Lesbian shocked at anti-gay message scrawled on anniversary cake

FULLLesbianAnnivCakex400When a lesbian in Washington, D.C., picked up an anniversary cake, she found the bakery had ignored her instructions regarding the wording on the cake and had, instead, scrawled a homophobic message on it.

The Advocate reported that Sarah [she asked that her last name not be used] recently ordered a carrot cake at an Arlington, Va., bakery near her job with the intention of surprising her partner, Lindsay, on their anniversary. The design she picked out from the bakery’s catalog featured balloons on the cake’s top, but Sarah asked that the balloons not be used, and instead include the words “Happy Anniversary Lindsey! Love, Sarah.”

When she picked up the cake, not only did it have balloons, but “Lesbian Anniv. No balloons” was scribbled on it in sloppy handwriting. The cake also was chocolate, not carrot as Sarah requested.

The Advocate reported that Sarah requested to speak to the manager who apologized for the sloppy text but not for its inaccurate, homophobic content. The manager refunded Sarah’s money and offered her a “less sloppy” cake but refused to address the cake’s messaging.

“How could anyone mistake that for something a person would want on a cake?” Sarah asked The Advocate. “And what baker would sell something so messy and unprofessional? When it occurred to me that this was probably an intentional insult to my relationship, I was appalled at the audacity of the cake decorator or baker or whoever was responsible. It’s disappointing to know that when I want to honor the most important person in my life, I have to worry about some intolerant person ruining the surprise I had planned.”

—  Steve Ramos

Meeting to discuss LGBT employment protections in Waco rescheduled

Susan Duty

A discussion about adding LGBT protections to the Waco’s nondiscrimination employment ordinance has been postponed until April.

A group of LGBT advocates was set to discuss their proposal during the Equal Opportunity Employment Advisory Committee meeting Thursday, where they would vote whether to have Waco City Council discuss adding employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Susan Duty, who spearheaded the changes, said the discussion was postponed by the committee until its next meeting in April so members could gain a better understanding of the issue.

“We were a little disappointed to have it postponed, but it’s a great opportunity to educate the committee,” Duty said.

Duty also clarified that the protections would be part of a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance. She previously said the changes would apply to the city’s own employment policy. But she now says the ban would be citywide if added to the city’s existing employment nondiscrimination ordinance.

—  Anna Waugh

City releases file from complaint against Baylor for anti-gay discrimination

Baylor

Alan Rodriguez, right, filed a complaint with the city in February 2011 after the Tom Landry Fitness Center refused to issue him and his partner a family membership. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Dallas city attorney’s office has released most of its records related to a complaint against Baylor’s Tom Landry Fitness Center filed under the city’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance.

After few answers from the city attorney’s office about why we weren’t permitted to view the file a few weeks ago, we were told earlier this week we could view the file, except for some communications that were considered protected by attorney-client privilege. The city has asked the Texas attorney general’s office to review that information and render an opinion about whether it should be released.

In October, the city attorney’s office said the case was closed after officials with Baylor Health Care System agreed to end all family memberships. Alan Rodriguez and his longtime partner were denied a family membership discount in February 2011 because they are a same-sex couple, and they filed a complaint under the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

The city attorney’s office closed the case in exchange for Baylor’s commitment to end all family memberships. But a timeline of when discussions about ending the memberships took place wasn’t provided, nor was it contained in the file we reviewed today.

According to the file, Baylor’s representatives continued to request that the case be dismissed on the grounds that Tom Landry is a private club and a religious organization — and that Baylor recognizes married couples as outlined by Texas law. The case was sent to the city attorney in mid-June 2011, and the last date on on a request for information from the city attorney’s office is Oct. 19, 2011.

The final investigative report was completed Nov. 3, 2011, and mentioned that Baylor would have to prove a specific membership to be considered a religious organization, and that the ordinance doesn’t protect private clubs, only religious and government entities.

—  Anna Waugh

Baylor gym ends family memberships, but gay discrimination case still open

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WE ARE FAMILY | Alan Rodriguez, right, and his partner were denied a family membership at the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center, a popular gym in East Dallas. Rodriguez alleges Baylor is violating the city’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Tom Landry Fitness Center in East Dallas recently stopped offering family memberships, but the discrimination case filed last year after the gym refused to sell a family membership to a gay couple is still open.

The gym owned by Baylor Health Care System refused to sell Alan Rodriguez and his partner of 10 years a family membership in February 2011.

Phil Tyne, director of Baylor’s Tom Landry Fitness Center, told Instant Tea that the gym stopped offering family memberships three months ago because it lowered overall costs and now only offers individual memberships.

“We decided to lower all rates across the board,” he said.

Tyne said he was aware that the gym was involved in a discrimination case but said he did not know if the decision to change the membership structure was related to the case.

Rodriguez said he thought the problem had been resolved, though he had not heard that the memberships were no longer offered.

“Sounds like they both increased revenue and avoided providing discriminatory and potentially illegal services,” he told Instant Tea.

Beverly Davis, assistant director of Dallas’ Fair Housing Office, said the case is still waiting for a determination from the city attorney’s office, which is the same status it had back in June when it was featured in a Dallas Voice cover story about the 10-year anniversary of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Davis said she was unaware of any attempt at a settlement with Baylor regarding the case and said the membership decision appeared to be separate.

—  Anna Waugh

Anti-gay scouting policy not likely to change soon despite accepting petition

Boy Scout headquarters in Irving

Despite news from some sources that the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America is planning to change its anti-gay policies, the organization says it has no plans to do so.

A CBS story implies that the Boy Scouts are planning to review their policy.

But Boy Scouts CEO Robert Mazzuca said, “We have no plans at the moment to make any changes.”

After Jennifer Tyrrell, leader of her son’s cub scout troop, was kicked out of the organization, a petition urging her reinstatement was started on change.org. This week, the Boy Scouts agreed to meet privately with authors of the petition as a courtesy.

In the 2000 Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale case, the Supreme Court found that the Boy Scouts are a private organization and private groups may choose who can be members.

And Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said no change of policy could take place before the Boy Scouts executive committee’s next national meeting in 2013.

A Scout leader from the Northeast submitted a resolution in April that would allow individual troops to allow gays as scout leaders. That resolution has also gone nowhere.

Jon Langbert, a former local cub scout leader, said he signed the petition. Langbert is a gay dad whose son was a cub scout. He didn’t lead his son’s pack but was named “popcorn colonel” for leading its fundraising effort.

“Things are slowly changing,” he said.

He said he thought it was difficult for an organization like this to suddenly say that what it said before was immoral now isn’t. He said things are changing and cited the military.

“They don’t want to be the last organization in America on the wrong side on this,” he said.

Since the article was written in 2010, he said his son spent one more year in the scouts.

“He moved on,” he said and has since switched schools.

Langbert called discrimination against gays and against atheists antithetical to the values of scouting.

“I’d love to see the policy change,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center awaiting response to meet with ExxonMobil officials about LGBT protections

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas has sent two letters to ExxonMobil officials and is waiting to hear back about a meeting to discuss the upcoming shareholder vote to add LGBT protections to its EEO policy.

RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox sent a letter to an ExxonMobil board member last month in an effort to schedule a meeting with the new vice president of human resources.

The Irving-based company is considering adding a resolution to include sexual orientation and gender identity to its EEO policy.

ExxonMobil shareholders will vote on a resolution to add LGBT protections to its EEO policy at a shareholders meeting May 30 at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.

After no response from the board member or corporate, Cox sent a letter Wednesday directly to Malcolm Farrant, the new vice president of human resources. In the letter, Cox points out that having internal policies that prohibit LGBT discrimination are not enough. She calls adding the protections “good business sense” because it would provide “clarity and consistent protection” for employees and minimize risk for shareholders.

Farrant took over the position April 1, so Cox told Instant Tea that he has the “potential to be influential,” if not for the May 30 vote, then maybe within a year the company’s view to adding the protections could change.

The resolution is “not that likely to pass” even with a meeting before shareholders vote and if the resolution passes without meeting with RCD, she said she’d be “surprised” based on the company’s history.

Still, Cox said she wants the “opportunity to educate them about the significance of equality in the workplace for LGBT employees.”

“I think that a face-to-face interaction is often more productive in these types of circumstances where we’re clearly at odds with their position and they’re at odds with ours, so you can only get so far with emails and letters” she said.

Cox said she hopes RCD gets response for a meeting but ExxonMobil needs a “respectable amount of time to respond” to the second letter. If no response is received, she said RCD could simply show up at corporate headquarters or continue to politely request a sit-down meeting.

“Others have been working on this for years and years, we’re not the only one,” Cox said. “But we are right here in their backyard and so I hope that they would have the courtesy of wanting to interact face-to-face with our community.”

GetEQUAL organizer Daniel Cates is organizing a protest at the May 30 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. The protest will be from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

He said the organization has protested ExxonMobil’s meetings before, but this year it is a joint protest to encourage the company to add the protections and to speak to President Barack Obama to sign an executive order to ban LGBT discrimination for companies that have federal contractors.

“We really think that this is the perfect example of the need for our president to sign this executive order,” Cates said. “We need to be pressing him, as well as ExxonMobil, to do the right thing.”

View the letters and resolution after the jump.

—  Anna Waugh