Marrying for love, marching for equality

Dallas lesbian couple 1 of at least 5 couples participating in a marriage equality march and mass wedding Saturday in downtown Dallas

OLD FASHIONED WEDDING | Ashlyn Jones, left, and Amanda Evans will participate in a mass wedding in Founders Plaza in Downtown Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 15, as part of a demonstration for marriage equality.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Ashlyn Jones and Amanda Evans are getting married in downtown Dallas this weekend. They invited 50 of their friends, but would like everyone to attend.

“I want people I don’t even know to come and say, ‘Congratulations,’” Jones said. “That would be awesome.”

Jones and Evans are one of at least five couples that will participate in a mass wedding on Saturday evening at Founder’s Plaza in front of the Dallas County Records Building, as part of a protest in support of marriage equality.

Event organizer Daniel Cates said the couples are encouraged to apply for a marriage license inside the Records Building earlier in the week, even though those applications will be denied.

Similar events sponsored by GetEQUAL and P-FLAG are being held in about 10 cities across the state. In addition to the major cities, Harlingen, Brownsville, Huntsville and Odessa also have marriage equality events planned.

Cates said that while Texas is not close to granting marriage equality, LGBT Texans must demand the right.

“Since the New York marriage victory, people in other states are fighting back,” Cates said. “Once we lost the marriage battle here, we stopped fighting.”

Jones said that the Saturday wedding ceremony will also be a celebration of their five-year anniversary as a couple.

“In front of all of our friends, we’ll tell each other that we love each other,” Jones said.

The couple met in high school, and “When we met, it was electricity,” Jones said.

But the two kept their relationship a secret for three years. Their school had no gay-straight alliance, although they attended Teen Project in downtown Fort Worth until that group shut its doors.

When the couple told their parents they were lesbians, Jones said she and Evans were shunned by their families. Although relations have gotten better, none of their family members will be attending the wedding.
Jones said she expects marriage equality to come to Texas

eventually, “But I think it’s an uphill battle.”

Jones said she works for a very conservative company with very conservative customers, and “I had a customer walk out when she heard me talk about my wedding.”

After the downtown event, Jones said she and Evans and their friends will go to Chili’s to celebrate and then the couple will leave on their honeymoon. They’re going to Granbury to relax and get away from work, she said.

“We talked about following this up with a New York wedding,” Jones said. And then she’d like to come home and just be accepted.

“I would love to be able to hold my wife’s hand in a mall without a mother coming up to me and telling me it’s wrong to do that in front of her children,” she said.

Cates said that couples who would like to participate in the wedding ceremony should arrive at 4 p.m. for a short rehearsal. At 4:30 p.m. there will be an open mike for 30 minutes before a sidewalk march.

Cates said that a street permit was denied because the police are stretched thin with the State Fair of Texas and the Occupy Dallas protests. Sidewalk marches require fewer officers.

After the march, two people will speak before the mass wedding takes place. Richard Curtin, better known as Edna Jean Robinson, will officiate. He will conduct a “white knot” ceremony rather than have the couples exchange rings.  The white knot, a symbol of marriage equality, represents tying the knot.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Plans finalized for Easter in Lee Park

IN YOUR EASTER BONNET | Outrageous bonnets are as much a part of Easter in Lee Park as the annual Pooch Parade. And bonnets and pooches both will likely be in abundance this Sunday for the annual celebration.

Funding comes through for annual event featuring Pooch Parade, DSO performance

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The Kroger Pooch Parade on Turtle Creek Boulevard and a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Lee Park will mark a routine Easter in the Park.

Until last week, however, no one was guaranteeing that things would be routine.

After the Turtle Creek Association, the original organizer of Easter in the Park, moved some events to an earlier Sunday, the DSO was left to perform without an event organizer. The Cedar Springs Merchants Association stepped in.

In addition, TCA’s billing of the Creek Craze as a “family-friendly” event angered many in the LGBT community who saw that as a catchphrase for “gays not welcome.”

Together with the Lee Park Conservancy, they hired event planner Dave Berryman.

Berryman quickly put together a funding package. Kroger, Park Place Volvo and MetroPCS became the title sponsors. Mayor Dwaine Caraway’s office became involved to ensure the event took place.

Lee Park Conservancy President John Williams said that on Tuesday, April 19, he met with Berryman and DSO Director of Community Engagement Cynthia Hinojosa and that everything is in place for this weekend.

“Without Dave Berryman’s experience, it would not have come together,” Williams said.

CSMA President Scott Whittall said he was excited that Kroger has become the event’s title sponsor. He said the store has been a member of the association for years and has actively participated in the retailers’ organization for years. But this was the first time he remembered them making such a substantial commitment to become the title sponsor of a Cedar Springs event.

Petropolitan made the arrangements for the Pooch Parade. Paul Williams will emcee and judges include City Council members Pauline Medrano and Angela Hunt.

The entry fee is $10 per pet. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the judging at noon.

Vendors will begin serving in the park at noon.

The DSO had budgeted $60,000 for their annual Lee Park performance. The cost involves transporting and setting up the stage as well as paying the 100-member orchestra. But they relied on Easter in the Park organizers for event permits, to bring in food and beverage vendors and to help ensure a large audience.

Whittall said that in addition to the scheduled events, there will be an Easter bonnet preview in the park.

Once afternoon activities in the park end, five clubs on Cedar Springs Road will host Easter bonnet contests. The competitions are hourly beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Round-Up Saloon and ending at 10:30 p.m. at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar.

Whittall said that CSMA intends to continue to be the organizational sponsor of Easter in the Park.

Other than a number of families that participated in the Easter Egg roll early in the afternoon, the event that Turtle Creek Association moved to Palm Sunday — dubbed Creek Craze — went largely unattended. But they plan to hold it again next year. With more planning and publicity, they expect more families with children to attend.

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Easter in the Park events

11 a.m.: Pooch Parade registration opens  ($10 per pet)
noon: Food & beverage vendors open
1 p.m.: Pooch Parade begins
3 p.m.: Dallas Symphony performs
5 p.m.: Food & beverage vendors close

Easter Bonnet contests begin at Cedar Springs clubs:

6:30 p.m.: Round-Up Saloon
7:30 p.m.: TMC: The Mining Company
8:30 p.m.: JR’s Bar and Grill
9:30 p.m.: Sue Ellen’s
10:30 p.m.: Woody’s Sports and Video Bar

—  John Wright