DART committee requests more info, formal proposal on DP benefits

Michael Muhammad, DART’s interim vice president of diversity, briefs DART’s administrative committee on domestic partner benefits on Tuesday. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

After being briefed on domestic partner benefits Tuesday afternoon, Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s administrative committee requested more information and a formal proposal.

Michael Muhammad, DART’s interim vice president of diversity, presented the presentation, listing the government agencies in Texas that offer DP benefits, as well as a handful of transit agencies in the U.S. that offer them.

Muhammad noted Texas law prohibiting the recognition of anything identical or similar to marriage and said DART’s current benefits policy requires that only a spouse under Texas’ definition can be covered.

He then mentioned that entities that offer DP benefits do so by not limiting the qualifications to only spouses. Cost of offering the benefits for DART was estimated by a consultant at $105,000 to $210,000, but would ultimately be minimal, Muhammad said.

Muhammad gave a less-than-enthusiastic presentation and his demeanor came across as bored while he read from the projected slides.

—  Dallasvoice

Equality March returns to downtown

ON THE MOVE | The 2010 Equality March LGBT rights on display in downtown Dallas. Saturday’s march returns to downtown. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Governor’s new alliance with a hate group is expected to draw attention to 3rd annual Dallas rally

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Gov. Rick Perry’s planned event in Houston with the hate group American Family Association in August has gotten many LGBT allies energized, according to Daniel Cates. And he and other organizers for the third annual Equality March said they hope that new energy helps turn out more participants for the march happening Saturday, June 25, in downtown Dallas.

Cates, who recently became North Texas regional director of GetEQUAL, said that the march is a demand for full legal equality for LGBT people and an end to religious-based persecution.

But he made it clear that organizers are not bashing religion.

“We’re calling on lawmakers to make good on the promises in the Constitution,” he said. “And we’ve had an amazing response from our allies — especially in the Christian community.”

He said many people see the discrimination against the LGBT community as a violation of the separation of church and state.

“I’ve heard from the Unitarians and from other liberal churches and even from some Methodist churches,” he said.

AFA has confirmed that anti-gay themes will be part of the event with Perry.

March co-organizer Nonnie Ouch said the Perry event is partially state-funded.

“Fellow activists from around the state are very angry about what Perry’s doing right now,” she said. “Using state funds to produce such an exclusive event is wrong.”

Ouch will also be one of the speakers at the rally following the march.

“I’ll be doing spoken-word poetry about my experiences through public school and bullying,” she said.

Ouch is a senior at Texas Tech in Lubbock and is spending her summer as an intern at Resource Center Dallas.

March for Equality begins at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza at 6 p.m. Cates urged those attending to “bring signs, flags, banners, bull horns, drums or any means of expression.”

C.D. Kirven will emcee the rally. Among other speakers and march sponsors are Jesse Garcia with LULAC Rainbow Chapter and Brittany Rayson-Stubblefeild, a member of Students for a Democratic Society.

Resource Center Dallas, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and International Socialist Organization Denton and Dallas Branches are also endorsing the march.

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle with TCU’s Brite Divinity School, student and recent Mount Pleasant mayoral candidate  Kooper Caraway and  I Am Equal Project founder Jason Beckett are also among the speakers.

Beckett will be at the Aloft Hotel in Downtown Dallas throughout the day with fashion photographer Matt Spencer to collect pictures for his I Am Equal project.

“We’re expecting more people to participate in this year,” Cates said. “We’ve had more promotional opportunities including Razzle Dazzle Dallas. Our Facebook response has been stronger this year as well.”

The first Equality March in Dallas happened on Sunday afternoon, June 29, 2009, just hours after Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission raided the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar in Fort Worth, setting off a controversy that generated headlines around the country.

Many of those participating in the Dallas march heard about the raid during the march and afterwards headed to Fort Worth to take part in a protest rally on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse.

The Equality March moved to downtown Dallas last year in response to criticisms by some that holding the event in the Oak Lawn gayborhood was like preaching to the choir. By holding the march downtown, organizers hoped to reach a broader audience with their message of equality.

North Texas March for Equality, 646 Main St., June 25 at 6 p.m.

—  John Wright

Local LGBTs contribute to 'Truth in Progress' dialogue on race, sexual orientation issues

Marilyn Alexander, C.D. Kirven and Rev. Gil Caldwell
Marilyn Alexander, C.D. Kirven and Rev. Gil Caldwell

At the Creating Change conference in Dallas earlier this year, I had the opportunity to have lunch with an old friend, Marilyn Alexander, and a new friend, the Rev. Gil Caldwell.

The two have teamed to create Truth in Progress. The project began as a dialogue on issues of race, sexual orientation and faith that began 10 years ago.

Truth in Progress developed into a multimedia project taking a special look at the similar yet different experiences and histories of the black civil rights and LGBT equality movements.

After the jump is the first video created by Alexander and Caldwell.

—  David Taffet

Kirven arrested in D.C. protest

Chaz Kirven, right, was among the eight protesters who staged a sit-in Thursday in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's D.C. office, calling for passage of ENDA. Four, including Kirven, were arrested.
Chaz Kirven, right, was among the eight protesters who staged a sit-in Thursday in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s D.C. office, calling for passage of ENDA. Four, including Kirven, were arrested. (Photo e-mailed to Dallas Voice by Chaz Kirven)

Dallas activist C.D. (Chaz) Kirven was among the four activists arrested Thursday in Washington, D.C., when they staged a sit-in in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to demand passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination in employment against LGBT people.

The action in D.C. was part of a bi-coastal protest: Eight people participated in the sit-in at Pelosi’s D.C. office, and 11 more staged a sit-in in Pelosi’s offices in her home district in San Francisco. A total of ten people were arrested between the two protests.

Chaz sent me e-mails early this morning, after she was released from jail. She said her court date is set for April 6, and she and the other protesters need our support. She was also rallying support for Lt. Dan Choi, who had been discharged under the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Choi was arrested yesterday after chaining himself to the fence around the White House as part of a protest calling for the repeal of DADT.

We’re trying to get in touch with Chaz now and will have a more complete story online as soon as we can. But for now, read Kerry Eleveld’s report at Advocate.com.

—  admin