Equality March returns to downtown

Posted on 23 Jun 2011 at 6:22pm
ON THE MOVE | The 2010 Equality March LGBT rights on display in downtown Dallas. Saturday’s march returns to downtown. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Governor’s new alliance with a hate group is expected to draw attention to 3rd annual Dallas rally

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Gov. Rick Perry’s planned event in Houston with the hate group American Family Association in August has gotten many LGBT allies energized, according to Daniel Cates. And he and other organizers for the third annual Equality March said they hope that new energy helps turn out more participants for the march happening Saturday, June 25, in downtown Dallas.

Cates, who recently became North Texas regional director of GetEQUAL, said that the march is a demand for full legal equality for LGBT people and an end to religious-based persecution.

But he made it clear that organizers are not bashing religion.

“We’re calling on lawmakers to make good on the promises in the Constitution,” he said. “And we’ve had an amazing response from our allies — especially in the Christian community.”

He said many people see the discrimination against the LGBT community as a violation of the separation of church and state.

“I’ve heard from the Unitarians and from other liberal churches and even from some Methodist churches,” he said.

AFA has confirmed that anti-gay themes will be part of the event with Perry.

March co-organizer Nonnie Ouch said the Perry event is partially state-funded.

“Fellow activists from around the state are very angry about what Perry’s doing right now,” she said. “Using state funds to produce such an exclusive event is wrong.”

Ouch will also be one of the speakers at the rally following the march.

“I’ll be doing spoken-word poetry about my experiences through public school and bullying,” she said.

Ouch is a senior at Texas Tech in Lubbock and is spending her summer as an intern at Resource Center Dallas.

March for Equality begins at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza at 6 p.m. Cates urged those attending to “bring signs, flags, banners, bull horns, drums or any means of expression.”

C.D. Kirven will emcee the rally. Among other speakers and march sponsors are Jesse Garcia with LULAC Rainbow Chapter and Brittany Rayson-Stubblefeild, a member of Students for a Democratic Society.

Resource Center Dallas, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and International Socialist Organization Denton and Dallas Branches are also endorsing the march.

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle with TCU’s Brite Divinity School, student and recent Mount Pleasant mayoral candidate  Kooper Caraway and  I Am Equal Project founder Jason Beckett are also among the speakers.

Beckett will be at the Aloft Hotel in Downtown Dallas throughout the day with fashion photographer Matt Spencer to collect pictures for his I Am Equal project.

“We’re expecting more people to participate in this year,” Cates said. “We’ve had more promotional opportunities including Razzle Dazzle Dallas. Our Facebook response has been stronger this year as well.”

The first Equality March in Dallas happened on Sunday afternoon, June 29, 2009, just hours after Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission raided the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar in Fort Worth, setting off a controversy that generated headlines around the country.

Many of those participating in the Dallas march heard about the raid during the march and afterwards headed to Fort Worth to take part in a protest rally on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse.

The Equality March moved to downtown Dallas last year in response to criticisms by some that holding the event in the Oak Lawn gayborhood was like preaching to the choir. By holding the march downtown, organizers hoped to reach a broader audience with their message of equality.

North Texas March for Equality, 646 Main St., June 25 at 6 p.m.

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