Look for the rainbow on Lancaster in Fort Worth tonight!

Burns.Joel

Joel Burns

To all my fellow Fort Worthians, a message from Joel Burns:

“Yesterday I asked Fort Worth Public Art to program the 6 towers of the Fort Worth Lancaster Avenue of Lights to the 6 colors of the pride rainbow if today’s #SCOTUS ruling came out in favor of #MarriageEquality. I’m pleased to report that the art installation will be re-programmed at 7 pm tonight (Friday, June 26) and run all weekend. J.D. Angle and I plan to get rainbow snow cones and be there at sunset (just before 9) to soak in this momentous day and snap some pics in awesome Fort Worth. Come join us? #LoveWins.”

—  Tammye Nash

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price: ‘We are proud to be a diverse community in our views and beliefs’

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price in the Tarrant County Pride Parade last year.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price in the 2012 Tarrant County Pride Parade.

In a statement provided to Dallas Voice, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a LGBT ally, chimed in on the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality this morning:

“My focus as Mayor has always been on ensuring that our community leads the nation as a model of compassion and unity for all people. While city government officials have no authority to implement or authorize laws pertaining to marriage, the City of Fort Worth has been a trailblazer in equal employment opportunities, benefits for domestic partners, and citywide protections and equality for all,” she said. “We are proud to be a diverse community in our views and beliefs.  As Texas takes action to implement this historic Supreme Court decision, I know our citizens will respect one another, and continue moving forward as a community of one, standing together united.”

—  James Russell

Start building the toll road now

We think building the toll road is a great idea and construction should begin now — as in today, before the flooding in the floodway where the road will go gets any worse.

Here are some pictures taken over the weekend along the proposed toll road route. We agree with Councilman Adam Medrano that the trees that are slowing down the flow of river should be kept in place to slow down the water as it cascades down the toll road.

—  David Taffet

Regional election round up: Arlington, Fort Worth, elsewhere

Betsy Price

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price was uncontested for re-election.

A majority of incumbents cruised to re-election in Arlington, Fort Worth and elsewhere across Tarrant County with only a few upsets:

Fort Worth:

Five members of the Fort Worth City Council were challenged in their re-election bids. Facing nominal opposition, Districts 5, 7 and 8 Council members Gyna Bivens, Kelly Gray and Dennis Shingleton won their re-election by double digits. Meanwhile District 4 Councilman Danny Scarth lost to challenger Cary Moon 2,266 to 1,520. District 2 Councilman Sal Espino squeaked by challenger Steve Thornton 1,171 to 1,144, a difference of 27 votes. Mayor Betsy Price and council members Ann Zadeh, Jungus Jordan and W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman faced no opposition.

Fort Worth ISD trustees Tobi Jackson, Judy Needham and Ann Sutherland all cruised to re-election over their opponents. District 5 Trustee Needham defeated perennial candidate Linda LaBeau in her re-election bid 3,528 to 765. District 2 Trustee Jackson bested two candidates by wide margins, 1,264 to first time candidates Rev. Sultan Cole’s 446 and Joel Aguilar’s 195. Cole, as reported Friday, was recorded making statement against the LGBT community. District 6 Trustee Sutherland defeated former district administrator Celia Speer 2,655 to 1,605. District 3 Trustee Christene Moss faced no opponent.

Arlington:

Jeff Williams upset longtime mayor Dr. Robert Cluck 15,499 to 10,461. Two other opponents divided the remaining 730 votes. Residents also resoundingly vote to ban red light cameras 15,885 to 10,808. Two incumbents, AISD Place 1 and 2 Trustees Gloria Pena and Peter Barron were narrowly defeated while Place 3 Trustee Aaron Reich narrowly eked out a win. All incumbent council members breezed to re-election.

Elsewhere:

Tarrant Regional Water District incumbents Jim Lane and Marty Leonard bested challengers Keith Annis, Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner by wide margins. TRWD races are at-large with voters picking two candidates.

Additionally, candidates backed by numerous conservative leaders and groups were resoundingly defeated in their bids for nonpartisan office across northeast Tarrant County, according to an analysis of various endorsements.

A full round up of final votes can be found here.

—  James Russell

Fort Worth school board candidate: gays ignore basic truth by being gay

Sultan Cole

The Rev. Sultan Cole

God’s candidate, the Rev. Sultan Cole, is one of three candidates for the District 2 race for the Fort Worth school board. And he has a few opinions to share with you.

It just so happens I’m paid to hear idiots froth at the mouth, especially really crazy anti-LGBT stuff. As a pastor of his church, he has the privilege of reminding his congregants of the sins of the Undesirables, which you can see in the video below. In case you’d rather drink than watch his snake charming, here’s the gist of the screeds spilling out of the mouth of the Rev. Cole:

• Adam and Steve aren’t cool because God made “male and female,” and “males and females function well together,” especially at child birthing age.

• At 1:24 he evokes the biblical characters of Eve and Janice, who wish to make a child despite it not being God’s will. (I look forward to spending my weekend hunting for the lost book of Janice the Sodomite.)

Again, I’m not sharing this because it’s 3:15 p.m. on Friday, and I’m really tired, and I just want to go home. No, I’m telling you: God’s candidate is running in district 2 against incumbent Tobi Jackson and educator Joel Aguilar. God’s candidate is on the ballot tomorrow, Election Day.

Find your polling place here then head to the polls tomorrow between  7 a.m.–7 a.m. and vote. If you don’t, someone like Rev. Cole just might win.

—  James Russell

BUSINESS NEWS: GLBT Chamber celebrates 10th anniversary

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Tony Vedda

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday night, April 24, with its Celebration of Excellence Dinner, held at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.

Chamber officials presented a number of awards during the dinner, including presenting Mark Arthur Shekter with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Shekter owns Surrealty Corporation, a real estate agency, and Graphic+Design+Group+International. He is known for his work as an architectural and interior designer, but he is also known for his years of volunteer work in Dallas’ LGBT community. Shekter founded Meals on the Move, or MOM, which for several years delivered meals to people with HIV.

Other individuals recognized for their contributions to the community were Capt. Kathi Durst, chief pilot for American Airlines; Andy Smith, executive director of the Texas Instruments Foundation; Roger Thomson, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Brinker International; and Zack Hicks, chief information officer for Toyota Motors North America.

The 2014 Business Excellence Awards were also presented at the event. Business of the Year honors went to Liberty Burger, founded by Mariel Street and sponsored by Prudential Financial. The Extra Mile Award went to Pride Pharmacy, led by President John Shero and sponsored by American Airlines. The Community Impact Award went to ilume Management Services, led by President Luke Crosland and sponsored by Raytheon.

The Corporate Ally Award went to Haynes & Boonem LLC, with Theo Foster as LGBT diversity chair. Det. Christopher Gorrie of the Fort Worth Police Department, sponsored by Allied Stone, won the Emerging Leader Award. Robin Pulford with American Airlines accepted the Supplier Diversity Award, sponsored by Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. And the Member Service Award with TravelOUT owner Michael Henshaw, sponsored by Pride Pharmacy.

In the final award presentation of the evening, chamber Chairman Larry Paschall named the chamber’s president and CEO, Tony Vedda, as winner of the Chairman’s Award.

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Lesbian couple involved in fatal Fort Worth accident

Update:

Fort Worth Police Officer Tamara Pena got back with me this afternoon about the fatal multi-car accident in Fort Worth that left many dead and injured, including a lesbian couple, on Sunday morning.

According to Pena:

Officers were dispatched early Sunday, April 12, to investigate a multi-vehicle accident involving an 18-wheeler truck. Several vehicles had stopped to help a driver who had been involved in a single vehicle accident. Many of the individuals who had stopped were out of their vehicles.  An 18-wheeler struck the vehicle that had been involved in the initial accident and also struck several vehicles and individuals who had stopped to help.  The 18-wheeler caught on fire. Four individuals were confirmed deceased on the scene, another female was transported to an area hospital where she later died. Two other individuals were transported to area hospitals, one by ambulance, another by Careflight. Additionally, the truck driver was transported to an area hospital but he did not appear to have serious injuries.  Traffic Investigators are investigating the factors of the accident.

Original post:

According to the Dallas Morning News, a Fort Worth lesbian couple were among those involved in a fatal car accident on early Sunday morning in Fort Worth.

Veronica Gonzalez, who was raised in Oak Cliff, and her fiancee’s sister were among those killed.

Gonzalez’s fiancee was injured in the crash and remains unconscious, according to the News.

I’ve put in a call to the Fort Worth Police Department and will update this story as I hear more.

—  James Russell

PHOTOS: Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington’s Mother Michial awards ceremony

The Mother Michial Community Service Awards, presented by the Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, took place last night (Wednesday, March 25) at Club Reflection in Fort Worth. Candidates were screened throughout March, culminating in a vote last Saturday at Celebration Community Church.

Emperor and Empress 35 JD Swisher and Scarlett Rayne, who are married in real life, served as the awards show’s emcees.

Numerous bar owners, their staff and volunteers were in attendance.

Among the categories were best male and female impersonators, best bar and charity organization of the year. AIDS Outreach Center won charity organization of the year.

—  James Russell

Tarrant County AIDS Walk also excedes expectations

Inclement weather didn’t stop 500 walkers from participating in this year’s Tarrant County AIDS Walk. The 23rd annual event benefitting the AIDS Outreach Center even exceeded expectations, said Sarina Harz, AOC’s Development Associate.

As of Friday, March 20, Harz told the Voice the staff anticipated around 40 day-of registrants. They had more than 60, she said.

The weather also didn’t prevent 20 vendors ranging from Trinity MCC in Arlington to TCU’s Energy Institute from setting up.

Another plus? Almost all the pets from the Humane Society’s adoption booth found homes. Hopefully the last two critters were swept up after I left.

Beside exceeding financial expectations, this year brought new teams and faces, including this year’s top group fundraiser, the staff of the LGBT-friendly Sarah’s Place in Fort Worth.

The staff promised me a final vote tally and list of all the winners next week. While raising an estimated $30,000 ain’t bad at all, I hope the final numbers exceed their expectations.

 

—  James Russell

BREAKING NEWS: FW extends benefits to same-sex spouses of employees

Fort Worth city officials have just announced, via their city employee newsletter The Roundup, that the city will be extending spousal benefits to Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 3.44.32 PMlegally married same-sex spouses of city employees, beginning Sunday, Feb. 1.

The determination on which same-sex couples are eligible will be based on where they were married, not where they live — the same criteria used for federal income taxes, as per the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in DOJ v Windsor.

“This change will allow the city to follow the IRS’s definition of ‘spouse’ as defined for federal income taxes in the granting of survivor benefits,” the article in the newsletter notes.

It continues: “Since the city’s retirement ordinance does not specifically define ‘spouse,’ surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage will be eligible for survivor benefits if the survivor can prove, through documentation, that they were legally married to the employee/retiree in a state where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.”

As of Feb. 1, a 75 percent survivor benefit will be available to the following eligible same-sex spouses married at least one year prior to the employee’s retirement in the following groups: General employees hired prior to July 1, 2011; Police officers hired prior to Jan. 1, 2013; Firefighters hired prior to Jan. 10, 2015.”

Eligible members who retire on or after Feb. 1 will be eligible for the survivor benefit without a reduction in their pension benefits. Eligible members currently received a reduced benefit to provide for a legal same-sex spouse will have their benefit restored, without back pay, beginning Feb. 1. (All based on them providing proper documentation, of course).

Any retiree who did not take a benefit reduction when they retired to fund a survivor benefit, but who was legally married to their spouse for at least one year prior to their retirement from the city, cab notify the fund of their designation of a spouse as their survivor and submit the required documentation.

Those hired after the specified dates have to take a reduction in pension benefits when they retire to be able to provide a survivor benefit to the person they designate.

All employees, no matter when they were hired, are eligible for a 75 percent spousal survivor benefit if they are vested and die while actively employed. The policy change means that as of Feb. 1, that also applies to same-sex spouses.

Watch for more complete coverage in the Jan. 30 issue of Dallas Voice.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash