Helping pay the price for Peace

’Tis the season for giving, and if you have some cash to spare, you might consider giving to Hope 4 Peace and Justice.

Hope for Peace & Justice is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, founded in 2004 by Cathedral of Hope, that works to help people of faith become “champions for peace and justice.” The Rev. Michael S. Piazza is executive director.

Over the weekend, I got a Facebook message from Piazza and H4PJ that said the organization is $2,000 short of making its budget for 2010. While $2,000 is a pretty big chunk of change if you take it all in one lump sum, if you break it down into small increments, it’s not that daunting. In other words, if lots of people give a little, it all adds up to a lot!

If you can, go here to donate, and give Peace a chance.

—  admin

WATCH: Bigots lash out at Mayor Annise Parker over appointment of Texas’ 1st transgender judge

On Thursday we reported that longtime activist Phyllis Randolph Frye had become the first transgender judge in Texas, after being appointed by Mayor Annise Parker. Well, just leave it to the Houston Area Pastors Council and the Fox affiliate to make an issue out of it:

The Houston Area Pastoral Council, which represents about 300 churches, has a big problem with the appointment. Executive Director Dave Welch says for years Frye has been undermining Texas marriage laws. He says the appointment confirms Mayor Parker, who is openly gay, is making her lifestyle a central part of her policy agenda.

“This is not just a benign act. This is someone (Frye) who is very well known as an aggressive activist on sexual diversity issues and very much against the mainstream of most of the people….As we all know municipal court judges are the first step in the elevation of different judgeships. They typically go on to civil district court judges or family court judges and beyond, so this is not a benign appointment. It’s a statement. It really is. We’ll be calling on the churches to stand up and be involved,” said Welch.

—  John Wright

AIN hits $10,000 fundraising goal, gets matching grant from Moody Foundation

Steven Pace

Back on Monday, Nov. 9, I posted this item here on Instant Tea pointing out that AIDS Interfaith Network had one week left to raise a total of $10,000 in order to get a grant from The Moody Foundation that would match the donations, dollar for dollar.

Well, you guys came through. AIN hit its goal and earned the matching grant!

This comes from Steve Pace, AIN’s executive director:

“To give you an idea of what that means to the clients we serve, $10,000 can provide: 400 DART bus passes so clients with HIV/AIDS can access medical services necessary to maintaining their health; or more than 1,650 nutritious, sustaining meals for our most vulnerable clients.”

Let me tell you, AIN — and all our AIDS service organizations — really know how to make every penny count. And thank goodness, otherwise there would be a lot of people going without food, without housing, without clothing, without their medications and without proper medical care.

But even though AIN hit its $10,000 goal, Pace points out, “We’re not claiming victory yet. Did you know there are still people right here in Dallas who are homeless, starving and living with HIV/AIDS? We typically see more people in need of food and assistance during the winter, so your continued support is crucial.”

So as we head into the holiday season, take a minute to stop and count your blessings. I bet you will find out you are more blessed than you realize. And then, share those blessings with people in need. Donate to AIDS Interfaith or one of our other outstanding AIDS service agencies, or to some other charitable cause. It will add more to your life than you can imagine. Just like Jesus said, “As you give, so shall you receive.”

—  admin

‘Come see history being made’

LGBT advocates are encouraging people to attend this Thursday’s DISD board of trustees meeting, where a final vote is expected on an LGBT-inclusive bullying policy.

“Come see history being made,” said Rafael McDonnell, a spokesman for Resource Center Dallas. “We would certainly like to see a packed crowd of people supporting the policy. You can stop by on your way home.”

The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in the Ada L. Williams Auditorium at 3700 Ross Ave. in Dallas.

If the measure is approved, the district will become the first in the state to adopt an LGBT-inclusive bullying policy.

McDonnell said RCD Executive Director Cece Cox is slated to address the board of trustees prior to the vote. The center was also working to line up DISD students to speak.

None of the school district’s nine trustees objected to the proposed policy when it was first discussed in a work session two weeks ago, but McDonnell said he’s not taking anything for granted.

To read the policy, go here.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Supreme Court allows DADT to remain in effect pending government’s appeal

As expected, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to prevent the military from enforcing “don’t ask don’t tell” during the government’s appeal of a ruling that declared the policy unconstitutional.

Here’s a statement in response to the high court’s ruling from Servicemembers United:

“It is unfortunate that an unconstitutional law that is causing substantial harm to military readiness and to tens of thousands of troops is allowed to remain in effect for even one more day,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and the only named veteran plaintiff in the case. “This just underscores the need to continue to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow the defense authorization bill to come back up and take its first procedural step before the Senate’s Thanksgiving recess. Servicemembers United, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Stonewall Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans have all strongly and consistently called on Senator Reid to do just that. It is now time for other organizations, as well as the White House, to publicly do the same.”

Read more at Politico.

—  John Wright

AIDS Interfaith facing fundraising shortfall

Steven Pace

In October, members of the staff here at Dallas Voice spent one Saturday night participating in AIDS Interfaith Network’s Saturday Night Live program, providing an evening meal to some of the agency’s clients who might have otherwise not had a hot meal over the weekend. It was an excellent opportunity for us to see firsthand some of AIN’s outstanding programs, not to mention, to personally meet some of the wonderful people AIN serves.

So today when I opened an e-mail from Steven Pace, AIN’s executive director, and saw that the agency is in need of funds — quick — I knew I wanted to pass the information along here on Instant Tea in hopes of helping the agency meet their goal.

AIN has less than a week — until Monday, Nov. 15 — to hit the $10,000 goal, and when Pace sent the e-mail yesterday, the agency was still $3,000 short.

You might be able to donate only a small amount, and you think that your little gift wouldn’t really matter. But Pace points out, “Thanks to a generous grant from The Moody Foundation, your gift of $50, $100, or even $250 will be matched dollar-for-dollar.”

So every little bit counts, and it can count double.

Pace adds: “Everyday at AIN we see the impact that generous donors like yourself make in the lives of those we serve. From a hot meal or a ride to a doctor’s appointment for a client living with HIV/AIDS, to valuable prevention education for those at risk, your support matters.”

Go here to contribute.

—  admin

Task Force: GOP majority in House doesn’t necessarily mean ‘blockade on LGBT rights’

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, issued the following statement tonight on the shift in the balance of power in Congress:

“We’ll cut to the chase: The shift in the balance of power will very likely slow advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights legislation in Congress. Does this mean a blockade on LGBT rights? Not if we can help it. Fact is, our community has always had to fight — and fight hard — for equality. This is nothing new to us. But here’s another fact: There are Americans, from every part of the country, from every background, from every political leaning and of every faith, who support equality for LGBT people — and those numbers grow bigger every day.

“No matter what the political breakdown is in Washington, the Task Force will continue to identify and work with all fair-minded members of Congress who are willing to support and defend equality for LGBT people. Through our New Beginning Initiative, we will continue to push for the administration and its agencies to make tangible changes that benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our families — changes that can be done without Congress. We will continue working with local partners in communities across the country to secure equality. Bottom line: While political winds and players may shift, the fundamental needs of the people do not. No matter who is in office, people need jobs, protection from discrimination, a roof over their heads, a way to feed their families, a fair shake. No one should settle for less — we won’t.”

—  John Wright

SLDN advises caution despite Pentagon announcement; Dan Choi attempts to re-enlist

Despite the Pentagon’s announcement Tuesday that military recruiters have been told they must accept gay applicants, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network continues to advise caution.

“During this interim period of uncertainty, service members must not come out and recruits should use caution if choosing to sign up,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law is rooted in any statement of homosexuality made at anytime and to anyone. A higher court is likely to issue a hold on the injunction by Judge Phillips very soon. The bottom line: if you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon. As the DOJ fights to keep this unconstitutional and oppressive law, we are monitoring active-duty clients’ cases and fielding calls every day to our hotline. Given the uncertainty in the courts, we urge the Senate to act swiftly next month on repeal when they return to Washington.”

Of course, if you’ve already been discharged for being gay, you don’t have much to lose. Among those who plan to try to re-enlist in the wake of the Pentagon announcement is Lt. Dan Choi, according to his Twitter feed:

—  John Wright

Organizers set goal of $500,000 for 20th annual LifeWalk

Organizers hoping for more than 10,000 walkers to gather in Lee Park to raise money for 10 AIDS service organizations in Dallas

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY LIFEWALK  |  AIDS Arms recently held a reception at ilume Galleries honoring past and present chairs of the agency’s annual LifeWalk funraiser as part of the buildup to the 20th annual LifeWalk taking place Sunday, Oct. 10, at 1 p.m. in Lee Park. During the event, an unnamed benefactor donated $5,000 to LifeWalk in honor of the past co-chairs. The event also featured eight local artists who had work on display in the gallery.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY LIFEWALK | AIDS Arms recently held a reception at ilume Galleries honoring past and present chairs of the agency’s annual LifeWalk funraiser as part of the buildup to the 20th annual LifeWalk taking place Sunday, Oct. 10, at 1 p.m. in Lee Park. During the event, an unnamed benefactor donated $5,000 to LifeWalk in honor of the past co-chairs. The event also featured eight local artists who had work on display in the gallery.

About 62 new teams have registered to participate in the 20th annual LifeWalk on Sunday, Oct. 10, according to AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles.

“That’s the most new teams in one year that we have ever had,” Nobles said. “We have all our established teams coming back, plus the 62 new teams. That’s a little more than 200 teams total that will be walking.”

And that’s not counting the people who haven’t registered yet and will be walking as individuals instead of with a team.

“A lot of people never join a team. They just show up on Sunday, register on their own and walk. And those individuals usually bring someone with them — a partner or other family member or a friend or a pet. We never know until the day of the walk how many people will be participating,” Nobles said.

She said nearly 10,000 people participated in the 2009 LifeWalk, “and we assume we will meet that number again this year, if not exceed it. We hope we will exceed it, of course.”

The fundraising goal for the 20th LifeWalk is set at $500,000, which will be divided between AIDS Arms, which presents the event, and the 10 other beneficiaries.

“That’s huge, we know. Year before last, we raised $430,000, and last year we just about hit $400,000. The economic recession hit us hard last year, but we are hoping to really bounce back from that this year.”

The fundraising goal for the walk is based on the needs of the beneficiaries, Nobles said. “We tell the [LifeWalk] steering committee what we need, and the committee approves that as the goal. Then they [committee members] have to go out there and make it happen.”

The recession, Nobles said, has impacted AIDS service organizations in more ways than one. While donors have had to cut back on how much they are able to give, agencies are at the same time seeing more people who need help.

“What’s happening, across the board, is that there are just far too many clients needing help than we have the capacity to help,” Nobles said. “All of us [AIDS service organizations] are just way beyond our capacity. All of us need funding to expand that capacity and serve the fast-growing segment of people who are HIV-positive.”

And the proceeds from LifeWalk are especially helpful because the beneficiary agencies can use those funds however they want.

“Grant money is always extremely restricted money,” Nobles explained. “You can only spend grant money on the specific things that the funder has approved. And most often, those grant dollars don’t pay for the tools we need to do our jobs — things like computers, prevention supplies, testing supplies.

“Grant money usually doesn’t cover the costs of expanded media in new formats, those new ways to use new avenues to reach out with education and prevention efforts,” she continued. “For example, here at AIDS Arms, we love to do our ‘Lunch and Learn’ program. It’s where we invite clients to come in and we feed them, and as they have lunch we educate them on some aspect of living with AIDS. But all that goes by the wayside when there are no unrestricted funds available.”

And that’s why LifeWalk is so important. Because the funds it brings in are completely unrestricted.

Nobles said AIDS Arms officials hope to be able to use LifeWalk funds this year to bring in new equipment for the Peabody Clinic.

“We have a long list of equipment we need to diagnose, track and monitor the health of our clients,” she said.

“This time around, cardiovascular care is a huge need in our HIV patients, and we need equipment to be able to respond to that need in a better way. I don’t think the general public really understands that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 health risk for a lot of HIV patients. That’s particularly true as the patient population ages.

And that makes the management of HIV disease that much more complicated. We have to stay on top of all of it.

You have to treat the whole person.”

Registration for LifeWalk opens at noon on Sunday, and the walk steps off at 1 p.m. Walkers will move up Turtle Creek Boulevard, go through the West Village and then circle through Uptown and back to Lee Park.

There will be activities and entertainment going on throughout the day in the park, including the Buster Brown Band, a DJ playing music, Voice of Pride winner Mel Arizpe, games for the children, food, beverages and more, Nobles said.

Also during the day, in honor of the 20th anniversary, past LifeWalk co-chairs will be recognized from the stage.

“It’s going to be very family friendly, and very dog friendly. There will be several vendors with booths, and there will be a health fair with free HIV testing available on-site all day,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Nobles acknowledged that the reason behind LifeWalk is very serious, and that there are likely to be some sad moments as organizers and participants remember friends and family members who have died.
But the fun side of the event is also important.

“Everyone knows that we do this for very serious reasons, that the epidemic is still killing people and that our dollars are going to help with serious needs,” Nobles said. “But people need to have some relief from that seriousness, too. People get burned out. It’s called ‘compassion fatigue.’ And they need to be able to celebrate life; we need to celebrate the memories of those we have lost and we need to celebrate the lives of those who are living with this disease.

“There are people who have lived with this since the day the epidemic began, and we need to celebrate their lives, their tenacity and their courage,” Nobles said. “And LifeWalk is a great way to do that, because you know that every dollar that comes into LifeWalk goes to programs that directly help clients. Close to 20,000 people depend on the AIDS services organizations in Dallas, and the money from LifeWalk goes to help them. You can make an investment in the future of a lot of people through LifeWalk.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pride organizers accused of anti-Republican hate

We’ve officially received the first of what undoubtedly will be several non-heat-related post-Pride complaints. After all, you can’t please everyone all the time. This one comes from Kit Elliott, who says he wants to lodge a “formal complaint” against Dallas Pride for alleged anti-Republican “hate” in the form of comments made by the MC prior to the start of the parade. “It must stop and it has to stop,” Elliot writes. Here’s his full e-mail, which we’ve forwarded to Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild:

I would like to lodge a formal complaint against the Dallas Pride Parade for their words and actions do not match their message. While the leaders have their own beliefs, they need to keep their message of hate to themselves. I showed up to the parade around 1:30 pm, and the first sentence out of the MC’s mouth was an anti-Republican statement — a “we hate Republicans joke.” This is offensive to the GLBT Republican community who believe in human rights and fiscal responsibility. I believe that you should infiltrate the community with those who accept us and change the mindset from within instead of “fighting” and excluding this group from an otherwise excluding world. Can you imagine being GAY and growing up with the discrimination that gays get and flocking to a community that accepts you just to feel that discrimination again from within the community. It must stop and has to stop! I will NOT tolerate a community of hate and discrimination, and Dallas Voice and the parade planners should NOT tolerate this either.

Please forward this on to the parade planners for next year.

Thanks!
Kit Elliott

—  John Wright