Feedback • 12.02.11

Valdez.Lupe

Lupe Valdez

Valdez vs. Latham for sheriff

“Southern Baptists don’t believe in that.” Don’t believe for a second he won’t use her sexual orientation as a way to turn out religious voters for him if he feels the need.
Tyler, via DallasVoice.com

“I wasn’t raised that way.” What exactly is Latham implying by this statement? What exactly is “that way”? I guess in this part of the world religion trumps science.
Lynn, via DallasVoice.com

They can’t attack her on job performance because she’s doing a great job. After all, she brought the Dallas County jail up to state standards, something the previous sheriff wasn’t able to do.
Matthew, via DallasVoice.com

Texas Dems and gay marriage

While most of the GLBT community is focused on marriage equality and DOMA, personally I think that ENDA — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — is vastly more important to the community. Marriage and the concomitant rights that come with it are great and I’m all for that of course. But having the right to “marry” your partner if you are unemployed with no income means very little. Today, all over America, GLBT people can be fired just for being GLBT and that’s wrong. I wish our community would fight as hard for ENDA as they seem to want to do for marriage. In today’s very competitive economy, a good paying job should be of primary concern to our community, in my humble opinion.
Jay Narey, via DallasVoice.com

Jay, I agree. I just don’t know why we can’t put as much energy behind both. Both are important. Sadly there is not enough votes in congress to pass it. My side (Dems) are not all behind it, either. I know some think the president can just sign something and put it in place, but that’s not how it works. Congress makes laws; the president enforces them. ENDA is vital for everyone, but is going to be just as hard to get through as marriage is. It sucks.
George M., via DallasVoice.com

Freaking cowards. And just hours ago here on the pages of Dallas Voice, we read about that Waxahachie gal who was fired from her job for “working while lesbian.” It just sickens me.
Ray Harwick, via DallasVoice.com
This isn’t strategic; it is cowardly. Principals should rule politics, not fear.
Carrie Stewart, via DallasVoice.com

Ray, you’re not going to get ENDA from Texas. It needs to come from the U.S. government. Texas won’t pass it, even if Dems scream it, and I’m sure you know that.
George M., via DallasVoice.com

ENDA won’t pass here in the near term. But an ENDA resolution might help drive voter turnout. It could also help us to educate Texans. Most people don’t realize that you can be legally fired in Texas for being gay.
Matt, via DallasVoice.com

A few things: Prioritization of rights (ENDA trumps DOMA repeal, blah blah blah) is insulting to anyone who really regards himself or herself as a free and equal person. In other words, “How dare you tell me that certain civil rights are more important than others.” Injustice is injustice is injustice, plain and simple. I represent a growing LGBT population that is weary of this piecemeal, backburner approach to gaining our rights. “My thoughts are that we should be dealing with issues about jobs and education and the economy.”  This is a cop out, and not even a good one.
I will let the words of Harvey Milk sum this one up: “It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions.”
What we are seeing is simply cowardice. The Democrats want our votes. They constantly remind us just how terrible the alternative would be. Well, NEWS FLASH! If they aren’t even willing to SAY they support us, they are helping fuel the fires of bigotry.
Remaining on neutral ground ALWAYS helps the oppressor, NEVER the oppressed.
So Dems, you want my vote? Make good on your commitment to this community or take a hike. I would rather sit out the damn election.
DSC, via DallasVoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

LGBT Democrats meet to strategize for the future

Texas Stonewall Democrats assess 2010 ‘ass-whipping’ at the polls during weekend meeting}

See related slideshow here

 

From Staff Reports

editor@dallasvoice.com

Members of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus from all across the state met in Austin on March 5-6 to assess the “ass-whipping” Democrats took at the polls last November and to develop messaging and other strategies for winning in 2012, according to caucus president Dan Graney.

Keynote speakers were openly bisexual Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and national transgender activist Mara Keisling.

Sinema warned Texas Democrats that “Arizona is coming to a state near you,” calling her home state the breeding ground for the anti-immigrant, anti-choice, anti-worker’s rights and anti-children’s health care measures currently being proposed in many state legislatures, including Texas.

Sinema called the spreading efforts an attempt by the Tea Party to “mainstream hatred in this country,” adding that “Tea Party” is just another name for Republicans.

Sinema said Democrats must build coalitions to stop such legislation, and encouraged LGBT Democrats to reach out to even unlikely allies to get — and give — support.

“After all, LGBT people make up only 4 percent of the electorate and you need 50 percent plus one to win,” Sinema said, who stayed after her speech to autograph copies of her book, “Unite And Conquer: Building Coalitions That Win — And Last.”

Keisling, mixing healthy dose of humor in with her experience and expertise, urged LGBT Democrats to move outside their “issue silos” and talk about racism, immigration and other progressive issues. She jokingly referred to former President George W. Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry as her “prior husbands” and referred to the Tea Party as a reincarnation of the John Birch Society.

Keisling expressed little hope for the advancement of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act over the next two years, saying that the measure is dead for now thanks to the Republican majority in the U.S. House.

Other guest speakers at the conference included Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie, Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman and state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio.

Villarreal led a plenary session that included an analysis of the November 2010 election and small group sessions to develop messaging for the 2012 election. A second plenary session, led by TSDC Vice President Erin Moore and Rio Grande Valley Chapter President Eli Olivarez, focused on winning strategies for the 2012 election.

Awards were presented to Houston LGBT activist Brad Pritchett,  Stonewall Democrats of the Rio Grande Valley and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. The conference also included a TSDC executive board meeting and workshops on a variety of topics, such as building a bigger club and youth involvement and use of social media.

Many who attended the conference stayed to participate in Equality Texas Lobby Day on Monday, March 7.

A total of 70 LGBT Democrats and straight allies from across the state registered for the conference. There was representation at the conference from all nine active chapters statewide, including many young people, as well as from Galveston and Tyler.

For more information about the conference, go online to  TexasStonewalldemocrats.org

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—  Kevin Thomas

Polis, Franken tell bullies to ‘pick on someone your own size’ as they introduce SNDA

Rep. Jared Polis, left, and Sen. Al Franken today introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act that would protect LGBT students from discrimination and harassment.

As President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a group of students, parents, teachers and other concerned citizens — including Fort Worth’s own Joel Burns — at the White House today, Openly gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced identical bills, called the Student Non-Discrimination Act, in the House and the Senate that would protect students from discrimination and harassment based on “actual or percieved sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In an e-mail announcing the proposed legislation, Polis cited recent efforts by school officials in Flour Bluff High School, near Corpus Christi, to prevent a gay-straight alliance from meeting on school grounds.

“It’s bad enough when a school turns a blind eye to bullying. But when a school district in Texas moved to ban all extracurricular clubs in order to avoid having to approve a Gay-Straight Alliance, it really crossed the line,” Polis said in the e-mail. “The school itself became the bully.”

He added, “Our message is clear: Pick on somebody your own size.”

Polis acknowledged that “the odds of this bill passing this session are uncertain” because some Republicans, “regardless of their personal beliefs, are reluctant to vote for LGBT-friendly legislation.

“But, even though the odds are against me, I can’t stay silent in the face of bullying — especially when the people who are supposed to protect students from bullying have become the bullies themselves,” Polis said, encouraging individuals to become “citizen sponsors” by adding their name as a supporter here.

The ACLU has quickly come out in support of the legislation, with ACLU legislative representative Ian Thompson saying that the legislation could have “a profound impact in improving the lives of LGBT students in our schools.”

Thompson pointed to the numerous LGBT teens who committed suicde after being bullied relentlessly in the late summer and fall of 2010 as evidence of the need for the legislation. Seth Walsh, 13, was one of those teens, and his mother, Wendy Walsh, is an ACLU client. She, too, weigh in today on the need for the SNDA.

“I can’t bring my son back. But schools can make a difference today by taking bullying seriously when students and parents tell them about it. It’s time for change. We have to create better schools for everyone,” said Wendy Walsh, who was also among those attending the White House Conference on Bullying.

In a written statement released after the SNDA was introduced, ACLU officials pointed out that while federal laws currently protect students on the basis of their race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, no federal statute explicitly protects students on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The SNDA, like Title IX, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the various disability civil rights statutes, is not simply legislation that would remedy discrimination after it occurs, but instead would also have the important impact of preventing discrimination from occurring,” the ACLU statement said.

To read the ACLU’s statement in support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, go here. To see video of Wendy Walsh telling her son’s story, go here.

—  admin

Top 10: Dallasites helped fuel GetEQUAL

Reed.Mark
SPEAKING UP | GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup of Dallas uses a megaphone to get his message across outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office last week during a protest of her vote against repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

No. 9:

View all of the Top 10

Dallas activists have played key roles in GetEQUAL, which has quickly become one of the most influential national LGBT direct action organizations since ACT-UP.

According to its website, GetEQUAL’s mission is “to empower the LGBTQ community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”

The group was founded on March 11 by Robin McGehee and Kip Williams — organizers of last year’s National Equality March — as an alternative to other groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Mark Reed-Walkup, a Dallas business owner who also helped organize the National Equality March, now serves on the board for

GetEQUAL, which gained nonprofit status in June. In May, Reed-Walkup became the third activist from Dallas to be arrested at demonstrations organized by GetEQUAL. He was arrested along with five others for chaining himself to the White House fence in a protest to demand a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

On March 18, Dallas activists Chastity Kirven and Michael Robinson had been arrested — Robinson in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Washington office and Kirven in Pelosi’s San Francisco office — during protests to demand a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

This same day, Lt. Dan Choi handcuffed himself to the White House fence in his first protest of DADT as part of GetEQUAL’s new direct action campaign. Choi was dischraged from the Army under DADT.

Local members of Get Equal also organized several actions in Dallas.

They held an ENDA rally outside the Dallas office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. They also protested outside ExxonMobil Corp.’s shareholders meeting at the Meyerson in June, and at Oak Lawn-area service stations.

Last week, Get EQUAL Texas held rallies outside Hutchison’s offices across the state to protest her vote against repealing DADT.
Reed said GetEQUAL is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and should  become more active in Texas in 2010.

— From staff reports

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Mad, sad and a little tired

Lawyer/activist has a message for those who continue to deny LGBT their equal rights: There is no factual or legal basis for your bigotry, and the time is past due to start treating each other with respect

Jon Nelson  Special Contributor

I’m mad, sad and a little tired. Over the years, I have been involved in issues with a finite end: See a problem, organize a coalition, have open discussions and solve the problem.

Not so with equal rights for gays. We have made strides and yet, with the new Congress, there surely will be setbacks.

I just got through watching And The Band Played On, a movie about the beginnings of AIDS in the 1980s, the resistance to its recognition, the struggle for funding for research and the compelling humanity of those who were infected. And I guess it’s their stories that have caused me to think about where we are, why there is so much resistance and why, even though I am tired, I cannot stop now.

Repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act are all legislative goals to right the wrongs levied against a segment of our society.

But much of society doesn’t see it that way. They speak in terms of a “gay agenda,” “gay rights” or “pushing a lifestyle on us” that would lead to the “destruction of our family values.”

The problem for me is that most of these people aren’t evil or stupid or even mean-spirited. Many are my friends. Yet they believe in their hearts something that has a definite, negative impact on the lives of millions.

Surely that can’t be right, but why can’t they see that?

I read a story in which one Presbyterian minister eloquently denounced the homophobia which exists in many a religious doctrine, and then I read a quasi-rebuttal from another minister of the same faith. He had kindness in his heart, but his message was clear: We should love one another but not condone homosexuality.

This makes me mad, sad and tired because of the message it sends to those who so desperately need support and help: Our youth.

Somewhere in Fort Worth today, a young girl sits in a pew, next to her parents, and hears the minister proclaim that God has judged her feelings to be an abomination, and either she must change or be damned to hell — but that she is loved nevertheless. And she is so hurt and confused.

Somewhere in Fort Worth today, a young boy, egged on by his peers, with shrill voice and hyena smile, yells the word “faggot” at another boy who is confused and full of self-doubt. And the boy who uttered those words has heard his minister make similar proclamations as the girl’s minister. And that boy has heard his parents make jokes about gays and worse. And he has seen politicians and others of prominence disparage the “gay movement” as a threat to “our” society.

No wonder he acts the way he does.

As a lawyer, I am used to logic and clear argument. Take the case in California dealing with the constitutionality of the marriage ban. Let’s start with something we all can agree on and something which is the law: Before our rights can be infringed upon, the state must show some compelling interest that must be protected.

That’s the law. It’s part of our Constitution and so the state must put on evidence in court to prove that some state interest needs protecting, thus justifying the infringement of your rights or mine.

Evidence, not emotion. Facts, not fabrication.

In the California case, as in every other case which has been tried, there was none.

THERE IS NONE!

How loud do I have to say it? How many times do I have to say it?

THERE IS NONE!

How would you like to go to court and be convicted or lose a civil case even though the other side presented no credible evidence against you? There is no factual — and therefore no legal — basis to deny us the same rights as you have.

If I were a minister and, standing in the pulpit, said that God had proclaimed slavery to be the natural way of life, or that it was un-Christian for women to have the right to vote, you would throw me out — or worse. Yet that is exactly what happened in our country and in mainline church pulpits. Bible verses were used to justify inequality.

Today you think, “How could they have done that?” Or “Why would anyone believe that?” And yet, I hear the same today.

So I want to talk to you as a gay man who is watching what is happening. To the minister, the politician, the parent, to you: Your words have effects on others.

Just stop and think for a moment. Is the message you are sending hurtful to others, even though you mean well?

Fact: Every reputable medical organization in the world has long proclaimed homosexuality to be normal. Why are you ignoring that? Fact: There is absolutely no evidence that granting equal rights to gays will have any adverse effect on marriages between a man and a woman. Why are you ignoring that?

It is time for you to stop saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” It’s condescending and demeaning to me. You are judging me and shouldn’t.

Do you hear the anger in my words? It’s because I’m human and have feelings. Listen, I picked up a rifle and went to war for you, and you tell me that I am not equal to you? I can still see those dead eyes staring into space, and you tell me I can’t marry the man I love?
You’re damn right I’m mad, and you would be, too, if you were in my shoes.

So think. Think about me and you. Think about the children and the messages you are sending.  As human beings, we are all connected and in this together. Let’s treat each other that way. In the meantime, I won’t give up on you.

Jon Nelson is an attorney in Fort Worth and one of the co-founders of Fairness Fort Worth.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: Tammy Baldwin at Black Tie

Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told The Washington Blade on Tuesday there is “zero chance” of passing pro-equality legislation in the new Republican-controlled House next year. Three days before, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin told attendees at Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner pretty much the same thing.

“The last time Republicans were in control of Congress, we fought hard for consideration of pro-equality measures, and we were rebuffed at every turn,” Baldwin said. “Within the new Republican leadership and among the incoming class of members, I don’t see many champions of gay rights. Now it’s my hope the Republican majority won’t revert to its prior agenda, which forced us to play defense, fighting back anti-equality measures, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Baldwin said that while a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” is still “possible” during the lame duck session of Congress, the same cannot be said for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act.

“Unfortunately the chances of enacting these measures are slim to none for now and for the foreseeable future,” Baldwin said. “Now that doesn’t mean we’re going to throw up our hands and give up. We will keep on moving forward, because LGBT equality is a movement, not a moment in time, and as with every great movement of social change, it requires that we have faith — faith that, using the tools of our democracy we can affect change, even when it’s our government that’s denying us our rights.”

Watch Baldwin’s full speech above.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Leppert misses Black Tie but shoots promo for Out & Equal Workplace Summit

Via GLBT Dallas, above is a promotional video for next year’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit, set for Oct. 25-28 in Dallas. The video reportedly was shown to attendees at this year’s Workplace Summit, in Los Angeles last month.

Among other things, the video features a spot by Mayor Tom Leppert near the end.

“We’re building a bright future by embracing and welcoming everyone,” Leppert says in the video. “We know that being a world-class city means being a place where all citizens and visitors are both welcomed and appreciated.”

In related news, Leppert was absent from the Black Tie Dinner for the second time in four years on Saturday. He missed gay Pride this year too, also for the second time in four years.

Leppert is widely believed to be eyeing a run for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2012, but the video shows that he hasn’t completely distanced himself from the LGBT community.

Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh, said the mayor missed Black Tie because he had a wedding and two other events on Saturday night.

“They changed the program a bit this year and the Mayor was not asked to speak, so it made the decision a bit easier,” Heinbaugh said.

—  John Wright

ELECTION 2010: Democrats narrowly hang on in Dallas County; 2 of 3 gay candidates win

District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons re-elected; Tonya Parker becomes first black LGBT person elected in county; Garcia tops Mayfield

MORE ELECTION COVERAGE:
LGBT groups react to big losses in House, Senate
Record 106 gay candidates elected in 2010

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, center, watches election results come in with other Democratic elected officials on Tuesday night at Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park. Also pictured are, clockwise from front left, Tax Assessor John Ames, Chief Deputy District Clerk Virginia Etherly, Fitzsimmons’ mother and father, County Treasurer Joe Wells, Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman and County Clerk John Warren. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Staving off a Republican tsunami that inundated much of the rest of the state and nation, Democrats narrowly held on to power in Dallas County on Tuesday night.

Two of three openly gay candidates on the ballot locally, District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons and judicial candidate Tonya Parker, won their races as part of the closer-than-expected countywide Democratic victory. A third openly gay candidate, Democrat Pete Schulte, was defeated by Republican incumbent Dan Branch in Texas House District 108.

Parker, who defeated Mike Lee for the 116th Judicial District seat, is the first openly LGBT person ever elected judge in Dallas County. She will also become the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the county’s history.

Meanwhile, Democrats also managed to seize a majority on the Dallas County Commissioners Court for the first time in three decades. Democrat Clay Jenkins defeated Republican Wade Emmert in the race to replace openly gay incumbent Jim Foster, who chairs the court and was defeated by Jenkins in the Democratic primary. And longtime LGBT ally Dr. Elba Garcia, a former city councilwoman, toppled anti-gay incumbent Ken Mayfield for the District 4 seat.

The victories made Dallas County one of the lone bright spots for Democrats in Texas, as Republicans swept statewide races and significantly increased their majority in the Texas House.

At the top of the statewide ballot, LGBT ally and Democrat Bill White was soundly defeated by anti-gay Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry.

In Dallas County state legislative races, Democratic incumbent State Reps. Carol Kent, Kirk England, Allen Vaught and Robert Miklos were all trailing their Republican challengers. And gay-friendly Democratic challenger Loretta Haldenwang was trailing incumbent Republican State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown.

In Tarrant County, Democratic incumbent and LGBT ally Lon Burnam was on his way to an easy win in his campaign for an eighth term representing District 90 in the Texas Legislature. However, two other Democratic lawmakers considered to be friends of — or at least, friendly toward — the LGBT community were losing their re-election bids. Paula Pierson, first elected to represent District 93 in 2006, was trailing Republican Barbara Nash. And in District 96, incumbent Democrat Chris Turner was trailing Republican Bill Zedler.

Nationally, Republicans took control of the U.S. House and picked up seats in the Senate, likely ruling out passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act for the next two years.

In Dallas, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a staunch LGBT ally, easily held off Republican challenger Stephen Broden. The LGBT community also picked up another openly gay member of Congress, as Providence Mayor David Cicilline won his U.S. House race in Rhode Island.

For complete election coverage, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  John Wright

Forget about ENDA and DOMA for 2 years

The Advocate has an early piece up about what life will be like on the federal front with a Republican majority in the House and possibly even the Senate. Basically, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act are off the table in the 112th Congress. The repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” meanwhile, is pretty iffy. But hey, who knows, we might get some changes to Social Security!!! Here’s an excerpt:

“This is going to be a real test of the leadership of the gay community,” said Christopher Barron, chairman of the Board of GOProud, a conservative gay group. “This will be a test of whether partisanship will come first or if there will be a recognition that the leadership is actually interested in delivering for their constituency.”

Barron said new opportunities to work with the Republican majority in the House would not be “sexy” but might be fecund, nonetheless, as he ticked through a list that included reworking social security, encouraging health insurance competition, and altering the tax code.

As Republicans revisit taxes and the federal deficit, Barron saw an opportunity for LGBT activists to push for optional personal savings accounts that move toward privatizing social security. From his perspective, this would help level the playing field for LGBT Americans who are currently locked into a social security system that does not allow them to pass their survivor benefits along to their partners.

“You’d be able to take a portion of your social security tax dollars and put it into a personal savings account that you could leave to your partner or really anyone that you wanted to — something you’re barred from doing today,” Barron said.

—  John Wright

Early voting begins today for midterm elections, with plenty at stake for the LGBT community

Many LGBT advocates and activists were thrilled two years ago when Barack Obama — a man who said he supported legal federal recognition of same-sex civil unions, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” and who pledged to be a “fierce advocate” for the LGBT community — was elected president.

Since President Obama was taking office at a time when the Democratic Party — which tends to be, overall, more progressive on LGBT issues — controlled both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, LGBT advocates were looking forward to seeing big progress very quickly. And in fact, Obama has included a number of LGBT and LGBT-supportive individiuals in his administration. He did issue an executive order that granted partner benefits to LGBT federal employees. He did sign into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Law (one of the top priority issues on the LGBT community’s list for several years).

But many of those same activists who were so tickled to see Obama elected have begun losing faith that the president has a real commitment to LGBT equality. ENDA continues to languish. Repeal of DADT went down in flames in the Senate and lesbian and gay servicemembers continue to be discharged. And the Department of Justice, under the Obama administration, has continued to appeal court rulings favorable to the LGBT community on issues like DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Perhaps, many feel, the “fierce advocate” isn’t so fiercely on our side, after all. And yet, would a Republican-controlled Congress make it any easier to get our issues fairly addressed? Democrats warn that not only would we make no further progress with the Republicans in charge, we might also lose some of advances we have made so far.

However you feel about it, the midterm elections next month will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the future of efforts like passage of ENDA and DADT. Many pundits expect the Republicans to win control of at least the House of Representatives, if not both the House AND the Senate.

And that’s not even taking into account the importance of races from the county level on up to the state level, where Republican incumbent Rick Perry is fighting a hard battle against Democratic challenger Bill White in the race for Texas governor. And what about the Texas Legislature? Will the LGBT community have enough allies there to pass a safe schools bill that would address anti-gay bullying, or to at least fend off recurring efforts to keep same-sex couples from adopting or being foster parents?

Those are just a few of the races that will be determined in this election, and all of them impact our community in some way. And your vote can make the difference when it comes to who will represent you in county, state and federal government.

Election Day isn’t until Nov. 2. But early voting starts today. Dallas Morning News reported today that Dallas County residents appear to be voting at a higher pace than the last midterm elections four years ago, and that Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet is predicting an overall turnout of about 40 percent this year.

So why not go on and vote now and avoid the Election Day rush?

Do you need to know where to go to early vote? Are you wondering which precinct or district you are in? Do you know if your voter’s registration is still valid? There are online sites that can help.

If you live in Dallas County, go here for information on early voting sites and hours and for information about who represents you, specifically, at the county, state and federal levels. That same information is available for Tarrant County residents here. The state of Texas also has a site with information for voters, and you can find it here.

And if you don’t live in Dallas or Tarrant counties, just do a search online for your county’s elections site.

Remember, our government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.” But if you want your voice to count, then you have to vote.

—  admin