Decision Day rally and march in Dallas

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 11:23pm

Dallas Voice Publisher Leo Cusimano and Associate Advertising Director Chad Mantooth took these photos tonight at the rally and march in Dallas celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding marriage equality nationwide.


Just because you can get married doesn’t mean you should get married

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 9:59pm

The pressure is on.

In one fell swoop, the U.S. Supreme Court has spread marriage equality nationwide, and  TV cameras are rushing to county courthouses to watch couples get married — young couples, couples who have been together for decades, couples who’ve been waiting for the chance to marry in their home state … and probably lots of couples who shouldn’t get married.

The urge is overpowering.

But whoa. Slow down. Take a breath. Just because you can get married doesn’t mean you should get married.


If you’re a product of the Texas education system, you were taught “abstinence only” sex education. Your health teacher, using no facts at all but following state law, taught you to wait until marriage to have sex. If it weren’t for other stupid things that have worked their way into Texas textbooks, I’d say that was the stupidest thing you were ever taught.

Let me help catch you up: Global warming is real. Evolution is more than a theory. The dinosaurs and Jesus didn’t roam the earth at approximately the same time. And it’s OK to have sex before marriage.

But here are some other things to think about before rushing down to get your license:


Think of your marriage this way. It’s forever. Don’t rush into it. Because if you ever decide to get divorced, it’s expensive.

Now that we can marry in Texas, “expensive” is a huge improvement over the old option — impossible. Two couples spent about five years getting divorced because although the Texas Supreme Court heard the cases years ago, the court didn’t rule until earlier this month.

But now that we have divorce in Texas, it’ll be expensive. You’ll need attorneys. You’ll have court dates.  A judge will decide who gets custody of the dog. It’ll be a mess at best.

If you’re not married and break up, you rent a U-Haul and in one afternoon it’s over.

So don’t get married unless you really know what it means and what it takes to be together the rest of your lives. Sure, things happen and divorce is a reality. But don’t just rush into it. Making a political statement isn’t a good reason to marry. Pissing off the homophobic demonstrators in front of the County Records Building will be fun, but you don’t have to marry to do that.


Weight the costs. Once you’re married, you’ll be filing a joint tax return. That can be expensive. Or it can save you money.

The tax system was designed to benefit the Leave It To Beaver family. If Dad works and Mom stays home with the kids, the couple saves money on their federal income taxes.

When you both earn about the same amount, you’ll pay more as a married couple than as singles. However, if one earns significantly more than the other, you’ll generally save money filing as a couple.

You won’t have a choice how to file. Once you’re married, you either file jointly or you file as married, filing separately. For that last category, the rate is even higher. Mostly, that rate was designed for a married couple who has split up. Once you’re married, you can’t file as singles anymore, even though for you, that might be the lowest rate.

For older couples, social security and pensions should also be taken into account. As a married couple, will you earn more or less on your social security? Will you lose a pension that you were receiving if you marry? Will any disability benefits be affected?

After my mother died, my father remarried when he was in his 60s. My father and Ann had a ceremony with a rabbi, but never registered their marriage with New York. That was because Ann would have lost her first husband’s pension had she remarried legally. Instead she kept it for the next 20 years and the problems didn’t occur until she died. Her family successfully challenged the will, since my father wasn’t her legal spouse.

On the other hand, you may be able to pass benefits along to your partner that you couldn’t without that license. And if the person with the higher social security benefit dies, the spouse can claim the higher rate if you are legally married.

Every case is different and money may be a reason to marry … or to not marry. Just don’t be surprised. Before rushing into a marriage, talk to a financial planner who can answer those questions.

Or go ahead and get married

There are lots of reasons to get married. Financial security is one. You won’t need all those papers you now have to carry just to make sure that greedy family members don’t swoop in and evict you from your house if your spouse dies. You may be eligible for health benefits that may no longer go to “domestic partners” once everyone across the country can marry.

Love is another great reason. If you plan to always be together, go ahead. In addition to all those practical reasons like being able to visit your spouse in the hospital no questions asked, there’s that satisfaction of just being able to present yourselves as a family. There’s the additional benefit of pissing off a whole lot of people who still don’t believe you should be able to do that.

But remember, no one’s forcing you to get married. In all of history, there’s never been a shotgun lesbian wedding. No one’s ever gotten gay married because they’ve been knocked up. And despite what they taught you in Texas schools and in churches across the country, you can have sex before you get married and still live happily ever after.


‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood’

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 8:11pm

In Texas, including at Fort Worth’s Celebration Community Church, you can get finally married.

Two men married tonight before hundreds of people in a hot, loud and packed Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth.

But you couldn’t tell anyone was uncomfortable. There were too many tears.

“By the powers invested in me by the state of Texas,”  the Rev. Carol West said to a cheering crowd, she pronounced the couple husband and husband.

The couple kissed.

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” West yelled to the crowd.

Shortly after, West’s long-time partner, Angela, surprised the pastor with a proposal. West accepted and a little later, showing off her new ring to a friend, she quipped with a smile, “She went to Jarrod.”

Inside the church, Jesse Contreas was still floored. He married his husband a year ago in New Mexico. Now they can renew their vows here, in Fort Worth. At Celebration.

Contreas works in HIV prevention. His office celebrated when they learned the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Those of us who knew the struggle knew this was an awesome day for the LGBT community,” he said.

Tori Kujala and I talked outside of the church about her feelings.

“I said it on Facebook best, ‘free at last, free at last, Great God above, free at last,’” the 2014 Tarrant County Pride grand marshal said.

She was at work, like most other people I talked to, when she heard the news.

Her boss actually told her when the news struck.

Kathryn Omarkhail and Denise Bennett walked up and were holding hands.

They looked like any other couple there. They were enthusiastic because their marriage is finally acknowledged by their home state.

In 2005, they were barreling on Interstate 35 past Calvary Cathedral while then-Gov. Rick Perry signed the state’s ban on same-sex marriage ban, Omarkhail said. They were driving by in U-Hauls. While Perry celebrated another campaign plank that summer, they were married and moving in together.

Don Kennedy may have been joking when he asked if pastors had set themselves on fire.

“I know plenty of people ready to roast their weenies over a spit fire,” he said. He was joking.

The feeling was palpable for any veteran of the movement for LGBT equality. Even in modern day LGBT debates, the nasty rhetoric is just part of the process. Still, it stings.

Today, June 26, 2015, wherever you were, it really was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.


Collin, Denton, Johnson, Hood, Wise counties refuse to issue licenses and Patrick is an idiot

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 5:18pm

Judge ParkerWhile Dallas and Tarrant counties got a windfall in revenue today as hundreds of couples married, officials in Collin, Denton, Johnson, Hood and Wise counties refused to issue licenses today.

Representatives for Denton County claimed the delay was a computer problem and it will start issuing on Monday.

The others are simply dragged their feet, claiming they need a new form from the state. Funny how Dallas and Tarrant counties didn’t have that problem.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed he was getting calls from county clerks in every county across the state that said they didn’t want to perform weddings for religious reasons. Here’s some news for the lieutenant governor: county clerks issue state licenses. They do not perform weddings.


Video from the Marriage Equality press conference

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 4:30pm


Dallas Voice Publisher Leo Cusimano was in downtown Dallas today for the press conference celebrating Marriage Equality. He shot these short videos of some of the speakers.


More dithering from county clerks, this time by Parker County’s clerk

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 4:26pm

Parker County Clerk Jeane Brunson

Lord, you can really find excuses everywhere, can’t you?

Among the other county clerks hiding under the veil of discrimination is Parker County’s Jeane Bruson, according to the Weatherford Democrat.

The clerk had turned away five couples by lunchtime. She said state law prevents her from issuing licenses to same-sex couples — no matter the Supreme Court ruling or anything.

“There are several factors,” she told the paper. “One of the factors is that the State of Texas specifically states by statute that a marriage license can’t be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex. That’s in the Family Code.”

Yet the statute she specifically evokes — forms must be issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics — has been waived by other clerks, including in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties.

“To alter the old form would be in violation of the law,” Brunson said. “Therefore, my call to the Department of State Health Services said that they were consulting with the Attorney General’s Office and they would notify all county clerks as soon they had been given information as to how to proceed.

She admitted she could probably get away with it. “It sounds like it could be done easily if you say it quickly but I’m not going to break the law for anyone.”

Even if there is no law to break.


Celebrating Marriage Equality: Where to go, when to be there

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 4:25pm
Judge Parker

Judge Tonya Parker conducts a wedding ceremony for a Dallas couple who were the second same-sex couple legally married in Dallas County. Thirteen other judges sat watching in the jury box, waiting their chance to waive the 72-hour waiting period and perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Dallas/Fort Worth
• Dallas Day of Decision events include a rally at 6 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road followed by a march to Legacy of Love monument at 7:30 p.m. concluding with a rally at 8 p.m. at Legacy of Love. Shuttle service provided. For more information visit

• Denton Day of Decision events include a celebration 6 p.m. at a Denton Courthouse Square, 110 West Hickory Street. For more information visit

• Fort Worth Day of Decision events include a celebration at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave. hosts a rally with drinks, hors d’oeuvres, kissing and photo booths at 6 p.m. For more information visit

• Amarillo Day of Decision events include a gathering at 6 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4901 Cornell St., Amarillo. For more information visit

• Austin Day of Decision events include a gathering at 6 p.m. at Central Presbyterian Church, 200 East 8th St., Austin. For more information visit

• Harlingen Day of Decision events include a rally at 6 p.m. at Mount Calvary Christian Church, 401 N 21st St., Harlingen. For more information visit

• Houston Day of Decision events include a celebration beginning at 5 p.m. in Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston. A post rally event takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Hughes Hangar, 2811 Washington Ave. Another event will be held at 6 p.m. at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, 2025 West 11th St. For more information visit

• San Antonio Day of Decision events include a celebration 6 p.m. at the Bexar County Courthouse, E. Main Plaza, followed by a gathering at Luther’s, 1422 North Main Ave. For more information visit Another event takes places 6 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard, 1630 Goliad Road. For more information visit

• Waco Day of Decision events include a celebration 6-9 p.m. in Heritage Square, at the corner of 3rd and Austin Ave. Speakers and entertainment include Susan Duty-Dennard and Heather Grace Ranelle. Another event takes place 6 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waco, 4209 North 27th Street. For more information visit

• Tulsa Day of Decision events include a celebration 6:30-8 p.m. at Oklahomans for Equality’s Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, 621 E 4th St, Tulsa.

• Oklahoma City Day of Decision events include a celebration 5:30-7 p.m. at Pedestrian Mall, Jackson Square, New Orleans. After party at Oz New Orleans, 800 Bourbon St., New Orleans. For more information visit

• New Orleans Day of Decision events include a celebration 6 p.m. at Freedom Oklahoma’s Equality Center, 5613 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City.

• Metropolitan Community Churches holds an online event and teleconference with church leaders providing coverage of events in the local areas at 5 p.m. Call in via Adobe Connect link and log in under “Guest” at


GOP candidate: ‘Gays… were never banned from marrying… the opposite sex’

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 4:01pm

Remember Bo French? He’s the Texas House candidate running against Rep. Charlie Geren in Tarrant County. I went to school with his wife and many of her family members. (The family, it turns out, doesn’t live all too far from me in my quiet Fort Worth neighborhood.)

After getting an alarming fundraising email, I wrote an essay urging him to not follow (or take money from) Cathie Adams and the like.

Well, so much for that.

Today on Facebook, French decried today’s Supreme Court ruling, citing the Federalist Papers. Here’s the full post:

Screen shot 2015-06-26 at 3.44.54 PM

After a thoughtful response by my friend Jon Perry, French wrote the following in reply:

Screen shot 2015-06-26 at 3.17.43 PM

You can’t say I didn’t try to remind him, because I did.

But I guess a West Texas oilman’s money speaks more than an open and honest plea than your wife and her family’s high school classmate.


Look for the rainbow on Lancaster in Fort Worth tonight!

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 3:59pm

Joel Burns

To all my fellow Fort Worthians, a message from Joel Burns:

“Yesterday I asked Fort Worth Public Art to program the 6 towers of the Fort Worth Lancaster Avenue of Lights to the 6 colors of the pride rainbow if today’s #SCOTUS ruling came out in favor of #MarriageEquality. I’m pleased to report that the art installation will be re-programmed at 7 pm tonight (Friday, June 26) and run all weekend. J.D. Angle and I plan to get rainbow snow cones and be there at sunset (just before 9) to soak in this momentous day and snap some pics in awesome Fort Worth. Come join us? #LoveWins.”


Mark and Vic: Marriage case plaintiffs planning November wedding

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 3:49pm

Vic Holmes, left, and Mark Phariss

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes of Plano were one of the plaintiff couples in the lawsuit challenging Texas’ ban on same-sex marriages. They won in trial court and were waiting on a decision from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. But today’s Supreme Court decision striking down all marriage equality bans nationwide pre-empted the 5th Circuit.

This is what Mark and Vic had to say.

MARK: “Vic and I are overjoyed by today’s Supreme Court decision. After almost 18 years together, we can soon exchange vows, place rings on each other’s finger, look each other in the eye and say “I do” — all at a wedding surrounded by family and friends. We can’t wait! In fact, in anticipation of today’s decision, we have scheduled a wedding for November and have booked a facility, a photographer, a videographer, a band and a florist.

“On behalf of ourselves and all Texas’ gay and lesbian citizens, we thank the Supreme Court for the best wedding gift one could ever receive, the ability to marry. Today’s decision reaffirms the American principles of freedom, justice and equality for all. Let freedom ring!”€

VIC: “That Mark and I can finally marry in our home state, surrounded by friends and family, is a dream come true. For the thousands of gay and lesbian Texans, I’m thrilled beyond words to share that dream. Thanks to the Supreme Court for recognizing that love is important. Thanks also to our legal team for their tireless efforts and our co-plaintiffs for their courage in this fight.  But most importantly, thanks to Mark, my soon-to-be husband after almost 18 years of love and unwavering support.”