Mayor Rawlings backs equality resolution before Wednesday vote

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings plans to support the LGBT equality resolution when it goes before the full council during a briefing Wednesday.

“Mayor Rawlings supports the resolution in its current form,” Rawlings spokesman Sam Merten emailed to Dallas Voice.

Councilmembers will debate the resolution Wednesday and can make changes to the measure.

After fighting the marriage equality resolution last year, calling it a “misuse” of council time and blocking it from the agenda, Rawlings placed the current resolution on the agenda for this week. But he delayed the vote a week so the council could ask legal questions in executive session last week.

LGBT advocates showed up in red to urge the council to support the resolution, which is expected to pass with 13 votes now that Rawlings is in favor. Councilmembers Vonciel Jones Hill and Sheffie Kadane, who’ve both spoken out against the LGBT community based on religious views, are sure to vote against the measure. Kadane voted against the resolution in committee.

Supporters are encouraged to pack the 9 a.m. meeting again Wednesday dressed in red.

The resolution is a comprehensive statement of support that instructs city staff to fix inequities that exist for LGBT employees. Staff will report to the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee quarterly and changes requiring a vote will have to be approved by the council.

The “resolution supporting equal rights for the employees of the City of Dallas, citizens within the City of Dallas, and visitors to the City of Dallas to address disparate treatment, if any, of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons,” the agenda states about the item.

The resolution, below, has a few minor revisions explaining the process of the city manager and city staff to implement changes. Staff is encouraged to make administrative changes and bring others before committee and then the council for final approval.

“The resolution itself does not change any existing City procedure or ordinance, nor does the resolution itself authorize any actions or expenditures,” the agenda item reads.  ”Rather, the resolution directs the City Manager and the City Council’s appointees to the pension boards to explore actions to further the goals of the resolution and initiate any necessary processes through the appropriate channels to amend City policies, procedures, or ordinances. The City Manager or his designee is directed to report quarterly to the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee to keep City Council informed of progress toward implementing this resolution and any proposed actions. Any changes to existing City ordinances or expenditures of funds will require further City Council action.”

Read the resolution below.

—  Dallasvoice

Formal opposition to San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance ends

Councilman Diego Bernal

Councilman Diego Bernal

After the San Antonio City Council passed a nondiscrimination ordinance last September, opponents tried to force a repeal election. To do so they had 40 days to collect signatures from 10 percent of the city’s voters. They managed to get only about a third of the signatures needed.

The group’s next target was Councilman Diego Bernal, author of the nondiscrimination ordinance.

To recall the councilman, opponents needed signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters in the district. Although they promoted the idea that the ordinance allowed men to use women’s bathrooms where they would assault little girls, the group was unable to collect the needed signatures by the March deadline. They were 1,000 signatures short of the 5,800 needed.

The new strategy is to support an opponent of Bernal in the 2015 election. He ran unopposed in the previous election.

Bernal thanked his staff for acting professionally despite the amount of hate mail they received.

Gina Casteneda, organizer of the opposition to the ordinance, has taken the position of Texas field organizer for Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group funded by the Koch brothers.

—  David Taffet

Outside lawyer to appeal Kentucky gay-marriage ruling after attorney general refuses

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Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway began choking up at the end of his statement in which he said he would not defend discrimination.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday morning the state will hire outside counsel to appeal a judicial ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed outside the state, The Courier Journal reported.

The announcement followed state Attorney General Jack Conway’s emotional announcement that he would not appeal U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II’s ruling and would not pursue any more stays.

“Judge Heyburn got it right,” he said at his Frankfort office.

By appealing, he said, he would be defending discrimination “and that I will not do.”

Conway said he had prayed on the decision and felt he is doing what is right. He said that he was sworn to defend both the constitutions of Kentucky and the United States.

“It’s about placing people over politics,” he said.

He began choking up at the end of the statement before leaving without taking questions.

Beshear’s office emailed a statement soon after the announcement saying that an outside counsel would be hired to appeal the decision and ask for a stay pending appeal.

Heyburn put enforcement of his order on hold for 20 days to allow state officials time to figure out how to implement the ruling. Conway and Gov. Steve Beshear had asked Heyburn for a 90-day reprieve.

Heyburn’s stay, announced Feb. 28, came about one hour after a hearing at which Assistant Attorney General Clay Barkley argued that the state needs to meet with local and state agencies to see what laws, rules and policies will be affected and to ensure that all 120 counties respond consistently.

Heyburn’s order to the state requiring the recognition of same-sex marriages performed out-of-state came after a Feb. 12 ruling that Kentucky laws and its constitutional amendment banning the recognition of same-sex marriages violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

He made that order final Feb. 27, meaning it was in effect briefly before the Feb. 28 stay.

—  Steve Ramos

After 53 years, Evans and Harris pack the church for their wedding

Methodist ministers from around the Meteroplex and as far away as Austin attended the wedding of Jack Evans and George Harris at Midway Hills Christian Church.

Harris and Evans are members of Northaven United Methodist Church. The denomination does not allow same-sex weddings to be performed in their churches or Methodist ministers to perform those ceremonies.

The Rev. Bill McElvaney, who is retired, announced at Northaven on Jan. 15 that he would perform same-sex weddings.

On Saturday afternoon, McElvaney walked down the aisle but sat as he officiated, because he had a round of chemotherapy just days before. He sounded strong and brought the crowd of several hundred to their feet several times as he blessed the couple who has been together 53 years.

The issue of same-sex marriage is dividing the United Methodist Church and has heated up since the Rev. Frank Schaefer was defrocked last fall for performing his son’s wedding.

“It’s not my intent to politicize this marriage,” McElvaney said during the wedding. “But…”

With news cameras from most local stations at the church and four stories about the wedding in the Dallas Morning News, there was little doubt the wedding was political.

“Jack and George are challenging the United Methodist Church to become a fully inclusive church,” McElvaney said.

He said he wanted to correct any news reports that said he was a willing participant.

“I’m privileged to be part of it,” he said.

The Rev. Arthur Stewart, pastor of Midway Hills, said he got calls from other pastors of his denomination as news broke about the wedding at his church. He was told that what he was doing was a disgrace to the denomination. He answered that it would be a disgrace if he didn’t welcome the couple to his church. Midway Hill is a member of The Chistian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“When it comes to justice, our doors are always open,” Stewart said.

The Rev. Sid Hall is the pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Austin. He said he performed a number of same weddings at his church between 1992, when his church because a reconciling congregation, and 1996, when the United Methodist Church outlawed the practice. Since then, his church has performed no weddings, gay or straight.

Since then, he said, a number of same-sex weddings have been performed in churches around Texas, just nothing as open and public as this event.

Hall speculated what his and every other congregation would be without their LGBT members, gay music directors and organists.”

“Worship would suck,” Hall said.

He wouldn’t speculate on whether charges would be brought against McElvaney or not. Anyone within the denomination may file a complaint, he explained, and the local bishop may decide to elevate the complaint to charges.

Hall, however, thought there couldn’t be a worse case than this one for the church to use as an example — a pastor in his 80s undergoing chemotherapy celebrating the lives of a couple that’s been together longer than most straight couples.

McElvaney said he wouldn’t speculate about whether charges will be filed.

“It’s their business what they do,” McElvaney said. “And I’ll deal with it.”

At the reception, held at Northaven United Methodist Church, McElvaney had one wish for Harris and Evans.

“Continued joy, health and happiness,” he said.

Evans and Harris don’t think things will be much different now that they’re married. Harris said they’re not planning to have kids.

“Hell, he won’t even let me have a dog,” Harris said.

—  David Taffet

Legacy begins 25th anniversary celebration with Mad Men and PositiviTea

Mad-MenLegacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage kicks off its 25th anniversary celebration in March with Mad Men, Cocktails and Canapes, a 1960s-inspired cocktail party.

This exclusive event features live ’60s-era entertainment provided by Vince Martinez. Bartenders will be shaking and stirring Martinis, Manhattans, Old Fashions, and Pink Ladies. Savory hors d’oeuvres and traditional canapés will also be served to top off the 60s atmosphere.

So, dress in your best 1960s attire to mingle among the Grace Kellys, Marilyn Monroes, Jackie Kennedys and Rock Hudsons.

positivitea“This weekend of celebratory events kicks off our 25 year anniversary. We start with an elegant evening of Mad Men, then have a late tea the next day at Positivitea,” Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove said.

Mad Men takes place at Sky Club Roof Top Lounge at the Mayfair on Turtle Creek, 3401 Lee Parkway on March 1 from 7–10 p.m. Tickets are available online.

PositiviTea is a celebration of the special talents and gifts of the Grace Project women living with HIV. The event features a showcase of Dallas fashion and art and takes place at Royal Sixty, 150 Turtle Creek Blvd., #202 on March 2 from 3–5 p.m.

“We are asking the community to consider becoming an elite Silver Season Pass Holder, which entitles you to all of our events and special treatment, along with things like naming rights to the counseling and Cottage rooms,” Grove said. “We hope that people will acknowledge our anniversary by showing their support for us.”

—  David Taffet

Overturning Texas marriage amendment

About 50 people gathered at the Legacy of Love monument in Oak Lawn after the anti-gay marriage amendment was declared unconstitutional on Feb. 26.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Pop & Comic Expo comes to Richardson this weekend

DallasCPE Banner 8The Dallas Comic and Pop Expo comes to the Richardson Civic Center this weekend and has plenty of LGBT content, according to organizer Zach McGinnis.

Among the celebrities attending is David Yost, the Blue Power Ranger.

Yost came out publicly in 2010 and said he left the original series after its third season because he was called “faggot” on the set and endured harassment from writers, directors, producers and crew. At the time he said he was still struggling with his sexual orientation.

After leaving the show, Yost went through two years of conversion therapy, but in 2012, he began appearing again at fan conventions.

Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard) and Mari Deese Hampton (Harold & Kumar) and Black Power Ranger Walter Jones also be on hand.

Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, leads karaoke 8 p.m.–midnight on Friday.

LGBT SciFi Speed Dating takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Creator Ryan Glitch said this is the perfect way for people to meet who aren’t necessarily good at starting a conversation with strangers.

“What’s your favorite movie,” he suggested as a great opening line.

He said each speed date lasts three minutes and at the end of the hour, everyone is matched with a phone number of someone they showed interest in.

Glitch said his straight speed dating has resulted in 10 marriages and 19 engagements. He’s hoping LGBT speed dating will be equally successful.

McGinnis said he’s excited about an art auction Sautrday night that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project. Artists inlcude Phil Hester, Jamal Igle, Ande Parks, Shane Davis and local artist Robert Luedke. Several attending artists will be doing live work that will be auctioned at the end of the evening.

Feb. 28: Doubletree Hilton Dallas/Richardson, 1981 North Central Expwy. Registration at 5 p.m. Karaoke 8 p.m.–midnight.
March 1: Richardson Civic Center, 411 West Arapaho Road, Richardson. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Doubletree Hilton Dallas/Richardson art auction 7 p.m.–midnight.
March 2: Richardson Civic Center, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
DallasComicAndPopExpo.com

—  David Taffet

LGBT advocates plan to red out Dallas City Council meeting tomorrow

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Wednesday’s Dallas City Council may be déjà vu for some LGBT advocates and allies when the gallery is full of red like it was in June for an LGBT equality resolution.

But this time LGBT advocates hope to encourage councilmembers to support a resolution and pass it, instead of express anger for the resolution that failed to go before the council last year.

The “Comprehensive Statement of Support” resolution passed committee last week and was slated to go before the full council for a vote Wednesday, but Mayor Mike Rawlings delayed the council vote  because he wants to discuss legal implications in executive session before the full council votes on it.

The new measure directs the city manager and city staff to resolve the inequities in city employment for its LGBT employees, as well as help the city be an advocate for state and federal LGBT equality.

In response to the delay by Rawlings, advocates plan to show up in mass at City Hall Wednesday wearing red to address the council and show support in the audience for the resolution.

Advocates have launched a Facebook page called “Dallas LGBT Equality Resolution” to gain support for the measure. It has received 626 likes so far.

LGBT people and allies planning on attending the meeting are encouraged to show up to meet with Councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston at 8 a.m. on the fifth floor before the 9 a.m. council meeting on the sixth floor. If people cannot attend the meeting, advocates urge supports to contact their councilmember.

Meanwhile, GetEQUAL TX issued travel advisory Tuesday for LGBT people coming to Dallas. The statewide activist organization issued a similar warning in San Antonio during the summer when the discussion around a nondiscrimination ordinance divided the city.

“This alert has been issued based on the fact that Dallas — the 9th largest city in the country — has refused multiple efforts by the community to pass resolutions backing marriage equality, employment nondiscrimination, and most recently a comprehensive statement of support for the LGBT community,” GetEQUAL TX says in a press release.

Read the full travel advisory below.

—  Dallasvoice

Kilgore ISD settles outing case

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Skye Wyatt

Five years after two coaches outed a Kilgore ISD student to her mother, the school district decided to settle the case.

In 2009, Skye Wyatt’s softball coaches outed her to her mother. She was 16 at the time. The coaches locked her in a locker room where they threatened and interrogated her.

Wyatt claimed outing her violated her right to privacy under the U.S. and Texas constitutions.

The trial court found in her favor, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision. That gave Texas schools the right to out students to their parents and reveal any information they might have about sexual activity, even if it would endanger the life or well-being of the student.

In addition to paying Wyatt $77,500 to settle the suit, the school district added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy and will have all staff attend a 30-minute in-service training on the subject that will be repeated annually.

—  David Taffet

TCU GSA raising money for LGBT prom

gaypromFor some LGBT people, the memory of their high school prom wasn’t everything they dreamed it’d be, or in some cases, not even close.

But the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas Christian University is partnering with the university’s social work class of 2015 to ensure that LGBT students and its allies have a second chance at a memorable prom.

“This event will allow college students and above to participate in the high school tradition of going to prom that they may have missed out on due to discrimination,” TCU GSA President Shelbie Rosenblum wrote on the GoFundMe website. “Both organizations feel that the LGBTQ community and their allies should be able to experience this special moment with the person of their choice. … We support the LGBTQ community of DFW and believe that this will be a treasured moment for those who attend.”

The fund aims to raise $4,000 for an enchanting evening with food, a photo both, DJ and elegant decorations, all without charging admission for the event. So far, $440 has been donated.

The prom, while hosted at TCU, will be open to other universities and students in the DFW area on Saturday, April 12.

—  Dallasvoice