Taffet’s story of his husband’s death helps focus attention of 911 call failures

Posted on 16 Mar 2017 at 9:38am

David Taffet, left, and his late husband, Brian Cross, at their wedding in June 2016. (Photo by Tammye Nash)

Yesterday (Wednesday, March 15), David Taffet shared this story about the night his husband, Brian Cross, died, and how it took 911 some 20 minutes to answer his call. David was then interviewed by every local news station —Fox 4, NBC 5, WFAA Channel 8, CBS Channel 11, CW 33 and Telemundo — and by the CBS Morning News. I hear that the story aired this morning by WFAA Channel 8 was picked up by the national ABC morning news show, Good Morning America, too.

David’s story is also on the front page of today’s Dallas Morning News. (See video below.)

We will never know if Brian might still be alive had it not taken so long for David to be able to get in touch with 911. And that is exactly the point. So while I know it is so very difficult for David to have to relive that night each time he tells the story, I also know he’s willing to keep telling the story if it will help keep the same thing from happening to someone else.


Trump administration embarrasses U.S. again by appointing hate group members to U.N. women’s rights meeting

Posted on 15 Mar 2017 at 3:52pm

OutRight International Executive Director Jessica Stern

If anyone’s even bothering to keep score anymore, they can mark up yet another time the Trump administration has embarrassed our country in the presence of the rest of the world.

On Monday, March 13, Trump’s Department of State announced that the U.S.’s official delegation to the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women “includes representatives of two organizations known to oppose the U.N. human rights system,” according to a statement released today (Wednesday, March 15) by the international LGBT rights organization, OutRight International.

U.S. delegation members are Ambassador Nikki Haley, the U.S.’ ambassador to the U.N., who is head of the delegation; Ambassador Michele J. Sison, deputy U.S. ambassador to the U.N.; Lisa Correnti, executive vice president of the Center for Family and Human Rights; Grace Melton with The Heritage Foundation, and technical experts from the departments of State, Labor and Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

A statement from the U.S. Department of State announcing the delegation members included acknowledgment that the Commission on the Status of Women is “the most important annual meeting on women’s issues at the United Nations.” But Outright International condemned both C-FAM and The Heritage Foundation as stridently anti-equality organizations. And a report in the British newspaper The Guardian warns, “U.S. may go cheek by jowl with women’s rights abusers at U.N. gender talks.”

The newspaper notes: “Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the ‘global gag rule’ and his proposed funding cuts to the U.N. are expected to embolden right-wing conservative groups seeking to undermine women’s rights during the CSW talks … . the U.S. delegation may find itself firmly aligned with conservative countries including Iran, Sudan and Syria — among the six countries targeted in Trump’s revised travel ban.”

The Guardian quotes Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, as saying, “It’s very likely we will see the U.S. standing shoulder to shoulder with Russia, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Sudan … some of the worst abusers of women’s rights around the world.”

Jessica Stern, OutRight International’s executive director, pointed out that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Haley have both “repeatedly pledged to uphold the right to be free from discrimination as an American value,” but suggested that including Correnti and Melton in the delegation sends a completely different message.

“Fundamentalist notions about how women and girls should behave should never be the basis of advising or negotiating U.S. foreign policy,” Stern said. “It is also a bad sign that two organizations that have tried to delegitimize the United Nations and human rights internationally now sit on the official U.S. delegation. Maybe the violent mentality that got C-Fam labeled as a hate group successfully p/anders to their base, but the U.S. government must ensure protection for the world’s most vulnerable people.”

According to OutRight, C-FAM regularly posts “homophobic vitriol” on its website, has called for the criminalization of homosexuality and “has even espoused violence.” C-FAM President Austin Ruse has reportedly said the U.S. should have laws criminalizing “homosexual behavior” because even if they aren’t enforced, such laws “would help society to teach what is good, and also would prevent such truly harmful practices as homosexual marriage and adoption.”

Ruse has also claimed that “the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals” and in a 2014 interview said he wanted his children to attend private colleges “to keep them so far away from the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed C-FAM as a hate group since 2014.

OutRight also said that The Heritage Foundation and “its sister organizations [have] at least 11 past employees now working in the Trump administration” and that the Heritage Foundation “has provided much of the domestic and foreign policy blueprint the Trump administration used in its first days in office.”

The Heritage Foundation has called for a cut in funding to programs fighting violence against women, calling such programs a “misuse of federal resources and a distraction from concerns that are truly the province of the federal government.”

OutRight said The Heritage Foundation “continually purports that anti-discrimination laws inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity are unjustified” and that such laws “grant special privileges” to LGBT people. The organization also “steadfastly rallies against the rights of transgender people,” OutRight said.

Stern continued, “Practically speaking, the U.S. should support CSW conclusions that condemn discrimination on any basis, support family diversity, and support the full range of conditions that enable women’s economic empowerment, including comprehensive family planning. While these ideas might seem like a leap of faith after the appointment of these organizations, these positions are the logical application of the principle of non-discrimination.

“Human rights are based on indivisibility, which also means that the U.S. cannot credibly support non-discrimination for LGBTI people while opposing family planning,” she said. “Women’s rights, reproductive choice, LGBTI rights, climate justice and the strength of the international human rights system all go hand-in-hand.

“The same groups advocating against women’s rights, immigrants, Muslims, the Affordable Care Act and LGBTI rights in the U.S. are taking these views to the international stage,” Stern said. “What the U.S. says about women from around the world at the CSW will be a sign of things to come for American women … . Domestic and foreign policy are two sides of the same coin.”



The mayor is outraged, but Brian is dead

Posted on 15 Mar 2017 at 12:29pm

Brian Cross

Mayor Mike Rawlings is outraged and has issued a statement about the 911 service outage:

It is outrageous that T-Mobile still has not resolved the ghost call issue that is putting Dallasites in danger by clogging our 911 system. I’m in full agreement with our city manager that our citizens deserve better. This issue not only puts paying T-Mobile customers at risk, but it jeopardizes the safety of people throughout our city. It’s encouraging that T-Mobile will finally be sending top engineers to Dallas tomorrow morning. I can only assume that they will work around the clock until they figure out how to fix this issue.

Here’s my experience of the 911 outage on March 6:

My husband, Brian Cross, was acting disoriented and was laying down. He was snoring, but that suddenly stopped. At 9 p.m. I called 911. After a few minutes, I was disconnected. When someone calls 911 and is disconnected, 911 operators are supposed to call back. They didn’t.

I called 911 again immediately. The entire time I was trying to do CPR. Finally a 911 operator answered at 9:20. By that time, no matter how much I breathed into his mouth and pounded his chest, Brian wasn’t breathing.

Once I got through to 911, the response time was fantastic. Dallas Fire and Rescue was in our house within three minutes.

But had they been there at 9:05 rather than 9:25, Brian might have been resuscitated.


SB 6 passes in the Texas Senate

Posted on 14 Mar 2017 at 5:37pm

Texas Lt. Gov. and Potty Police Chief Dan Patrick

Texas is one step closer to sharing North Carolina’s fate today, following the vote in the state Senate to approve SB 6, aka Dan Patrick’s Ridiculous Bathroom Bill.

The vote was 21-10. I haven’t seen a breakdown of the vote yet, but I am willing to bet that all but one of the 11 Democrats in the Senate voted against the measure. That one would be Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville. Lucio was the only Democrat — out of two — on the State Affairs Committee to vote in favor of sending the bill to the full Senate for a vote. He blames his vote on him being a Catholic.

His son, Eddie Lucio III, serves in the Texas House. He has said he opposes the bathroom bill.

What happens now depends largely on Speaker of the House Joe Strauss, a Republican who has made no secret of the fact that he is not in favor of the measure. LGBT rights advocates hope that Strauss will bury the House version of the bill in a committee that won’t let it ever see the light of day again.

You might want to contact Speaker Strauss and let him know we’re counting on him. And talk to your state reps, too. Make sure the Democrats are on our side, and do your best to convince the Republicans that the bathroom bill is bad for Texas’ pocketbook, but more importantly, that it’s bad for Texans.


Senate set to vote today on Bathroom Bill

Posted on 14 Mar 2017 at 11:48am

Sen. Joan Huffman

Last week the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to send SB 6, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s ridiculous bathroom bill — you know, the one that will supposedly keep women and children safe but in reality only interferes with transgender people using the appropriate public bathroom facilities — to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Today, the Senate as a whole is scheduled to vote on the measure. So call your senator ASAP and let him or her know exactly what you think about the bathroom bill.

If you aren’t sure who your senator is or how to contact him or her, check here.

And while you are at it, you might want to look up the contact info for state Sen. Joan Huffman, the Houston Republican who chairs the State Affairs Committee. She’s the one caught last week on a hot mic calling a trans man testifying against the bathroom bill a “pervert.” Watch the video below to hear it for yourself.

Colt Keo-Meier, a clinical psychologist who runs the Transgender Health Lab at the University of Houston and the man Huffman called a pervert, told The Intellectualist, “You know, as a person of God, I have to say, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ To tell someone that they are a pervert for telling you the truth about their life. Who’s the perverted one in that case?”


HB2 claims one more victim

Posted on 14 Mar 2017 at 11:04am

Unemployed Gov. Pat McCrory

When HB2, North Carolina’s bathroom bill, passed into law in March 2016, PayPal immediately canceled expansion in the state and jobs were lost. Other companies followed and within 12 months, the state lost and estimated three quarters of a billion dollars for the year.

Now one person in particular is having trouble finding work as a result of HB2 — former Gov. Pat McCrory. According to the Charlotte News and Observer, companies are reluctant to hire him because they’re afraid he’s a bigot. Even a local university turned him down for a part-time teaching position, afraid his appearance on campus would incite protests.

So the down-and-out former governor is having to eke out a living sitting on boards and doing some consulting work. He’s even interviewed with the Trump administration, hoping they might have a position for an unqualified former governor who was thrown out of office for attempting to destroy the state’s economy.

But so far, no offers. Sad.

Meanwhile, at his State of the State address on March 13, current North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called for the complete repeal of HB2.


It’s Pi Day — what’s your favorite #NerdDessert?

Posted on 14 Mar 2017 at 8:30am

Today is a nerd holiday — coming, not ironically, exactly one month after Valentine’s Day: March 14, or 3.14, aka “Pi Day” (in honor of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter). Of course, it rhymes with “pie,” so pie is a popular dessert today. But I started wondering: What other snacks might a nerd enjoy, any day of the year?

Here are some I came up with. Add your own, #NerdDessert or #NerdSnack.

Lorna Doone by Frank Herbert

Rice Krispies Trapezoids

Oreo Borealis

Hershey’s light touching of the lips to indicate affection

Ginger Snapchat

Three Mouseketeers bar

Lemon three-dimensional chess pie

Worlds of War Kraft Mac n Cheese

Chocolate chip Cookie Lyon

Stephen Hawking Cake (during Lent only)


Cupcakes for a cause

Posted on 13 Mar 2017 at 4:25pm

You can contribute to a good cause and put some yummy in your tummy all at the same time on Friday, March 17. Just order a dozen cupcakes from James Nelson at The Original Cupcakery.

On Friday, 10 percent of sales at The Original Cupcakery,2222 McKinney Ave No. 230,  to folks using code #AINBB17 will go to AIDS Interfaith Network‘s 2017 Bloomin’ Ball fundraising efforts.

There’s a limited amount available for this deal, so call James early on Friday at 214-855-0003 to get your dozen cupcakes for $45.

AIN is celebrating “30 years of help and hope” in North Texas this year. Bloomin’ Ball, one of AIN’s largest annual fundraiser, is set set for June 3 at the Renaissance Hotel. Check here for details.


‘Hamilton’ actors will be featured artists at DTC gala

Posted on 13 Mar 2017 at 8:18am

Harcourt in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ at DTC.

The Dallas Theater Center’s Centerstage Gala, it annual fundraiser and frou-frou social event, will take place on May 6, but we already know who the featured entertainment will be.

Two actors from the Broadway production of Hamilton — ensemble member Elizabeth Judd, and Sydney James Harcourt, who played multiple roles including understudying Aaron Burr (and who previously performed in musicals at the DTC, pictured) — will be headlining the event.  Local DJ Spinderella will provide the after-party music.

Individual tickets are $1,000 and after-party tickets from $175. You can learn more here.