Local Briefs

KNON bringing Hightower to Dallas

KNON 89.3 FM, Dallas’ Community radio station presents national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author Jim Hightower in a speaking engagement and dinner on Saturday, March 26, at Historic Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St. Dinner will be catered by Cajun Alligator Café.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Hightower’s speech, followed by a question-and-answer session, begins at 8 p.m. For dinner and the speech, admission is $25. Admission for the speech and Q&A session only is $10. Tickets are available at Forever Young Records in Grand Prairie, Bill’s Records in Dallas and on KNON’s website, KNON.org, via PayPal.

For more information call 214-828-9500, ext. 222 or go online to KNON.org.

Ramirez named to national board

Ruben Ramirez, community health programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, has been named to the national board of cultural experts for the Mpowerment Project.

It is a program developed by the University of California-San Francisco’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

Ramirez is attending his first meeting of the board this week in California.

In his job at the center, Ramirez works with program staff to create, develop and enhance innovative primary and secondary HIV prevention programs, syphilis elimination initiatives, and other efforts relating to sexually transmitted diseases. The programs target gay/bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, African-American, Latino and other at-risk populations.

The Mpowerment Project is an evidence-based, community-level HIV prevention intervention for young gay/bisexual men ages 18 to 29. CAPS developed Mpowerment, and it collaborates with organizations around the country to understand how it is being implemented in diverse communities.

Ramirez has been involved in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts since the 1990s, first in the Austin area and later with the Center. He earned an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force, and both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas-Austin.

GAIN presents real estate program

Resource Center Dallas’ GAIN program will hold a program titled “Keeping it ‘Real’ in Today’s ‘Senior’ Real Estate Market — finding out the truth about your real estate options” on Thursday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the resource center, 2701 Reagan.

Realtor Ed Abenante with Keller Williams Realty, Ron Watterson with Prime Lending and Alan Hopper with RE/MAX Associates will attend to discuss issues including how and when to sell, downsizing and reverse mortgages.

The event is free and open to the public.

Women’s History Month program set

Resource Center Dallas’ Phil Johnson Historic Archives & Research Library and JEWEL women’s group will honor Women’s History Month by hosting a talk  titled “Honoring and Preserving Women’s History: The Centrality of Labor and Feminist Activism,” presented by Clark A. Pomerleau, history professor at the University of North Texas. The lecture will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the center, 2701 Reagan Street in Dallas.

Pomerleau is an assistant professor for U.S. women’s and gender history at University of North Texas. He specializes in sexuality studies, 20th century social movements and alternative education.

The event is free and open to the public.

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

—  John Wright

Top 10: Dallas Dems narrowly survived GOP tidal wave

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While Texas turned redder, Dallas County remained an island of blue. On Election Day, Texas followed national trends turning Democratic incumbents out of office and replacing them with conservative Republicans.

For the first time in Texas history, more than 100 Republicans will sit in the 150-member Texas House of Representatives. As recently as 1983, Democrats held more than 100 House seats.

Several gay-friendly Democratic House incumbents lost their seats in North Texas.

However, Democrats swept countywide races for the third consecutive election cycle.

Among the winners were Tonya Parker, who will become the first known openly gay African-American elected official in Texas. Parker is also the first openly LGBT judge elected in Dallas County. Openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons won re-election, as did Judge Tena Callahan, a straight ally who in 2009 declared Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, for the first time in a generation, Democrats will control the Dallas County Commissioners Court, possibly paving the way for LGBT employment protections and domestic partner benefits.

Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia unseated anti-gay Republican Commissioner Ken Mayfield, with strong support in heavily LGBT neighborhoods in Oak Cliff.

Clay Jenkins, who defeated openly gay County Judge Jim Foster in the Democratic primary, knocked off Republican Wade Emmert in the general election and will serve as chair of the court.

But Republicans retained all statewide offices in Texas, including governor. Anti-gay incumbent Rick Perry was elected to a third full term, easily defeating Democrat Bill White, who’d received a rare endorsement from the Human Rights Campaign.

Nationwide, a record 106 openly LGBT candidates won election, including David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who’ll become the fourth openly gay member of Congress.

In California, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who first decided his city would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was elected that state’s lieutenant governor.

But mostly the news around the country was good for conservatives.

Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives, where the leadership will include two conservative North Texas congressman, Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions.

In the Senate, the Democratic lead was cut to 51 seats plus two Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

While tea party-affiliated candidates won a number of Texas seats, Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s tea party opponent received only 25 percent of the vote.

With the Republican majority in the House, most agree there’s little chance the 112th Congress will pass any pro-LGBT legislation. Incoming House members have already threatened to work on a repeal of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Count on the Senate, however, to stop any anti-gay bills from making their way to the White House.

Other troubling signs for the LGBT community included an election in Iowa, where three judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage were defeated after a multimmillion campaign by the religous right. Anti-gay activists have begun a movement to impeach the remaining four.

Because of Republican gains, the LGBT community is not looking for additional advances in equality legislation in 2011 on the federal level. However, some state legislatures and the courts may provide some bright spots.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Appeals court grants stay of Prop 8 ruling

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an order Monday granting Yes on 8’s request for a stay of Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The appeals court panel also ordered, without being asked, that Yes on 8’s appeal of Walker’s ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger be addressed by the court on an expedited basis.

The panel said it would hear arguments on appeal during the week of Dec. 6, as well as arguments concerning whether Yes on 8 has legal standing to press the appeal.

The two-page order is a disappointment to many same-sex couples in California who were hoping that they would be able to obtain marriage licenses as soon as Judge Walker’s stay expired — at 5 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday.

“We are very gratified that the Ninth Circuit has recognized the importance and pressing nature of this case and the need to resolve it as quickly as possible by issuing this extremely expedited briefing schedule,” said Ted Olson, one of the lead attorneys for plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8.

Olson, one of the most prominent conservative attorneys in the country, launched the high-profile challenge of California’s voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage with liberal attorney icon David Boies. Walker, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Northern California (San Francisco), heard three weeks of testimony by the plaintiffs and Proposition 8 supporters in January.

In a dramatic 136-page ruling on Aug. 4, Walker declared the same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Walker agreed to stay — or delay enforcement — of his decision until Aug. 18, giving the 9th Circuit time to decide whether to grant a more extended appeal.

Evan Wolfson, who was a lead attorney on the first same-sex marriage case — in Hawaii in 1996 — called the 9th Circuit panel’s decision to continue Walker’s stay “disappointing.”

“But there are many twists in the road to justice,” said Wolfson, “and we are encouraged by the court’s setting a fast pace for the appeal, revealing that the judges understand how important a quick end to the exclusion from marriage is to gay couples, their loved ones, and all Americans who believe in equality under the law.”

The 9th Circuit panel includes two Clinton appointees — Judges Sidney Thomas and Michael Hawkins — and one Reagan appointee, Edward Leavey.

The panel set Sept. 17 as the date Yes on 8’s initial argument brief is due.

The response brief from the Ted Olson-David Boies legal team challenging Proposition 8 is due Oct. 18. And Yes on 8 may reply to plaintiffs’ brief by Nov. 1.

Monday’s order means the same-sex marriage ban will stay intact at least until December, when the 9th Circuit will hear arguments on both the issue of Yes on 8’s standing to appeal and, perhaps, on the merits of Walker’s decision.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, where U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro ruled — in two separate cases — July 9 that the ban on federal benefits to same-sex couples is unconstitutional, the clock is still ticking down the 60 days the U.S. Department of Justice has to appeal the decisions to the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

© 2010 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright