports reporter in the country allowed to voice his opinion. Here, he says trans people are part of his world, whether he fully understands it himself or not, and simply wants transgender people treated fairly.


Marriage equality plaintiffs file amicus brief in Houston benefits case

Posted on 28 Feb 2017 at 10:08am

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes

Texas marriage equality plaintiffs Mark Phariss, Vic Holmes, Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman filed an amicus brief in Pidgeon v. Harris, a case before the Texas Supreme Court concerning Houston’s ability to provide equal benefits to married same-sex couples. A hearing in that case is scheduled for March 1. Jason Steed, a partner with the law firm of Bell Nunnally, filed the brief on behalf of the couples who won their case in federal court.

Holmes, a veteran who retired from the U.S. Air Force after almost 23 years of service, and Phariss, a corporate attorney in Plano, will celebrate their 20th anniversary in August and their second wedding anniversary in November. Because Holmes is a professor at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center in Fort Worth and Phariss, as Holmes’ spouse, is covered by the university’s state-sponsored health care plan, Phariss and Holmes could be directly and significantly impacted by an adverse decision by the Texas Supreme Court.

Phariss and Holmes released a statement that said, “It really is unbelievable that full marriage equality is again being challenged in Texas.  It is particularly unbelievable because it is being challenged less than two years after the U.S. Supreme Court recognized same-sex couples’ constitutional right to marry.   More unbelievable is that Texas’ Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General support that challenge, notwithstanding the fact that Texas consented to the filing of a judgment and a permanent injunction in our case, DeLeon v. Abbott.

“What is being litigated is whether Texas can impose second-class status on our marriage and the marriages of thousands of other LGBT Texans.  This position is wrong on the law and an affront to equality and personal freedom, not to mention a waste of taxpayer money.”



Dallas memorial set tonight for murdered trans woman Chyna Gibson

Posted on 27 Feb 2017 at 1:57pm

Chyna Doll Gibson

A celebration of the life honoring murdered trans woman Chyna Gibson and a call to action will take place at 7 p.m. tonight, (Monday, Feb. 27) at Abounding Prosperity, 2311 MLK Jr. Blvd.

Gibson, also known as Chyna Doll Dupree, was murdered by an unknown gunman at about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, outside of a local shopping center in New Orleans, where she had gone to visit friends and family for Mardi Gras.

Witnesses reported hearing as many as 10 gunshots.

Gibson lived in Sacramento, Calif., but was very active in the Ball/House and Pageant community in Dallas and other communities around the country, according to a press release sent by Abounding Prosperity. Gibson was a well-known performer in the pageant system and made frequent appearance in Dallas and Houston.

Gibson is the fifth trans woman to be murdered this year. Four days earlier, 24-year-old Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, was murdered on Chicago’s Southside, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“The senseless murder of our trans sisters and brothers is something we simply cannot continue to ignore. I offer my deepest condolences to her friends and family,” U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said in a written statement. “We say your name #ChynaGibson. To my LGBT brothers and sisters, as the ranking member of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations — I will not stop fighting on your behalf. Your lives matter.”

Abounding Prosperity founder and Executive Director Kirk Myers said in a written statement, “Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the senseless death of our beloved sister Chyna Gibson. There are no words that could explain the positive impact she had on so many people within the B/HAP community and our community at large.”



Temple Shalom honors the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas

Posted on 27 Feb 2017 at 10:11am

Event chairs Steve Weintraub and Scott Butnick, Rabbi Andrew Paley and the Rev. Neil Cazarez-Thomas.

Temple Shalom, a Reform synagogue in North Dallas, and the Temple Shalom Brotherhood presented Cathedral of Hope pastor the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas with its 2017 Shalom Award on Sunday, Feb. 26 at a dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel.

This is the first time the award has been given to someone who is either not Jewish or not affiliated with a Jewish organization.

Earlier in the month, Cazares-Thomas addressed Temple Shalom at a Friday night Shabbat service. Citing Cathedral’s work in areas of homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, abuse of women and LGBT rights, Temple president Josh Goldman said, “It is my belief that this evening is demonstrative of our desire to form a bond and partnership with Rev. Cazares-Thomas and Cathedral of Hope in addressing the social justice issues of the day.”

The program began with music from Cathedral’s Voices of Hope singers, directed by Chris Chism and accompanied by Sean Baugh.

While the tributes were extensive, those who know Cazares-Thomas the best — such as Resource Center CEO Cece Cox — roasted him. Dallas Jewish Federation CEO Bradley Lay, who is gay, called it a testament to Cazares-Thomas that the synagogue could get this many gay men out of the house on one of the gay high holidays — Oscar night.

Other tributes were delivered via video, including congratulations from Cazares-Thomas’ family in England.

Rabbi Denise Eger, a lesbian who is president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, leads an predominantly LGBT synagogue in Los Angeles and is a close friend of Cazares-Thomas, who led Founders Metropolitan Community Church in L.A. before moving to Dallas to head CoH about 18 months ago. She also congratulated him via video.

Temple Shalom’s Rabbi Andrew Paley said Cazares-Thomas taught Torah brilliantly when he spoke at the synagogue earlier in the month. So, Paley said, he would attempt to teach a Christian parable. His attempt to talk about some guys who went fishing was humorous.

Cazares-Thomas was the final speaker, graciously accepting the honor. Paley ended the evening with the traditional priestly benediction in Hebrew. The evening was running long, especially for everyone who needed to get home to watch the Oscars, so when Paley turned to Cazares-Thomas to add to the final prayer, Cazares-Thomas said in his glib style, “What he said,” to a loud standing-ovation.


Dallas protesters support trans students

Posted on 24 Feb 2017 at 9:25am

The evening after President Trump issued an executive order allowing discrimination against transgender students in schools, about 150 people gathered in Belo Gardens across from the Earle Cabell  federal building to protest the order.

All of the speakers at the rally were transgender.

“We’re not going back in the closet,” Ethan Avanzino told the crowd. “We’re not going into the wrong restrooms.”

While Katie Sprinkle and Leslie McMurray were more political, Oliver Blumer and Mr. Black Trans Dallas just wanted the crowd to get to know them as people.

“I’m a man of trans experience,” Blumer told the crowd.


Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down local LGBT protections

Posted on 23 Feb 2017 at 3:08pm

Arkansas State Capitol

The Arkansas Supreme Court has struck down a Fayetteville, Ark. a voter-approved ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The court’s decision was based on a state law that prevents cities from passing protections that aren’t guaranteed by state law.

The court didn’t rule on whether the underlying law was constitutional, only that the city ordinance conflicted with the state law.

Fayetteville’s city attorney will return to court, challenging the constitutionality of the state law, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Human Right Campaign today released a statement blasting the state Supreme Court decision:

“Let’s be clear, the state’s pre-emption law is unconstitutional. This ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court is an attack on LGBTQ Arkansans and takes away hard-won protections approved by voters in Fayetteville,” said Kendra R. Johnson, HRC Arkansas state director. “Fayetteville’s leaders and citizens chose to protect their friends and neighbors when their representatives in Little Rock would not. Removing these protections leaves LGBTQ people without local, municipal or state protections, putting them at heightened  risk of discrimination as they simply go about their daily lives. We oppose this harmful ruling.”


Protest scheduled against Trump trans order

Posted on 23 Feb 2017 at 9:44am

Donald Trump

A protest will take place tonight, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. at Belo Gardens, 1014 Main St. against the Trump executive order rescinding Obama-era protections for transgender students. Belo Gardens is at the corner of Commerce and Griffin streets in downtown Dallas. West End and Akard stations are the closest DART stations.

The order was issued over the initial objections of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who said it was the “moral obligation” of every school to protect all students from discrimination and bullying.

The order was roundly condemned by LGBT community leaders.

“The withdrawal of this guidance is a devastating step back for transgender students, who today are receiving the message that the federal government will not vigorously defend their right to an education,” said Jennifer L. Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. “This unfortunate reversal of protections reflects crass, unprincipled political pandering.  The American people support fairness and equal treatment of all students and do not think vulnerable young people should be made pawns of a political drama being played out by the current administration.”

“In a shameful display of failed leadership, today President Trump succumbed to his extremist advisors and provided permission for schools to discriminate against transgender students,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills on behalf of Victory Institute. “The move – while abhorrent – is unfortunately not surprising. Regardless of Trump claiming he would be a friend to LGBT people, the reality is personnel is policy. Trump is surrounding himself with anti-LGBT appointees who demonize our community and reject the notion of civil rights for LGBT people, making anti-LGBT policies almost inevitable.”

“We are outraged at this incredibly harmful decision to rescind crucially important guidance ensuring transgender students are treated with dignity and respect.  Our military families with transgender children are especially fearful about the impact this harmful decision will have on their families,” said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack.

Lambda Legal’s response was even more direct. “We will sue any school district that discriminates against trans students,” the organization tweeted.