New community center opens on Saturday

IMG_8224This is the picture I wanted to use for this week’s cover: Cece jumping for joy over the completion of the new community center.

We chose a different picture because either we lost her jumping or we lost the building. The picture is oblong and the paper is more square. And Cece didn’t want her stomach showing on thousands of copies of the paper distributed across the area.

One thing I didn’t get into the story is the donation wall, just inside the front door. Everyone who contributes to help pay off the remaining $344,000 will get their names on the donation wall. Cox said that they thought of cutting off the list at $100 or $250 or more, but this is a community center, built by the community and every donation is important. So she decided every name of every person (or company or foundation) that contributes belongs there.

Open house is Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m.-noon. Stonewall Democrats holds a fundraiser and open house on Monday, May 23 from 7-9 p.m. Community groups are encouraged to use the facility. Contact the community center (the number’s the same: 214-528-0144) to reserve space.

Here are some more pictures of the new center:

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Equality Texas board chair speaks outside FWISD


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Speaking in a press conference outside the Fort Worth ISD building shortly after 4 p.m., Equality Texas board chair Steve Rudner took Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to task for his attacks on Transgender issues.

Noting that the policy itself was approved in 2011, Rudner said, “The only news here is that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has chosen to pick on a group of already bullied kids. It’s shameful and despicable.”

Patrick is set to hold a press conference at FWISD offices at 5 p.m. just before the FWISD board meeting.

Dallas Voice will be at the meeting. Look for additional coverage.

—  David Taffet

NC governor signs anti-LGBT bill into law


Gov. Pat McCrory

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed an anti-LGBT bill into law that goes farther than Indiana’s reviled so-called religious freedom law. The Indiana law has already cost the state millions in business.

The new N.C. law invalidates Charlotte’s recently pass equal rights ordinance. It also requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth. That means men with beards will be using ladies rooms, if they obey this law.

According to the Charlotte Observer, private businesses across the state may now deny service or fire anyone who LGBT. The law also prevents cities from enacting local minimum wage laws.

North Carolina’s Democratic attorney general, Roy Cooper, has called the law discriminatory and shameful.

The bill’s Republican sponsor said Charlotte’s new ordinance prompted the statewide legislation. He said some cities have created a variety of new classes that have become burdensome on business. But cities like Dallas, that has protections now written into the city charter, have had few discrimination complaints.

The NCAA said it’s taking the law into consideration as it schedules events and may move scheduled 2017 and 2018 basketball tournaments elsewhere. American Airlines’ second largest hub is in Charlotte and representatives of the company spoke out against the law. PayPal was scheduled to announce 400 new jobs in Charlotte but that’s now on hold.

Georgia has a similar bill sitting on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. He hasn’t decided whether to sign or veto. In that state, the NFL has threatened to withhold consideration of a Super Bowl in Atlanta if it becomes law, and Walt Disney Company threatened to stop film production in the state if the governor signs the bill.

—  David Taffet

A transgender discrimination case with a quick, happy ending

KFC_LogoGeorgia Carter, a transgender woman, was hired by a Richmond, Va., KFC and then fired within an hour, because of her gender identity, according to an ABC News report.

The restaurant’s manager of the location initially said he fired the woman because he didn’t know which bathroom she would use. Then he said she was fired because her gender was listed as male on her identification. He said if her gender was changed, she could have the job. Finally, he said she only had an interview and was never hired.

When KFC’s corporate office was contacted, a spokesperson made it clear the company doesn’t tolerate discrimination.

“KFC will not tolerate discrimination. The franchisee terminated this manager & Ms Carter was offered a job at any Richmond KFC,” KFC tweeted.

So the manager was fired by the franchisee and Carter has a job.

—  David Taffet

Transgender woman ticketed for using women’s restroom at Parkland hospital has criminal record

Paula Witherspoon

A transgender woman who was ticketed for using a women’s restroom at Parkland hospital last week has a criminal background and is a registered sex offender, Instant Tea has learned.

On Tuesday, we reported that 56-year-old Paula Witherspoon, of Dallas, was cited for disorderly conduct on April 25 after using a women’s restroom at Parkland, Dallas County’s public hospital.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Witherspoon was convicted of sexual assault of a child involving a 14-year-old girl in 1990 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. That same year, Witherspoon was also convicted of indecency with a child by sexual contact, involving a 15-year-old girl, and sentenced to six years in prison. According to DPS, Witherspoon remains on parole for the indecency conviction.

“Yes, I have a criminal record,” Witherspoon said Wednesday. “I can’t hide that. It’s public record. I made a mistake 22 years ago that has nothing to do with this.”

Ken Upton, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, agreed.

“That may be relevant in other settings,” Upton said, “and it paints a bad picture.”

But he said there’s no evidence that in this instance, Witherspoon did anything other than use a bathroom.

“Transgender people have a right to use a bathroom,” he said.

—  David Taffet