LULAC Rainbow Council wins district award

Posted on 24 Apr 2008 at 7:52pm
By Staff Reports

LULAC District 3 also elects gay man as district director

Those attending the LULAC District 3 conference last weekend included, from left, LULAC 4871 President Jesse Garcia, Secretary Pepe Johnson, State Rep. Rafael Anchia, member Carlos Rubio, Vice President Felix Arrieta and newly elected LULAC District Director Renato De los Santos.

Councils in District 3 of the League of United Latin American Citizens last weekend voted LULAC Council 4871— The Dallas Rainbow Council as "Council of the Year" during the district convention.

Renato de los Santos, an openly gay man who is a district sponsor of the Rainbow Council, was elected as district director during the convention, at which members also approved a resolution presented by the Rainbow Council that calls on the U.S. military to repeal its anti-gay "Don’t ask, don’t tell" policy.

De los Santos is the first gay man elected to the district director’s office.

The Dallas Rainbow Council, which will mark its second anniversary on May 25, is made up of LGBT Latinos and their supporters. It was launched by gay leaders in Oak Lawn in an effort to strengthen ties between the LGBT and Hispanic communities.

LULAC is a 79-year-old Hispanic civil rights organization with more than 700 local councils and 115,000 members nationwide.

District 3 includes 45 chapters in North and East Texas.

Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC 4871, said winning the Council of the Year award was a surprise for the LGBT group "since this recognition is highly competitive."

"The committee gave our chapter the award because of its benevolence and activism in the Hispanic community," Garcia said. "Although our intent is to promote LGBT rights to the Hispanic community through education, we got the message across by also working on important projects that benefited a lot of Hispanic families. Our hard work and emotional investment in the Hispanic community delivered the point of tolerance and acceptance clearly."

Garcia also thanked several LGBT organizations and individuals that, he said, helped the Dallas Rainbow Council stand out in 2007. Those organizations included Valiente and Stonewall Democrats, which helped the council financially support an immigration rights rally in Dallas; the Cathedral of Hope, Dallas Tavern Guild, Dallas Voice and the Round-Up Saloon with whom the council worked hold a fundraiser for the family of a Hispanic straight man murdered by a robber in Oak Lawn; and the Resource Center and JEWEL, who partnered with the council to identify immigrant families in Oak Lawn that needed a holiday meal, and then to deliver those meals and care packages.

Winning the District 3 Council of the Year award makes LULAC 4871 eligible for the state Council of the Year that will be handed out at the Texas LULAC Convention on June 7 in Odessa.

The Dallas Rainbow Council is schedule to give an LGBT tolerance session for LULAC youth and adults at that convention, Garcia said.

Pepe Johnson, secretary of LULAC 4871 and a former U.S. Army soldier discharged under the "Don’t ask, don’t tell policy," was chair of the resolutions committee at the district convention. He introduced the resolution calling for the repeal of the policy, a resolution approved earlier this year by the Rainbow Council.

The resolution passed unanimously at the district convention.

"More than any other issue, the LGBT community receives a lot of support from outside when it comes to military service," Johnson said. "Straight Americans recognize that national defense is important to everyone — including the gay community — and that many, many LGBT people have served in uniform and are still willing to serve in uniform," Johnson said.

Garcia said, "It was an honor for our council and our civil rights struggle to be embraced by Hispanic leaders from across north and east Texas," said Garcia. "This bodes well for our community, because in a decade the Hispanic community will be the majority in Texas.

"We have to remind ourselves that we are just 10 percent of the population and it is important to start reaching out to other minority groups to find common ground and start getting invested in their issues if we are ever to be successful in our own civil rights struggle," he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2008.

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