From Staff Reports
Former Texas Sen. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis will be the featured speaker at Equality Texas’ 10th annual Spirit of Texas brunch and awards presentation set for Sunday, Sept. 25 in San Antonio.
Davis spent nine years on the Fort Worth City Council before representing District 10 in the Texas Senate from 2009 to 2015. She was a staunch ally of the LGBT community throughout her tenure in both positions, including voting for the city’s ground-breaking nondiscrimination ordinance in 2000. She gained national attention in June 2013 when she staged an 11-hour filibuster to kill legislation severely restricting abortion rights.
In 2014, Davis ran against Republican Greg Abbott, the then-incumbent attorney general, for governor but lost.
Since leaving the Texas Senate, Davis has founded Deeds Not Words, an advocacy organization focused on empowering millennial women on issues of gender equality, including equal pay and reproductive freedom.
The event will also feature the presentation of awards to advocates and allies of Texas’ LGBT community.
Phyllis Randolph Frye, known as the “Grandmother of Transgender Law,” will receive The Anchor Award, given each year to “an outstanding Texas advocate whose activism on the local level and beyond has proven invaluable to the cause of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality in Texas.”
Frye in 2010 became the first openly transgender person in the country to be sworn in as a judge, which she was sworn in as a city of Houston associate municipal judge. She is also an Eagle Scout, a former member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, a U.S. Army veteran, a licensed engineer, a licensed attorney, a father, a grandmother and a lesbian wife.
She transitioned in 1976 and has been one of Texas’ — and the country’s — foremost transgender rights activists in the 40 years since.
Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez will receive the Advocate Award, given each year to “an outstanding public servant whose high ideals include a dedication to equal rights” for LGBT Texans and who has “a steadfast reputation for supporting issues of equality for all Texans.”
Rodríguez represents District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis and Presidio. In 2015, he authored SB 148, which sought to remove “homosexual conduct” from the Texas Penal Code, SJR 13 which sought to remove the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage, and SB 256, a comprehensive non-discrimination bill providing protections in employment, housing, and public accommodation.
Google will receive Equality Texas’ Vanguard Award, presented annually to “an exemplary business [that] has demonstrated a commitment to LGBT equality in the state of Texas through fair employee policy and/or community advocacy.”
Equality Texas is recognizing the Internet giant for having made “diversity and inclusion a corporate priority, both internally and in the tech industry.”
Google was the first company to provide full coverage of transgender employees’ healthcare, and the Gayglers, an employee resource group comprised of LGBT Googlers and their allies, not only lead the way in celebrating Pride around the world, but also inform programs and policies, so that Google remains a workplace that works for everyone.
“This year, Google created a way for anyone to enjoy Pride, especially the millions of people around the world who don’t have the ability to take part, with #Prideforeveryone,” according to a statement issued by Equality Texas. “The immersive virtual reality experience utilizes Google Cardboard and follows Gayglers and allies as they march in Pride parades around the world.”
Micki Gamez, on-air personality for iHeart radio, Hot 104.5, the Beat ATX and Pride Radio, will be the emcee for the Spirit of Texas Brunch, and the event will also feature appearances by the Momma Bears for Equality, Kimberly Shapplet and Ambre Briggle, two Texas mothers with transgender children.
Equality Texas’ 10th annual Spirit of Texas Brunch takes place Sunday, Sept. 25, in the Rosenberg Sky Room, 847 E. Hilderbrand Ave. in San Antonio. The event begins with a VIP Reception from 10:30-11:30 a.m., and the brunch from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $135 per person; VIP tickets are $150 per person. For information visit EqualityTexas.org or call 512-474-5475.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2016.