Vigils planned across Texas for murdered Houston lesbian couple


Four vigils are scheduled throughout Texas on Wednesday night to remember the lives of a Houston lesbian couple killed earlier this month.

Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, both 24, were found in a trash bin near Port Bolivar on March 7. They’d been a couple for two years.

Cosby’s father, James Larry Cosby, was arrested for tampering with evidence in the case. He remains a suspect in the women’s’ deaths. Cosby’s mother told Houston media outlets over the weekend that her daughter’s father was upset she was gay, and she believed he killed them because of their sexual orientation.

Galveston detectives are still searching for a man who police believe was last seen with the women and information about the couple’s Kia Sorrento that was stolen. A $150 reward for information has been raised through a fund Dallas GetEQUAL TX activist C.d. Kirven started.

“We want to celebrate the way Britney and Crystal lived and not the way they died. They were a part of a community, an LGBT family that mourns their loss,” Kirven said about the vigils in a statement.

She said the Galveston vigil was canceled, and a Fort Wirth vigil  was added, along with vigils in Dallas, Austin and Corpus Christi.

Tiffani Bishop, co-state lead organizer for GetEQUAL TX said, “The tragic murders of Britney and Crystal are truly heartbreaking. To discover that Britney’s father is suspected of committing these crimes is difficult to wrap my head around. It is beyond time that our community begin an open and honest dialogue about violence against queer women of color.”

People attending vigils or who want to show support for the women’s memory are asked to wear yellow in the memory of Cosby and Jackson.

Other vigils are still being solidified, including one for Williamson County. GetEQUAL TX will update vigil information on its Facebook page.

Anyone with information about the case should call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477 or Galveston County Crime Stoppers 409-763-8477.

Locations of the Texas vigils are below.

—  Dallasvoice

Lesbian couple files for divorce in Bexar County


A San Antonio couple has filed to dissolve their 2010 D.C. marriage.

The couple, Allison Leona Flood Lesh and Kristi Lyn Lesh, filed for divorce on Feb. 18 after separating in July. Their case is the first divorce sought by a same-sex couple in Bexar County, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Eight days after they filed, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages is unconstitutional. But Garcia stayed his ruling pending appeal. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott later appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case may be put on hold until the Texas Supreme Court decides whether to allow same-sex couples to divorce in Texas. The court heard arguments for same-sex divorce in the state back in November, when lawyers for an Austin couple, who were granted a divorce, and a Dallas couple, who were still trying to obtain one, argued that the state didn’t need to recognize the marriages to dissolve the unions since the state where they were married already recognized their unions as legal.

The court has yet to rule in the cases, but a decision is expected by summer before the court’s recess.

But the San Antonio couple wants the case to move forward because they are also battling for custody of their 13-month-old daughter. Flood, who hasn’t seen the child in six months,  wants to share custody, while Lesh doesn’t because her wife isn’t the girl’s biological or adoptive parent. The Austin couple also has a child, but the case didn’t deal with custody.

“This illustrates what Judge Garcia identified as (what) same-sex couples are deprived of,” Neel Lane, one of the San Antonio lawyers for the gay couples who sued the state over the same-sex marriage ban, told the San Antonio Express-News. “First, they are deprived of the benefits of an orderly dissolution of a marriage. Second, their children are denied the benefit of the many laws to protect their interests in the event of a divorce.”

The couple has a hearing on Thursday.

—  Dallasvoice

Frank Librio resigns his post as Dallas spokesman, takes CVB job

Frank Librio, shown here in the city's 'It Gets Better' video last year.

Frank Librio, shown here in the city’s ‘It Gets Better’ video last year.

City of Dallas spokesman Frank Librio has resigned from his role as managing director of the Public Information Office to become the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s vice president of communications.

Librio, who’s openly gay, has worked for the city for nearly a decade and was instrumental last year in the making of an “It Gets Better” video, which featured more than a dozen city employees including himself. His last day is March 21.

In his resignation letter, Librio called his new role a “dream job” where he’ll “continue to help promote our great city.”

“I have worked with so many smart and talented employees — all working together to make our city better,” he wrote in the letter. “I will look back on my time at City Hall fondly and with great pride and gratitude.”

Read his letter below.

—  Dallasvoice

Equality Texas calls on police, public to help solve lesbian couple’s death


A sketch of the man who police believe was the last person to be seen with the women.

Statewide LGBT advocacy organization Equality Texas is calling on the Department of Justice and local police to solve the deaths of a lesbian couple found dead in Port Bolivar over the weekend.

Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, both 24, were found Friday morning near the trash bin of a convenience store. Police have since released a sketch of the man who was last seen with the women.

Police believe the women were killed somewhere else before being moved to the trash bin. They were in Galveston County last week celebrating Mardi Gras before family members lost contact with them. Autopsy reports this week revealed that Cosby died of blunt force trauma and Jackson was shot to death.

“Equality Texas is deeply saddened by this murder, and our hearts and prayers are with Ms. Cosby’s and Ms. Jackson’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said in a statement. “For many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community this is a stark reminder that nearly a third of Texas’ hate crimes are motivated by bias against sexual orientation.  A report issued last year by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that 73.1 percent of all anti-LGBT homicide victims in 2012 were people of color.

“I have faith that the Galveston County Sheriff’s department is working hard to bring closure to this senseless tragedy and will work with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of Justice to fully investigate,” Smith added.

GetEQUAL TX activist Cd Kirven has set up a reward fund to encourage people to come forward with information. All money collected will go to Galveston County Crime Stoppers. Donations can be online here or checks and money orders can be mailed to Captain Cook with the Galveston County Crime Stoppers at 601 54th St. Galveston, TX 77551.

Investigators are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man in the sketch and locating the couple’s silver 2006 Kia Sorrento with paper tags. Anyone with information about the case should contact the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477.

—  Dallasvoice

Houston lesbian couple killed over weekend in Galveston County

Crystal Jackson and Britney Cosby

Crystal Jackson and Britney Cosby

Questions still remain after a lesbian couple was found near a store dumpster in Port Bolivar in Galveston County early Friday.

Crystal Jackson and her girlfriend, Britney Cosby, both 24, were found killed near a convenience store dumpster off State Highway 87 when a beer salesman noticed their bodies. The cause of the death hasn’t been determined.

Police released a sketch overnight of the man who was last seen with the women. He’s described as a black male with an average build, standing between 5 feet, 11 inches and 7 feet tall. He’s in his late 20s or early 30s.

Family members told Houston’s KTRK that Jackson was a mother to a 5-year-old girl. The couple had been together for two years.

The women were in Galveston last week for Mardi Gras and the two were last in contact with family on Wednesday. Police believe it’s possible the women were killed somewhere else before their bodies were moved.

Investigators are looking for Cosby’s missing vehicle, a silver 2006 Kia Sorrento with paper tags.

Anyone with information about the case should call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477 or Galveston County Crime Stoppers 409-763-8477.


A sketch of the man who police believe was the last person to be seen with the women.

Watch KTRK’s report below.

—  Dallasvoice

Pegasus Square Dance Club is back after decade dance break

Square dance

Members of Pegasus Square Dance Club dance during an organizing meeting in February. Weekly lessons at Resource Center begin March 9 at 2 p.m. and are open to the public. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

After a 12-year hiatus, LGBT square dancing is back.

Alan Josephson said several people from Dallas connected last summer at the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs Convention.

“It took a few months to identify a caller and locate a place to meet,” he said.

He explained that in square dancing, there’s a boy’s part and a girl’s part, but in gay square dancing, everyone gets to choose which part they want to dance. He encouraged people who aren’t usually great dancers to participate because square dancing doesn’t require much foot work.

“It’s fun and social,” Josephson said, “with lots of gay flourishes.”

A 10-week series of dance lessons begins at Resource Center on March 9 at 2 p.m. The first two afternoons are open dances. The full series of lessons are $90, but no one will be turned away because of ability to pay.

Josephson said square dancing is great exercise and is good for partners or singles, and the trans community participates in big numbers.

“There are more trans people in square dancing than I’ve seen anywhere in community activities,” Josephson said.

So does Josephson usually dance the boy part or the girl part?

“I’m bidancial,” he said.

More information at

—  David Taffet

Not a good night for incumbents in Dallas County or Texas

John Carona

State Sen. John Carona

Challengers did unusually well against incumbents in both the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday.

Several members of the Texas House and Senate will not be returning.

Sen. John Carona, whose district includes parts of Oak Lawn, lost his bid for re-election to tea party favorite Don Huffhines. Carona, a moderate Republican, has served in the Legislature since 1990.

Staunch LGBT ally Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth lost his bid for re-election to Ramon Romero who has no connection to the Democratic Party and has mostly donated to Republicans, according to the Burnt Orange Report. Burnam has the endorsement of all Democratic groups, including Hispanic groups.

Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, an Irving Republican, lost her bid for re-election to tea party favorite Rodney Anderson. During redistricting, Harper-Brown and Anderson were drawn into the same district. Anderson decided to sit out the last election.

Arlington Republican Diane Patrick lost her bid for re-election to Tony Tinderholt. Patrick was the author of the final anti-bullying bill that passed the Legislature in 2011. Among Tinderholt’s complaints against Patrick is a bill she authored that would have required kindergarten children to have a dental exam before entering first grade. He’s running on a platform of securing the border, gun rights and fighting Obamacare and abortion and an almost cartoonish picture on his homepage shows him with his buxom blond wife, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, in a tight red sweater.

Matt Rinaldi beat Carrollton Rep. Bennett Ratliff. Rinaldi is endorsed by Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shakelford, Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Values President Joanathan Saenz.

In other races, former Dallas City Councilwoman Linda Koop edged out Rep. Stefani Carter. Koop didn’t receive 50 percent of the vote, so they will face off in a runoff.

State District Judge Lena Levario is one of a number of incumbent Democratic judges who lost their primary races on Tuesday. Levario held District Attorney Craig Watkins in contempt of court last March. He was later acquitted, but his prosecutor, Tammy Kemp, challenged Levario, raised twice as much money and won the primary.

Other local judges were defeated for r-eelection by Watkins prosecutors. The list of defeated incumbents includes Lori Chrisman Hockett, Andy Chatham, Carlos Cortez, Marty Lowy, Larry Mitchell, Bill Mazur, Michael E. Miller and Chris Wilmoth.

In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, incumbent David Dewhurst received only 28 percent of the vote. Sen Dan Patrick polled 43 percent. They face each other in a runoff.

Metroplex Republicans President Rob Schlein lost his bid for re-election as Republican Precinct Chair 2069. Former Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez lost his race for re-election as Democratic Precinct Chair 2062.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Dallas City Council passes comprehensive LGBT resolution

ER 1

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings voiced his support Wednesday for the Equality Resolution during the City Council meeting. The resolution passed 13-2. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Dallas council members passed an equality resolution Wednesday morning almost a year after a marriage equality resolution failed to be considered by the council.

The measure passed 13-2 with only Councilmembers Vonciel Jones Hill and Sheffie Kadane voting against. It’s the council’s most significant show of support for the LGBT community in a decade when the council approved domestic partner benefits in 2004.

Mayor Mike Rawlings voted in favor after coming out in support of the resolution on Tuesday. Rawlings blocked last year’s resolution from being added to the agenda after former Councilwoman Delia Jasso pulled her support from a memo requiring the item to be voted on. More recently, Rawlings stalled the current resolution a week by having legal questions addressed during executive session last Wednesday.

“I am proud to have voted in favor of this,” Rawlings said after the resolution passed. “It’s very humbling to be mayor of this city. We have so many great communities. …There’s not a better  community in the city of Dallas than the LGBT community.”

—  Dallasvoice

LGBT candidates, allies win big in Texas primary


Out JP candidate Sara Martinez and former City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, surrounded by supporters, both made it into runoffs in Dallas County. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Openly LGBT candidates and the community’s allies swept the Texas Democratic primary Tuesday, winning the party’s nomination while others made it into runoffs.

In Dallas County, out justice of the peace precinct 5, place 1 candidate Sara Martinez led in the crowded race after early voting. She secured a place in the runoff alongside Melissa Bellan. Other out candidate John McCall came in fourth in the race.

Out candidate Susan Lopez-Craig came in third in the precinct 5 constable’s race. Incumbent Beth Villarreal and Michael Orozco will face off in a runoff.

In the race for county treasurer, former Dallas Councilwoman and LGBT ally Pauline Medrano and Bennie Elnora Brown came out on top to make it into the runoff.

Queer state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, easily won re-election, defeating her only Democratic challenger, Rey Sepulveda. Gonzalez previously told Dallas Voice she expected a challenger based on her outspokenness on women’s and LGBT rights. She’s one of five openly gay state House candidates, but the only one with a contested primary. With no Republican challenger in November, she’ll serve another term.

—  Dallasvoice

Wendy Davis wins Texas Democratic gubernatorial bid, will face Greg Abbott

wendy-davis-hrc-blog450As expected, Fort Worth state Sen. Wendy Davis secured the Democratic nomination for Texas governor Tuesday night.

“I am proud to be your candidate for governor,” Davis told a crowd of supporters at her campaign headquarters in Fort Worth. “And I’m ready to fight for you and all hardworking Texans. Now is the time to fight for our future.  This is not the time to stand still.”

Davis, who’s endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Texas, is a longtime LGBT ally, having supported Fort Worth’s nondiscrimination ordinance during her time on the Fort Worth City Council to sponsoring LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation and co-authoring an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation.

She came out for marriage equality weeks before a federal judge found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. After the ruling last week, she released a statement commending the judge, saying “I believe that all Texans who love one another and are committed to spending their lives together should be allowed to marry.”

Davis won the nomination with 77 percent of the vote. She’ll go on to face Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in November. Abbott won the Republican nomination with 92 percent of the vote.

And Tuesday night, while Davis didn’t specifically mention LGBT Texans, she promised to fight for the freedoms for every Texan.

“I will be a governor who fights for all freedoms — not certain freedoms for certain people,” Davis said. “Greg Abbott wants to dictate for all women, including victims of rape or incest, what decisions they should make. I will be a governor who fights for Texas’ future.  Greg Abbott? He’s just a defender of the status quo.”

—  Dallasvoice