Amarillo nuclear plant now offers health benefits to married gay couples

logo copyIf you’re lesbian and build nuclear weapons in the Texas Panhandle, you are now eligible to put your wife on your company insurance plan. If you’re gay and married, your husband is welcome, too.

Pantex, the only nuclear assembly and disassembly plant in the U.S., located near Amarillo, removed the words “opposite sex” from its HR policy. Any couple legally married may now participate in the company’s benefit plans, according to Equality Texas.

Pantex employs 3,200 people. An employee who wants to enroll a spouse in the company plan must present a valid marriage license from any of the 13 states or other jurisdictions that offer marriage equality.

Amarillo is a four-hour drive on I-40 to Albuquerque, which issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

—  David Taffet

Amarillo marks Pride with a week of celebrations, including rainbow-colored cars at Cadillac Ranch

A group of friends organized by Kim Nethery of Amarillo painted cars at Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation, all six colors of the rainbow to mark gay Pride. (Photos courtesy of Kim Nethery and OUTstanding Amarillo)

After skipping a year, gay Pride is back in the Texas Panhandle with a week of events, according to the Amarillo Globe News.

The celebration began with about 30 people gathering at the Cadillac Ranch and painting the half-buried cars rainbow colors. Although the city has been celebrating Pride since 1970, no events were scheduled last year.

OUTstanding Amarillo President Sallye Hand said that last year her group was reorganizing.

This year several LGBT groups in the city planned a week of events.

“We haven’t had a film festival in four years,” Hand said, so they planned one as part of this year’s Pride celebration.

The films are screening evenings at the Amarillo Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and include titles like Word is Out and 8: The Mormon Proposition.

Friday night is The Red Party that features HIV awareness and rapid testing.

PrideFest takes place at the UU church on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. Hand said it will feature a picnic, volleyball, live music, vendors and more.

Saturday night, Pride week moves to the Kicked Back bar with the Reverse Prom.

On Sunday, Amarillo Metropolitan Community Church presents Panhandle Pride at Memorial Park beginning with an outdoor worship service at 10:30 a.m. followed by potluck lunch, local vendors and a mass wedding at 3 p.m. for about 14 couples.

More photos after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Trans candidate places 3rd in Amarillo mayoral race

Sandra Dunn

Dunn proud of her efforts, but says she won’t run again without more community support

JAMES BRIGHT | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Transgender mayoral candidate Sandra Dunn placed third in Amarillo’s mayoral election May 14 in an 11-candidate field that included an anti-gay pastor. Dunn said voter turnout was a major concern in the election, with fewer than 15,000 votes cast, according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

Mayor-elect Paul Harpole won the election with 77 percent of the vote. Roy McDowell came in second with 13 percent and Dunn in third with 3 percent.

“It seems traditionally most people do not realize that local votes are critical,” she said. “People think they just need to vote nationally and that’s just not the case. There have been several cases in the past where an election has been decided by just one vote.”

Dunn is not disappointed about her placement though. “Third out of 11 is nothing to be ashamed about,” she said.

Even though she lost the election, Dunn said her third-place finish should give her some weight in the City Council.

She also said she would not run again unless a committee was formed for her election and she received support both socially and financially.

“I’m not trying to beat my own drum, but I did this one all by myself,” Dunn said. “I put out several feelers nationwide asking for help and I received zero support.”

Dunn also said her work in politics is far from over. She has already been talking to Amarillo’s city manager about job discrimination and the restroom issue: “I’m going to approach the city about getting some things added to certain policies to take in consideration issues that affect transgender people.”

According to Dunn, transgender people using public restrooms has become a major concern among the city’s straight population. She said the idea of transgender people using family restrooms appealed to both groups.

“A family restroom is a single stall room,” Dunn said. “You can go in lock the door and no one will bother you. It will help us as transgender individuals and help parents who have two or three kids on an outing.”

Dunn said her primary goal politically is to push for legislation that would prevent all discrimination in the work place.

Dunn’s military service also stood out in this election. Denny Meyer, media director for Transgender American Veteran’s Association, said although endorsing candidates can get a bit tricky the group supports all members of the LGBT community who run for public office.

“It’s almost a victory to celebrate that she came in third in that district,” Meyer said. “It’s a positive sign in that field and means independent voters by large went for her.”

Monica Helms, president of TAVA, said the organization takes a lot of pride in people like Dunn and their efforts to make progress in the world, both politically and professionally. “She [Dunn] represents some of the best of our community, and some of the best of our transgender veterans,” Helms said.

If Dunn were to run again, Helms said she would have the support of TAVA in the future.

Transgender people have frequently been thrown under the bus, according to Meyer.

“They were completely left out of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’” he said. “It did not even occur to them [legislators] when they wrote [the bill] that transgender people existed.”

But, he said, Dunn’s campaign shows a significant gain in changing that. “It’s not just gay people getting elected, but transgender people advancing as well,” Meyer said. “It’s the final frontier.”

For now Dunn said she will continue counseling transgender people, spending time with her family and working on her master’s degree in psychology.

—  John Wright

WATCH: ‘Dude, you have no Koran’ — the remix

Now this, my friends, is entertainment! Via Gawker, here’s an auto-tuned remix of Amarillo resident Jacob Isom telling a local TV station how he swiped a Koran away from nutjob David Grisham before Grisham could burn it last weekend.

—  John Wright

Amarillo pastor calls for boycott of Houston over Annise Parker's election

David H. Grisham (from Amarillo.com)
David H. Grisham (from Amarillo.com)

David H. Grisham, a pastor from Amarillo, has launched a Web site calling on people to boycott Houston over the city’s recent election of a “homosexual” mayor as well as the construction of a Planned Parenthood headquarters there. From BoycottHouston.com:

Do you want a Texas version of San Francisco? Neither do we!
Do you want Texas to be the abortion capital of America? Neither do we!
Houston has elected an openly homosexual mayor and built the largest abortion clinic in the United States and you can do something about it!
While you may or may not be a resident of Houston and eligible to vote for mayor, you can vote with your dollar.
This is why we are calling on Christians everywhere to boycott the city of Houston.
We want to impose ‘economic sanctions’ on Houston, Texas!
Please make your voice heard and join our cause. By signing the online petition you send Houston a message; That you are tired of babies being
murdered and the radical homosexual agenda being shoved down the throat of normal society.
Texas is a Christian state! Help keep it that way!
Don’t mess with Texas or Texas children.

A Houston TV station got a response from Mayor Annise Parker, who was, as always, gracious:

“I trust that the citizens of Amarillo will make their own decisions about visiting us here in Houston,” Parker said. “I’ll simply continue to do my best to make sure that Houston is a great place to do business in and a great place to visit.”

—  John Wright