North Texas GLBT Chamber ‘disappointed’ by Rawlings’ refusal to sign marriage pledge

Lorie Burch

Lorie Burch

Over on the main page you’ll find my story for Friday’s print edition about Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings — who’ll be the target of an LGBT protest at City Hall on Friday night before meeting with LGBT leaders on Saturday. I also wanted to share the below statement that came across today from Lorie Burch, chairwoman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce:

As chair of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, I am disappointed by Mayor Mike Rawlings’ refusal to endorse the “freedom to marry” resolution. After all, as more than 100 American mayors (and six Texas mayors) know, marriage equality is a shot in the arm for business as well as for many business leaders and families like mine.

The vibrant gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community drives business here and benefits all. Our chamber and our partners work hard to show that Dallas is truly a welcoming and inclusive city. Consider in the past two years, two national GLBT conferences held in Dallas earned an estimated $14 million for our local economy. Aren’t we competing with Houston and San Antonio for these dollars?

Our chamber members know that successful businesses have an unquenchable appetite for strong talent and performance. It’s no surprise that some of our top companies actively recruit and reward their openly LGBT workers and place them in key roles.

Few GLBT professionals eagerly await employment transfer with spouses and children to states and cities that deny equal legal protections, respect and stability. Same-sex couples will align their best interests to choose to live and work in places that show them full respect and equal treatment under the law they need for their families.

Our mayor has the chance to be a leader and portray Dallas as a city where all are welcome. In addition to top corporations, consider that our city is hard wired for entrepreneurs and small businesses that add so much to the economy. Many small business owners are part of the GLBT community; their families and livelihoods are directly hurt by the lack of marriage equality and the 1,100 protective federal laws that they are denied. We know marriage offers equal rights and responsibilities by assuring better health care access for spouses and children, benefits and insurance coverage, tax breaks and incentives. Most of all, this brings our community a stronger cultural fabric that does not discriminate nor honor inequality.

Mayor Rawlings is the leader of one of the top cities in the world. As his constituents, we rely on him to make decisions that are best for our businesses, our community, and our families. This is not about politics.  It is about fundamental fairness and equality and any leader today should be proud to sign that pledge. Dallas deserves that kind of leadership, and so do the members of Texas’ largest GLBT business group.

Lorie L. Burch

Board Chair

North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce

Law Office of Lorie L. Burch, PC

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Whacko Thursday with Westboro Baptist, Cindy Jacobs and Michele Bachmann

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Michele Bachmann

1. Calling her a “fag hag,” a spokeswoman for Westboro Baptist Church announced that the Phelps clan will picket the funeral of actress Elizabeth Taylor. Margie J. Phelps, daughter of the church’s leader Fred Phelps, said Taylor “joined Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger in hell.”

2. Our old friend Cindy Jacobs of Red Oak, Texas, preached at Sarah Palin’s home church earlier this month and said she hopes to have 500,000 “intercessors” mobilized for the 2012 elections “to shift this nation to righteousness and justice.” Watch video above.

3. Speaking in Iowa on Wednesday, likely GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann praised voters for ousting state Supreme Court judges who legalized same-sex marriage, calling them “black-robed monsters.” (UPDATE: Bachmann’s adviser’s announced today that she is likely to form a presidential exploratory committee.)

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Elizabeth Taylor in Dallas

Elizabeth Taylor, second from left, and AIDS Services of Dallas Executive Director Don Maison, far right, at Dillard’s at NorthPark Center in Dallas in 1996. (Dallas Voice file photos)

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died today at 79, was a founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Taylor was also chairwoman of amFAR in 1989 when the foundation provided a $100,000 grant that was used to start Resource Center Dallas’ Nelson-Tebedo Clinic. From the Dallas Morning News on Friday, April 28, 1989:

Leaders of the Dallas AIDS Resource Center announced Thursday that the agency had received a $100,000 grant to set up an AIDS research facility that will offer experimental drugs to people suffering from the deadly disease.

“This is a vital component that has been missing in Dallas,’ said William Waybourn, president of the Dallas Gay Alliance, which operates the resource center.

The grant, awarded by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, will establish a community clinic for AIDS research allowing AIDS patients to benefit from experimental treatments. The only other cities with such community research initiatives, as they are called, are New York and San Francisco.

“The need in Texas is particularly great for this type of research program,’ said Dr. Mathilde Krim, co-founder of the AIDS research foundation, which is based in New York. “There is virtually no clinical research being done in Texas. This will be the only opportunity for AIDS patients to get (experimental) drugs.’

The foundation divided $1.4 million among 16 community-based organizations for development of similar AIDS research programs. Groups in Austin and Houston also received grants.

In Dallas, plans are being made to open the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic for AIDS Research this summer at 4012 Cedar Springs Road, next door to the AIDS Resource Center’s offices. The center is named after Bill Nelson, a former president of the Gay Alliance, who has AIDS, and Terry Tebedo, a leader in the AIDS education movement who died from the disease in January 1988.

Later, Taylor would come to Dallas in 1996 and issue checks totaling $15,000 to Bryan’s House and AIDS Services of Dallas. Taylor visited Dillard’s in NorthPark Center to promote her new perfume, Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls, and presented the checks to the AIDS services organizations at the end of the event. More pics after the jump.

—  John Wright

WHAT’S BREWING: Elizabeth Taylor dies, Apple pulls ‘ex-gay’ app, Chick-fil-A exposed

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Actress Elizabeth Taylor, a longtime celebrity advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, has died at 79 from congestive heart failure. From Wikipedia: Taylor devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her former costar and friend, Rock Hudson. She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF). By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated US$50 million to fight the disease. In 2006, Taylor commissioned a 37-foot (11 m) “Care Van” equipped with examination tables and X Ray equipment and also donated US$40,000 to the New Orleans Aids task force, a charity designed for the New Orleans population with AIDS and HIV. The donation of the van was made by the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation and Macy’s.

2. In response to an outcry from the LGBT community, Apple has removed Exodus International’s “gay cure” app from the iTunes store. “We removed the Exodus International app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,” an Apple spokesman told More than 146,000 people had signed an online petition launched by Truth Wins Out calling for the app to be removed.

“This is not a question of free speech, but of stopping a virulently anti-gay organization from peddling false speech at the expense of vulnerable LGBT youth,” said John Becker, director of ommunications and development for Truth Wins Out. “Exodus may pose as the victim, but they are a victimizer that has left a trail of shattered lives and broken families. We are grateful that Exodus has lost at least one platform with which to disperse its dangerous message.”

3. An investigative report published Tuesday by Equality Matters shows that from 2003-08, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm gave more than $1 million to anti-gay groups: When two Missouri organizations, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and FOCUS St. Louis, decided earlier this month to cancel a presentation by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy over his company’s controversial affiliations, they made the right decision. Although Cathy has unequivocally denied being anti-LGBT and claimed that he and the company have “no agenda against anyone” and “will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family,” Equality Matters research proves just the opposite. In fact, the company has strong, deep ties to anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and its charitable division has provided more than $1.1 million to organizations that deliver anti-LGBT messages and promote egregious practices like reparative therapy that seek to “free” people of being gay.

—  John Wright