Contact Clay Jenkins and Elba Garcia and ask them to add transgender protections

Above is a screen grab of the transgender-less amendment to Dallas County’s employment nondiscrimination policy that was approved by the  Commissioners Court earlier today. The sexual orientation-only amendment can also be found on page 113 of the Commissioners Court Briefing Agenda for today. As we reported earlier, County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, who spearheaded the amendment, said they thought sexual orientation included gender identity/expression, and apparently they didn’t consult with anyone from the LGBT community about the amendment. This includes lesbian Sheriff Lupe Valdez and gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who both have nondiscrimination policies for their county departments that protect transgender employees. Moreover, no one from the LGBT community contacted Jenkins or Garcia in the last three months to ensure that this amendment was drafted properly and on track for approval. We all share the blame for this, including this newspaper. Now, the Commissioners Court will have to be asked to go back and amend the policy again, which will take months and possibly draw opposition from the religious right — with its bogus claims about restroom abuse. This is extremely unfortunate, but that’s the row the LGBT community must now hoe. An entire segment of the community has been left out of this policy — a segment that is in fact more likely than gays, lesbians or bisexuals to suffer employment discrimination. After the jump is a letter from Resource Center Dallas sent to both Jenkins and Garcia responding to the new policy. If you’d like to contact Jenkins and Garcia to thank them for adding sexual orientation to the policy and ask them to also add gender identity/expression, here is their info:

Clay Jenkins
411 Elm Street, 2nd Floor • Dallas, Texas 75202 • 214.653.7949
clay.jenkins@dallascounty.org

Dr. Elba Garcia
411 Elm Street, 2nd Floor • Dallas, Texas 75202 • 214.653-6670
elba.garciadds@dallascounty.org

—  John Wright

Stonewall endorses Kunkle, Nowlin

David Kunkle

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed former police chief David Kunkle for mayor and openly gay candidate James Nowlin for the District 14 City Council seat on Saturday.

Kunkle and Nowlin were among 12 who received the LGBT group’s backing after 57 members interviewed 23 candidates in May 14 municipal elections, during a seven-hour session at Resource Center Dallas.

Stonewall’s endorsement of Kunkle came after Ron Natinsky pulled out of the candidate screening when he learned he would not be eligible for the group’s backing because he’s a Republican. Despite his party affiliation, Natinsky has received endorsements in the mayor’s race from some prominent gay Democrats, including openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley. Municipal elections are nonpartisan.

The other two candidates for mayor, Mike Rawlings and Edward Okpa, also sought Stonewall’s endorsement.

In heavily gay District 14, Nowlin beat out incumbent Angela Hunt for the group’s backing, despite the fact that Hunt has been an LGBT ally on the council.

Stonewall also endorsed Delia Jasso for District 1, Pauline Medrano for District 2, Scott Griggs for District 3, Monica Alonzo for District 6, Cassie Pierce for District 7, Cynthia Durbin for District 10 and William Tsao for District 12.

The group opted not to endorse Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway, who’s seeking re-election to his District 4 council seat. Caraway is currently finishing out the term of former Mayor Tom Leppert, who stepped down to run for U.S. Senate. Stonewall also opted not to endorse Sheffie Kadane in District 9. Both Caraway and Kadane sought the group’s endorsement and attended Saturday’s screening.

A full press release after the jump.

Kunkle, Nowlin receive Stonewall endorsements

After seven hours and 23 interviews, 57 Stonewall Democrats of Dallas members selected to endorse in 12 races for the May 14 municipal election.

Former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle won the endorsement for Dallas Mayor, which was ratified along with other races by the membership immediately after the endorsement screening ended at 4:45 p.m.

Also winning endorsements for Dallas City Council were Delia Jasso for District 1, Pauline Medrano for District 2, Scott Griggs for District 3, Monica Alonzo for District 6, Cassie Pierce for District 7, Cynthia Durbin for District 10, William Tsao for District 12 and James Nowlin for District 14.

The lone Dallas Independent School District candidate that sought the organization’s endorsement, Mike Morath, was endorsed for District 2.

Candidates for Dallas County School Board Trustees Anthony Pace for District 1 and James Hubener for District 4 were also endorsed.

Stonewall decided not to endorse interim mayor and District 4 City Councilmember Dwaine Caraway and City Councilman Sheffie Kadane for District 9. They were the only ones who screened in their respective races.

“We had a lively discussion and great participation,” said Jesse Garcia, SDD communications director. “Conversation and debate remained civil. We had great candidates seek our support and we’re proud that the process was fair and transparent.”

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will work hard to promote endorsed candidates over the next eight weeks before Election Day Saturday, May 14.

The deadline to register to vote in time for the May 14 election is Thursday, April 14. Your registration card needs to be postmarked by April 14 or dropped off at the Dallas County Elections Department, located at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 820, in Dallas. Early voting takes place May 2-10.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will register voters Saturday, March 26, from 2 to 6 p.m., in front of Hunky’s, located at 3940 Cedar Springs Rd., in Dallas.

“The LGBT community needs to turn out to make sure our voice is heard,” said Garcia. “Only one in eight Dallas voters takes part in city elections. Heavy turnout in our neighborhoods will make a greater difference this time around.”

Candidates who were endorsed will be invited to speak at the next general meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, at Ojeda’s Restaurant, located at 4617 Maple Ave. in Dallas. Meeting is open to the public. For more information, visit www.stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org.

—  John Wright

Burns, Hicks unopposed in FW council bids

Joel Burns

5 candidates vying to replace Moncrief as mayor; Zimmerman is only other incumbent unopposed

TAMMYE NASH   | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — With the filing deadline passed for the Fort Worth City Council elections in May, the city’s LGBT community is assured of having its two strongest allies — openly gay District 9 Councilmember Joel Burns and District 8 Councilmember Kathleen Hicks — back in their seats in the council chambers since neither drew any challengers in their re-election bids.

It will be Burns’ second full term on the council after being elected in a December 2007 runoff to replace Wendy Davis when she stepped down to run for the Texas Senate.
Hicks is going into her fourth term representing District 8.

The only other uncontested seat on the council is in District 3 where W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, one of six councilmembers who voted in favor of adding transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance in October 2009, is running unopposed for his second council term.

But at least two candidates are running for each of the six other seats at the council table, including mayor where five candidates are vying to replace Mike Moncrief, who decided to retire after serving four terms.

Mayoral candidates include two former city council members Cathy Hirt and Jim Lane, Tarrant County Tax Assessor/Collector Betsy Price, former state Rep. Dan Barrett and experimental filmmaker Nicholas Zebrun.

Fort Worth attorney Jon Nelson, one of the founders of the LGBT advocacy group Fairness Fort Worth, said this week said that while “it’s really still too soon to tell, I have heard that people supposedly knowledgeable in the area of Fort Worth politics” predict that the race to replace Moncrief will come down to Hirt and Lane.

Nelson said he is supporting Hirt, because he believes she is a “very intelligent … nuts-and-bolts kind of person who will get things done” and because “her stance on equality is very solid.”

But Nelson said that he believes Lane and Barrett “would have supported what the mayor and City Council did” in the wake of the June 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by adding trans protections to the nondiscrimination ordinance and establishing a diversity task force to address LGBT issues.

Nelson acknowledged that he knows little about Price and said he has “never heard of Zebrun.”

Council races

In District 2, incumbent Sal Espino, an attorney is running for his fourth term on the council against Paul L. Rudisill, who is in the healthcare industry.

Espino provided a positive vote on LGBT issues in the months since the Rainbow Lounge raid, including voting for adding transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Rudisill, on his campaign website, describes himself as a conservative who will work to “steer City Hall in the direction you, the taxpayer, desire, not the way liberals have in the past.”

In District 4, incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Danny Scarth is running for his fourth term. Scarth was one of the three councilmembers to vote against adding trans protections to the nondiscrimination ordinance.

Scarth, executive director of Hope Media, is being challenged by businesswoman Lupe Arriola, who with her husband owns a string of fast-food restaurants. On her website, Arriola promises she will “not rubber stamp the wants of the special interests groups.”

Real estate broker Frank Moss in District 5 is the only incumbent running for re-election to draw more than one challenger. Moss, running for his third term, voted favorably on LGBT issues, including the transgender nondiscrimination measure. He is being challenged by designer Charles Hibbler and school administrator Rickie Clark.

Dallas Voice was unable to locate campaign websites for either Hibbler or Clark. However, webs searches indicate both have previously run unsuccessful campaigns for public office.

In District 6, incumbent Jungus Jordan, who voted against adding transgender protections to the nondiscrimination ordinance, is running for his fourth term. Jordan, a retired economist, is being challenged by civic advocate Tollie Thomas, who has no campaign website available.

District 7 incumbent Carter Burdette, the third councilmember to vote against trans protections, is not running for re-election. Five candidates are vying to replace him on the council.

Burdette is backing Dennis Shingleton, senior associate dean of finance and administration at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

Also running in District 7 are bank officer Jonathan Horton, Jack Ernest who works in business management, Merchant Services Inc. CEO Jon Perry and consultant Lee Henderson.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Hunt ends speculation over mayoral candidacy

Angela Hunt, left, and James Nowlin

District 14 councilwoman won’t for mayor, but gay candidate James Nowlin pledges to stay in race and challenge three-term incumbent

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT ally who represents the heavily gay District 14, announced this week that she has decided not to run for Dallas mayor in the May municipal elections.

Hunt will, instead, run for re-election to her fourth term representing District 14. Mandated term limits mean that if she is re-elected, it will be her last two-year term on the council.

Although candidates cannot officially file to run in the elections until Monday, Feb. 14, four District 14 candidates have already filed paperwork with the city secretary designating campaign treasurers.

One of the four — Jim Rogers — told Dallas Voice last month that if Hunt decided to run for re-election to the council instead of for mayor, he would bow out of the race. But another, openly gay candidate James Nowlin, said this week he does not plan to withdraw.

The two other declared candidates for District 14 are Erin C. Lasseter and Vernon Franko.

“Angela made every indication that she was running for mayor, and our campaign team moved forward, and as we were moving forward we received tremendous support from voters across the district,” Nowlin said Wednesday. “Her waiting put the district and the potential candidates in a very awkward position. I’m in it to win it and I’m moving forward to the May 14 election.”

Nowlin told Dallas Voice last month he was confident that Hunt would run for mayor and that he had been discussing the possibility of running for the District 14 seat with her for more than a year.

“I’m not running against anybody,” Nowlin said. “I’m running for the district, and this is about putting the district first.”

Hunt said Wednesday that she had decided to not to run for mayor because she believes she can be more effective as a councilmember.

“For me, it’s never been about what office I hold. It’s about where I feel I can be the most effective and do the most good for my district and the city,” Hunt said. “And the issues I feel most strongly about are issues I can address most effectively as a councilmember instead of as mayor.”

Hunt said those issues are ones that focus “providing top quality basic city services” and projects that enhance the quality of life for the city’s residents, including efforts to “re-energize” the Trinity River Corridor Project and making sure the river levees are repaired and the proposed park built.

Hunt said she is also concerned with the issues of redistricting and the upcoming 2012 bond elections.

“With all due respect to the other [District 14] candidates — I know them, and they are all good people — these are issues that need someone with experience to deal with them,” Hunt said.

The three candidates that have so far declared themselves candidates for mayor are current District 12 Councilman Ron Natinsky, former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle and criminal defense lawyer Jim Moore.

Hunt said this week she has not decided who — if anyone — she would endorse for mayor. But she did say she believes the city needs someone not currently serving on the council as its next leader.

“I think it will take someone new, someone coming in from outside the current council but who also has experience as a leader” to be the best mayor for Dallas, Hunt said, adding that she is looking for a mayor who will “focus on the issues that are really important to our neighborhoods, instead of on high-dollar, high-profile projects” like the Convention Center hotel, the Trinity River toll road and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge — all projects that current Mayor Tom Leppert championed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Angela Hunt isn’t running for mayor, and James Nowlin isn’t dropping out of the District 14 race

James Nowlin

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT ally who represents the heavily gay District 14, tells Unfair Park that she’s opted not to run for mayor in 2011, and will instead seek re-election to her council seat.

But James Nowlin, the openly gay candidate who announced plans to run for Hunt’s District 14 seat when it looked like she’d run for mayor, says he doesn’t plan to withdraw from the race and will challenge her in May.

“Angela made every indication that she was running for mayor, and our campaign team moved forward, and as we were moving forward we received tremendous support from voters across the district,” Nowlin said Wednesday. “Her waiting put the district and the potential candidates in a very awkward position. I’m in to to win it and I’m moving forward to the May 14 election.”

Another potential candidate in District 14, Jim Rogers, has said he won’t run if Hunt seeks re-election. But Nowlin, who was appointed to the Police Review Board by Hunt, said the seat belongs to the voters and he wants to give them a choice.

“I’m not running against anybody,” Nowlin said. “I’m running for the district, and this is about putting the district first.”

The filing period for Dallas city elections begins next week.

—  John Wright

Election 2010 • Fitzsimmons looks forward to completing digital courts project

Gay district clerk wins 2nd term; Parker is 1st openly LGBT person elected judge, county’s first gay African-American elected official

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Judge Tonya Parker
Judge Tonya Parker

Two of three openly gay candidates in Dallas County won their races. Among them was District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons who was reelected to a second term in office.

He said sexual orientation did not figure into the races in Dallas County.

But now that the election is behind him, Fitzsimmons said his priority is completing his digital courts project. Filing paperwork electronically has already saved his office $1.3 million, he said, while opening new job opportunities in IT work at the county.

During the upcoming term, he expects his office with its electronic filing to become a model for the state.

“In four years we’ll be the envy of Texas,” he said.

In his first term in office, Fitzsimmons updated his employment policies to reflect non-discrimination. He was the first at the county level to do that and he said he has no tolerance for any sort of discrimination in his department.

He said that voters knew what they were getting when they elected him and expected him to carry out that policy. “Employees who can’t accept the diversity of Dallas County have no business in government,” he said.

But while sexual orientation was not a factor in the general election and hasn’t been a issue in his department, one candidate tried to make it the focus of the Republican primary. A candidate recruited by County Commissioner Ken Mayfield said that there were “moral issues in the race,” Fitzsimmons said.

That candidate was defeated in the primary and Mayfield was turned out of office in the general election after 16 years in the Commissioners Court.

While he heard from several sources that his eventual opponent had planned to use the issue, she never ran much of a campaign, Fitzsimmons said.

“Basically, she just got on the ballot,” he said.

Fitzsimmons said that mostly he works with attorneys and litigants but a quirk in Texas law allows counties to open passport offices. Those offices come under his jurisdiction. There are already three in the county and he’d like to add one in North Oak Cliff. He said that a vast number of passport applications in Dallas are from Hispanic residents but the office would also serve Oak Cliff’s large LGBT population.

“The outgoing commissioner wasn’t interested,” he said. “I’m excited to work with the new commissioner.”

Elba Garcia, who was elected on Tuesday, will represent the area.

Fitzsimmons was impressed by the lack of focus on the sexual orientation of the candidates through the election.

“Voters elected me and Tonya Parker to do a job,” he said.

On election night, Fitzsimmons watched returns from Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park with several other elected officials. Among them were County Tax Assessor John Ames who was not up for re-election and County Clerk John Warren who was. Warren also won re-election, but Fitzsimmons garnered more votes.

Parker, who was elected to serve in the 116th Judicial District Court, watched returns from the W Hotel.

Sexual orientation was not an issue in her race either. While never denying her sexual orientation, Parker preferred not to be interviewed by Dallas Voice during the campaign and stuck to issues throughout.

The Dallas Association of Young Lawyers named her an Outstanding Young Lawyer. Texas Monthly Magazine listed her as a Texas Rising Star four times over the past few years. She served on the board of directors of both the Dallas Bar Association and the J. L. Turner Legal Association.

Pete Schulte
Pete Schulte

Stonewall Democrats President Erin Moore called her one of the most eminently qualified new candidates running in this election cycle.

Parker won by a 5-point margin.

After the election, Parker left for vacation and was unavailable to comment.

Peter Schulte challenged Dan Branch for his seat in the Texas House of Representatives. Schulte blamed his defeat on the national mood. No Democrats won in challenged state House races in Dallas County and only one out of three prevailed in Tarrant County.

While his sexual orientation was not a campaign issue, Schulte had been in the news as the attorney for one of the men in the same-sex divorce case.

In that case, Judge Tena Callahan ruled that she had jurisdiction to grant a divorce to the Dallas couple who had married while living in Massachusetts.Attorney General Greg Abbott challenged the ruling and an appeals court overturned Callahan’s ruling.

Although additional counsel was retained for the appeal, Schulte continued to appear with his client. While avoiding local media, he made an appearance on Good Morning America and The Daily Show.

Schulte doesn’t believe his connection to the case affected the outcome, nor did it negatively affect Callahan. She won her re-election with about 52 percent of the vote.

Abbott, however, lost in both Dallas County and by a larger margin in Travis where a similar case involving a lesbian couple was heard.

Fitzsimmons said that he doesn’t believe sexual orientation matters to a majority of Dallas voters — competence does. He hopes he and Parker will encourage others in the LGBT community to run for office in the future.

He said that opportunities are especially good for women thinking of running. In Dallas County, six of the top 10 vote getters in contested races were women, including Parker.

Of the remaining four, Fitzsimmons made the list as did Stonewall Democrats member Carl Ginsberg.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas Cty. races neck and neck in early voting

Early voting results are in, and countywide races in Dallas County are, for the most part, neck and neck between Democrats and Republicans. Early voting is expected to account for roughly half of all turnout, so it can be a good indication of where local races are heading. However, Democratic turnout is typically higher than Republican turnout on Election Day, so the fact that Democrats are even or ahead after early voting is a good sign that the county will stay blue.

“Our assumption is that we will continue to climb on Election Day, and that’s traditionally the case in gubernatorial years,” said openly gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who led Republican opponent Tammy Barnes by fewer than 1,500 votes after early voting, out of more than 200,000 ballots cast.  “At this point, I’m feeling pretty good. I think this is where I wanted to be, over 50 percent with early vote. Right now the results seem to be consistent with what everybody was expecting.”

While Fitzsimmons has a slight lead in his race, other Democratic candidates for countywide office were slightly behind. District Attorney Craig Watkins trailed challenger Danny Clancy and Democratic county judge nominee Clay Jenkins trailed Republican Wade Emmert.

In another Dallas County race of significant LGBT interest, Democrat Dr. Elba Garcia led Republican incumbent Ken Mayfield by fewer than 1,000 votes as they vie for the District 4 seat on the Commissioners Court.

State legislative races didn’t look quite so good for Democrats after early voting. Incumbent State Reps. Allen Vaught, Carol Kent, Robert Miklos and Kirk England all trailed their races after early voting. Democratic challengers Pete Schulte and Loretta Haldenwang were also behind.

—  John Wright