Stafford elected DIFFA/Dallas board chair

From Staff Reports

The Dallas chapter of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS this week announced the election of Mark Stafford as chairman of the organization’s board of trustees.

Vice chairs are Ron Brady and Carol Hatton. Darin Kunz was elected secretary, and Ed Hill is treasurer.

Clint Bradley, Brett Gray, Greg Haynes Johnson, Mark Mayland, Greg Nieberding, Beth Redmond, Dr. Brady Allen, Ferrell Drum and Donna Sedota have also been named to the board.

Stafford, a former trustee and founder/CEO of Revel Advertising said he is honored to have been elected chair of the DIFFA/Dallas board.
“We are all dedicated to supporting the foundation and working hard to raise funds and awareness for the fight against HIV and AIDS, so AIDS services in North Texas can continue to support those living with the disease,” he said.

DIFFA has granted more $4.5 million to local AIDS service organizations since 1988.

DIFFA’s 2010-2011 fundraising season kicks off Oct. 15 with the second annual Burgers and Burgundy, hosted by Chef John Tesar at the roof top pool at The House in Victory Park.

Other events scheduled so far include the DIFFA Holiday Wreath Collection in November and a major spring fundraiser.

For more information or to purchase tickets for a DIFFA event, go online to DIFFADallas.org.

—  Kevin Thomas

Historic Prop 8 ruling prompts ‘rare’ discussion about gay rights at Dallas Log Cabin meeting

Believe it or not, we really don’t go out of our way to pick on the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans or its president, Rob Schlein. But sometimes they make it too easy, and after all, we kid because we love, right?

So we couldn’t resist sharing this e-mail we received over the weekend inviting us to Log Cabin’s August meeting, which will feature a discussion about the recent Prop 8 decision.

As you can see, the e-mail states that, “Log Cabin rarely delves in gay rights issues at chapter meetings …”

Hey, at least they admit it!

—  John Wright

Dallasite creates local Marriage Equality group

Couple starts Dallas chapter of national group that promotes equality for same-sex couples

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

 Eric Crawford, right, and his fiance Marcus Watson
ENGAGED IN CHANGE | Eric Crawford, right, and his fiance Marcus Watson, pictured here in Central Park, first heard of Marriage Equality USA during a June trip to New York City.

Last week in California, federal District Judge Vaughn Walker issued a ruling striking down the state’s anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 8.

Earlier this year, legislators in Mexico City passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, and last week the country’s Supreme Court issued a decision declaring the law constitutionally valid. Then this week, that same court ruled that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City must be legally recognized throughout the country.

Portugal legalized same-sex marriage in May, and Argentina followed suit in July. And this week, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court ruled that an initiative on the ballot there for December, on whether to ban same-sex civil unions, is unconstitutional and cannot go forward.

The fight for marriage equality continues to advance around the globe.
But not in Texas.

It’s not that LGBT Texans aren’t trying. And Dallasite Eric Crawford said this week that he is joining the battle full force by starting a Dallas chapter of the national organization Marriage Equality USA.

“Right now, we are just having an organizational meeting,” Crawford said. But he has big plans for the future.

“We want to plan events throughout the year, things like maybe a Valentine’s Day dance in February and other things to focus attention on marriage equality,” he said. “There are a variety of efforts we could take on, letter-writing campaigns, attending events like the Prop 8 celebration here.

“I will get ideas from the people who participate, see what they are up for and how far they want to take it,” he added. “I know Marriage Equality USA needs funds to help fight the appeal on Prop 8 in California. Maybe we could help them raise the money they need.”

Crawford explained that he and his partner, Marcus Watson, first heard about the organization when they went to New York in June for the gay Pride celebration there.

Marriage was already on their minds since they got engaged the day before the left on the trip and are now planning a wedding for next July.

“We heard about Marriage Equality New York and what they are doing, and it really got me excited and engaged,” Crawford said. “So I started checking around in Dallas and I didn’t find any groups here specifically pertaining to marriage equality. Then I went online and found Marriage Equality USA.

“That’s when I really just got tired of being complacent and waiting on other people to do something, and I decided to start up a group here.”

His first step was to go to the MeetUp.com website and form a meet-up group for people in the Dallas area interested in promoting marriage equality to “gauge interest” in a marriage equality organization here. Crawford said he was surprised by the large number of straight allies who responded.

“I was really impressed by that,” he said. “It’s not just the gay community that cares about this.”

Although Dallas County has turned blue in recent elections, most of Texas remains decidedly red when it comes to political affiliations. And the Republican Party has, for the most part, stood firmly in opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage, especially in Texas where the state GOP platform even includes platforms calling for the return of sodomy laws and more.

But Crawford said he isn’t willing to concede the state to anti-gay forces.

“I think a lot of people in Texas have become complacent. They think, ‘Hey. It’s Texas. We can’t really do anything here to make a difference,’” he said.

“But the fact is, if it weren’t for two men from Houston who were willing to fight all the way to the Supreme Court, we’d still have sodomy laws on the books in this country. So that shows that change can get started in Texas, that we can accomplish things in Texas.

“And the first thing I think we need to do is make sure that our legislators in Austin know there is a huge group here in Texas that are for marriage equality. That is something we can do.”

The organizational meeting for Marriage Equality Dallas will be held Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Park Room at Park Towers, 3310 Fairmont St. The meeting is open to all interested persons.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay North Texas cowboy Wade Earp wins yet another all-around title; TGRA Dallas plans 2 big events this weekend


Wade Earp wins another all-around title
TGRA member Wade Earp competes in bull riding in a past IGRA rodeo.

North Texas cowboy Wade Earp won the title of All-Around Cowboy during the Greater Mowtown International Rodeo held last weekend, June 25-27. It is, I think, the third time this season that Earp has won all-around honors.

In other gay rodeo news, the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association has two big events planned over the holiday weekend.  The “Cowboys, Jocks and Leather” underwear auction is on Saturday, July 3, at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave., with a cocktail mixer at 7 p.m., hosted by GayCowboyCentral.com and with hot dogs and chips provided by the Eagle Bears. The main event starts at 8 p.m.

Then on Sunday, July 4, the Dallas TGRA chapter presents the 22nd annual Miss Firecracker Pageant, starting at 9 p.m. at Illusions Bar, 4100 Maple Ave.

Check the Dallas chapter’s schedule here.

And don’t forget that the Big D Rodeo is coming up Sept. 10-12 at the Diamond W. Arena Complex in Aledo. Go here for more info.

—  admin

GetEQUAL NOW to protest anti-gay Texas GOP platform at Republican event in Dallas next week

When I caught up with Michael Robinson this morning, he was on his way to perform 10 hours of community service stemming from his arrest a few months ago in San Francisco at a protest related to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Robinson was arrested in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an action organized by GetEQUAL. Since then, he and fellow local activist CD Kirven have split off from GetEQUAL and formed thier own group, GetEQUAL NOW, which is aimed at bringing more diversity to the LGBT equality movement. (Incidentally, Robinson said GetEQUAL leaders have demanded that the new group use a different name, but he has no plans to change it.)

I was calling Robinson because I noticed that GetEQUAL NOW is preparing to stage its first action, and it looks like they’ve picked a good one. According to the Facebook page, they’ll be protesting anti-gay language in the Texas GOP platform next week outside the Blue Mesa restaurant across from NorthPark Center.

As best I can tell, that’s where conservative radio host Mark Davis of WBAP will be speaking on immigration at a meeting of the Dallas Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

Robinson noted that the GOP platform also calls for anti-immigration legislation similar to the bill that recently passed in Arizona. And he noted that even GOP groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus have come out against the anti-gay language in the GOP platform.

Robinson acknowledged that the anti-gay language in the platform is not new, but he said it’s time to do something about it before GOP legislators decide to act on it.

“Somebody needs to get mad,” he said. “They need to change that platform. It’s ridiculous, it’s stupid and it’s hurtful.”

Robinson said while many LGBT people are aware of the anti-gay language, they’re passive about it and choose instead to complain about President Barack Obama.

“We’re going to make some noise on this one,” Robinson said. “This is crazy. We’re calling them out, and we’re serious, we’re not playing.”

Rob Schlein, presdient of Dallas Log Cabin Republicans, told me earlier today he won’t be participating in the protest. Log Cabin has been working to remove the anti-gay language from the platform for several years, and the group issued an official statement about the controversy over the platform earlier today. Asked whether he would attend the protest, Schlein said: “No. Our disagreement is focused on the anti-gay elements and the harsh language. This protest takes a more broader vision of opposition.”

Here’s Log Cabin’s full statement:

Recent attention has been given to the Republican Party of Texas and what many consider are the anti-gay planks in its 2010 Platform.  Although these planks are not new, the attention is.  From the Dallas Voice to bloggers all over the nation, Republicans are being painted as anti-gay and intolerant.

At the Texas Republican Party State Convention we warned our fellow delegates of the consequences of including extremist language in the party platform regarding gay and lesbian Texans.  For years, Log Cabin Republicans (a group representing gay, lesbian and like minded Republicans) has submitted resolutions to remove the extremist language at the precinct and state senatorial convention levels.  Emails were also sent to every member of the state platform committee imploring them to either remove the passages or reword them, and  Log Cabin Republicans Dallas offered suggested substitute language.  Those resolutions and emails were ignored by the Platform Committee at the state convention.

Language such as, “We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders”, and language equating gay parents with child molesters and abusive parents is obviously not supported by the majority of Texans, rank and file Republicans or even people of faith.

We are regularly contacted by activist Republicans and Republican groups expressing their concern about the appalling language included in this document.  Many gay and lesbian business owners and professionals that are natural allies of the GOP sit on the sidelines at a time when we need their help more than ever.  Young Republicans and young evangelicals are often embarrassed by the antiquated statements in the platform. Worse yet, a recent fundraising drive by a left leaning Washington D.C. gay rights organization highlighted the language from the Texas Party Platform in a letter to its well healed contributors.

The enemies of the Republican Party will do anything during this election to distract voters from the dangerous consequences of their explosive expansion of government and unsustainable deficits.  Republican fiscal and pro-free enterprise policies can save our country.  Now is not the time to be shooting ourselves in the foot simply to pacify passionate but wrongheaded elements of our own party.

The party platform is controlled by a handful of party activists.  We call on Republicans at all levels to publicly repudiate many of the extremist positions taken in the Texas Party Platform.  It is time for Republican office holders to stop pointing fingers while claiming to have “never read the state platform” and clearly state their agreement or disagreement with such foolish language.

We are happy this language is receiving wide exposure since we are certain it cannot survive the light of scrutiny. That said, we also believe the stakes are too high and Log Cabin Republicans is committed to working toward Republican victory despite the language in the platform.

—  John Wright