What’s Brewing: DMN prints 1st gay weddings; active-duty troops march at San Diego Pride

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Dallas Morning News published its first-ever same-sex wedding announcements on Sunday. Two gay couples — Mark Reed and Dante Walkup (right), and James Kreidel and Mark Pierson — had announcements appear under Weddings in Sunday’s Celebrations section of The DMN (Page 11E). Reed and Walkup, who convinced the newspaper to publish same-sex weddings after filing a discrimination complaint with the city, were married in Washington, D.C., last year. Kreidel and Pierson were married in Massachusetts last year. Congrats to both couples.

2. In another head-spinning twist over “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a federal appeals court late Friday temporarily reinstated the policy but ordered the government not to use it to investigate, penalize or discharge anyone. On July 6, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco lifted its stay of a district judge’s ruling halting enforcement of DADT. But last week the Department of Justice asked the court to reimpose the stay, saying its removal could interfere with the orderly legislative repeal of the ban on open service. The appeals court on Friday agreed to reimpose the stay but blocked the Pentagon from discharging anyone under the policy. The military can, however, refuse to accept applications from openly gay recruits. The court gave the DOJ until today to submit additional arguments as to why the stay should remain in place.

3. As the legal maneuvering over DADT repeal continues, a contingent of active-duty military servicemembers marched in a gay Pride parade Saturday for what is believed to be the first time in U.S. history. About 200 active-duty troops, wearing T-shirts representing every service branch, marched in San Diego’s Pride parade. Watch video below.

—  John Wright

The Dallas Morning News’ 1st same-sex wedding announcements have been delayed 1 week

For those eagerly waiting to see the first-ever same-sex wedding announcements in The Dallas Morning News, you’ll have to wait another week.

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup, the gay couple that recently convinced The DMN to run their wedding announcement as, well, an actual wedding announcement, reports that publication of the ad has been delayed until Sunday, July 17.

Last week we reported the Walkups’ ad would run Sunday, July 10, but Reed-Walkup said this week’s section had already gone to the printer by the time they booked the ad.

Reed-Walkup said at least one other same-sex couple will also have a wedding announcement in the Sunday, July 17 edition.

Above is a sneak preview (click to enlarge) in the form of the Walkups’ receipt for the ad. As you can see, the “amount due” indicates that “the right thing to do” can also be lucrative, but hey, at least this time the receipt is legitimate.

—  John Wright

Dallas Morning News confirms that it will publish same-sex marriages under Weddings

Mark Reed Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

Dallas Morning News Publisher James M. Moroney III confirmed today that the newspaper will begin publishing same-sex marriage announcements under Weddings. The DMN has published same-sex marriage announcements for several years, under a separate header that’s currently called Commitments. But until now the newspaper has refused to publish the announcements, which are paid advertisements, under Weddings.

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup of Irving, who were legally married in Washington, D.C., last year, filed a discrimination complaint against The DMN in December, alleging that the policy violates a Dallas city ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. The DMN initially indicated through its attorneys that it planned to defend the policy, based partly on Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage. But in a meeting with the couple on Thursday, Moroney and DMN Editor Bob Mong informed them of the policy change.

Moroney told Instant Tea today that the newspaper made the change, which takes effect immediately, because it was “the right thing to do,” adding that he isn’t worried about backlash from conservative readers.

“When you do the right thing, you just do the right thing,” Moroney said. “I believe that publishing same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legally allowed, that publishing those under the Weddings heading in our newspaper, is the right thing to do.”

The Walkups said their marriage announcement will appear in the DMN on Sunday, July 10.

“It was a tremendous relief,” Reed-Walkup said of Thursday’s news. “It’s been a very long, stressful process.”

The couple said they felt the issue was important because the announcements will allow young people to see that same-sex marriage is possible.

“We are legally married and we have the right to let everybody know about it, just like everybody else,” Dante Walkup said.

Although the couple prevailed, Reed-Walkup criticized the city of Dallas for its handling of the discrimination complaint. He said an investigator wasn’t assigned to the case until April, and city officials failed to communicate with the couple about the status of the complaint.

Reed-Walkup eventually set up meetings with Moroney and Mong on his own.

“Now I understand why 53 complaints have been filed and not a single one of them has ever been prosecuted,” Reed-Walkup said. “It’s broken and it needs fixed.”

Read a statement from the couple below.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Dallas Morning News reportedly agrees to publish same-sex weddings

Thomas-Mark-Reed-and-Dante-Karl-Walkup
Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Mark Reed-Walkup, a local GetEQUAL board member who filed a discrimination complaint against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish his paid same-sex wedding announcement, reports that the newspaper has agreed to change its policy and he will be dropping the case. “We met with the CEO and Editor today of the Dallas Morning News and they are changing their policy to allow same-gender wedding announcements be placed in their wedding section,” Reed-Walkup wrote Thursday evening. “We are dropping our lawsuit tomorrow. OH F’ING HAPPY DAY! Thank you Dallas Morning News for doing the right thing today!” Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more.

2. Jesse Garcia, president of Dallas’ gay LULAC chapter and former president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, says he is moving to Washington, D.C., to accept a position with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Stay tuned for more on this as well.

3. Thanks to KPRC in Houston, which also broke the original story, we now know what Southwest Airlines pilot Capt. James Fritzen Taylor looks like. Sort of. At left is a grainy, black-and-white photo of the Argyle man whose anti-gay, mysoginistic rant over an stuck cockpit microphone in March has created a PR nightmare for the Dallas-based airline over the last 10 days. Taylor has apologized for the rant, and a flight attendants’ union has accepted his apology. No word on whether Taylor’s wife has forgiven him, but any gay, granny or grande will tell you that if this guy really wants to get laid, he needs to post some better photos of himself online.

—  John Wright

Houston Chronicle puts Pride atop main page

Houston Pride is Saturday, and Instant Tea contributor Daniel Williams will have a report from the festivities later in the weekend. But for now we wanted to point out that the Bayou City’s daily newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, posted a Pride preview as the top story on its main page this afternoon, complete with a photo of a lesbian couple kissing behind what appears to be their son (screen grab below). Needless to say, The Dallas Morning News would never, ever do this. If you’re headed to Houston this weekend, check out the Chronicle’s schedule of events.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Suspect arrested in murder of gay E. Dallas couple found in burned apartment

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A 23-year-old homeless man has been arrested in the murder of a gay Dallas couple found dead inside their burned-out apartment last month, The Dallas Morning News reports. The suspect, Oscar Mirelez Young, told police that one of the victims picked him up for sex and that he and an accomplice planned to rob the couple. Mike Humphrey, 59, and Clayton Capshaw, 61, were found dead in their apartment in the 11200 block of Woodmeadow Parkway on April 27, after the apartment was set on fire to cover up the crime. Humphrey reportedly had a habit of going to the Bridge, Dallas’ homeless shelter, and picking up men for sex. Young was captured in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, after being pulled over while driving a stolen vehicle, and admitting that he killed two people in Dallas. Young faces a charge of capital murder. The second suspect is still being sought.

Ed Oakley

2. We’ll have more on last night’s LGBT mayoral forum at the Cathedral of Hope in a bit, but for now I wanted to point you to this clever headline in the DMN: “Peace, love and understanding mark Dallas mayoral debate at Cathedral of Hope.” The DMN also reports that openly gay former Dallas City Councilman Ed Oakley has endorsed Mike Rawlings for mayor. Oakley previously backed Ron Natinsky, who didn’t make the runoff. Oakley was defeated in a runoff for mayor by Tom Leppert in 2007.

Joel Burns

3. Anti-bullying language is included in standards of care for Fort Worth’s youth programs adopted by the City Council on Tuesdsay night, according to the Star-Telegram. Gay Councilman Joel Burns applauded the ordinance adopting the standards for children ages 5 to 13, which mirrors language in an anti-bullying bill that passed the Texas House on Tuesday night. The House voted 118-26 to concur with changes to the bill, HB 1942, and it now proceeds to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. The bill, by Rep. Diane Howard, R-Arlington, is Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session.

—  John Wright

Was Gingrich glitter-bomb an embarrassment to the gay rights movement or just plain fabulous?

As you’ve quite possibly heard, anti-gay GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was glitter-bombed by a gay activist Tuesday, during a book-signing prior to a fundraiser for the right-wing Minneapolis Family Council. Watch video of the incident from the AP below.

Clayton M. McCleskey, a contributing writer for the Dallas Morning News, writes on the newspaper’s Opinion Blog that he thinks the incident was “an embarrassment to the gay community and to the gay rights movement”:

If gay rights activists take issue with Gingrich’s less-than-enlightened stance on gay rights, then there are many ways for them to raise the issue. Taking a bag of glitter and dumping it on Gingrich’s head is not one of them. That was a cheap shot. If the goal is to show that gays should be treated like the normal folks they are, is it all that productive to bring glitter into the debate?

According to Andrew Belonsky at Death+Taxes, the glitter bomb was not only productive, it was “fabulous”:

ACT-UP’s members enacted the most sensational and compelling of all gay protests: in 1987, they sprawled out at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway to demand more access to newly developed AIDS drugs, and that same year hung their famous “Silence Equals Death” banner in front of Ronald Reagan’s White House. Seventeen years later, ten nude ACT-UP activists protests the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.

Though some of the group’s protests were grim, they all effectively employed a blithe spirit, catapulting them onto front pages around the nation, and the world. So too has Erickson’s stunt, which will hopefully inspire more imaginative and playful protests that capture the nation’s attention.

What do you think?

—  John Wright

The past comes back to haunt

Political candidates have to be ready to have their pasts scrutinized, as Casie Pierce has discovered

DAVID WEBB | The Rare Reporter

At just about this point during every election cycle, I start to wonder why anyone would ever even want to run for elected office.

Any candidate announcing a political campaign opens themselves up to the most invasive intrusion possible into their personal and professional lives.

The truth is that practically everyone has something in their lives that they would just as soon not become public knowledge, and that might well happen when you run for office.

No matter how long ago something happened and regardless of whether it went unnoticed at the time, someone will either remember it or discover it when the spotlight focuses on a political candidate. And misdemeanor convictions suddenly become a very big deal.

Lesbian District 7 City Council candidate Casie Pierce recently learned that when she went before The Dallas Morning News editorial board and found herself under fire over her misdemeanor criminal record.

The editorial board had obviously done its homework by researching Pierce’s criminal record. It’s really easy to do because the Dallas County District Clerk’s website offers free public access to all criminal and civil records.

On her own, Pierce said she owned up to pleading guilty in 2007 to misdemeanor theft in connection with her former job as executive director of Vickery Meadow Management Corp. The candidate said an audit of expense reimbursements turned up irregularities. The reimbursements were for cash payments she made for contract labor and supplies for maintenance jobs such as painting and minor repairs in connection with public improvements, she noted.

The audit reportedly revealed an absence of substantiating receipts.

Originally, she wanted to go to trial and fight the charge, said Pierce, who was fired from her job in 2005 over the discrepancy. But after two years she was broke and unable to proceed.

It didn’t seem like such a big deal to plead guilty to misdemeanor theft to end the case, she said. Her penalty was a $1,000 fine and a probated 180-day sentence.

What Pierce apparently didn’t realize was that the editorial board would also uncover a DWI conviction in 1997 for a two-year-old offense and a bad check for $20 she wrote in 2008 at a grocery store.

The candidate said she didn’t mention the DWI because it had occurred so long ago, and she didn’t even think about the bad check that she made good for in 2009 when she learned about it from the District Attorney’s collection division.

The Dallas Morning News editorial board, however, did think it was a big deal, and they declined to endorse Pierce over it, even while noting she seemed capable and had some good ideas.

At the same time, The DMN editorial board also declined to endorse the District 7 incumbent, Carolyn Davis, and a third candidate, Helene McKinney.

Having known Pierce as a strong neighborhood leader for more than a decade, I tend to believe her explanation about the theft charge. As regards the DWI and the bad check charges, they’re as common as fire ants in this part of the country.

Sharon Boyd — who is the publisher of Dallasarena.com and can be one of the harshest critics of political candidates and officeholders in Dallas — tells me that she would trust Pierce with her checkbook any day. Pierce will continue to enjoy her support, Boyd said.

Boyd and I often don’t agree on political matters, but in this case we are on the same page. If I still lived in District 7, I would vote for Pierce. And I’ve asked my former neighbors in Parkdale to vote for her on May 14.

Of course the message here is for anyone considering a run for political office to make sure and check their criminal record before they step into the spotlight. There’s no telling what might be waiting to jump on stage with you.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Davis challenging redistricting plan

As we told you in David Taffet’s May 6 story on redistricting efforts under way in the Texas Legislature, the redistricting plan under consideration now would split Senate District 10, currently represented by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis, into as many as five pieces, splitting up her mostly minority constituents and putting them instead into other districts dominated by Anglo Republicans.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Today, Terrance Stutz with the Dallas Morning News reports that Davis “has fired the first shot” at the redistricting plan, claiming that the plan violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

After pointing out that Democrats weren’t allowed to have any input into redrawing the districts, Davis said that black voters in southeast Fort Worth would be pushed into a mostly rural district to the south while Hispanic voters in the northern part of District 10 would shuffled into a district with what Stutz called “hundreds of thousands of Anglo Republicans in Denton County.”

Davis told Stutz: “It is my duty as the elected representative of Senate District 10 to fight the [Senate redistricting] committee proposal with every resource I can muster. I cannot allow the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of constituents in Tarrant County to be trampled to satisfy the partisan greed of the Senate leadership.”

Davis, who narrowly beat out Republican incumbent Sen. Kim Brimer in 2008 to take the District 10 Senate seat, easily winning re-election in 2010, is considered one of the LGBT community’s strongest allies in the Texas Senate and was the author of an anti-bullying bill that Equality Texas called the best of the bunch introduced at the beginning of the 2011 legislative session.

—  admin

Obama will look to gay donors — and Texas — to fuel his 2012 campaign. And yes, that means you

Break out your checkbooks, because it looks like the president is about to tap the GAY-TM for a Texas-sized withdrawal. At least that’s what we took away from stories published today by The Dallas Morning News and Politico.

The DMN (paid subscription required) reports that Obama isn’t writing off Texas in 2012. In other words, even though it’s pretty unlikely he’ll win a state that he lost by 11 points the last go-round, he wants to raise a lot of money here and force the GOP candidate — whomever it may be — to play some defense:

An Obama fundraiser is scheduled for Tuesday in Austin. It is the first of several such events anticipated over the next year in a state that historically is among the top five sources of campaign cash for both Republicans and Democrats.

Obama forces have kept a staff in the state since the 2008 election. The Organizing for America offices in Austin and Dallas will become the nucleus of the Obama for America campaign in Texas.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Obama will rely heavily on gay donors in 2012:

Pleased by an all-out White House push to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” gay donors have surprised campaign officials with the extent of their support. And the campaign’s new fundraising apparatus appears designed to capitalize on their enthusiasm: Obama’s finance committee included one gay man in 2008; there are 15 this year, a source said. …

The spur for the gay community becoming an anchor for Obama’s reelection fundraising is a series of policy shifts in 2010. After a year of rocky relations and suspicion from Obama’s gay supporters that he wasn’t really committed to their issues, the last year saw a surge in activity. Along with the high-profile repeal of the military ban, Obama’s Justice Department recently refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. And the administration has taken smaller steps, like gay partner hospital visits and hate crimes legislation, concrete and important gestures that simply weren’t made during the Bush administration.

“It’s ironic — a year ago there was no constituency more unhappy. There was a sea change,” said David Mixner, a veteran New York gay activist, who said that White House actions during the past year had swayed restive gay donors. “You not only will see a united community that will contribute to Obama, but they will work their asses off.”

—  John Wright