Delia Jasso to recognize employees featured in city’s ‘It Gets Better’ video

Councilwoman Delia Jasso addresses an audience of  about 80 people at the LGBT Pride month kick-off Wednesday in the Flag Room at City Hall. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Councilwoman Delia Jasso at Dallas City Hall

Councilwoman Delia Jasso will recognize Dallas city employees who participated in the city’s “It Gets Better” video released in January at the council briefing tomorrow.

The video includes 13 LGBT city employees who told their coming out and bullying experiences. They talk about challenges they faced, hoping to inspire others who are struggling with their identity. Also featured are Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Manager Mary Suhm.

The video is part of the It Gets Better Project, whose mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that their situations will get better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.

At tomorrow’s council briefing, Councilwoman Delia Jasso will recognize the city employees who participated, as well as Ed Oakley, Gregg Kilhoffer and Caven Enterprises, who funded the video’s production.

The meeting takes place at Dallas City Hall, Council Briefing Room – 6ES, 1500 Marilla St. tomorrow at 9 a.m.

—  David Taffet

Dallas City Council candidates woo LGBT voters at DGLA forum

Candidates at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s LGBT forum at Sue Ellen’s on April 14. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Candidates at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s LGBT forum at Sue Ellen’s on April 14. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Eight candidates vying for the LGBT community’s vote in the May 11 City Council election spoke about their support and advocacy during the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s forum Sunday.

LGBT allies and incumbents Delia Jasso and Scott Griggs, who are facing off in a redrawn District 1, attended, as did DISD Trustee Adam Medrano and openly gay real estate developer Herschel Weisfeld in District 2, Claudia Meyer in District 3, and Bobby Abtahi, Philip Kingston and Jim Rogers in District 14.

Several candidates addressed the need of the city to provide more funding and education on HIV prevention, especially among young minorities. Weisfeld and Abtahi said the city should spend more funds on educational programs.

“When you prevent one person from contracting HIV, it pays for the whole program,” Abtahi said.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas City Council candidates to screen for Stonewall Democrats on Saturday

Stonewall

Twelve candidates or their surrogates from six Dallas City Council races will appear at Resource Center Dallas on Saturday as they vie for endorsements from Stonewall Democrats.

Everyone is invited to attend the candidate screening sessions, but only those who have been members of Stonewall Democrats for more than 30 days may vote on the endorsement recommendations, which will be ratified at the group’s next general meeting on March 19.

Opening remarks and instructions begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and candidates will appear by district. Oak Cliff-area races will be covered in the morning, with Oak Lawn-area races in the afternoon.

Stonewall political chair Jeff Strater is organizing the screenings. He said each candidate will be given three minutes to make a statement and then members can ask questions for seven minutes.

Under Stonewall’s bylaws, the organization may endorse only Democrats, even though the races are nonpartisan.

Of the seven people running in District 14, five have predominantly Republican voting histories, according to Strater. Phillip Kingston signed a pledge affiliating with the Democratic Party to qualify for the Stonewall endorsement. Bobby Abtahi’s most recent voting is in Democratic primaries, which qualifies him without signing a pledge, Strater said. Only Jim Rogers has a record of voting exclusively in Democratic primaries.

The full schedule for Saturday’s screenings is below.

—  David Taffet

Griggs, Jasso to battle for gay vote in District 1 after lawsuit dropped

Scott Griggs and Delia Jasso

It’s looking more and more like next year’s District 1 Dallas City Council race will pit incumbents Scott Griggs and Delia Jasso against each other.

The Dallas Morning News reports that plaintiffs have dropped a federal lawsuit challenging the city’s redistricting map on the grounds that it discriminates against Hispanic voters. The map placed Jasso, who currently represents District 1, and Griggs, who represents District 3, in the same North Oak Cliff district.

The news brings added significance to resolutions Griggs says he plans to introduce next year in support of marriage equality and statewide ban on anti-LGBT employment discrimination.

I don’t think there’s any doubt the resolutions are partly designed to help Griggs compete for the gay vote against Jasso, who created the city’s LGBT Task Force after taking office in 2009.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the resolutions are overdue, and Jasso is among seven council members who’ve said they’ll support them.

The downside is that both Griggs and Jasso are LGBT allies, and one of them will likely be leaving the council.

The filing deadline for May 11 city elections is March 1.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Transgender Day of Remembrance at Cathedral of Hope

A rose was placed in a basket for each transgender person remembered at Transgender Day of Remembrance. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

More than 100 gathered Sunday evening at the Cathedral of Hope to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso presented a city declaration marking the day as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Dallas, and Black Trans Men Inc. founder Carter Davis was the featured speaker. Euless eighth-grader Hannah Walter spoke about why she is an ally.

Mosaic Song, a small chorus from Resounding Harmony, performed several times during the service.

The reading of names included 39 transgender people brutally murdered during the previous 12 months including Janette Tovar of Dallas. Tovar’s was the only death marked as having an arrest made in the murder.

A rose was placed in a basket at the front of the church for each name read.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

Dallas wraps up June Pride series

The panel, from left: Roger Poindexter, Lorie Burch, Scott Whittall, the Rev. Dawson Taylor, Harold Steward, Cece Cox, Pastor Jon Haack and David Fisher. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

The city of Dallas wrapped up its LGBT Pride Month celebration Wednesday with a discussion of how the LGBT community has enriched the city.

A seven-member panel moderated by Fahari Arts Institute founder Harold Steward discussed the contributions their LGBT organizations have made to Dallas over the years and where they envision Dallas in the future. They then took questions from the handful of people in attendance.

The event in the City Hall Flag Room was the last event in the city’s Pride series “Honor, Educate and Celebrate.”

Panelists included Resource Center Dallas CEO and Executive Director Cece Cox, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Executive Director Scott Whittall, Turtle Creek Chorale Executive Director David Fisher, GBLT Chamber of Commerce board member Lorie Burch, Lambda Legal South Central Region Executive Director Roger Poindexter, Cathedral of Hope Executive Minister the Rev. Dawson Taylor and Promise Metropolitan Community Church senior Pastor Jon Haack.

City Council was in executive session so members could not attend, but Councilwoman Delia Jasso stepped out to speak briefly about her pride in the LGBT Task Force for planning great events over the last four weeks. Councilman Scott Griggs also stopped by the Flag Room and spoke briefly. The series began with a kickoff followed by conversations about city services and out officials. Jasso expressed a desire to have another celebration next June and promised it would be “bigger and better.”

While many of the organizations began as a way of welcoming the LGBT community with safe havens to worship, gain access to HIV/AIDS care and enjoy a safe evening out or unbiased legal council, the panel focused on how far Dallas has grown over the decades and how spread out the LGBT community has become. The days have passed where members of the LGBT community only live near Cedar Springs and the only bar patrons along the entertainment strip are gay.

Instead, the LGBT community and its businesses have integrated into Dallas while still maintaining a focus on their original customers, Whittall said. Even religious organizations have grown in attendance with allies who no longer find a barrier between spirituality and sexuality, but Taylor added that the next step is working from being a community that is tolerated to one that is accepted and celebrated.

Task Force member Pam Gerber closed the event by expressing how proud she was to have a June Pride celebration and welcomed input for next year’s events. She said that while the community is working toward acceptance, she “just wants to be.”

“I want to be nothing extraordinary, nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “I just want to be.”

Suggestions for next year’s Pride can be made to Councilwoman Delia Jasso at 214-670-4052.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas city officials, LGBT Task Force members kick off Pride Month events at City Hall

Councilwoman Delia Jasso addresses an audience of about 80 people during an LGBT Pride Month kick-off Wednesday in the Flag Room at City Hall.

The Dallas City Council and the city of Dallas officially proclaimed June Dallas’ LGBT Pride Month at a Pride kick-off event Wednesday.

About 80 people gathered in the Flag Room on the sixth floor of City Hall to hear council members speak about the LGBT community and the pride the city shares with them in the month of June.

Last year marked the first time Dallas held a reception recognizing LGBT Pride month, holding a one-day gathering for officials and community members to celebrate the city’s diversity.

This year a series of events will offer something every Wednesday in June, highlighting the importance of different accomplishments of the city’s LGBT community.

Councilwoman Delia Jasso spoke at the kick-off first and addressed the success of her LGBT Task Force, which she said has accomplished a lot in the three years since it formed. She said it has helped the Dallas police install a full-time LGBT liaison officer, worked on implementing LGBT sensitivity training for Dallas Fire-Rescue, and reviewed the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance complaints with a goal of helping improve the process.

“Perhaps the most significant accomplishment for the city is the embracing of the LGBT community.” Jasso said. “Not only do we embrace the LGBT community but we also celebrate and most especially this month.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings could not attend the kick-off because he was at a funeral, but he prepared a video message for the audience to view.

“Dallas is a city that really celebrates its diversity,” Rawlings said in the video. “I think it’s what makes us strong, it’s what makes us growing, it’s interesting. It’s a lot more fun. I think one of the strongest — strongest — communities we that have in all the diversity, a rainbow if you will, is the LGBT community.

“Thank you. I want to say, personally, thank you, for the coaching, the dialogue and the support that you’ve given me as my time as mayor,” Rawlings said. “I think we agree on so much. Sometimes we haven’t agreed. But you’ve stayed steadfast, talked about the issues that are important to you and treated me with a real honor and respect. Your style, your character, it’s truly something to be proud of. I love the way you advocate for your issues. I’m proud just to have you in Dallas.”

Rawlings also said he was proud to have the Pride flag in the Flag Room among the flags of the world for the entire month of June. A Pride flag also hangs in over a railing in the first-floor atrium of City Hall.

Council members who attended Wednesday’s kickoff were Jasso, Angela Hunt, Jerry Allen, Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, Scott Griggs, Linda Koop, Monica Alonzo, Carolyn Davis. Other prominent city officials in attendance included City Manager Mary Suhm and Fire-Rescue Chief Louie Bright.

Hunt and Medrano also spoke briefly, along with task force members Omar Narvaez, Cd Kirven, Bright and Carter Brown, founder of Black TransMen, Inc.

Task force members read the proclamation that declared June LGBT Pride month in Dallas before the close of the event. (Watch the reading below.)

The Turtle Creek Chorale provided musical entertainment, singing “God Bless America” at the beginning of the kick-off and closed the gathering with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Look for an in-depth story about the Pride events in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

More photos and video below.

—  Anna Waugh

LGBT advocates take their fight to have mayor sign marriage pledge to the Dallas City Council

LGBT advocates who attended today's council meeting gather in the Flag Room afterward. They are, from left, Daniel Cates, Patti Fink, Dennis Coleman, Cece Cox, Omar Narvaez and Rafael McDonnell. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

It’s becoming clear that Dallas’ LGBT community doesn’t plan to let Mayor Mike Rawlings off the hook over his refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Five LGBT advocates spoke during public comments at the start of today’s regular City Council meeting, calling on Rawlings to sign the pledge — and asking the City Council to formally back pro-equality state and federal legislation.

“I’m here to ask Mayor Rawlings to do something, and I’m here to ask you as council people to support him in signing the pledge for marriage equality,” said Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, the first of the speakers. ”This is a matter of standing for justice. Pure and simple, that’s what it’s about. ”

Cox noted that Rawlings has argued that marriage equality doesn’t fall within the mayor’s duties.

“When one stands up for justice, it requires courage,” Cox said. “It requires going outside the regular rules and the regular lines, and that’s what I’m here to ask for today.”

—  John Wright

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Monday’s 1st-ever LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall

We apologize for the shaky camera, especially at the beginning (I blame David Taffet). But below is video, in three parts, from Monday’s LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall. To view more photos of the event, go here, and for our story, go here.

—  John Wright

LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall

Photos by John Wright/Dallas Voice

—  John Wright