Dallas County Commission proclaims June Pride Month

Dallas County Pride

Members of the LGBT Community (and ally Judge Ken Molberg) gather in the lobby outside the Dallas County Commissioners Court to celebrate Pride Month in Dallas County (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

County Commissioner Mike Cantrell has made it a routine to skip the Dallas County Commission’s proclamation of June as LGBT Pride Month. But the court continues to issue the proclamation. And today (Tuesday, June 21), in addition to issuing the proclamation, the commissioners spent time remembering the victims of the Orlando massacre and the one year anniversary of the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (Cantrell couldn’t be bothered with that either.)

County Judge Clay Jenkins noted this was the first meeting of the commissioners since the Orlando shooting. He called for a moment of silence for those who died in the attacks.

But Commissioner Theresa Daniel, who presented the Pride Month proclamation, was clearly tired of moments of silence that get nothing done: “Instead of a moment of silence, let’s have a moment of action,” Daniel said. “At this table, we have a responsibility for public safety.”

She said when someone comes to a county facility for a flu shot, to serve jury duty, to pay taxes or interact with the county for any other reason, citizens have an expectation of safety. The best way to achieve that is to create an environment where all are welcome.

“Diversity in our society is our strength,” she said.

Commissioner Elba Garcia expressed horror that last night (June 20) the Senate voted to allow people on the terrorist watch list to buy assault weapons.

Commissioner John Wiley Price commented on Mother Emanuel and the history of bombings against the black community.

In her proclamation, Daniel noted the Stonewall riots and the one-year anniversary of marriage equality. She called Dallas County a beacon of light, where same-sex couples are welcomed. Harassment and job discrimination are still problems, Daniel’s proclamation points out, and must be ended.

Once the proclamation passed unanimously (minus the absent Cantrell), Lambda Legal’s Omar Narvaez spoke for the group of LGBT community members and allies who attended the meeting. He talked about the gut-wrenching week the community has endured since the Orlando massacre, but thanked the commission for being allies.

—  David Taffet

REMEMBER: D.A. holds town hall tonight at Cathedral of Hope

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District Attorney Susan Hawk

District Attorney Susan Hawk will address the unsolved Oak Lawn attacks tonight (April 25)  at a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.

Hawk will update the LGBT community on resources available to the community and initiatives her office is taking.

At her previous town hall meeting, Hawk answered a number of questions from the audience on a variety of issues. Everyone is welcome to attend.

 

—  David Taffet

DA Hawk schedules another Oak Lawn Town Hall

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Dallas County DA Susan Hawk

Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk will hold a second Oak Lawn Town Hall meeting on Monday, April 25, 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Hawk held the first town hall in mid-December to address the rash of attacks happening in the gayborhood and to hear residents’ concerns and questions.

In a press statement released today (Monday, Aug. 18), the D.A. said she is holding the April 25 meeting because, “I wanted to meet with Oak Lawn area community members, again, to follow up with them regarding the safety concerns they presented at our December Town Hall meeting, Our office wants to remain a consistent resource for our community, and to do that we can’t just show up once. We have to keep the lines of communication open and continue to have a presence.”

Hawk said she will update the community on office initiatives and on programs and resources in place to help the LGBT community and Dallas County in general. She will also address ongoing concerns about the attacks last fall. No arrests have been made yet in any of those assaults.

Hawk said at that December meeting that she lived in the Oak Lawn area and had often walked her dog near the location of one of the attacks. Because of that, she added, the attacks in the area “are personal.”

—  Tammye Nash

Louisiana, a number of Texas counties to comply with SCOTUS ruling

DSC_3858WEBLouisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Louisiana would comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling beginning this morning, Monday, June 29. So will more north Texas counties.

A number of north Texas counties also announced they will comply including Denton. The county clerk in that county gave conflicting reasons why she was refusing to uphold the law on Friday including a computer issue and waiting to hear from the Texas attorney general.

Rockwall’s County Clerk announced on Sunday, June 28, that the county would begin complying with the law at 8:30 a.m. today.

On Decision Day, only Dallas, Tarrant, Johnson counties in the Metroplex and Lamar County, east of Sherman along the Red River on the Oklahoma border issued marriage licenses in north Texas.

Still no word from Collin County.

—  David Taffet

Jerry and Damien got married

IMG_0132Jerry and Damien were just one of 170 couples that got married in Dallas on Decision Day, Friday, June 26.

Here’s how their day went. They stood on line on the second floor of the Dallas County Records Building. Once they had their marriage license they headed over to the George Allen Courts Building. (The two buildings are a block apart, separated only by Old Red).

Before leaving the Records building, representatives from New York Life handed them flowers for their ceremony and the ACLU had them pose in their picture frame.

Downstairs in the George Allen Building, after passing through security (and both were all wired up because WFAA was following them as well for a video story), someone directed Jerry and Damien to a court on the 4th floor. When we got up there, that judge wasn’t in her courtroom, but next door, Judge Dennise Garcia, whose day began by marrying Jack and George, welcomed them.

Garcia asked how long the couple had been together. Three years, they told her. She stamped the certificate to waive the waiting period and begin the wedding. The ceremony was sweet and emotional as she told them, “by the power vested in me by the state of Texas AND the U.S. Constitution, I now pronounce you …”

After pictures following the ceremony, the couple returned to the Records building to file their marriage as legal in the state of Texas.

—  David Taffet

Dallas County issues 170 licenses on Day 1

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Judge Dennise Garcia marched down Cedar Springs Road from Cathedral of Hope after marrying a number of couples.

Dallas County issued 170 marriage licenses on Day 1 of marriage equality in Texas, according to Dallas County Clerk John Warren.

County Clerk John Warren began issuing licenses at about noon and kept his office open until 6:30 p.m. The office will continue to have extended hours for the first month after the ruling.

About 15 judges cleared all or part of their schedules on Friday, June 26, marriage equality day in Texas to perform weddings.

After marrying one couple, I asked Judge Dennise Garcia how many wedding she had already performed.

“I lost count,” she said, beaming.

—  David Taffet

Decision Day: The Press Conference

After the announcement that marriage equality would extend to 50 states, religious leaders and community leaders held a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Dallas County Records Building. Inside, couples began lining up for marriage licenses by 9:30 a.m.

—  David Taffet

Jack and George make it legal after 54-plus years

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Judge Dennise Garcia looks on as Jack Evans and George Harris wipe tears of joy from their eyes after becoming the first same-sex couple legally married in Dallas County.

Jack Evans and George Harris today (Friday, June 26) became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Dallas County, and just minutes later, the first same-sex couple to legally wed in Dallas County.

After County Clerk John Warren and his head assistant clerk issued the license to the couple, they walked down the hall to a justice of the peace courtroom where Judge Dennise Garcia, who attends their church, was waiting to first waive the 72-hour waiting period and then perform their wedding ceremony as the crowd packing the courtroom cheered.

Here is a video — somewhat shaky, I admit — of their wedding.

—  Tammye Nash

LIVE UPDATES: Harris County to issue marriage licenses at 3 p.m., scenes from Travis County

Check out instant tea for ongoing coverage of the marriage equality decision and reactions from across North Texas and elsewhere.

I’ll be providing updates throughout the day. Have a tip or photo? E-mail me at russell@dallasvoice.com.

1:50 p.m.: Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart will begin issuing current marriage license forms to same-sex couples, reversing an earlier decision by his office. Stanart originally told couples to wait for correct forms from the state, which could’ve been delivered as late as 4:30 p.m.

1:49 p.m.: My friend Drew Stanley sent me a couple of photos from inside Travis County government offices, seen below:

1:19 p.m.: Terry Thompson took a photo of a few of us at the Voice around David’s desk. No surprise here: I didn’t want my photo taken and look like I want to punch someone. <3 <3 <3

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(L to R): David Taffet, Chad Mantooth, Steve Mobley, James Russell and Leo Cusimano.

12:53 p.m.: WOW. A lot is going on. I just got off the phone with Houston couple John LaRue and Hunter Middleton. The Harris County residents told me they were the first in line at the Harris County Clerk’s office this morning. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, the couple was denied a license.

An employee told the couple they were awaiting a decision from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office before issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At a press conference, LaRue said, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said his office was also awaiting forms that indicate the correct sex from the stare.

Stanart had previously indicated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

LaRue said, however, the county attorney’s office wrote Stanart to use the current forms, just like other counties. Stanart said he has yet to see that letter.

Meanwhile Denton County couple Tod King and Casey Cavalier were denied a marriage license for similar reasons. They would have been the first same-sex couple to have gotten married in the county. They opted instead to get married in Dallas County.

12:01 p.m.: More photos from newlyweds Cpl. Tracey Knight and her wife Shannon:

11:55 a.m.: Jack and George Evans, after 55 years, have officially gotten hitched. They were among the first at the county clerk’s office this morning.

11:31 a.m.: Fort Worth’s Cpl. Tracey Knight, who serves as the department’s LGBT liasion, and her partner are the first couple in Tarrant County to get their marriage license. Knight said the police chief allowed her to go in uniform for the historic occasion.

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11:09 a.m.: News release from Tarrant County: “clerk to proceed with issuing of marriage licenses to all persons who qualify, regardless of sex.”

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11 a.m.: Sheriff Lupe Valdez, at a press conference, said “we now have the same rights, we have been waiting so long.”

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10:49 a.m.: Bill Reyno, left, and Chris Walters, right, have been together 6 years and plan to get married today:

Bill Reyno, left, and Chris Walters, right, have been together 6 years and plan to get married today

10:47 a.m.: Jack and George Evans, together for 55 years, finally will get their marriage license. George told Tammye, “I remember when you could be arrested for being homosexual.”

Here’s a photo of the couple:

Jack and George Evans will finally have a legally recognized marriage in Texas after 55 years.

10:44 a.m.: Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia has given her employees the green light to get married.

10:34 a.m.: David reports that Judge Ken Mohlberg is awaiting orders from Dallas County Clerk John Warren before waiving the 72 hour waiting period to get marriages.

10:06 a.m.: The line at the Dallas County Clerk’s office as of 10:06 a.m.:

The line as of 10:06 a.m.

 

—  James Russell

A long road for Major and Beau

Major and Beau have been trying to get married since 2012. They were arrested several times after refusing to leave the Dallas County Records Building after the building closed when they were denied their license.

Once the U.S. Supreme court ruled that it was, indeed, their constitutional right to marry, they headed downtown to get their license. Major proposed at a press conference held outside the Records building and Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who checked in on them when they were her guests at Lew Sterrett, posed for a picture with them after they applied for their license once again — this time successfully.

—  David Taffet