BEST ELECTED OFFICIAL TARRANT COUNTY
BEST FORT WORTH CITY COUNCILPERSON
District 9 councilmember Joel Burns
1000 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth
When he decided to run for Fort Worth City Council in 2007, Joel Burns already had plenty of political experience under his belt.
An active Democratic, he wanted to replace Wendy Davis, who stepped down to challenge (and ultimately, defeat) Republican Kim Brimer for a seat in the Texas Senate.
Burns’ public-affairs resume included serving on several local boards and commissions, as well as working with numerous neighborhood and professional groups. And there was his stint as the District 9 representative on the Fort Worth Zonning Commission, to which he was appointed by Davis.
Although city council races are not supposed to be partisan, City Councilman Chuck Silcox decided to bring party politics — and Burns’ sexual orientation — into the mix in the District 9 campaign in 2007.
Speaking to a group of Republicans, Silcox urged them all to get out and vote for fellow GOPer Chris Turner, who was running against Burns, and made a point of noting that Turner was married to a woman, while Burns was married to a man (his partner of many years, J.D. Angle).
It didn’t matter. Burns and opponent Juan Rangel Jr. made it into a runoff. And Burns ended up winning with 54 percent to become Fort Worth’s first openly gay City Council member.
Apparently, the voters of District 9 have been happy with Burns in his first year as an elected official: He is up for re-election this year to his first full term. And when the deadline for filing passed on March 9, no one had filed to challenge him.
MOST OBNOXIOUS ANTI-GAY MOUTHPIECE
Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor
First Baptist Dallas
1707 San Jacinto St.
8 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
10:50 a.m., 6 p.m.
By the time the Rev. Dr. Robert Jeffress was chosen as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas back in August 2007, he had already made a name for himself among gay rights opponents by leading the 1998 effort to keep the books "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy’s Roommate" out of the Wichita Falls Public Library. But Wichita Falls isn’t the center of the LGBT universe, so not that many people in the community knew that much about Jeffress when he took over the pulpit at downtown Dallas’ huge conservative church.
But that all changed — quickly and loudly — in November 2008, when a Dallas gay man named Sam Fulcher was on his way home from an election night party and saw the marquis outside the church, announcing the topic of that coming Sunday’s sermon: "Why gay is not okay."
Fulcher, already angry over the outcome of the California vote on the anti-gay Proposition 8, got in touch with his old friend Laura McFerrin. And the two got on the Internet and started planning an impromptu protest to take place outside First Baptist as parishioners arrived for the Sunday morning service.
More than 100 people turned out for the protest that Sunday. And Fulcher and McFerrin staged a second event outside the church the following Sunday when Jeffress was preaching on "How to talk to a homosexual."
BEST PLACE OF WORSHIP
Cathedral of Hope
5910 Cedar Springs Rd.
Sunday services 9 a.m.,
11 a.m., 1 p.m.
and 6 p.m.
With about 4,000 members, Dallas’ Cathedral of Hope is the largest church in the world with a primary outreach to LGBT people. It is also Dallas’ oldest LGBT church. COH was born in 1970 when a group of 12 friends gathered at a private home to discuss starting a congregation here to be affiliated with the new Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. By 1976, COH had purchased the building at 2701 Reagan, staying there until 1990 when the congregation changed its name to Cathedral of Hope.
The church sold that building to the Resource Center of Dallas, and in 1992 moved into a new sanctuary at 5910 Cedar Springs Road. By 1995, COH had launched a drive to build a newer, larger sanctuary designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson.
The Rev. Michael Piazza became senior pastor of the church in 1987, leading the church through nearly two decades of growth that include the congregation’s vote in 2003 to disaffiliate with UFMCC. In 2004, Piazza resigned the senior pastor role to become dean of the Cathedral and president of a new organization, Hope for Peace and Justice. In early 2005, United Church of Christ minister the Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson was chosen as the Cathedral’s new senior pastor, and under her leadership, the Cathedral became affiliated with the United Church of Christ denomination in October 2006.
COH has launched or helped launch several new churches, including one in Oklahoma City that is now independent, the Church in the Cliff in Oak Cliff and the new Houston Cathedral of Hope. After airing for many years on community cable access channels around the country, this year COH began broadcasting services on WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas.
BEST ELECTED OFFICIAL DALLAS COUNTY
BEST LGBT LOCAL ROLE MODEL
Sheriff Lupe Valdez
Frank Crowley Courts Building
133 N. Industrial Blvd.
Lupe Valdez, a former agent with both the FBI and Homeland Security, was a major underdog when she ran for Dallas County sheriff in 2004. She was a Latina, a lesbian and a Democrat — a candidate far outside the circle of "good ol’ boys" that had long controlled the county’s law enforcement agency. But Valdez beat the odds then. And despite many predictions, she did it again in 2008.
From the beginning of her political career, Valdez didn’t try to hide her sexual orientation, but she didn’t make a big deal out of it, either. She insisted that the focus of the campaign should be on the really important issues: like the deplorable state of the Dallas County jail and how to cut both costs and the crime rate. But in 2004, the diminutive Democrat faced persistent but subtle anti-gay tactics that, in the end, failed to pay off for her Republican opponent.
In 2008, after four years of consistent criticism from her detractors, Valdez appeared to be facing a tough road to re-election, starting out with three opponents in the Democratic Primary. But she surprised most people by winning the primary without a runoff, and then went on to reel in a handy victory over former Irving Police Chief Lowell Cannaday in the Nov. 4 general election despite, again, an undercurrent of anti-gay campaigning that included criticism of Valdez’s decision to institute sensitivity training on LGBT issues in the department.
In January this year, the sheriff added sexual orientation and gender identity to her department’s non-discrimination policies, showing that the small woman with the big smile will continue to stand tall as the county’s top law enforcement officer.
BEST LGBT FUNDRAISER
Black Tie Dinner
3878 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste 100-B #321
Next Black Tie Dinner: Oct. 3, 2009.
Once a year, the Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner gives the LGBT community of North Texas and our allies the chance to dress up in all our finery, enjoy a great meal and rub elbows with celebrities, all the while raising tons of money for local LGBT and AIDS service organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
Started in 1982 by a small group of friends, the DFW Black Tie Dinner has grown into the largest LGBT event of its kind in the country. That first dinner brought in $6,000, and since that time, the event has raised almost $13 million for its beneficiaries. In 2008, Black Tie distributed a total of $1.19 million to 18 local organizations and HRCF. Keynote speaker was fashion designer Kenneth Cole. Openly gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson received the Elizabeth Birch Award; the Kuchling Award went to Rebecca Covell and Phil Johnson, while the Media Award went to the gay TV channel Logo.
In 2007, Black Tie distributed a record $1.27 million.
The Black Tie Dinner committee is co-chaired each year by one woman and one man, serving staggered two-year terms. This year’s co-chairs are Laurie Foley, in her second year, and Ron Guillard, named in December to his first year as co-chair. They are overseeing preparations for the 2009 dinner, set for Oct. 3 at the downtown Sheraton Dallas hotel. The keynote speaker and award winners have not yet been announced, but the committee will hold an orientation meeting for this year’s beneficiaries on March 24.
BEST GAY NEWSLETTER
(Based in Dallas. Serving
major gay meccas.)
8111 LBJ Frwy., Ste. 1425
BEST LOCAL BLOG
Dallas Voice’s Instant Tea
4145 Travis, Third Floor
BEST GLBT NATIONAL ROLE MODEL
Airs on KXAS, channel 5, Mon.-Fri.
at 3 p.m. on KXAS TV, Channel 5.
BEST GLBT LOCAL ORGANIZATION
Resource Center of Dallas
2701 Reagan St.
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
BEST GLBT NATIONAL ORGANIZATION
Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.
BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO GLBT COMMUNITY
Barack Obama’s Election
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
WORST THING TO HAPPEN TO GLBT COMMUNITY
California’s passage of Proposition 8
BEST DALLAS CITY COUNCILPERSON
District 14 Councilmember Angela Hunt
1500 Marilla St.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT DUNCE
Dallas County Judge
411 Elm St.
MOST HOMOPHOBIC ELECTED OFFICIAL
George W. Bush
Former U.S. President
10141 Daria Place
George W. Bush Foundation
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 20, 2009.