Marriages in Maine to begin at midnight

Marriage begins in state No. 8 tomorrow. Several city and town halls in Maine are planning special hours to accommodate people planning to marry as soon as the marriage-equality law fully takes effect.

Two other states that voted for equality in November are Washington and Maryland. Marriages began in Washington earlier this month and will begin in Maryland on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

The Portland Press reported that Portland’s city hall will open at 12:01 a.m. and stay open until 3 a.m. to issue licenses and perform ceremonies. Officials said they can accommodate up to 100 couples. Doors open at 10 p.m. tonight.

In Maryland, one company is pulling a Baylor Health Care System and will no longer offer its services for weddings of any type. Discover Annapolis Tours said it would lose $50,000 a year when it stops its business rather than serve same-sex couples.

“If they’re providing services to the public, they can’t discriminate who they provide their services to,” said Glendora Hughes, general counsel for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.

Gay Weddings In Maine is a new website to help couples getting married in Maine. The site includes legal advice, practical information and more than 300 vendors happy to provide everything from flowers, limousines and catering halls to rehearsal dinner and honeymoon spots around the state.

—  David Taffet

Republican commissioners speak out against domestic partner benefits

LGBT activist C.d. Kirven addresses the Dallas County Commissioners Court about the importance of offering domestic partner benefits Tuesday morning. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The two Republican members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court said they oppose a plan to offer domestic partner benefits to county employees on Tuesday, citing the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

After the Commissioners Court was briefed on the plan, several speakers highlighted the issue of equality and the county’s need to be competitive to recruit and retain quality employees. The speakers were Cece Cox with Resource Center Dallas, Omar Narvaez with Lambda Legal, Travis Gasper with Equality Texas and C.d. Kirven with GetEQUAL TX.

Republican Commissioner Mike Cantrell then read a statement into the record, calling the plan part of a political agenda. He said the county should not offer the benefits because the federal and state government don’t recognize domestic partners.

“The county is an arm of the state government and as an elected official, my duties are bound to conform with legislation that dictates and defines what determines a legal union,” he said.

—  Dallasvoice

Working on Ann Richards documentary became a passion for director

Keith Patterson wasn’t from Texas and hadn’t even spent much time here. Then while living in Los Angeles, a friend said he wanted to do a documentary about Ann Richards. Patterson was familiar with — even a fan of — the late Texas governor, “so I came on board” in late 2010, he says.

The following 20 months, however, have been a journey for the gay filmmaker, who ended up co-directing Ann Richards’ Texas, the documentary that kicks off Dallas VideoFest 25 at the Dallas Museum of Art Thursday night.

“We came to Texas for a year: Austin first, but we ended up everywhere,” he says on the phone from New York, a few hours before his planned arrival in Dallas to attend the festival. “I even have a place in Houston [still].”

Working on the documentary quickly became a passion for Patterson.

“I loved her,” he says. “You can’t get any larger than a Texas politician. That’s why The Best Little Whorehouse is so good — it captures the politics. That song where the governor talks about sidestepping [every issue]? That was [the governorship]. When Ann got in there and started passing a lot of reforms, she shook everything up.”

Richards had help from some powerful friends, including lesbian power couple Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, who met and befriended Richards early in her political career. “They were friends from the 1980s when she ran for treasurer and helped write the comedy for Ann’s [historic 1988 Democratic National Conventional] keynote address,” Patterson says. “That’s when she met Dolly [Parton], too. I think Ann was a county commissioner when Dolly was [in Texas] shooting Whorehouse.”

Tomlin, Parton and a host of other celebs offer their voices to the documentary. It wasn’t difficult finding people anxious to talk on the record about the flamboyant Texas pol.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chick-fil-A to end donations to anti-gay groups, draft memo about policies

Couple Tyler Savage, left, and Larry Farris kiss at a Dallas Chick-fil-A Friday, Aug. 3, for National Same-sex Kiss-in Day. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Chick-fil-A is reportedly ending its contributions to anti-gay groups, including Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.

The decision came after discussions this month with Chicago’s Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Moreno made headlines this summer for opposing a new Chick-fil-A in a Westside ward after company President Dan Cathy’s stated opposition to marriage equality. Cathy’s comments sparked debate about civil rights and freedom of speech, along with protests and petitions to kick the restaurant of college campuses, leading to Cathy meeting with LGBT college leaders last month.

Moreno told the Times that the company would not add LGBT protections to its nondiscrimination policy but would send a memo to its restaurants called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.” The memo will state Chick-fil-A’s promise to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender” and to not “engage in political or social debates.”

Moreno told Chicago’s LGBT newspaper, the Windy City Times, that it’s “a win for the LGBT community” and “for everyone who works for the cause of equal rights, and a win for Chick- fil-A. This is a win for all.”

Chick-fil-A has not released an official announcement stating that the company would cease donations to anti-gay organization, but a letter sent to Moreno signed by the company’s senior director states that it is “now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”

Donations will now go to foster-care agencies and community service organizations.

—  Dallasvoice

Sykes to host political forum on Logo

The Republican National Convention starts next week, followed the following week by the Democratic National Convention, and you may be planning to get your coverage from ABC, CNN, MSNBC or NPR.

But Logo is getting into the game.

Out comedian Wanda Sykes will host two political panel shows — one following the DNC convention, one on election eve in November — for the (formerly-gaycentric) cable channel. NewNowNext Vote with Wanda Sykes will premiere on Sept. 10 at 9 p.m., and discuss issues of interest to gay voters, including same-sex marriage and Supreme Court appointments.

Of course, Logo held a candidates forum on LGBT issues in 2007, but this is, to my memory, its first serious foray into gay news and politics in five years. Good for them. Just, why did they do this only after renouncing their gay cred? Ah, well, we’ll take what we can get.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” wins yet another award at film festival

Dallas filmmaker Robert L. Camina’s documentary, Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, has snagged yet another festival award, this time Audience Choice Award for Feature Documentary at the CNKY Scene Film Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. Members of the Cincinnati police department and city council, including a recently elected out councilman, were in attendance with Camina and the film’s narrator, Meredith Baxter. This is the fourth award for the documentary about the Fort Worth/TABC raid on a Cowtown gay bar in 2009, which sparked a national debate on gay rights. It’s set to screen at about a half-dozen more festivals (gay and mainstream) before the end of the year.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Plano Chick-fil-A claims safety issues with Muppets toys; former Dallasite organizes same-sex kiss-in

A Chick-fil-A location in Plano reportedly is among those that have posted signs announcing an alleged Muppets toy recall, after the Jim Henson Co. severed its ties with the chicken chain over its opposition to gay rights.

The above photo from a Chick-fil-A store announcing it “voluntarily recalled all of the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toys due to a possible safety issue” is from a Plano location.

Human Rights Campaign board member Meghan Stabler, who lives in Round Rock, told Instant Tea the sign is from the Plano store at the Willow Bend Mall, where servers were instructed to tell customers that there were safety issues with the toys.

The sign states that “there have not been any cases in which a child has actually been injured, however there have been some reports of children getting their fingers stuck in the holes of the puppets.”

Phone calls to the restaurant were not answered.

The Jim Henson Co. announced that it would sever ties with Chick-fil-A after its President Dan Cathy again made anti-gay comments last week and expressed continued support for “traditional family values.” Henson Co. CEO Lisa Henson is a supporter of marriage equality and announced that the company would donate money from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD.

Meanwhile, former Dallasite Carly McGehee, who attended Flower Mound High School, has created the event National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick Fil A, scheduled for Aug. 3. McGehee, who now lives in New York, said she has boycotted the company since 2010 when she found out it funds anti-gay groups.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson records LGBT Pride Month message

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, pledged her continued support for equality in an LGBT Pride Month video.

The video was posted on the congresswoman’s YouTube page Friday.

A longtime supporter of LGBT rights, Johnson voted in favor of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 but now is now a sponsor of the bill to repeal DOMA.

In the video, she mentions that this year is the 43rd  anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, reflecting on the “enormous advancements in gay rights” since then that include the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

“These laws strengthen our commitment to value every American’s life equally, both publicly and privately,” she said. “The law of the land must protest every American’s civil rights.”

Johnson pledges in the video to continue to support gay rights as a member of LGBT Equality Caucus and to help pass legislation that “ensures a more united fight against discrimination and intolerance.”

“While great progress has been made, more work needs to be done,” she said.

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice

“Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” wins awards, books anniversary screening at Magnolia

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, the documentary about the event that triggered a renewed passion for gay rights in North Texas, has won two recent awards. Earlier this month, it took the Audience Choice Award at Fort Worth’s Q Cinema; then a week later, it took Best GLBT FIlm at the 32nd Breckenridge Festival of Film in Colorado. The latter, mind you, is not a gay film fest at all, but a mainstream one with a gay category.

The film has already screened thrice North Texas — at a world premiere this past spring in Sundance Square, a Dallas premiere in April and at Q Cinema on June 1 – but you still have another chance to see it: Raid will screen in Dallas on June 28 — the third anniversary of the actual raid — at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring many of the actual parties involved in the raid and its aftermath. You can purchase tickets in advance exclusively here.

View the trailer of the film, narrated by out TV icon Meredith Baxter, after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: LGBT activists in El Paso rally against anti-gay petition being circulated at polling sites

Skip Rosenthal

Early voting in El Paso has apparently turned into a fight for another recall of elected officials who supported the city’s domestic partner benefits.

A video posted online today by the El Paso Times shows activists with signs trying to discourage voters from signing petitions for the recall that groups are asking them to sign outside polling locations. The rally comes two days after a settlement was announced in a lawsuit brought by five men who were kicked out of Chico’s Taco and threatened with arrest for a same-sex kiss.

The incident led to the City Council passing DP benefits in 2009 and again in 2011 after a ballot measure overturned the original decision. The mayor has stood firm in supporting DP benefits and won an appeal to recall the council’s decision earlier this year.

“We believe this has been a gay-rights issue from day one and we need to support the mayor and the city councils and we need to be visible,” gay-rights activist Skip Rosenthal says in the video. “The gay community is here, we are religious, we are God-fearing and we are also citizens and taxpayers and we deserve rights, too.”

The number of people at the rally was not mentioned in the video and the groups that were asking people to sign the petitions were not named, but El Paso Tom Brown spearheaded the recall petition in the past.

Rosenthal mentioned that President Barack Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage demonstrates a “turn of the tide” for the nation and El Paso citizens need to follow suit and support gay rights.

“We need to bring that to El Paso,” he said. “We need to show El Paso that we are here and we are active and we go to church and we vote and we’re taxpayers and we deserve rights, too.”

Well said.

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice