Where to wed • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

Many local gay-affirming churches are happy to help couples jump the broom

A NEW IDEA | The new Interfaith Peace Chapel at the Cathedral of Hope, designed by gay architect Phillip Johnson, performs same-sex ceremonies.

Some folks are happy with a private ceremony expressing their love, but others appreciate the sanctity of a officiant declaring their union in the eyes of God. Here are some churches that embrace same-sex couples.


AGAPE MCC — 4615 E. California Parkway (SE Loop 820), Fort Worth. 817-535-5002. Agapemcc.com. Revs. S. David Wynn, Sr., Teri Lubbers and Robert Myers. Require pre-service counseling.

Ascension Lutheran Church — 4230 Buckingham Road, Garland. 972-276-0023. Ascensiontexas.org. Pastor Kurt Friederich. Blessing service for church members; no weddings for non-members.

Bethany Presbyterian Church — 4523 Cedar Springs Road. 214-528-4084. Called “an open, caring, inclusive, multicultural ‘More Light’ congregation.”

Cathedral of Hope/Interfaith Peace Chapel — 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 214-351-1901, ext 109. Cathedralofhope.com. Senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson. Contact Brian Parman, director of the Interfaith Peace Chapel, for information. The Sanctuary of the Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ features beautiful faceted glass windows and can accommodate up to 750 guests. Reception accommodations are also available.

Celebration Community Church — 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth, 817-335-3222. Celebration-community-church.com. Pastor Carol West; ask for wedding/holy union coordinator. Non-denominational Christian congregation.

Center for Spiritual Living — 4801 Spring Valley Road, Suite 115. 972-866-9988; CSLDallas.org. Senior minister Rev. Petra Weldes; Rev. Dr. Marsha Meghdadpour. Marriage or commitment ceremony. United Centers for Spiritual Living.

Community Unitarian Universalist Church — 2875 E. Parker Road, Plano, 972-424-8989. Communityuuchurch.org. Rev. Patrick D. Price. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Congregation Beth El Binah — Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St. 214-521-5342, ext. 1784. Bethelbinah.org. Email Sandy Horwitz, shorwitz@bethelbinah.info or Diane Litke, dlitke@bethelbinah.info. Reform Jewish congregationReform Judaism recognizes marriage between two Jewish men or women; however the rabbi will perform an interfaith service.

First Unitarian Church of Dallas — 4015 Normandy Ave. 214-528-3990. Dallasuu.org. Rev. Dr. Daniel Chesney Kanter; Associate Minister, Rev. Aaron White. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Grace Fellowship in Christ Jesus — 411 S. Westmoreland Road. 214-333-9779. Pastor Tony Hoult. Perform holy unions.

Harvest MCC — 3916 E. McKinney St., Suite B, Denton. 940-484-6159. Harvestmcc.org. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas — 1840 Hutton, Suite 100, Carrollton. 972-243-0761. Mccgd.org. Revs. Colleen Darraugh, Steven Pace, Kay Seitz. Provides pre-marital counseling and performs weddings or holy unions. The church facility is available for non-members to rent.  The MCC can also connect couples with musicians, photographers and caterers.

Midway Hills Christian Church — 11001 Midway Road. 214-352-4841. Midwayhills.org. Rev. Terry L. Zimmerman. Performs union ceremonies.

Promise MCC — 2527 W. Colorado Blvd. 214-623-8400. Promisemcc.org. Senior pastor Rev. Jon Haack. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Trinity MCC — 1846 W. Division St. Suite 305, Arlington. 817-265-5454. Trinitymcc.org. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Unity Church of Christianity — 3425 Greenville Ave. 214-826-5683. Dallasunity.org.  Rev. Steve Colladay. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies. The minister is openly gay and supported by the congregation.

White Rock Community Church — 9353 Garland Road. 214-320-0043. Whiterockchurch.org. Pastor Douglas Shaffer. Contact wedding coordinator Mary Marshall for information. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies or weddings — “whichever the couple is comfortable with.” Activities center for receptions.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff — 3839 W. Kiest Blvd. 214-337-2429. Oakcliffuu.org. Rev. Mark Walz. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Passover, a time to celebrate Charlton Heston holding up his rifle and parting the Red Sea

Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea

Passover began Monday at sunset with the first of two Passover Seders — the word means order but it’s a service performed at the dinner table because it isn’t Jewish if it doesn’t include food.

Beth El Binah, Dallas’ LGBT Jewish synagogue, holds its congregational Seder tonight. It’s my favorite holiday, but you can’t do something Jewish without complaining so here goes.

The holiday, the most important festival on the Jewish calendar after the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), celebrates the Exodus from Egypt. Lots of great gay themes in Passover — the end of slavery and oppression are what the festival celebrates.

But here’s where me and Passover have a little bit of a problem.

—  David Taffet

Holiday Service Schedule

As Christians celebrate Easter and the Holy Week leading up to it, and Jewish people celebrate Passover, Dallas Voice has compiled a list of Passover and Easter services offered by LGBT congregations in the Metroplex.


• Congregation Beth El Binah
2701 Reagan Street
April 19 — Passover seder, at 7 p.m.; $35 members/$50 non-members for dinner and catered seder.


• Agape MCC
4615 E California Parkway, Fort Worth
April 24 at 10:30 a.m. followed by Meet, Greet and Eat at noon.
• Cathedral of Hope
5910 Cedar Springs Rd.
April 17 — Palm Sunday liturgical worship at 9 and 11 a.m. and service en Español at 1 p.m.
April 20 — Holy Wednesday contemporary worship at 7:15 p.m.
April 21 — Maundy Thursday service of holy communion at 7:15 p.m.
April 22 — Good Friday traditional service at 7:15 p.m.
April 23 — Holy Saturday Easter prayer vigil at 7 p.m.
April 24 — Easter Sunday service with Voices of Hope at 7 a.m., Easter worship service at 9 and 11 a.m. Easter service en Español at 1 p.m.

• Celebration Community Church
908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth
April 24 at 9 and 11 a.m.

• Harvest MCC
3916 E. McKinney St., Suite B, Denton
April 24 at 11 a.m.

• MCC of Greater Dallas
1840 Hutton Dr #100 Carrollton
April 24 at 10 a.m.

• Promise MCC
2527 W Colorado Blvd
April 24 — Easter Sunday worship celebration with communion at 10:30 a.m.
April 24 at 7 p.m.

• St. Mychal Judge Old Catholic Church
2701 Reagan Street
April 17 — Palm Sunday service at 3 p.m.
April 24 — Easter Sunday service at 3 p.m.

• Trinity MCC
1846 W. Division St. #305, Arlington
April 24 at 11 a.m.

• White Rock Community Church
9353 Garland Road
April 17 — Palm Sunday service at 10:45 a.m.
April 22 — Good Friday service at 7 p.m. in the chapel
April 24 — Easter Sunday service at 10:45 a.m.

—  John Wright

Black Tie announces 2011 beneficiaries

From Staff Reports

The board of the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that 18 local organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation have been named as beneficiaries of the 2011 Black Tie Dinner, set for Nov. 12 at Sheraton Dallas hotel.

This will be the 30th anniversary of the fundraising event.

The 18 local beneficiaries are:

• AIDS Arms
• AIDS Interfaith Network
• AIDS Outreach Center
• AIDS Resources Rural Texas
• AIDS Services Dallas
• Celebration Community Church
• Congregation Beth El Binah
• Equality Texas Foundation
• Health Services North Texas
• Lambda Legal
• Legacy Counseling
• Legal Hospice
• Northaven UMC
• Resource Center Dallas
• The Women’s Chorus
• Turtle Creek Chorale
• White Rock Friends
• Youth First Texas

In a statement released Thursday, Black Tie Co-Chair Nan Arnold said Black Tie is “thrilled” to be able to help support the beneficiary organizations, adding that “thanks to the … great work that they do, men and women are living longer, healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.”

Arnold explained that beneficiary applications are reviewed by the 24 active members of the Black Tie board and advisory members. They validate services each applicant organization provides, along with the organization’s stability and strategic plan.

Ron Hill, chair of the Black Tie Community Relations Committee said the process is “enlightening,” allowing board members to “understand the purpose of these vital organizations. It’s interesting to see the short and long-term goals they have established to sustain and increase the services they provide.”

Since it began in 1982, Black Tie Dinner has distributed more than $15 million to local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign Fund. For more information go online to BlackTie.org or call 972-865-2239.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Beth El Binah prepares for Purim celebration

PURIM SPIEL  |  Members of Congregation Beth El Binah dress as their favorite characters from the Book of Esther for a Purim celebration.

Gayest of Jewish holidays combines Christmas and Halloween in retelling the story of Queen Esther

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

The Jewish holiday Purim, which celebrates Queen Esther saving the Jews in Persia, is a minor holiday, but it’s still many people’s favorite. Purim is also the gayest of Jewish holidays. Cantor Sherri Allen of Congregation Beth El in Arlington said the holiday celebrates coming out. The holiday recounts the spiel — or story  — told in the biblical book of Esther:

When beautiful Queen Vashti refused to display her beauty to King Achashverus’ guests, the king banished her and decided to find a new queen. He ordered all the country’s hottest young women to be presented to him so he could choose — sort of Cinderella meets American Idol. He chose Esther as his new queen.

Haman, the king’s advisor, is the bad guy in the story. When Mordechai refused to bow down to Haman and Haman found out that Mordechai was Jewish, Haman convinced the king to kill all the Jews.

The name Purim means “lots.” The king drew “pur” to decide that 13 Adar (which falls on March 20 this year) would be the day the Jews would be killed. The Jews wore sackcloth and ashes and fasted for three days.

Here’s where the story takes its turn that teaches a lesson in coming out to the LGBT community, according to Allen; Esther, who had become Achashverus’ favorite wife, decided to come out, telling her hubby that if he killed the Jews, he’d have to kill her too, because she was Jewish and  Mordechai was her uncle.

Well this little turn of events really made Achashverus mad, and he decided to spare the Jews and hung Haman instead.  So the story follows the traditional pattern of Jewish celebrations — they tried to kill us, God saved us, let’s eat.

Lots of intrigue. Lots of pathos. A coming out story and sex — implied is that the straight king wants it badly. The holiday is celebrated with parties, gift-giving and acting out the book of Esther, usually with songs — sort of Jewish Halloween, Christmas and Broadway musical all rolled into one. And yes, traditionally, Purim is the Jewish gift-giving holiday, not Chanukah.

To celebrate, everyone dresses as a favorite Purim character, although no one dresses as Haman. That is considered as religiously distasteful as dressing as Hitler. It is perfectly appropriate, however, for lots of guys to go in drag as Esther or Vashti. Every time Haman’s name is mentioned, everyone drowns it out with noisemakers, adding in a little New Year’s Eve party as well.

The “let’s eat” part of the holiday includes several foods. Hamantaschen are pastry whose German name means Haman’s hats. Each hamantasch is triangular and looks like a three-cornered hat. The tart is filled with fruit or cream cheese.

Kreplach is another Purim food. Unlike Bette Midler’s definition (people from the small Baltic country of Kreplachia), kreplach are actually dumplings — triangular dough filled with chopped meat and boiled in a chicken soup.

Some historians believe Achashverus was King Xerxes who ruled 485–465 B.C.

The exile from Jerusalem to Babylonia that is mentioned in the book of Esther took place in 597 B.C. Mordechai is referred to as having been exiled, so he would have to be more than 100 years old when the story took place.

Because of the discrepancy, many scholars believe the story of Esther was actually a historical novella, a popular writing style at the time. Written about 300 B.C., the book may have been created to explain the celebration of the holiday.

And like other biblical stories, the book of Esther has been tackled by Hollywood, but this one wasn’t a Cecil B. deMille spectacular.

Following the gay camp theme of the holiday, the 1960 film Esther and the King starred Joan Collins as Queen Esther. Perfect.

Congregation Beth El Binah celebrates Purim on Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m. with a potluck dinner and costume party at a private residence. Everyone welcome. Contact diane@bethelbinah.org for details.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Tel Aviv shooting victim will not be deported after calls from LGBT groups

Nir Katz

Congregation Beth El Binah in Dallas joined other LGBT Jewish groups around the United States Wednesday, Feb. 9, in calling on Israel to allow Thomas Schmidt to stay in that country. They held a phone conference organized by Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York on Feb. 8.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv today, Schmidt will be allowed to stay in the country.

Schmidt is from Germany and has lived in Israel since 2004. His partner was Nir Katz who was murdered at the Tel Aviv LGBT Center on Aug. 1, 2009.

Schmidt was one of 11 injured in the attack. Katz’ parents helped Schmidt recuperate and they consider him a part of their family. He has no contact with his own family in Germany.

He was in the process of applying for permanent partnership status when Katz was killed. His residency visa had expired.

After the shooting at the LGBT Center, Congregation Beth El Binah planned a vigil with Youth First Texas and Resource Center Dallas, which was the first of many held around the world over the next few days. A rally in Tel Aviv attracted 100,000 people supporting the victims of the shooting and the LGBT community.

When Schmidt’s visa expired, Israel first denied his request to stay in the country.

Nitzan Horowitz, currently the only openly gay member of the Knesset, called on Israel to allow Schmidt to stay in the country.

Yonatan Gher, director of Jerusalem Open House, that city’s LGBT center, said that in 2009, one person committed a hate crime against the LGBT community but “today the country is committing a hate crime.”

“We call on Israel to allow the victim of the brutal attack to remain in the country,” Diane Litke, president of Congregation Beth El Binah, said yesterday.

Today, Israel changed its position and will allow Schmidt to stay in the country.

Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other countries. Most opposite-sex couples do not get married in the country. Since only Orthodox rabbis are allowed to perform weddings in Israel, and most Israelis are not Orthodox, they marry elsewhere and their marriages are recognized.

—  David Taffet

Anti-violence group plans ‘Phelps-a-thon’ during Westboro Baptist Church’s visit to Tucson

Phelps clan in Dallas

The Phelps clan is headed to Tucson.

In response, the Arizona Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation banning protests within 300 feet of a funeral. In some show of compassion (maybe in fear for their lives), the clan decided not to protest the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was murdered. However, they still plan to picket the funeral of U.S. District Judge John McCarthy Roll.

When the clan visited Dallas to picket downtown at the Holocaust Museum and Congregation Beth El Binah at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, a fundraiser was held called “When Hell Freezes Over.” The goal was to replace the $3,000 ice maker at the community center. They raised move than $11,000.

The Wingspan Anti-Violence Project will be doing the same thing this week. They are holding a Phelps-a-thon.

Although we wish them luck, the circumstances are completely different. The group came to Dallas for no reason whatsoever and everyone who participated made a joke of the appearance. There was plenty of time to prepare stupid signs and costumes to welcome their afternoon of hate.

In Arizona, people are mourning. They are dealing with loss and healing. No one is in the mood for a jolly old time to mock the haters. The focus is on funerals and people in hospitals. Reaction to Phelps is a mere afterthought. But the gesture is appropriate. Let their visit to promote hatred after a violent incident raise money to decrease violence.

—  David Taffet

Congregation Or Chadash, LGBT synagogue in Chicago, was among targets of Yemeni terror plot

Congregation Or ChadashOr Chadash, Chicago’s predominantly LGBT synagogue, was among those targeted by the Yemeni bombing plot that was uncovered this weekend.

Bombs were wrapped in packages addressed to two Chicago synagogues but were discovered before they were placed on planes headed for the U.S. Explosive material was packed inside toner cartridges.

Or Chadash is one of seven predominantly LGBT synagogues in the U.S. that are members of the Union of Reform Judaism. Dallas’ Congregation Beth El Binah is one of the others. Whenever temples are targeted, LGBT synagogues are warned that they could be “two for the price of one” targets.

Locally, Beth El Binah officials contacted staff at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center where the synagogue meets. They told them they don’t receive unexpected packages at the Center and that if a package arrives for the temple, to call police immediately.

Congregation Beth El Binah President Diane Litke joked that Beth El Binah gets its printer supplies from Office Depot, not Yemen. But she said more seriously that she can’t imagine anyone who works at any synagogue opening an unexpected package from overseas, adding that all synagogues are aware of security concerns.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center dedicates ‘Hell Freezes Over’ Fred Phelps Memorial Icemaker

RCD executive director Cece Cox
Councilmember Pauline Medrano

Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano and Brent Rubin from State Rep. Eric Johnson’s office were on hand Friday morning to dedicate the Fred Phelps Memorial Icemaker. Members of Congregation Beth El Binah joined Resource Center staff to cut the ribbon and scoop the first buckets of ice.

The money for the icemaker was collected during the Phelps clan’s July visit to Dallas. They picketed Congregation Beth El Binah at Resource Center Dallas and other Jewish groups around the city.

The fundraiser was dubbed “Hell Freezes Over” and $11,000 was collected. The previous known record for a Phelps event was about $10,000 in New York City.

“Inspiration comes from the strangest sources,” said Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas. “Without the inspiration of the visitors from Topeka, we would never have been here today to dedicate our new icemaker.”

“Eric’s very impressed by what you’ve done in regard to Fred Phelps’ visit,” said Rubin. “How you’ve gone one step beyond and made good come from a crummy situation.”

“There are lessons to be learned from this,” said Medrano. “Everybody can make a difference in the midst of bad news.”

During a city budget crisis, she said she was delighted to be at the Resource Center celebrating the agency getting money from other sources. She thanked Phelps for helping the city take care of people with AIDS.

Josh Manes represented Beth El Binah. He was happy to see the government representatives celebrating at the Center.

“I remember a time when the city would have supported Phelps,” he said.

The plaque on the ice machine reads: “This machine is dedicated to the participants of ‘Hell Freezes

Over.’ Thank you for showing how the power of caring and compassion can triumph over hate. August 6, 2010.”

In one of their silliest choices of protest sites, the Phelps clan began their day of nonsense at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. The museum marked record attendance that day as a result of the Phelps publicity.

Phelps was invited to attend the dedication ceremony by e-mail. He did not respond to the gracious invitation.

—  David Taffet

Westboro Baptist Church Memorial Ice Maker arrives at Resource Center Dallas

The Westboro Baptist Church Memorial Ice Maker

Resource Center Dallas’ new ice maker arrived on Tuesday afternoon. The machine was purchased with the funds raised from the “Hell Freezes Over” fundraising counterprotest of the Westboro Baptist Church’s appearance at RCD on July 9.

“Once again, a big thanks to everybody who donated and showed support! Resource Center Dallas would also like to thank Caven Enterprises, Cathedral of Hope, Buffalo Wild Wings on Lemmon Ave. and Kroger on Cedar Springs Rd. for allowing us to get ice after our old machine broke,” said RCD spokesman Rafael McDonnell. “Also, special thanks to Congregation Beth El Binah for their long-standing support of the Center. We will hold a formal dedication of the machine either late next week or the week of August 9.”

The fundraising total from “Hell Freezes Over” has neared $11,000. McDonnell joked that he would welcome a return visit from the Phelps cult, but asked them to time it for the next fiscal year.

—  David Taffet