Dallas councilmembers call for equal treatment for gays in policies, services

Openly gay city of Dallas employees Theresa O'Donnell and John Rogers addressed the committee Monday about the benefits of marriage equality. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Openly gay city of Dallas employees Theresa O’Donnell and John Rogers addressed the committee Monday about the benefits of marriage equality. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Several Dallas councilmembers called for a list of internal issues to be addressed where LGBT city employees are not treated equality compared to their heterosexual co-workers.

The request came Monday after two presentations before the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, one on the financial benefits of marriage equality and one on the city’s 2002 nondiscrimination ordinance.

Theresa O’Donnell, interim assistant city manager, touched on many of the 1,138 rights same-sex coupes are denied without marriage, including health, tax, estate planning and death benefits.

Some of those benefits, like military and veteran benefits, are granted to legally married same-sex couples regardless of where they live, including Texas, which has a constitutional marriage amendment. Others, like Social Security, are limited to the state where the couple lives.

Councilman Jerry Allen, who chairs the committee, asked how the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage complicated the issue by state.

John Rogers, assistant city attorney, said it complicates the matter greatly because for couples in different states “it’s going to be very, very confusing about what benefits and rights they can or can’t get” as the agencies over federal laws define what their policy will be.

“Marriage is a commitment but it’s a contract. It’s a commitment entering into a contract,” Allen said. “If you live in Texas, you don’t have the same rights that you would if you lived in Hawaii.”

—  Dallasvoice

VA may withhold home loan from Dallas gay couple over Texas marriage ban

department_of_veterans_affairs_round_stickers-rc853e2f1e5b943d88d67df4ae0b8863c_v9waf_8byvr_512Dallas couple former Army Sgt. Earl Rector and Alan Rodriguez were surprised Tuesday when they were told that the Veterans Affairs Department may not give them a home loan because the office won’t count the income of the non-veteran spouse in states where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized.

The couple sold their home in November and got married later that month in Seattle before signing a contract on a new home. But when they found out they might not get the veterans home loan, their plans of owning the new home became jeopardized.

“We found out yesterday that VA told our lender that they would not guarantee the loan,” Rector told the Marine Corps Times. The notice came eight days before closing, and “after we were pre-approved weeks ago,” he said.

The couple could not immediately be reached for comment.

While the lender is dealing with the VA to ensure the loan is issued to the couple, this isn’t the first instance where a non-marriage-equality state has denied a veterans home loan to a same-sex couple.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is currently considering legislation that would order the VA to recognize same-sex couples in every state instead of the state’s definition of marriage.

But in the meantime, the Rector and Rodriguez could face a breach of contract penalty if the loan doesn’t go through.

“The seller is an attorney, which could make our lives difficult,” Rector said.

“Our financing bank is doing everything they can, but the VA approval process has been ambiguous and now appears impossibly complex and arbitrary.”

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas drag queen turns herself in to police, charged with negligent injuring

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Armani Nicole Davenport

Armani Nicole Davenport turned herself in to authorities in New Orleans Wednesday in a negligent injury case.

Davenport, 32, is a local drag queen who lives in Dallas but is from Louisiana. Police announced last week that they were searching for her in order to question her about a case involving negligent injuring of a person and accusations of practicing medicine without a license.

Davenport travels around Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, performing in pageants She recently participated in the Miss Gay Texas 2014 and the Miss Gay Dallas Metroplex contest in 2013.

Police believe she injected silicone into the hips and buttocks of two women late last month and also believe she may have injected people in other cities.

The two women were allegedly injected on Oct. 24. One of the women returned a few hours later and found the friend in “respiratory distress,” according to a police report. The police believe the woman’s body rejected the injections.

Davenport was booked on a count of negligent injuring with bail set at $50,000. A negligent injury conviction can carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and a six-month prison sentence.

—  Dallasvoice

New Orleans police looking for Dallas drag queen Armani Nicole Davenport

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Armani Nicole Davenport

New Orleans police are trying to reach Armani Nicole Davenport as a person of interest in a case involving negligent injuring of a person and accusations of practicing medicine without a license.

Davenport, who is from Louisiana but lives in Dallas, according to Facebook, is “said to administer ‘silicone’ injections to clients as travel is undertaken throughout the southern United States,” police said in a statement.

She’s participated in the Miss Gay Texas 2014 and the Miss Gay Dallas Metroplex contest in 2013.

Anyone with information on Davenport’s location should call New Orleans police Detective Ed Johnson at 504-658-6060.

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas Stonewall Dems targeted by tea party PAC, but complaint dismissed

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A tea party political action committee that has filed three complaints with the state ethics commission against the San Antonio Stonewall chapter also filed a complaint against the Dallas chapter.

The Texas Ethics Advisory Board, which has no affiliation with the state ethics commission, reviewed the San Antonio chapter’s campaign finance report because its an LGBT organization.

Omar Narvaez, president of the Dallas chapter, said he thought the man behind the PAC targeted Stonewall chapters because they are LGBT groups. He said the complaint against the Dallas group centered around a wrong address. The group received a letter Tuesday from the state ethics commission dismissing the claim for a lack of sufficient information in the PAC’s complaint.

“Basically this organization — and it’s one guy — has decided that he has nothing better to do in the world than look for any organization that has supported anything to do with LGBT equality,” Narvaez said. “I guess he saw the name Stonewall and is trying [to look into every group with that name].”

—  Dallasvoice

DART passes partner health benefits

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Members of the LGBT community gathered outside the DART board room after passage of the plus-one plan

After debating the issue for more than a year, DART passed what it called its Healthcare Equalization plan that gives its employees domestic partner benefits this evening. The vote was 10-3. Michael Cheney and Randall Chrisman, who walked out of the board to break quorum two weeks ago, voted against the plan along with Mark Enoch.

The so-called plus-one plan allows any DART employee to put another adult in the household on the DART healthcare plan.

A number of speakers addressed the DART board at the end of the meeting. Rather than asking for their votes as they have for more than a year, speakers thanked the members for voting for the plan.

More on DART in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

DVtv: Dallas Day of Decision rally

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In this week’s issue, we explain the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Texans.

But on Wednesday night, after the news had sunk in, LGBT Dallasites and people around the nation celebrated with rallies.

Cars honked and the crowd swelled Wednesday, and even when a woman took the mike and went on an anti-LGBT rant, the audience carried on in celebration of the historic decisions.

Watch our video below.

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas among best cities for travelers

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When the gay travel writers’ group left Dallas last week, chances are some of them had a pretty satisfying experience. That would be borne out by a recent survey by CardHub.com about the best (and worst) cities for summer travel.

Based on analysis of information from Kayak.com about 30 major U.S. cities, the survey came up with a list of departure cities that were “best” in terms of average time and money spent, and ranked Dallas No. 2, behind winner Denver for domestic travel; for international travel, Washington, D.C., was tops. When you combine domestic and international information, Dallas came in fourth overall, behind Chicago, Washington and New York.

Among the worst wasn’t far away, though. San Antonio was exceeded only by Riverside, Calif., in terms of bad domestic departures.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas unveils EPIC crime-fighting program, which includes Cedar Springs

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Crime hotspots the new EPIC initiative will target. (From DPD)

A new Dallas initiative will bring community leaders and police together to improve crime hotspots across the city.

Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas police Chief David Brown launched EPIC (Economic Partners Investing in Communities) today as a partnership between the city and growth and crime programs.

The goal is to target several TAAGs, or Target Area Action Grids, that have a high concentration of crime, as shown in a Dallas police photo above. The areas include the Wycliff-Lemmon TAAG, which encompasses the Cedar Springs gay entertainment district.

Crime in the Wycliff-Lemmon TAAG has decreased immensely over the last few years. Hopefully, this new partnership will help it decrease even more.

On a related note, Oak Lawn crime watch leader Nancy Weinberger sent over the below map showing where offenses occurred in April. The Oak Lawn crime watch group holds its regular monthly meeting at noon on Wednesday at the Oak Lawn library.

—  Dallasvoice

PHOTOS: Protesters, including Phil Donahue, descend on Bush library

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Our writer Sarah Denise Morgan lives close to SMU, so she was able to get easy access to all the goings-on at the Bush Library. She files this report.

The inaugural events at the Bush Library brought out peaceful protesters including a protest advocate, Phil Donahue, who commented, “We’re fighting the last war.”

Donahue was onsite across from the Bush library, where space was allocated for the demonstration amidst threats to sue the city if the protest was not allowed. “Millions are told they are not patriotic [for protesting] and no one gets elected class president for doing this.” Donahue felt it was important to take this stand.

Another particularly peaceful warrior, CNN’s openly gay  iReporter Joey Daniel Retana, who lives in Fort Worth, was in full protest regalia wearing an orange prison jump suit with a black hood and a sign reading “Torture” in protest of the Abu Ghraib incidents and recent findings. “The idea that we can vote someone in as commander and chief and then prove that they were torturing, we are vindicated in our stand,” he said.

Retana stood for freedom and human rights, saying, “Being here is the right thing to do. We are all entitled to some kind of freedom. As a gay man, it empowers me in every way. I feel empowered to speak out for equality for every community.”

Retana was particularly happy to see celebrity support from Donahue and made sure to let Donahue know his mother was a big fan.

More photos below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones