Clinton campaign appoints new LGBT liaison

Screen shot 2015-09-29 at 2.29.52 PM

Dominic Lowell

Democratic presidential candidate — and former First Lady, former U.S. senator and former Secretary of State — Hillary Clinton has appointed Dominic Lowell as director of LGBT outreach for her campaign, the Washington Blade reported earlier today.

Lowell, 29, will officially join the campaign on Thursday, Oct. 1, coming from Rock the Vote, where he worked as director of strategic partnerships, coordinating outreach to progressive movements. Before working for Rock the Vote, he was vice president of investment services at Democracy Alliance.

Lowell is one of several out LGBT people on Clinton’s campaign staff. Others include campaign manager Robby Mook, deputy political director Brynne Craig and national finance director Dennis Cheng.

News of Lowell’s appointment comes just days before Clinton is set to speak to the board of directors and supporters of Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. Clinton’s speech to the group happens the same day as HRC’s national dinner, where Vice President Joe Biden will be delivering the keynote address.

—  Tammye Nash

Clinton campaign video: ‘All love is equal’

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 4.22.23 PMHillary Clinton, former First Lady, former U.S. senator, former U.S. Secretary of State and current Democratic candidate for president, today (Wednesday, June 24) unveiled a 2 1/2-minute video, called “Equality,” in which Clinton calls for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Release of the video comes just hours before the next rulings — possibly including a ruling on marriage equality — are scheduled to be released by the U.S. Supreme Court. With seven decisions expected to be released before the end of this session, the court has scheduled rulings to be announced Thursday, June 25, Friday, June 26 and Monday, June 28.

The video includes audio from Clinton’s speech earlier this month in New York, playing alongside images and audio of happy same-sex couples proposing or exchanging bows. In the speech, Clinton declares:

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct. But in fact they are one and the same. Being LGBT doesn’t make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

—  Tammye Nash

Former House Speaker Jim Wright of Fort Worth has died

Speaker_Jim_Wright_of_TexasFormer Speaker of the House Jim Wright, a Democrat from Fort Worth, died today (Wednesday, May 6). He was 92.

A former member of the Texas House and Weatherford mayor, he was later elected to Congress, having defeated an eight year incumbent. The Democrat rose in the ranks of House leadership, ultimately serving as House Speaker from 1987 to 1989 before resigning over a scandal.

He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last year he shouldn’t have retired.

Wright was perhaps most well-known for drafting the Wright Amendment, which restricted air travel to and from Love Field. It was repealed in 2014.

But he also knew how to bring home the pork. In a nod to Wright, President John F. Kennedy once called “Fort Worth the best represented city” in the country.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told CBS 11 Wright was a leader who never forgot Texas or his district.

“He was there when Kennedy was shot. He was good friends with John Kennedy and John Connally and really witnessed an incredible amount of history,” she said.  “But he always kept Texas in his heart.”

He is survived by his wife, Betty, and four children.

—  James Russell

Powerful GOP Rep. Byron Cook supports supplemental birth certificate bill


State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana.

State Affairs Chairman and Republican Representative Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, voiced his explicit support today (Wednesday, April 15) for legislation that would allow same-sex couples and legal guardians of a child to receive a supplementary birth certificate reflecting both of their names.

Cook’s announcement came following Dallas Democrat Rep. Rafael Anchia’s moving speech in support of the bill, HB 537.

“I want everyone to know I support [the bill] too,” Cook said after asking for Anchia’s comments to be included in the House’s written record.

The move was a milestone for the bill that has languished in the House for the past three sessions. Cook chairs the powerful State Affairs committee, which recently heard comments for and against the bill. He is also a close ally of House Speaker Joe Straus.

Cook expressed skepticism to opponents of the bill during a March 18 State Affairs committee hearing, telling one opponent he “struggled” with her opposition to the measure, according to the Texas Tribune.

“That’s a terrible indictment on one group to be real honest with you,” Cook told conservative legislative analyst Julie Drenner with the group Texas Values during the hearing.

You can watch Anchia’s moving speech and Cook’s statement below.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Hillary Clinton announces 2016 presidential bid

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Longtime Clinton family confidante John Podesta announced today (Sunday, April 12) that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running for president.

This is her second presidential run. The former senator from New York and first lady made her first bid for the presidency in 2008, where she was defeated in a bruising presidential primary by then-Sen. Barack Obama, a first term senator from Illinois. After securing the Democratic nomination he ultimately crushed another longtime titan, Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, in the general election.

While it is not the first time she’s been the presumed frontrunner for her party’s nomination, she is expected to face only token opposition this time. Despite the Democrats’ best efforts, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are said to be considering bids as well.

But not everyone wants to see Clinton go without a challenge. On Twitter, the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith pointed out links to a 2013 article in The New Republic calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts and a favorite of progressives, “Hillary’s Nightmare.” Many progressive activists have repeatedly attempted to recruit the first-term Warren to jump into the race. She has repeatedly declined.

So far, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican with Texas ties, have declared their bids for their party’s nomination. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is set to announce his campaign tomorrow (Monday, April 13). Other Republicans with Texas ties, including former governors Rick Perry, R-Texas, and Jeb Bush, R-Florida, are also expected to announce soon.

—  James Russell

Indiana Senate votes for religion-based discrimination

The Indiana Senate voted yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 3) to allow organizations such as hospitals and universities with religious affiliations to discriminate against employees who refuse to follow the employers’ religious beliefs, even if the employing organization receives state funds.


Indiana Sen. Travis Holdman

Senate Bill 127 would allow those employers to make hiring decisions based on religious beliefs and to require employees to follow the religious tenets of the employer. The Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill on a vote of 39-11. All 10 Democrats in the Senate voted against the measure, and they were joined by one Republican: Sen. Ron Grooms of Jeffersonville.

Republican Sen. Travis Holdman, who authored the bill, said it does not grant license to discriminate, but instead follows federal law which allows similar exemptions from nondiscrimination requirements. But Democratic Sen. Karen Tallian said the part of the bill that allows such employers to require employees to adhere to employers’ religious tenets goes way beyond federal exemptions, and called the measure outrageous.

Outrageous or not, such “religious liberty” bills are definitely all the rage this year, being pushed by right-wingers furious over advances in marriage equality and LGBT civil rights try every tactic they can think of not to have to comply with court rulings striking down marriage equality bans — including an expected ruling this summer by the U.S. Supreme Court. The 2015 Texas Legislature, in session for less than a month, has already seen its share, as the Texas Observer points out here.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: Rep. Eric Johnson files bill to end LGBT job discrimination

Rep. Eric JohnsonRep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, today (Thursday, Jan. 8) filed HB 627, which would protect workers from being fired or otherwise discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. He did so on the 37th anniversary of Harvey Milk’s inauguration to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as one of America’s first openly gay elected officials.

Texas law currently protects workers from discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, or disability. It does not protect workers from being fired or discriminated against solely due to their sexual orientation or gender expression.

“Every Texan should have the opportunity to work hard and provide for their families,” Rep. Johnson said. “Right now, the law allows someone to be fired simply for being him or herself or for whom they love. This really is a civil rights issue.”

The bill would include sexual orientation and gender expression in the list of prohibited employment discrimination. The Legislative Budget Board estimates that under this law more than 500 credible cases of discrimination could be reported each year.

Polls show that more than 3 in 4 Texans (75.8%) of Texans support prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. “The Legislature is lagging behind the people of Texas on this issue,” Rep. Johnson said. “We need to catch up.”

Today also marks the anniversary of Harvey Milk’s inauguration as one of the first openly gay elected officials in America, in 1978. One of Milk’s first acts as a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors was to pass a landmark non-discrimination ordinance that contained the same employment non-discrimination provisions that Rep. Johnson filed today.

Nearly four decades after San Francisco adopted Milk’s ordinance, 21 states and hundreds of cities have prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

A number of Texas cities have passed employment non-discrimination ordinances as well, including Plano, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, and Austin. However, the State of Texas has not yet joined them in enacting such protections for its workers. Rep. Johnson is looking to change that and extend non-discrimination protections to all Texas workers.

—  James Russell

Leticia Van de Putte visits Dallas tomorrow for rally

Leticia Van de PutteState Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democrat running for lieutenant governor, will visit Dallas tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 21, at CWA Union Hall Local 6215, 1408 N. Washington from 6–9 p.m..

Van de Putte will be joined by Democratic candidates Carol Donovan and  Leigh Bailey, who are running competitive campaigns for two Dallas County Texas House seats, and by Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing. The event is sponsored by the Dallas County Democratic Party and Dallas AFL-CIO.

Van de Putte, a staunch LGBT ally, was recently endorsed by every major newspaper editorial board in the state. She is running against Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick.

—  James Russell

The beginning of the end of bigotry in Texas

Editor’s note: Below is an opinion piece written by Todd Whitley, a columnist who contributes regularly to the Texas Voices (formerly Viewpoints) section of the print edition of Dallas Voice. Whitley will also be a regular contributor to our new blog page, which will be called CommuniTEA and which will feature the voices of people of our LGBT community. Watch for CommuniTEA, coming to our website soon.

A vision of what could be, if we all turn out to vote next month

Todd Whitley, Contributing Columnist

I can still remember that moment as if it were just yesterday: I had watched the past two presidential elections with amazement. But never had an election seemed to affect me so personally — in my own state.

Todd WhitleyYou see, back then, although gays and lesbians were making great progress toward marriage equality in other states, in Texas the nation’s longest serving governor, the Republican-controlled state Legislature, both U.S. senators and most of the U.S. representatives were against us. We had no marriage equality and no job protection.

Heck, the establishment was against women and poor people, too.

I admit: I had felt helpless, as if my vote — my voice — didn’t matter. But still, I voted.

As the polls closed, we had only a glimmer of hope. But we had no idea that hope was about to be realized.

A small group of us were watching the election returns at JR.’s. First, the early vote numbers came in and how we rejoiced at the landslide! Then, county by county, we held our collective breath.

Most — but not all — of the rural counties went red, as expected. But the vote count was closer than anyone could have predicted.

But how would the four major urban areas turn out?

The wait was excruciating and the entire bar was on edge, waiting to see what Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas would do.

Then, like a line of dominoes, they fell as something that had once seemed impossible happened. One county after another went blue — definitively so. People in overwhelming numbers — women, lesbians, gays, Latinos, African-Americans — had shown up at the polls and elected Wendy Davis as the first Democratic governor of Texas in 20 years, and only the third woman ever!

It is said, “As Texas goes, so goes the nation.” A state that had been so deeply red — the hateful, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-immigrant shade — began to change. And so did our country.

Our new governor set about to expand Medicaid so that the taxes we were sending to Washington came back home to take care of our most vulnerable citizens, including those with HIV/AIDS. She set a course for our Legislature that increased funding to our schools instead of slashing it. She fought the uphill battle to end discrimination of Texas gays and lesbians, both in matrimony and in the workplace. And she fought for the rights of young Texas “DREAMers” to receive higher education.

Eventually she increased the minimum wage and we experienced real job growth — not the kind that comes from more minimum wage jobs.

It was not easy at all. The stubborn, still-Republican-controlled Legislature fought her tooth and nail.

But by the next election, more Democrats and moderate Republicans had won seats in both houses, and the country began to take notice.

What our governor started could be continued for decades and could catch on in other formerly red states.

You see, no longer was Texas a safe haven for those who would try to oppress women, take away their access to safe healthcare or control their bodies. No longer would the state exclude lesbian, gay and transgender Texans from the benefits and protections heterosexuals enjoyed.

No longer did our students perform at the bottom of the nation but rather they excelled because of the investment we made in their educations. No longer was Texas a state that gave preference to white, heterosexual citizens and instead became known as the Everyone has a Chance State, where each one of us — white and Latino, straight and LGBT, wealthy and poor — had equal footing, was respected, and flourished.

We still had our guns. Churches still decided whether to perform same-gender marriages. But we moved ahead so far.  And the nation followed suit.

All because we showed up at that Nov. 4, 2014 election.



This scenario is fiction, a vision of what could be.

This history has yet to be written. But it will be written, in just a few days.

And it could happen.

We are so close to seeing this vision become a reality. But only if you claim the power of your vote.

The future of Texas — and the nation — is up to you.

Todd Whitley is a local activist who can usually be found tweeting (@toddwhitley), holding a picket sign, thrift store shopping, or eating Tex-Mex. Read his blog at

—  Tammye Nash

Out candidate George Clayton still in House race, but now as a Democrat

George Clayton

George Clayton

Former State Board of Education member George Clayton is still planning on running to replace Dallas Republican Stephani Carter in House District 102, but he’ll now be seeking the Democratic nomination.

Clayton announced the party switch in an email on Sunday, writing that he’d decided to run as a Democrat instead of a Republican. Carter isn’t seeking re-election because she’s running for the Railroad Commission.

As an administrator for the Dallas Independent School District, Clayton has said his campaign for the House seat would focus on education issues. During his time on the SBOE he was outed as gay and lost in the primary last year, but he told Dallas Voice he doesn’t want to be known as the gay candidate.

“For those of you who know me, you understand this change does not alter my views on education,” Clayton posted on Facebook. “Rather it allows for a much better campaign in terms of openness and acceptance of ideas, beliefs and goals. I hope you will join with me in this crusade.”

The district, which includes parts of North Dallas, Richardson, Addison and Garland, is already heating up on the Republican side with Republican activist Adryana Boyne, former Dallas councilwoman Linda Koop and Richardson businessman Samuel Brown set to battle out in the March primary.

—  Dallasvoice