Mark Jiminez, center, and his husband, Beau Chandler, spoke at a GetEQUAL TX marriage rally in Fort Worth on Saturday.
When Dallas LGBT activist Mark Jiminez said “hope is on the horizon” at a GetEQUAL TX marriage rally in Fort Worth on Saturday, he didn’t know how close that horizon was.
Within minutes after the rally disbanded, the Los Angeles Times reported that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will issue a directive Monday expanding government recognition of same-sex marriages to all federal courtrooms and prisons, and some federal benefits programs.
The new policy, which Holder plans to announce Saturday night at a gay rights dinner in New York City, means the Justice Department will not object if gay or lesbian partners refuse to testify against their spouses in federal criminal and civil cases, and will push for them to be accorded the same rights in bankruptcy court as other married couples.
These privileges will be extended to same-sex couples even in states that do not recognize their marriages as long as they were legally married in another state.
Same-sex marriages also would be recognized for some federal programs, including one that provides death benefits to surviving spouses of police officers and firefighters who are injured or killed in the line of duty, as well as the compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Cd Kirven, regional state leader for GetEQUAL TX, spoke at a marriage rally Saturday in Fort Worth.
While the changes may not affect large numbers of people, the gay advocacy community views them as another important step in the growing movement toward gender-based equality since the Supreme Court issued two rulings last June that expanded the rights of gay couples.
“While the immediate effect is that all gay married couples will be treated equally under the law, the long-term effects are more profound,” said Fred Saintz, vice president for communications at the Human Rights Campaign, which Holder will address Saturday night. “Today, our nation moves closer toward its ideals of equality and fairness for all.”
According to Holder’s prepared remarks, the government will take the position that married same-sex couples should be eligible to file jointly for bankruptcy and receive the same protections in bankruptcy court as other married couples.
About a dozen people gathered in Fort Worth on Saturday for a GetEQUAL TX marriage rally.
Married same-sex couples in federal prisons will receive the same visitation privileges as other married inmates under the new policy. They also may be eligible for furloughs or even compassionate release in the case of a crisis involving their spouse.
Holder will remind the audience that he is the first African-American attorney general, and that his predecessors played a key role in the civil rights movement five decades ago.
“As all-important as the fight against racial discrimination was then, and remains today, know this: My commitment to confronting discrimination based on sexual orientation runs just as deep,” Holder will say, according to the advance text.
In Dallas County, the first black district attorney also drew upon the mistreatment of minorities as a catalyst to establish an LGBT Task Force that will work to eliminate discrimination in the judicial system. Dallas County DA Craig Watkins said Friday he “was disappointed to hear that many victims of domestic violence or hate crimes were afraid to speak out because they feared lack of a law enforcement response.”
Those sentiments of working for equality boomed from Cd Kirven, regional state leader of Get EQUAL TX, during Saturday’s rally.
“This is a country founded on principles bigger than religion,” she said to the dozen people who gathered. “It’s religious slavery to say I can’t marry the person I love, by telling me who I have to marry. And we have the nerve to point our fingers at Sochi. Marriage equality is coming, but we have to keep fighting for it.”
People flooded Cedar Springs Road in June for a Day of Decision rally after the Supreme Court marriage rulings. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)
UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, the protest in San Antonio has been postponed.
ORIGINAL POST: LGBT advocates plan to protest Coca-Cola at the company’s bottling plant in San Antonio on Friday, the opening day of the Winter Games in Sochi, and then rally to support marriage equality in Fort Worth on Saturday.
The protest, organized by GetEQUAL TX, urges Coca-Cola to expand its LGBT support from a national focus to a global one.
“As a sponsor of the Olympic,s Coca Cola has the chance to become a leader on global human rights forefront by demanding the International Olympic Commission refuse any future bid from countries that use the law to persecute LGBTQ people who simply wish to live with dignity,” GetEQUAL TX states in a press release.
Among the speakers on Saturday are Dallas couple Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who were arrested in their attempts to receive a marriage license in Dallas
“With a legal battle taking place in San Antonio, I could not help to think of the many civil rights that have been fought for in wars and completely forsaken,” protest organizer Damon Carver said. “After overturning DOMA, most of the nation celebrated good news, some couples who resorted to tourist weddings had great news. On this day we will be presumptuously toasting to celebrate our victories.”
“Defecting to another state for any freedom including marriage is anti-American, and will soon be anti-Texan,” he added.
Rally participants are encouraged to wear different styles of cowboy hats to the event since Texans are represented with cowboy hats. and the different styles represent the variety in the LGBT community.
Gay couple Mark ‘Major’ Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who gained notoriety last year when they were arrested for seeking a marriage license at the Dallas County Clerk’s Office, attend a pro-choice rally at City Hall on Tuesday night.
GetEQUAL TX was among the organizers of the Texans Unified for Change rally outside Dallas City Hall on Wednesday night.
By the time Dallas’ Day of Decision rally began at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love Monument, more than 300 people had gathered. As the crowd grew to close to 500, police closed a lane of Oak Lawn Avenue and two lanes of Cedar Springs Road.
GetEQUAL TX organizer Daniel Cates began the rally with chants of, “Right here, right now, I deserve full equality!”
Before the scheduled speakers, people from the crowd spoke in an open-megaphone session. One who claimed to be an “ex-lesbian” was countered with a chant of “No more hate” until the mic was taken from her and she left the steps of the monument.
Some of the speakers discussed the implications of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decisions. Lambda Legal’s Ken Upton called the DOMA ruling a broad decision. He said it would take awhile to sort out the full implications.
“The ruling benefits the whole LGBT spectrum,” trans activist Oliver Blumer said. “It breaks down barriers.”
More than 100 people gathered at 6 p.m. on City Hall Plaza. Several people, including straight allies, spoke before the group marched across Downtown to Razzle Dazzle Dallas, which took place at Main Street Garden and opened at 7 p.m.
Before leaving City Hall Plaza, GetEQUAL TX regional coordinator Daniel Cates drew a line with chalk on the ground and compared it to William Travis drawing a line in the sand at the Alamo.
Cates said Mayor Mike Rawlings had gone too far in calling the equality resolution a waste of time and asked everyone to cross the line with him.
The march headed from City Hall west to Griffin Street, then north to Main Street, before traveling the final four blocks to Main Street Garden.
Along the route, people in cars honked and waved. People in restaurants ran out to take pictures and some along the route joined the march.
No protesters or detractors made themselves known along the route. One group of 10 street preachers reading from the Bible on Main at Akard Street stood silently as the procession passed.
Inside the park, the rally continued on the main stage. Several speakers, including Midway Hills Christian Church Senior minister the Rev. Arthur Stewart and Congregation Beth El Binah Rabbi Steve Fisch, addressed the crowd.
The good news is, Mayor Mike Rawlings is no longer afraid to show up at an event where he knows there will be LGBT protesters. The bad news is, LGBT protesters are still forced to gather outside places where Rawlings is scheduled to show up.
Although Rawlings tried to look diplomatic by greeting the protesters in front of the TV news cameras, activists like Cd Kirven of GetEQUAL weren’t having it, and they ultimately chanted, “Shame, shame, shame!” as Rawlings walked back to his vehicle.
Watch the report from WFAA-TV’s Jonathan Betz below.
LGBT activists plan to protest Mayor Mike Rawlings on Thursday morning after he said he planned to pull a resolution in support of LGBT job protections and marriage equality.
Regional GetEQUAL TX coordinator Daniel Cates said advocates will protest Rawlings’ appearance at Lakewood Country Club, 6430 Gaston Ave., from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It seems like we have a lot of work to do here,” Cates said.
Last January, after he declined to sign a pledge from the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, Rawlings skipped a neighborhood meeting to avoid a gay-rights protest.
Activists are also planning to communications bomb Jasso, who withdrew her support for the resolution and allowed Rawlings to pull it. They’re encouraging people to call her office, email and Facebook message her Thursday morning until Friday at 4 p.m. to demand why she withdrew her support.
Jasso’s assistant, Gary Sanchez, can be reached at 214-670-4052, and her secretary, Mariza Perez, can be reached at 214-670-4055.
Participants hold candles as they listen to speakers May 22, 2012, during Dallas’ first-ever Harvey Milk Day celebration at the Legacy of Love Monument. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)
Dallas activists are having a Harvey Milk celebration again this year.
The event will include speakers, music and a staged reading of “Dear Harvey” by Patricia Loughrey, which will be the first time the play has been staged in Dallas in any form.
GetEQUAL TX regional coordinator Daniel Cates, who is directing it, said he hopes to mount a full production later in the year.
“This is a beautiful piece and one that I am excited to bring to Dallas,” he said in a statement. “Harvey’s message of hope is one that all people, LGBT and not, should hear. This will be an inspiring evening.”
“Dear Harvey” is an ensemble piece created though interviews with people who actually knew Milk, his personal and political writings, newspaper stories and letters written to him from across the nation.
The cast includes the the Rev. Carol West of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, Lynn Walters, executive director of Hope for Peace and Justice, Jeffrey Harper, Mark Calloway, Todd Whitley and Alan Dudley of the Cathedral of Hope Theatre Ministry, and local activist Natalie Johnson.
The 2nd annual event planned by GetEQUAL TX and Hope for Peace and Justice will be 7 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Cathedral of Hope’s Interfaith Peace Chapel.
“It is important for us to celebrate and remember our history as LGBT people. No one is going to tell our story for us, we have to do it ourselves. We owe it to younger generations to let them know where they come from and how far they can go,” Cates said.
Tickets to the Dallas Harvey Milk Celebration are available here for a suggested $15 All proceeds benefit programs of Hope for Peace and Justice and GetEQUAL TX.
Five GetEQUAL TX activists were arrested this evening for blocking traffic near the state Capitol while protesting for LGBT nondiscrimination in the workforce.
Holding a sign that read, “We Work Together,” the group blocked the intersection at 11th and Congress in Austin, calling for the Texas Senate to stop blocking the progress of SB 237, which was left pending in committee. This is the second set of arrests in as many weeks for activists protesting SB 237.
The Austin action was part of a new national GetEQUAL campaign that launched today to urge Congress to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was recently reintroduced. In Washington, D.C., activists held light panels on the grounds of Congress, reading “PASS ENDA NOW.”
The campaign, “Workplace INclusion: Winning LGBT Workplace Protections (WIN),” kicks off a week of action across the country to draw attention to need for workplace protections for LGBT employees. The actions will end May 14, the anniversary of Bella Abzug’s Equality Act of 1974, which was the first piece of pro-LGBT legislation in the U.S.
“For LGBT Americans from California to Connecticut and from Alabama to Alaska, the need for federal workplace protections is clear,” said Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL. “We hear story after story after story of folks who are simply trying to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families — but who encounter harassment on the job, who are refused jobs because of who they are, or who face insurmountable options for promotion because of who they love. In America, anyone qualified for a job should be able to get and hold that job without fear of violence, harassment, or termination. We need Congress to act now!”
A Dallas rally is planned for Saturday from11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Dallas County Courthouse, 600 Commerce St., to educate voters on the importance of passing SB 237 before the Texas Legislature ends its session in three weeks.