PHOTOS: Gay couples marry in downtown Dallas

Couples line up in Founders Plaza before their mass wedding on Saturday.

Ten same-sex couples married in Founders Plaza outside the County Records Building in downtown Dallas on Saturday.

The event began with speakers, and a sidewalk march followed. Marchers then returned to Founders Plaza for the mass wedding attended by about 150 people. The marriages are not considered legal.

One person who addressed the rally before the march said he was visiting from New York. He was legally married in that state a month ago and was there to protest that his marriage is considered invalid when he travels.

Richard Curtin, who officiated at the weddings, said when his partner of 22 years died last year, he sent off the form marking relationship as “partner.” It was returned as “friend.” He called that a slap in the face by the state of Texas during his mourning period.

After several people spoke, the crowd marched several blocks along the sidewalk. The couples getting married led the march carrying Texas Marriage Equality flags.

Unlike at some rallies, there was absolutely no police presence and there were no protesters. Police were stretched thin because of the State Fair and the Occupy Dallas protests. But soon after the rally began, a contingent of Occupy Dallas protesters joined the marriage rally. However, police from their encampment a few blocks away near City Hall did not follow.

After the marchers returned to Founders Plaza, the wedding began.

Couples lined up and Curtin announced the names of each pair. They proceeded down the plaza holding hands and walking between a line of onlookers. Tina Sokol and Suzan Cooke said they’ve been together 11 years. Henry Ramirez and his partner Tony have been together 10 years and already had a ceremony last year. Ashlyn Jones and Amanda Evans, who were profiled in Friday’s Dallas Voice, have been together five years.

The event was sponsored by GetEQUAL. Daniel Cates, leader of the local GetEQUAL group, organized the rally and protest. For more photos, go here.

—  David Taffet

DADT ends, but discrimination continues

Dan Choi being arrested at the White House while protesting DADT.

The Dallas celebration of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” begins at 5:30 p.m. today at Resource Center Dallas.

Although the policy to discharge any member of the military suspected of being gay or lesbian has ended, discrimination has not. That discrimination may take a number of forms, including refusal to promote. Benefits will also not be equal. The military will not recognize same-sex spouses so gay and lesbian families will not receive any benefits including housing and health benefits. And transgender service members are still barred from open service.

But the discriminatory policy toward gays and lesbians has ended, and President Barack Obama issued a statement today:

—  David Taffet

The 6 best responses to Perry’s day of prayer

LGBT Texans Against Hate

Riki Miller, Zombie McZee and Britney Miranda.

The first organized response to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “The Response” was Friday night’s LGBT Texans Against Hate rally. Despite temperatures that had barely come down from the triple digits, Houstonians thronged to Tranquility Park in downtown. Beyond commenting on the temperature, the common theme of most of the speakers was that the American Family Association and Gov. Rick Perry’s rally is not representative of Houston and was not welcomed.

Robert Shipman, president of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, said: “I kinda think Rick Perry chose the wrong city!”

He continued “They are the bigots, we are not … we are Houston.”

“I guess we should take comfort in the fact that, except for some of his staffers, [Gov. Perry] couldn’t find enough homegrown bigotry in the state of Texas to put on the event himself,” said Mike Craig, co-chair of Out & Equal Houston. “He had to bus them in from Tupulo, Miss., and Colorado Springs, Colo.” Craig was referring to American Family Association (based in Tupulo) and Focus on the Family (based in Colorado Springs), both co-sponsors of “The Response.”

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, provided the closing address. He criticized Gov. Perry for using divisive religious rhetoric for political gain. “Being here today I’m proud that we are fighting back against a narrow, theocratic view of the world that we live in and of our country that says that people are not welcomed — that says that people are bad because of who they are. That is not America,” said Coleman. “That is what is dividing our city, our state and our country.”

— Daniel Williams

 

Non-LGBT groups

A billboard truck paid for by the Freedom from Religion Foundation sits outside Reliant Stadium on Saturday during ‘The Response.’
Han Will and Katherine Godby from First Congregational Church of Fort Worth.

Houston’s Kirby Drive winds past the front entry to Reliant Stadium. At one point, just past the stadium, the road makes a slight curve. The main gate to the stadium’s parking lot is here, and the combination of Kirby Drive’s curve and the thoroughfare-like entrance gate creates a three-way intersection centered around a small concrete traffic island. On Saturday, this intersection became a carousel of non-LGBT groups protesting Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting, dubbed “The Response.”

Each corner was claimed by a different group that feels “The Response” violated values it holds dear. On one corner, the American Atheists — who objected to the response as state promotion of religion. On the next corner, the Freedom From Religion Foundation which, due to its strategic location, was positioned to yell at idling cars waiting for entrance to the stadium. On the last corner, a group of Lyndon LaRouche supporters, who toted a 6-foot poster of President Barack Obama portrayed as Hitler. Finally, cordoned on the concrete island by crowd-control fencing: Westboro Baptist Church. Positioned at the axis of discontent, WBC managed to draw the ire of all the other groups, and every attendee to “The Response” who drove by.

The most fervent shouting matches were between the Atheists and Westboro Baptist Church. Small cadres of Athiests would hurl taunts like “Your imaginary friend doesn’t scare me.” Which would cause the protesters from WBC to launch into another round of what seemed to be their favorite song: “God Hates America,” set to the tune of “God Bless America.”

Dan Barker, co-president of Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Trapped behind the Atheists, in a small strip of grass between the sidewalk and a steep embankment, the people of First Congregational Church of Fort Worth seemed a little lost. Han Will, who drove to Houston with the church Friday night, is a petite grandmotherly lady who would look more at home serving homemade cookies than holding a protest sign, but her determination to have her message of a loving and caring Christianity was undaunted. “We think that God is Love. Some other Christians seem to distort that, but we say that hate speech is not the Gospel.”

Katherine Godby, also from First Congregational Church added, “Obviously we support prayer, but fighting for social justice is another form of prayer.” Godby’s statement was cut off by one of the protesters from the Freedom From Religion Foundation across the street yelling, “Nothing fails like prayer, it’s a waste of time, it’s delusional.”

Lyndon LaRouche supporters.

The group from the Freedom From Religion Foundation traveled from Madison, Wisc., to protest “The Response.” They rented a billboard truck that circled Reliant Stadium the entire day. The truck’s sign read, “Beware prayer by pious politicians. Get off your knees and get to work.” FFRF also hired an airplane to fly above the stadium trailing a banner reading, “Gov: Keep Church/State Separate.”

The parking kiosk collecting $15 from each car entering Reliant’s mostly empty parking lot slowed traffic sufficiently enough that the minivans and trucks waiting to enter the lot routinely were idled in front of the FFRF’s corner. Occasionally one of “The Response” attendees would roll down their window to offer a “God loves you” or “I’ll pray for you.” This would set off a furious rant from the FFRF’ers about God being a delusion and prayer a waste of time, leading to some very hurried rolling up of car windows.

On the corner farthest from the stadium the Lyndon LaRouche supporters and their Obama-as-Hitler poster remained largely unengaged from the other assembled rabble. One of the LaRouche supporters, who refused to be identified, said that the group was there because “it’s all the same thing, Obama, Perry, they’re all trying to take over and take away your decisions.” He added, “We have to stand up to politicians who lie to us, one’s a Muslim, the other’s a Baptist, but that won’t matter when the jackboot comes down. … The fight between the Democrats and Republicans is just a distraction from the real fight against the government taking over our lives.”

In the center of it all: Westboro Baptist Church, who spent most of the morning singing parodies of songs by Lady Gaga and Madonna (and, of course, “God Hates America”) and showing off their skill for holding four protest signs at once. Whether by their own design, or the machinations of the traffic cops, WBC’s concrete island station was positioned so that the only way to speak with them was to stand in the street. “God hates America, It’s too late for prayer!” howled one woman when asked why the group was protesting “The Response.” This reporter was then firmly told by police to get out of the street.

— Daniel Williams

 

GetEQUAL’s mock funeral procession

A block from the merry-go-round of the American Atheists, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Lyndon LaRouche supporters and Westboro Baptist Church, a more somber, if no less energetic, response to “The Response” was taking place. Organized by GetEQUAL, the event sought to give voice to people killed by the violent rhetoric of transphobia and homophobia.

The training camp for the Houston Texans sits opposite Kirby Drive from Reliant Arena, its driveway intersecting with Kirby directly in front of the main entrance. Saturdays during the summer the camp plays host to a children’s football camp. At 8 a.m. Saturday, when parents dropped their kids off at camp, a small group of a few dozen GetEQUAL activists graced the main entrance. By the time parents returned to pick their kids up in the early afternoon there were hundreds of protestors.

GetEQUAL staged several mock funerals throughout the day to represent the more than 13,000 people killed in America because of anti-LGBT bias since 1980. The funerals were complete with coffins and a New Orleans-style street band. Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL, says that the band was not originally planned to be part of the protest. “They were a local group who had come to Reliant to protest ‘The Response,’” said Cates. “When they saw what we were doing, they wanted to help.”

Between funerals the GetEQUAL protestors chanted and sang. Their rousing rendition of the civil rights era classic “We Shall Overcome” drew attendees of “The Response” out of the stadium to look down from the third floor mezzanine. Chants of “This is what democracy looks like” and “Pray away the hate” rang out all day, crescendo-ing as more and more protestors arrived. At one point the chant spontaneously morphed into “Show me what hypocrisy looks like” and the assembled protestors turned to point at Reliant Stadium and chant, “This is what hypocrisy looks like.”

Protesters braved temperatures that approached but never quite breached the triple-digit mark. GetEQUAL’s prime spot at the Reliant Stadium entrance also placed them in the shadow of the leviathan structure. As the afternoon wore on, many protestors who had stationed themselves at the stadium’s parking lot entrances relocated to the relative cool provided by Reliant’s shade, swelling the crowd at the entrance to what Cates called “comfortably thousands of protesters.”

Watch video from the protest below.

— Daniel Williams

 

LGBT Trailblazers Luncheon

A member of Westboro Baptist Church protests outside the LGBT Trailblazers luncheon in Houston on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Noel Freeman)

On Saturday, while Gov. Rick Perry was throwing his prayer rally “The Response” inside Reliant Stadium and GetEQUAL was staging mock funerals at the front gate, the Harris County Democratic Party sat down to a quite luncheon honoring LGBT Trailblazers. The highlight of the luncheon was the videotaped acceptance speech by Houston Mayor Annise Parker (WATCH IT BELOW). In 2009 Parker became the first out LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city after years of community service as an activist, city council member and city controller.

Parker was unable to accept her award in person due to previously scheduled city business. Via pre-recorded message she thanked the luncheon’s co-chairs, Robert Shipman and Brad Pritchett, and the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, who took the lead in organizing the event.

Parker’s son, Jonon Tyler, accepted the award on behalf of his mother. Tyler talked about the thrill of riding with Mayor Parker in the 2010 Dallas Pride Parade, about how the crowd seemed to swell with hope and pride at seeing her. “When we see Mayor Annise Parker, we see the best in ourselves,” said Tyler. “We’ve only seen the beginning; the best is yet to come.”

Also honored as LGBT Trailblazers were Judge Steven Kirkland, City Councilwoman Sue Lovell, Judge Phyllis Frye and Linda Morales. Judge John Paul Barnich received a posthumous award.

Judge Kirkland was the first out LGBT judge elected in Texas (previous out judges had all been appointed). He was self-deprecating in accepting his award. “I’d like to tell you that my ego is not so large that I believe that the over 650,000 people who voted for me went down the ballot and selected my name out and said, ‘I’m voting for Steve Kirland because he’s the best guy there,’” said Kirkland. “I got elected in 2008 because people in Harris County were voting for Democrats and they were doing that for a lot of reasons. One would be President Obama … the other would be president Bush.”

Lovell, who leaves the council this year due to term limits, warned the crowd about the need to remain supportive of out LGBT elected officials, and the dangers of in-fighting. “We must remember that the victories that we want to achieve do not come at the expense of our community,” said Lovell. “That energy, that intelligence, that organization must be taken and focused outward, to the people who are really against us.”

A small contingent from Westboro Baptist Church camped out in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel where the Trailblazers Luncheon took place. Lou Weaver, president of the Transgender Foundation of America, commented on the irony of WBC’s protest during his introduction of Frye.

“Thirty-four years ago, in 1977, Anita Bryant was in this very hotel speaking to the State Bar Association,” said Weaver. “Phyllis was outside of this hotel that day, protesting. My how times have changed! Today Phyllis is on the inside, and the forces of bigotry are on the outside.”

Frye, whom the program described as “an Eagle Scout, a former member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, a US Army veteran, a licensed attorney, a father, and a married, lesbian wife for 38 years,” pointed out that she didn’t protest Anita Bryant on her own. Her wife Trish was by her side.

“It was so scary because we didn’t know what would happen,” said Trish Frye. “We didn’t know if they would start throwing things or arresting people, because sometimes that happened.”

Linda Morales, who in 1990 filed a lawsuit that paved the way for the eventual Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision striking down Texas’ sodomy law, spoke of the need for coalition building between the Hispanic and LGBT communities.

Mistress of Ceremonies Fiona Dawson eulogized the late Barnich in her presentation of his posthumous award. Dawson shared that when Judge Barnich was appointed to the Houston municipal bench he was asked during his confirmation hearing how a gay judge’s courtroom would differ from a straight one’s. Barnich, recalled Dawson, coyly replied that he would “upgrade the courtroom’s sound system in order to play showtunes.”

The final award of the evening was presented to “LGBT families for being everyday Trailblazers.” Luncheon co-chair Shipman said that “30 years ago the fight for equality was on the streets of [Houston’s historically gay neighborhood] Montrose. Today the fight is in the suburbs and it’s these families with two moms or two dads who are fighting it.”

Dawson closed the luncheon with a rousing plea for greater community involvement. “When our country is not permitting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we have a responsibility to speak up,” she said. “If all people cared about LGBT issues, they simply would not be issues.”

— Daniel Williams

 

Interfaith prayer service

Saturday, less than 4 miles from Reliant Stadium and Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting, “The Response,” a prayer service of a very different nature took place. First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston hosted an “Inclusive Interfaith Prayer Service” that featured an Imam, a Rabbi, a Buddhist Monk and even a Baptist Minister. A moment of silence was set aside to recognize those in attendance who didn’t believe in a higher power, and respect their beliefs.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel O’Connell, senior pastor of First UUC, opened the service by contrasting it with “The Response,” but said that the inclusive interfaith service was not about being critical of people of other faiths: “We come today not to tear down, but to lift up.”

“I come from a particular religious tradition that I cherish, but other hearts are here with hopes and dreams as true and pure as mine,” O’Connell continued, referencing the hymn “A Song of Peace.”

The service continued with a performance by the Bayou City Performing Arts Quartet (made up of members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston and Bayou City Women’s Chorus) and an opening prayer by the Rev. Dr. Jeremy Rutledge, a Baptist minister.

“The Language of Peace,” an instrumental trio that includes cello, keyboard and an Indian instrument known as a “tanpura,” then performed an improvisational piece accompanied by chanting in Hindi.

Chanting was a common element in many of the rituals and prayers performed by the diverse collection of religious leaders. From Rabbi Samantha Kahn’s recitation of a Shabbat morning prayer, to Imam Kemal Civelek’s chanting of the names of God, the service centered on quiet moments of contemplation and meditation. During the “Bathing of the Baby Buddha” ritual performed by the Rev. Seido of the St. Nichiren Buddhist Temple, his rhythmic, breathy chanting filled the air as those assembled ladled water over a statue of a standing infant Buddha.

The Rev. Ellen Cooper Davis of Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church spoke about her previous life as a circus performer and her current life as a minister. “Actually, the circus was good preparation for working for a church,” said Davis.

“There’s a circus in town right now, but it’s not the kind i want. … It’s the kind that they use to lure the poor people in with bread, the kind the Roman satirists wrote about ages ago,” Cooper Davis said. “They said it’s just there to distract the people so that they would be content with their bread and their circus and would not realize that the Roman empire was oppressing them. So that they would be content with just a few hours of entertainment and not realize that they were living in an empire. The kind of empire that took people who asked hard questions about how we ought to live and nailed them up onto a cross.”

The Rev. Adam Robinson, who organized the service, closed by saying: “This service is about a place at the table for everyone, those [people at “The Response”] are my people. You’re looking an an Evangelical boy here who, after many years, was ordained — then outed — and my place at the table was taken away.

“We’ve got the people out there who are united with hate groups and we don’t want to be united with them,” Robinson said. “We have to watch that — we have to watch our desire to separate ourselves from people we disagree with. It’s a fine line, but if we don’t watch that line carefully pretty soon it’s not OK to be a Unitarian, and then it’s not OK to be a Muslim or a Jew, then it’s not OK to be a progressive Christian, and then there’s only one kind of Christian people are allowed to be.”

— Daniel Williams

 

Dallas’ response

Protesters gather outside Dallas City Hall on Saturday during Rick Perry’s day of prayer in Houston.

About 25 people gathered at Dallas City Hall on Saturday to protest Gov. Rick Perry’s “The Response,” the day of prayer and fasting that was under way in Houston at the same time.

Transgender activists Pamela Curry and Kelli Ann Busey were among the protesters in Dallas, while others were from church groups or were individuals who said they believe in separation of church and state.

Among those at Dallas City Hall was Transforming Words, a Bible study group from Garland that represented several churches. “We’re here to love on ‘em and give ‘em some water,” a representative from Transforming Words said. The representative said the group didn’t necessarily support the protest but, “the AFA said some really horrible things.” He said the group particularly disliked some of the statements from AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer.

A few of the protest signs referred to anti-gay hate messages of the AFA, such as “The AFA=Anti-Gay” using the Human Rights Campaign equal sign logo, and “The AFA is anti gay. Fed up. Fight to save America from hate groups. No H8 in TX. Represent all Texans.”

Most of the signs, however, referred to separation of church and state or were specifically anti-Perry: “Blatant exclusion has no place in political office,” “Political office is not your pulpit” “Rick Perry for ex-governor” were among the messages.

Using the Bible to fight religious bigotry, one sign read, “Jesus opposes prayer rallies Matthew 6:5-14 NIV,” referring to the passage that translates as, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.”

— David Taffet

—  John Wright

WATCH: GetEQUAL stages funeral procession outside Reliant Stadium during ‘The Response’

A block from the merry-go-round of the American Atheists, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Lyndon LaRouche supporters and Westboro Baptist Church, a more somber, if no less energetic, response to “The Response” was taking place. Organized by GetEQUAL, the event sought to give voice to people killed by the violent rhetoric of transphobia and homophobia.

The training camp for the Houston Texans sits opposite Kirby Drive from Reliant Arena, its driveway intersecting with Kirby directly in front of the main entrance. Saturdays during the summer the camp plays host to a children’s football camp.  At 8 a.m. Saturday, when parents dropped their kids off at camp, a small group of a few dozen GetEQUAL activists graced the main entrance. By the time parents returned to pick their kids up in the early afternoon there were hundreds of protestors.

GetEQUAL staged several mock funerals throughout the day to represent the more than 13,000 people killed in America because of anti-LGBT bias since 1980. The funerals were complete with coffins and a New Orleans-style street band. Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL, says that the band was not originally planned to be part of the protest. “They were a local group who had come to Reliant to protest ‘The Response,’” said Cates. “When they saw what we were doing, they wanted to help.”

Between funerals the GetEQUAL protestors chanted and sang. Their rousing rendition of the civil rights era classic “We Shall Overcome” drew attendees of “The Response” out of the stadium to look down from the third floor mezzanine. Chants of “This is what democracy looks like” and “Pray away the hate” rang out all day, crescendo-ing as more and more protestors arrived.  At one point the chant spontaneously morphed into “Show me what hypocrisy looks like” and the assembled protestors turned to point at Reliant Stadium and chant, “This is what hypocrisy looks like.”

Protesters braved temperatures that approached but never quite breached the triple-digit mark.  GetEQUAL’s prime spot at the Reliant Stadium entrance also placed them in the shadow of the leviathan structure. As the afternoon wore on, many protestors who had stationed themselves at the stadium’s parking lot entrances relocated to the relative cool provided by Reliant’s shade, swelling the crowd at the entrance to what Cates called “comfortably thousands of protesters.”

Photos and video from the protest are below.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Suit seeks marriage equality in NJ; White House Pride event; Brown Coffee Co.

The Brown Coffee Co.’s anti-gay tweet

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Lambda Legal and Garden State Equality will announce a lawsuit today on behalf of New Jersey same-sex couples who are demanding that their partnerships be recognized by the state as marriages, not civil unions. The suit comes days after the New York Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage across the Hudson River. The New Jersey Senate in 2010 rejected a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, and GOP Gov. Chris Christie says he would veto any such future legislation. “Gov. Christie says no way will there be marriage equality in New Jersey,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality. “And we say no way are we going to listen to him.”

2. Things could get “awkward” this evening at the White House during President Barack Obama’s annual LGBT Pride Month Reception, according to The New York Times. That’s because invitees will be looking to celebrate marriage equality in New York, but their host doesn’t endorse same-sex marriage. Activists from GetEQUAL will be outside the reception handing out “Get Bold To Get Equal Scavenger Hunts,” described as “a fun but meaningful opportunity for attendees to step up the pressure on the Obama administration for full LGBT equality.” Cece Cox, executive director of Resource Center Dallas, is among those attending the event.

3. A San Antonio-based coffee company provided a bizarre explanation Tuesday for an anti-gay post from its Twitter account Friday night in the wake of the New York Senate’s vote to legalize same-sex marriage. “No human law can ever legitimize what natural law precludes. #SorryFolks #NotEqual #WhyBother #ChasingAfterTheWind #SelfEvident,” read the tweet sent Friday night by The Brown Coffee Co. On Tuesday, the company attempted to explain the tweet on its blog: “This was a post about CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY and LAWS (a la Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, etc.), not PEOPLE; but somehow people began to twist what was written and added their own lies to the post to mean that somehow we at The Brown Coffee Company are hateful, homophobic, intolerant people. Those are not the facts and we regret that this has descended into something very ugly based on other people’s incorrect reading of the Twitter post.” At least one shop in New York City has stopped buying coffee from Brown Coffee Co. in response to the anti-gay tweet.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Hundreds celebrate NY marriage win at 3rd annual Stonewall march in Dallas

 

VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE NORTH TEXAS MARCH FOR EQUALITY

About 150 people marched through Downtown Dallas on Saturday evening in the third annual North Texas March for Equality. Some local media outlets reported the event as a last-minute celebration of the New York marriage equality vote, which happened late Friday. But in fact it had been planned for months.

The march left from the JFK Memorial. Marchers walked seven blocks down Commerce Street to Neiman Marcus and returned on Main Street for a rally in front of Old Red. Police kept one lane of traffic open while marchers passed. Motorists waved and gave thumbs-up signs to the marchers. No counterprotesters appeared along the route or at the rally.

Daniel Cates, the local GetEQUAL organizer, put together the event. Cd Kirven was the emcee and introduced about a dozen speakers at the rally. Many of the speakers celebrated the marriage equality vote in New York, and all demanded equal rights.

The march began in 2009 as a way for Dallas, which celebrates Pride in September, to commemorate the June anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

—  David Taffet

Equality March returns to downtown

ON THE MOVE | The 2010 Equality March LGBT rights on display in downtown Dallas. Saturday’s march returns to downtown. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Governor’s new alliance with a hate group is expected to draw attention to 3rd annual Dallas rally

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Gov. Rick Perry’s planned event in Houston with the hate group American Family Association in August has gotten many LGBT allies energized, according to Daniel Cates. And he and other organizers for the third annual Equality March said they hope that new energy helps turn out more participants for the march happening Saturday, June 25, in downtown Dallas.

Cates, who recently became North Texas regional director of GetEQUAL, said that the march is a demand for full legal equality for LGBT people and an end to religious-based persecution.

But he made it clear that organizers are not bashing religion.

“We’re calling on lawmakers to make good on the promises in the Constitution,” he said. “And we’ve had an amazing response from our allies — especially in the Christian community.”

He said many people see the discrimination against the LGBT community as a violation of the separation of church and state.

“I’ve heard from the Unitarians and from other liberal churches and even from some Methodist churches,” he said.

AFA has confirmed that anti-gay themes will be part of the event with Perry.

March co-organizer Nonnie Ouch said the Perry event is partially state-funded.

“Fellow activists from around the state are very angry about what Perry’s doing right now,” she said. “Using state funds to produce such an exclusive event is wrong.”

Ouch will also be one of the speakers at the rally following the march.

“I’ll be doing spoken-word poetry about my experiences through public school and bullying,” she said.

Ouch is a senior at Texas Tech in Lubbock and is spending her summer as an intern at Resource Center Dallas.

March for Equality begins at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza at 6 p.m. Cates urged those attending to “bring signs, flags, banners, bull horns, drums or any means of expression.”

C.D. Kirven will emcee the rally. Among other speakers and march sponsors are Jesse Garcia with LULAC Rainbow Chapter and Brittany Rayson-Stubblefeild, a member of Students for a Democratic Society.

Resource Center Dallas, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and International Socialist Organization Denton and Dallas Branches are also endorsing the march.

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle with TCU’s Brite Divinity School, student and recent Mount Pleasant mayoral candidate  Kooper Caraway and  I Am Equal Project founder Jason Beckett are also among the speakers.

Beckett will be at the Aloft Hotel in Downtown Dallas throughout the day with fashion photographer Matt Spencer to collect pictures for his I Am Equal project.

“We’re expecting more people to participate in this year,” Cates said. “We’ve had more promotional opportunities including Razzle Dazzle Dallas. Our Facebook response has been stronger this year as well.”

The first Equality March in Dallas happened on Sunday afternoon, June 29, 2009, just hours after Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission raided the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar in Fort Worth, setting off a controversy that generated headlines around the country.

Many of those participating in the Dallas march heard about the raid during the march and afterwards headed to Fort Worth to take part in a protest rally on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse.

The Equality March moved to downtown Dallas last year in response to criticisms by some that holding the event in the Oak Lawn gayborhood was like preaching to the choir. By holding the march downtown, organizers hoped to reach a broader audience with their message of equality.

North Texas March for Equality, 646 Main St., June 25 at 6 p.m.

—  John Wright

So there’ll no LGBT Pride flag at City Hall this year, but hey, at least there’s one at Citibank!!!

Speaking of marking LGBT Pride Month, GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup, who lives in Irving, tweeted the above photo of the flag outside Citibank’s offices. It’s not the first year in which Citibank in Irving has flown the flag, but Reed said he was thrilled that the company re-tweeted his photo.

“Citibank has made several Texan LGBT folk very proud for their show of support!” Reed wrote later on Twitter.

“We love to see that,” Citibank responded. “Thanks so much for sharing the photo!”

—  John Wright

Gov. Perry may be the answer to some people’s prayers, but will it earn him a gay glitter-bomb?

Tom Schlueter (via Twitter)

Right Wing Watch reports that one of the groups that’s endorsed Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer believes Perry is actually an answer to its prayers. In an article defending the event funded by the American Family Association, an anti-gay hate group, the AFA’s own OneNewsNow quotes Tom Schlueter of the Texas Apostolic Prayer Network:

“One of the things that we have been asking the Lord for many, many years has been a time when one of our political leaders will rise up and make this kind of a call to the state or to the nation,” Schlueter told OneNewsNow.

Right Wing Watch goes on to note that Schlueter, pastor of Prince of Peace Church in Arlington, once tied Hurricane Rita to the vote on Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. So you can add Schlueter to the long list of whackos who’ve endorsed Perry’s Day of Prayer. But here’s our question: Will Perry’s love for anti-gay bigots be enough to earn him a glitter-bomb?

In case you missed it, GOP presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann became the latest victim of a gay-rights glitter-bomb at a right-wing convention in Minneapolis on Saturday. Bachmann joins Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty among members of the Republican presidential clown car who’ve fallen victim to the latest fad in activism. And although Perry hasn’t officially declared that he’s running for president, Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV raises the possibility that Perry could be next.

There’s been quite a bit of debate about the effectiveness of these glitter bombs — which are now apparently being coordinated by “glitteratti” from GetEQUAL — in advancing LGBT equality. We won’t wade into that debate here, but if someone does decide to glitter-bomb Perry, we just hope they do a better job than they did on Bachmann in the video below.

—  John Wright

Truth Wins Out, GetEQUAL Texas join list of LGBT groups condemning Perry’s Day of Prayer

Wayne Besen

Truth Wins Out, which fights anti-gay religious extremism, has joined the list of LGBT groups — which already includes the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, the Houston GLBT Poltiical Caucus and National Stonewall Democrats  — that have issued statements condemning Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer funded by the American Family Association.

“This opportunistic and divisive publicity stunt unwisely marries politics and fundamentalism at the expense of our nation’s unity,”  Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen said in a press release today. “This offensive event should be immediately canceled. If not, we will consider organizing a counter action to mobilize the masses who believe in a free and diverse nation that celebrates pluralism.

“It is time the Republican Party is held accountable for its partnership with one of the most insidious groups in America,” Besen added. “The American Family Association’s inflammatory rhetoric is dangerous, and it is unconscionable that Perry and the GOP are embracing such a fringe organization. Is this what the modern GOP stands for?”

GetEQUAL Texas has launched a petition calling on Perry to exclude the AFA and other anti-gay hate groups from the Day of Prayer. Sign the petition by going here.

“Having the AFA host this event only tells LGBT persons of faith that they are not welcome at this event which is in direct conflict of our Governor’s duty to represent all Texans,” GetEQUAL Texas states. “By signing this petition, we are demanding that Governor Rick Perry do his duty by excluding the AFA and any other hate group from this event as these groups go against the very fiber of the American spirit and Texas values.”

TWO’s full press release is after the jump.

—  John Wright