DFW International Airport adds LGBT protections

The front door to North Texas just became a little more welcoming for the LGBT community.

DFW International Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, has adopted new policies protecting its employees from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rafael McDonnell, strategic communications and programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, said the policies took effect today after RCD representatives first approached DFW International Airport officials several months ago. Sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the airport’s nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies by executive order, and the changes didn’t require approval from the airport’s board.

DFW International Airport has about 1,700 employees.

“Both Dallas and Fort Worth have nondiscrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity,” McDonnell told Instant Tea. “It’s not something revolutionary or new. The two city owners, for lack of a better term, already provide these protections.

“They refer to DFW as the economic engine of the region. You talk to tourism people, and they refer to DFW as the front door to the region, so this is vitally important.”

McDonnell said convincing airport officials to add LGBT employment protections was a collaborative effort between representatives from Resource Center Dallas and Fairness Fort Worth.

In addition to the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, the airport’s six top carriers, as well as numerous hotel and rental car companies that serve the facility, have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, he said.

To read the new policies, click here.

—  John Wright

WATCH LIVE: Fort Worth City Council meeting

We’re not sure if or when someone plans to air their disapproval of Councilman Joel Burns “It Gets Better” speech during tonight’s Fort Worth City Council meeting. “Citizen presentations” are near the end of the council’s agenda. You can watch the meeting live by going here, but it sounds like there’s not much point in heading down to City Hall if you’re not there already. Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks reports on Twitter that the meeting is packed and that the fire marshal isn’t letting anyone else in. We’re sure many are there for other reasons, but it’s also possible that some didn’t heed the advice of Fairness Fort Worth, which earlier today encouraged people NOT to attend the meeting. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: It would appear that most of the folks in the audience are there to talk about an ordinance that would limit rooster ownership.

—  John Wright

Fairness Fort Worth, Joel Burns urge people NOT to attend tonight’s City Council meeting

On Monday we told you that some folks reportedly plan to speak at tonight’s Fort Worth City Council meeting, to air their disapproval of Councilman Joel Burns “It Gets Better” speech to LGBT youth on Oct. 12. But Fairness Fort Worth says that both Burns and the group are urging people not to attend tonight’s meeting. FFW’s David Mack Henderson said on Facebook that the threat is “not all that credible” and “does NOT warrant giveing them the public dog-fight they desire.” Here’s his full message:

On Monday many of you noted a brief, rather vague and titillating article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram suggesting that “at least one — and possibly more” persons plan to protest Councilman Joel Burns’ recent “It Gets Better” speech tonight in a city council meeting.

Given the international attention Joel brought to LGBT bullying and teen suicide rates you can understand how the blog comments went wild rather quickly. Joel’s amazing outreach produced loyal advocates ready to come to his defense in a heartbeat.

HOWEVER, both JOEL and FAIRNESS FORT WORTH are convinced that this protest threat is not all that credible. Sure, a handful of folks from a city straddling another county may show up and make a bit of noise. In any case, we’ve collectively determined that this does NOT warrant giving them the public dog-fight they desire. COUNCILMAN BURNS and FAIRNESS FORT WORTH urge you NOT to attend this city council meeting specifically to engage these folks. (If you’re there on other city business, by all means, be part of the process as any citizen should.)

Our LGBT Community now plays a strategic and productive role in the future of our city. We’ve earned our seat at the table. As such, WE get to determine the time and place for these discussions, not our detractors.

So, if you’re committed to devoting your Tuesday night toward making a difference in our LGBT Community, FAIRNESS FORT WORTH urges you to attend our general meeting instead. YOU’RE NEEDED THERE! Join us at 7:30PM. We’ll be at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania, creating initiatives and programs to advance equal access for all of us!

And yes — we DO have a gay agenda:

*** Anti-Bulling, Safe Schools project with FWISD
*** Hospital & Healthcare Providers Equal Access project
*** FW City Manager’s Diversity Task Force initiatives
…and more as we continue to grow and improve LGBT lives in Tarrant County. We’re on a roll!

Please join us. What a great time to live in Fort Worth, Texas — Where the West Begins — Again!”

—  John Wright

Gay Congressman Barney Frank re-elected

Barney Frank

More good news from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., has been re-elected despite a strong challenge from Tea Party-backed Republican Sean Bielat.

“Barney Frank is nothing if not a fighter, and we’re very happy he will return to the House and continue to fight for the people of Massachusetts and for all LGBT Americans. Nobody has worked harder or longer in the U.S. Congress for fairness and equality for the LGBT community,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.

Frank has served in the House since 1981 and came out as gay in 1987.

Again, to keep track of how gay candidates are faring across the country, go here.

—  John Wright

Kentucky’s 2nd-largest city elects gay mayor

Jim Gray

Our first big gay result from Election Night is in.

Lexington, Kentucky’s second-largest city, has elected an openly gay mayor:

From GayPolitics.com:

Vice-Mayor Jim Gray was victorious tonight in his second campaign for the city’s top job, beating incumbent Mayor Jim Newberry.

“This is a tremendous victory for Lexington, for Kentucky’s LGBT community and for fairness.  We are proud of Jim Gray and his fantastic campaign staff who fought hard for this win,” said Chuck Wolfe, Victory Fund’s president and CEO.

Gray is one of more than 1o0 candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund on the ballot today. To follow Victory-fund endorsed candidates throughout the night, go here.

—  John Wright

UT Arlington GSA honors David Mack Henderson

Joshua Little, David Mack Henderson and Zachary Murphy

On Thursday, Oct. 28 the Gay Straight Alliance at the University of Texas at Arlington celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the founding of the campus’s first gay organization.

As part of the celebration, they honored David Mack Henderson of Fairness Fort Worth. That organization was created in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid and has worked with the city to become more inclusive.

Henderson was one of the founders of the UTA Gay/Lesbian Association when he was a student at the school. He is a tax accountant and Realtor and is a facilitator for the diversity training that all Fort Worth city employees must take. In the 1980s, he was a member of the Dallas Gay Alliance board and a founder of Resource Center Dallas.

The Certificate of Appreciation was presented by GSA President Joshua Little and Vice President Zachary Murphy.

The GSA meets every Wednesday at noon in the Upper University Center, usually in the Guadalupe Room. The group is open to all students. UTA policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Homage is another LGBTQ organization at UTA. Homage meets Thursday evenings in the University Center.

—  David Taffet

Hey Iowa: Smash pumpkins, not judicial fairness

Over the weekend, the so-called Iowa For Freedom coalition posted this subliminal message regarding the state’s upcoming judicial retention vote:

Pumpkins

[SOURCE]

Fortunately, those who don’t think judges and the independent judiciary in general should be subjected to a vindictive vote based solely on (largely faith-motivated) hostility for same-sex marriage know that it’s the day after Halloween that historically determines a pumpkin’s ultimate fate:

Smashed

Use your gourds, Iowa citizens: Vote fairly.

***

*SEE ALSO: Our complete Iowa For Freedom Archive




Good As You

—  admin

Video: Iowa For [Infantilizing Supporters of Basic Fairness]

Concerned Woman For America Tamara Scott:



***

*SEE ALSO: Our complete Iowa For Freedom Archive




Good As You

—  admin

Fairness Fort Worth meeting tonight

Fairness Fort Worth meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvannia Ave., and everyone interested is helping set the organization’s agenda for the coming year is welcome to attend.

Initiatives already on the agenda include:

• working with Fort Worth Independent School District and other area school districts on anti-bullying projects and LGBT inclusive policies for students and staff.

• reaching out to other local governmental bodies and major employers on LGBT issues and providing  LGBT diversity training.

• coordinating and training with all Tarrant County hospitals to ensure equal access to healthcare for LGBT people.

For more information, check out the Fairness Fort Worth Facebook page.

—  admin

FW adds partner, pension benefits for LGBT workers

HR Commissioner Thomas says Community Relations Department cuts won’t impair enforcement of nondiscrimination ordinance

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — After months of a contentious budget process, the Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 21 approved a $1.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2011, and with that vote also approved domestic partner benefits for city employees.

Beginning Oct. 4, LGBT city employees will be able to add their domestic partners to their insurance plan, with the employee paying all the costs of the added benefits. The insurance will go into effect Jan. 1.

The new budget also calls on the city to increase its contribution to the pension fund by 4 percent and to offer new hires the option of designating a survivor, which can include a domestic partner, to receive benefits.

The move to offer partner benefits came in under the radar, happening quietly and with none of the often rancorous debate that accompanied the vote last fall to add gender identity to the city’s nondiscrimination policy, or even the decision to form the Diversity Task Force that recommended adding partner benefits.

The task force was formed last summer in the wake of the raid on the Rainbow Lounge, and was created to suggest ways that the city could better serve its LGBT employees and citizens.

In fact, it was the way the council set up the task force that allowed the partner benefits to be added without opposition, according to Thomas Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth.

The task force was created to study city policies and make recommendations on changes to City Manager Dale Fissler. All the recommendations Fissler concurred with, with the exception of any cost changes or policy changes, would be adopted without the need of a vote by the council.

Of the 20 recommendations made by the task force, all but three were adopted in January without a council vote.

One of those three — adding gender identity to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance — happened last fall during a marathon council meeting that included dozens of speakers on both sides of the issue.

The council chose to delay implementation the other two recommendations — partner benefits and adding insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery — pending further study to determine the cost to the city.

Anable said that once it was determined that adding partner benefits wouldn’t cost the city, partner benefits were “a done deal. The council didn’t even need to vote on it.”

A spokesman in Mayor Mike Moncrief’s office confirmed changes in the pension plan and the addition of partner benefits, but said details on the pension plan were still being hammered out.

He also confirmed that the addition of partner benefits did not require a council vote, but that the plan was presented to the council as an informational item during a pre-council meeting in August.

During the budget planning process, Fairness Fort Worth had expressed concern that proposed cuts in the city’s Community Relations Department would damage the department’s ability to investigate alleged violations of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

But on Lisa Thomas, an openly lesbian member of the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission, said this week the final changes will not impede investigations or enforcement of the ordinance.

Thomas said commission members and commission chair Estrus Tucker, Community Relations Department Director Vanessa Boling, Fissler and Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa had “worked hard to ensure that the necessary budget cuts do not harm the ability of the Human Relations Commission to carry out its mission.”

In the final budget, the Community Relations Department has been eliminated, along with Boling’s post. Staff was reduced from almost 80 to almost 40, with some of those 40 employees whose positions were cut being absorbed into other departments, Thomas said.

“The remaining staff of 13 will support the Human Relations Commission and carry out the investigations and enforce federal regulations under Fair Housing and Equal Employment in addition to the recently-expanded city of Fort Worth nondiscrimination ordinance,” Thomas said.

The remaining staff includes an administrator, support staff, two communications offiers and an investigatory staff.

“I believe that the organization as it is proposed in the budget can work and will be considered substantially equivalent to the requirements as laid out in the federal regulations, allowing the commission and its work to continue,” Thomas said.

“In this way, we can continue to protect all the people who live, work and visit in Fort Worth.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas