Exxon remains at bottom of new HRC Corporate Equality Index

CEI_2014_ReleaseThe Human Rights Campaign was unimpressed when ExxonMobil began offering partner benefits to its LGBT employees earlier this year. That company retains its minus-25 a score on the new Corporate Equality Index released this week.

On the other end of the spectrum are AT&T, American Airlines, GameStop and Nokia, local companies with perfect scores.

“AT&T was the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation,” AT&T spokesman Charles Bassett said. “AT&T has also donated millions of dollars to support LGBT causes.”

HRC was bothered by Exxon’s refusal to add a nondiscrimination policy and noted its fierce opposition to a shareholder resolution to add the protection at its annual meeting held in Dallas in May.

Texas Instruments increased its score from 85 to 90. J.C. Penney kept its score of 95. Comerica Bank decreased from 95 to 90 this year. Southwest Airlines held steady at 90.

More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

National gay chamber convention gets under way at Omni Dallas hotel

Tim&Thom

Tim and Thom DeWitt (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Omni Dallas Hotel began this morning with a pre-convention including a boot camp for LGBT-certified businesses. The skill-building session is designed for LGBT entrepreneurs to learn to connect with larger corporate partners looking for diverse suppliers.

Dallasites Tim and Thom DeWitt were setting up an American Airlines display in the third floor lobby of the hotel where most of the conference is taking place. The airline is the presenting sponsor of the conference.

The DeWitts’ OBOX Solutions was the chamber’s first LGBT-certified business to win a contract with a corporate partner through the chamber. One of the highlights of the conference is a matchmaking session that puts LGBT entrepreneurs together with decision makers from major corporations.

NGLCC spokeswoman Laura Berry said the conference is virtually sold out with more than 600 registrations, but local attendees may register onsite and attend workshops, plenaries and breakout sessions.

A second track of the conference is for local chamber staff. North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce CEO Tony Vedda is among the speakers for this afternoon’s local chamber staff academy. A welcome party tonight takes place at the Perot Museum.

The general conference opens Wednesday. Registration is on the third floor of the hotel.

For a full schedule of the conference, go here.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: American Airlines unveils jet

One of the other members of the GLBT Press Tour pretending to kick back in a lie-flat seat in First Class

One of the other members of the GLBT Press Tour kicks back in a lie-flat seat in First Class.

Dallas Voice was given access to American Airlines’ new Boeing 777-300ER on Friday, May 10, as part of the annual GLBT Press Tour put on by the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau promoting LGBT travel to the city.

Attempting to modernize its fleet and remain competitive with other domestic carriers such as United and Delta, American is the first domestic airline to take delivery of the new fuel-efficient 777-300ER (Extended Range). With a range of just over 9,000 miles (7,930 nautical miles), the aircraft will allow American Airlines to begin service from Los Angeles to London in mid-June and from Dallas to Sao Paulo in early August.

Subject matter experts involved in the design of the interior of the plane were on hand to answer questions, and provide demonstrations of various accoutrements. In addition to the increased fuel economy, which according to Boeing is approximately 33 percent above its 747 model, the new aircraft boasts added amenities such as fully lie-flat 81-inch seats in First and Business Class — all with direct aisle access.

Passengers will not have to worry about conserving battery power on iPads, iPhones, e-readers, or other mobile electronic devices since all seats come with access to power outlets and USB jacks for charging personal devices. A particularly welcomed upgrade for business travelers (as well as anyone going through Internet withdrawal) is the plane’s international Wi-Fi provided by Panasonic.

As far as entertainment goes, the new 777-300ER is equipped with individual touchscreens that have access to up to 250 movies, more than 180 TV programs, and more than 350 audio selections. Passengers in First and Business Class will be offered Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headsets as well as pajamas and closed-toe slippers. Those riding in coach will enjoy seats that have a higher recline pivot, providing increased knee room as well as the recline angle of the seatback. 

A new feature for any U.S. airline is the walk-up bar in the premium cabin which is stocked with a selection of snacks, sandwiches and assorted sweets. No doubt an attempt to improve service and cut down on the wait time of a flight attendants responding to passengers’ requests. More photos below.

—  Patrick Hoffman

American Airlines responds to LGBT groups’ concerns about union vote

Reservationists, gate agents and customer relations employees at American Airlines have been trying to unionize for about a year. With its bankruptcy, the airline has delayed a vote on whether the employees can unionize. Pilots, flight attendants and mechanics already belong to unions.

A vote on the service agents’ union is now scheduled for Dec. 4. Although American tried to block the vote, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cleared the way today for about 10,000 American employees to decide whether to unionize.

While mostly a labor issue, the national LGBT group Pride At Work is concerned whether LGBT employees’ benefits would be among the first cut if service agents are not allowed to unionize. In states like Texas where employees have no protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a union contract can include those protections.

American Airlines has received a perfect 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the last 11 years.

—  David Taffet

Show vs Show Alterna-divas face off

From lez to Leslie, female musicians bring both the eccentric and the sophisticated to North Texas

Lead

The fates have convened once again to bring a healthy dose of live music to the area. From big to small, the concert calendar fills up with a spectrum of aural pleasures. Former New Kid on the Block Jordan Knight (not the gay one) headlines the Lakewood while alt-rock legends Radiohead make their American Airlines Center show an event next week. But we’re stuck on a couple of ladies who speak to queers in vastly different ways.

CLICK TO ENLARGE:

For more than 20 years, Mary Gauthier has brought her lesbian sensibilities to her smart brand of Americana music. Touring in support of her seventh album, The Foundling and 2011’s The Foundling Alone (a companion of acoustic demos), Gauthier continues to amass an impressive discography with graduating brilliance.

Cult singer Leslie Hall, with her band the Lys, let forth a trip of dance-ish tunes on 2011’s Destination Friendship, with her signature rapping on cheeky songs like “Blame the Booty” and “No Pants Policy.” But Hall is no joke. She veers toward the eccentric but she doesn’t disappoint live, sweating up a storm with rambunctious
energy and funky dance moves.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

REVIEW: Love Train show at AAC

Chaka Khan at Love Train. (OldSchool45.com.)

Last night, radio station Old School. 94.5 pulled off an impressive first outing as their rebranded self. The station turned the American Airlines Center into a party, a church and even a Soul Train line with a strong roster of classic R&B and soul artists from The O’Jays to Chaka Khan. The show had its ups and downs, but there was no doubt, they brought the funk.

For the show to start almost an hour late was not cool. They were still sound checking and 6 p.m. when it was supposed to start. Most concerts rarely start on time, but this kind of delay was ridiculous and mind you, this was a six-hour event. All was forgotten when Confunkshun took the stage and brought the house down quick. Soulful vocals, rich horns and a few choreographed steps helped the band show music doesn’t need a lot of accessorizing to be awesome. If there was anything to be said for that long-ass sound check, it was the wonderfully lush, layered sounds of the band. The Mary Jane Girls hopped onstage to perform “In My House” adding to the bustling energy. The BarKays threw in some gimmicky quick pyros and a live anaconda and Slave held their own with a spirited performance, but it was the Ohio Players who killed inthe first half. That intro bass line from “Skin Tight” sent a nuclear reaction through the arena and “Love Rollercoaster” was a jam best enjoyed live and at loud volumes. The audience was whipped into a frenzy all before the first break.

—  Rich Lopez

“Love Train” R&B legends concert tonight at AAC

Time to get funked up

While the late Whitney Houston recharged one of Chaka Khan’s biggest hits, there’s no denying the funk queen’s own style. Khan comes to Dallas for a night of some legendary R&B with The O’Jays, Jeffrey Osborne, The Mary Jane Girls and Ohio Players as part of the Love Train show. What’s better — that’s not even the entire roster.

DEETS: American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. 6 p.m. $24.50–$79.50. Ticketmaster.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Local Briefs • 02.17.12

Toast to Life set for Feb. 25

The 14th annual Toast to Life Gala — fundraiser for Resource Center Dallas’ programs and services that make life better for people living with HIV/AIDS — is set for Feb. 25

The event, “Lights, Camera, ACTION!,” begins at 8 p.m. at FIG–Fashion Industry Gallery, at 1807 Ross Ave. Toast to Life has an annual attendance of more than 800, has raised more than $2.4 million since it began in 1999, and is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year.
The centerpiece of Toast To Life has always been the culinary fare presented by a collection of Dallas’ most popular restaurants, along with wines and spirits. Guests participate throughout the evening by bidding on exclusive silent and luxury auction items and enjoying stellar entertainment.
This year’s auction items include:
• VIP passes to a taping of Fashion Police with Joan Rivers in L.A.;
• A limited-edition, autographed Katy Perry tour jacket;
• Week rental of a four-bedroom private condo in Park City, Utah;
• Furnishings from Herman Miller Inc., Knoll and Neiman Marcus–Willow Bend;
• Assorted travel packages and gift certificates from casual favorites to Dallas’ most prominent restaurants; and,
• One-of-a-kind art from well-known local artists.
Toast To Life Gala is presented by Christopher A. Salerno and sponsored in part by: Nordstrom, Eric V. Culbertson & David W. Carlson, American Airlines, Christopher J. Vesy, M.D. & Alan E. Roller, Charles MarLett & Jim Vasilas, Steven M. Pounders, M.D. & Jimmy O’Reilly, United Court of the Lone Star Empire, David Hardt & Steven Hartsell, and Bud Light/Ben E. Keith.
Tickets are $100. VIP tickets, which includes private reception prior to gala, are $150. For tickets and sponsor information for the 2012 Toast To Life Gala, visit www.toasttolife.org.

BTD beneficiary applications online

Black Tie Dinner has opened its 31st season by making applications for 2012 beneficiaries available online. The deadline is March 2. Beneficiaries must submit a new application each year. Up to 20 organizations are chosen to receive half the proceeds from the annual dinner. The other half benefits the Human Rights Campaign.

The Dallas Black Tie Dinner has been the largest LGBT fundraising dinner since it began in 1982.
Black Tie Dinner has raised more than $15 million since it began in 1982. In 2011, the organization distributed $1.142 million to 17 North Texas groups. This year’s dinner will be held at the Sheraton in Downtown Dallas on Nov. 3. Mitzi Lemons and Chris Kouvelis are the chairs.
For more info or to submit an application, go to BlackTie.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Best Bets • 02.17.12

Friday 02.17Vera-Pearl-3qtr

Time to get funked up
While the late Whitney Houston recharged one of Chaka Khan’s biggest hits, there’s no denying the funk queen’s own style. Khan comes to Dallas for a night of some legendary R&B with The O’Jays, Jeffrey Osborne, The Mary Jane Girls and Ohio Players as part of the Love Train show. What’s better — that’s not even the entire roster.

DEETS:
American Airlines Center
2500 Victory Ave.
6 p.m.

$24.50–$79.50.
Ticketmaster.com.

……………………..

Sunday 02.19

Knight in shining armor
The Dallas Opera gets all soap opera like in their production of Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. Sparks fly between a princess and a knight, but her husband isn’t too thrilled. He also happens to be the king. The tale is a classic and doomed love story, but the show gets a refreshed touch with this modern production.

DEETS:
Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
2 p.m. Through Feb.
25. $25–$275
ATTPAC.org.

……………………..

Tuesday 02.21

No helper needed for this Tuna
Joe Sears and Jaston Williams reprise our favorite roles for Tuna’s Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Laughter. Vera, Bertha, Petey and the rest all get a bit older, but only get better as they remind us why we can’t get enough of some Tuna.

DEETS:
Eisemann Center
2351 Performance Drive, Richardson.
8 p.m. Through Mar. 4.
$44–$55.
EisemannCenter.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Concert Notice: Madonna at AAC Oct. 20

Big concert news came hours ago as Madonna officially announced the itinerary for her new world tour and Dallas makes the list. This marks her first show this way since the Blonde Ambition tour hit Reunion arena 22 years ago. I was stunned that she wouldn’t be hitting Cowboys Stadium, but this makes it much closer to home. This news only adds to her recent return to the pop culture radar with her new movie W/E, Sunday’s Super Bowl performance and her release last week, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” from her upcoming album M.D.N.A.

Will she repeat some of the imagery of her Super Bowl performance that recalled a lot of Kylie’s Aphrodite tour? Mmmmm…hopefully not, but please, Madge, no lip syncing like you did during most of your performance.

Madonna is scheduled to play the American Airlines Center, Oct. 20 with tickets to begin going on sale to the general public Feb. 21.

—  Rich Lopez