Jenkins takes home Stonewall’s Pink Pump

County judge among officials, members honored at Democratic group’s annual Holiday Party

AND THE WINNER IS  |  Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins accepts the Pink Pump Award — which consists of a bedazzled pink high-heel shoe — during Stonewall Democrats’ Holiday Party on Monday, Dec. 5 at Sue Ellen’s. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

AND THE WINNER IS | Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins accepts the Pink Pump Award — which consists of a bedazzled pink high-heel shoe — during Stonewall Democrats’ Holiday Party on Monday, Dec. 5 at Sue Ellen’s. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

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JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

Nearly two years ago, in a controversial move, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed Larry Duncan for county judge over establishment-backed candidate Clay Jenkins and openly gay incumbent Jim Foster.

On Monday, Dec. 5, Stonewall Democrats presented Jenkins — who defeated Duncan and Foster in the 2010 primary before winning the general election — with the group’s coveted Pink Pump Award, which honors a straight ally who’s gone above and beyond on behalf of the LGBT community.

Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said regardless of the decision to endorse Duncan, Jenkins has been very open to working with the group. Stonewall’s board tapped Jenkins, who chairs the Commissioners Court, for the Pink Pump primarily due to his role in adding sexual orientation — and later gender identity and expression — to the county’s employment nondiscrimination policy this year.

“That’s a huge deal,” Narvaez said. “We’re the only county in the entire state of Texas that has a fully inclusive nondiscrimination policy for its employees. … So much has happened — a lot of stuff that never would have happened under our last county judge, who was a member of the [LGBT] community.”

Also this year, Parkland hospital’s Board of Managers — appointed by the Commissioners Court — added domestic partner benefits for the facility’s 9,400 employees. And, although the county didn’t add DP benefits for its own workers due to budget constraints, Jenkins has said he’ll push to do so next year.

“The good part is, at least it’s come up,” Narvaez said. “It’s something that we can work toward now.”

Jenkins beat out Dallas City Councilwoman Monica Alonzo and Stonewall member Gillian Parillo to take home the Pink Pump, which comes in the form of a bedazzled pink high-heeled shoe.

The county judge was on hand at Stonewall’s Holiday Party to accept the shoe, despite undergoing surgery earlier in the day to have screws removed from his leg.

Jenkins was walking with a cane and, unlike at least one past recipient, unable to try on the Pink Pump. As he took the stage in the Vixin Lounge at Sue Ellen’s, he held up a plastic biohazard bag containing the screws — the remnants of a nasty fall he took on the ice in February.

“There is a strength in our diversity and a common bond in our shared values here in Dallas County,” Jenkins said later. “Stonewall exemplifies that strength through promoting human rights, protecting public health, registering voters and fostering leaders. I’m honored to accept this year ‘Pink Pump’ and committed to building a stronger, more progressive Dallas County.”

Jenkins was one of several elected officials and Stonewall members honored during the party, which was moved from the Round-Up Saloon this year. Narvaez said the party saw its second-highest attendance ever — behind 2008 — and raised almost four times as much as in any previous year.

The increased fundraising was due to the sale of individual sponsorships, as well as proceeds from the auctioning of lunches with elected officials. Lunch with Jenkins’ counterpart on the Commissioners Court, longtime LGBT ally Dr. Elba Garcia, went for $400. Lunch with Judge Tena Callahan, who handed down a landmark ruling in a gay divorce case in 2008, went for $300. And lunch with lesbian Sheriff Lupe Valdez, up for re-election in 2012, brought two matching bids of $400 each.

Alonzo, who was elected to represent District 6 on the council this year, read a proclamation from the city recognizing Stonewall Democrats, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in October. Attendees at the Holiday Party also heard from Gilberto Hinojosa, a candidate to replace Boyd Richie, who’s retiring as chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.

Hinojosa, already endorsed by the statewide chapter of Stonewall Democrats, predicted that in 2012, Texas will “move much closer to turning blue.” Thanks to new redistricting maps, Democrats could pick up anywhere from three to six congressional districts in Texas, and up to 15 seats in the state House, he said.

Demographically, Democratic groups account for 70 percent of voters in Texas, Hinojosa said.

“There are more of us than there are of them,” he told the group. “We’re not winning because we’re not getting our base out.”

Hinojosa also touched on the State Democratic Executive Committee’s recent decision not to put a nonbinding resolution in support of same-sex marriage on the 2012 primary ballot. Although he isn’t a voting member of the SDEC, Hinojosa said he spoke in support of placing the resolution on the ballot before the vote during last month’s meeting.

“It’s an issue the party needed to take a stand on,” he said. “We lost on that issue, but there will be time to bring it back again.”

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Stonewall Democrats 2011 Award Winners

Pink Pump: Clay Jenkins
Harryette Ehrhardt Distinguished Democrat: Lorraine Raggio
Buck Massey Member of the Year: Clinton Swingle
Ally of the Year: Cathedral of Hope
Christy Kinsler Board Member of the Year: Travis Gasper

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

AIDS Outreach gets SMART

Fort Worth agency offers alternative to ‘12-step’ addiction programs that’s tailored to gay men with HIV

Tammye Nash | Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Addiction recovery programs aren’t one size fits all.

That’s why AIDS Outreach Center recently started a new program, SMART, according to Shawna Stewart, the agency’s director of mental health services, and Leslie Guditis, the therapist heading up the new program to help the agency’s HIV-positive clients overcome addictions to alcohol and drugs.

Self Management and Recovery Training — or SMART — is intended as an alternative to “12-step” programs, Stewart said. But they stressed they aren’t suggesting SMART is “better than” 12-Step programs. “It’s just different,” Stewart said. “It’s another option for people who haven’t had success with other programs.”

Although AIDS Outreach recently had to close its Arlington offices and cut staff due to budget constraints, SMART will continue. Stewart said it’s funded with a special grant through the federal Ryan White CARE Act. The grant pays for Guditis’ part-time position to administer the program.

SMART, Guditis said, is different because “it doesn’t come from a disease model. It doesn’t label. You don’t go to a meeting and stand up and say, ‘I am an alcoholic.’”

Instead, the SMART program “teaches more about taking responsibility and looking at why one drinks or uses drugs or has any addiction, like an addiction to sex, eating. And when you know the ‘why,’ you can manage that ‘why’ instead of just saying, ‘I will never do it again.’”

“This program is about teaching an individual the tools that hopefully last a lifetime, rather than saying go to a meeting every day or every week,” Guditis said.

The 12-step programs “come from a disease model,” the therapist said. “I am not bashing any other programs. But I do think that this is a more positive way to look at addiction.”

Stewart believes this different model for recovery could be more effective for some of AIDS Outreach’s clients, many of whom are gay, because it doesn’t include reliance on a higher power. Many gays and lesbians and many people with HIV, she said, have had bad experiences with religion. So the idea of relying on a “higher power” may be less effective for people who may have felt rejected by God, she suggested.

Although she said she doesn’t necessarily believe SMART would work better for LGBT people or those with HIV in general, Guditis does think it would work better for some of them.

“I think LGBT and people with HIV sometimes already have a lot of shame, and this [SMART] is all very positive,” Guditis said. “It helps people feel like they have control over their lives. What we are trying to do is empower people.

“People with HIV feel powerless in a lot of ways, and this is really a self-esteem-building program,” she continued. “I went to a [SMART] meeting [not specific to people with HIV or LGBT people], and the people in the meeting were so proud of their ability to be in control of the choices they make. They were proud to feel like they do have a choice. I saw people’s chests almost swell with pride in being able to manage their behavior.”

Guditis also noted that despite the acronym, a person doesn’t need to be “smart” to succeed in the program. “The techniques are very simple and pretty well spelled out,” Guditis said. “This is a kind of psycho-education type program. People don’t just talk about their problems or a binge over the weekend. It’s a more positive and supportive, a mutual learning environment. There are no sponsors, no hierarchy. It’s a setting of equals with a facilitator managing the discussion. That is my job, to be the facilitator.”

Another difference from a 12-step program is that SMART doesn’t require abstinence, Stewart and Guditis said.

“Abstinence is promoted, but if someone comes to a meeting and they have been using, they are still welcome in,” Guditis said. “We work from that place to manage the behavior, and not try to make them feel shamed for using. We talk about emotions, triggers for addictive behavior. People take pride in being in control of their behaviors.”

Guditis, who recently received a doctorate in family therapy from Texas Women’s University, spent the month of June training in the SMART program. She held the first SMART session at AIDS Outreach on July 6. “We initially wanted to have three SMART groups each week, but we are starting with one, each Tuesday. We want to have at least two groups a week, though,” Guditis said. “We will add more as we see the need.”

The sessions at AIDS Outreach, she added, are only for the agency’s clients. If the program proves effective at AIDS Outreach for alcohol and drugs, it could eventually be expanded to include those fighting other addictive behaviors, too.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 9, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens