Top 10: Out & Equal summit drew 2,600

Berry-Selisse

CORPORATE EQUALITY | Out & Equal founder Selisse Berry spoke at the Workplace Summit held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

No. 10

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit held Oct. 22-25 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel broke records and had a bigger impact on the city than any other LGBT conference Dallas has hosted.

More than 2,600 people registered for the convention, with participants coming from 42 states and 23 countries.

That included 60 corporate CEOs, including Wes Bush of Northrop Grumman and Mike Ullman of J.C. Penney, who both addressed the LGBT group.

According to Out & Equal spokesman Justin Tanis, the Workplace Summit raised a total of $2.5 million.

The Thursday night gala’s live and silent auctions brought in $74,660 that will benefit the Out & Equal Scholarship Fund for LGBT students.

The conference had a big impact on the local economy both in the LGBT community and Dallas in general.

At the Thursday night dinner, Bush handed Youth First Texas’ Sam Wilkes a check for $20,000.

According to Cordey Lash, a senior sales manager with the Hilton Anatole, the conference had a $3 million impact on the hotel, which included about 6,000 room-nights plus food and beverage sales. During three nights of the conference, the Anatole sold out, so three neighboring hotels filled hundreds of additional rooms.

Lash called the Summit “one of the most impactful conferences of the year.”

He also expected future business from corporations whose executives attended and were impressed with the city and his hotel’s facilities.

The conference had an impact on local LGBT merchants as well. Wednesday was Out & Equal community night.

The Cedar Springs strip was as crowded as on a busy Saturday night.

While many of the attendees were from companies that affirm and encourage diversity and have top ratings in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, the conference also attracted employees of companies such as ExxonMobil that have poor ratings.

And the conference wasn’t all business. Top-name entertainment included Candis Cayne, the first transgender actress to have a recurring role on a primetime network series (Dirty, Sexy Money); comedians Margaret Cho and Kate Clinton; actors Meredith Baxter and Wilson Cruz; and the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Speakers included Andy Cohen, Bravo’s openly gay senior vice president of original programming and development; and Rick Welts, president and chief of operations for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Because evaluations of the event from attendees were so positive, Tanis said Out & Equal is already talking to the Anatole about returning, possibly as early as 2014.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

OUT & EQUAL: By the numbers

Northrup Grumman CEO Wes Bush announcing a $20,000 gift to Youth First Texas. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit held Oct. 22-25 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel broke records.

Justin Tanis, director of communications for the organization, reported that 2,623 people registered for the conference, which was a record. Participants came from 30 countries.

“The summit overall raised $2.5 million,” Tanis said.

That total includes corporate sponsorships, registrations, merchandise sales and auctions.

At the Thursday night gala, live and silent auctions raised $74,660 that will benefit the Out & Equal Scholarship Fund for LGBT students. In addition, Northrup Grumman gave Youth First Texas a check for $20,000.

According to Cordey Lash, Hilton Anatole’s senior sales manager — multicultural, the conference had a $3 million impact on the hotel. That number includes just under 6,000 room-nights sold, as well as food and beverage sales.

Because the hotel was sold out for three nights of the conference, the impact to Dallas was even greater. Three surrounding hotels also sold hundreds of additional room-nights.

Thursday night’s gala attracted 2,800 people, one of the largest seated dinners at the hotel since the Black Tie Dinner moved from the hotel.

“It was one of the most impactful conferences of the year,” Lash said.

—  David Taffet

Thousands converge on Dallas for Out & Equal

Executives from major corporations meet in Dallas to discuss LGBT equality on the job

Keeton.Elyse

Meredith Baxter

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

LGBT executives, employees and allies from hundreds of companies around the world met at the Hilton Anatole Hotel this week for the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit to discuss equality in a corporate setting. Among the top issues discussed were transgender equality and equality around the world.
People from about 30 countries attended.

One attendee from Italy was gathering resources for a new Out & Equal organization he has formed that already is affiliated with 10 companies.

Local companies such as JC Penney, Kimberley Clark, Texas Instruments and Frito Lay were well represented. Even ExxonMobil, notorious for its 0 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and for stripping Mobil employees of benefits after their merger, paid for several employees to attend the conference.

Louise Young said her company, Raytheon, underwrote 50 employees who attended from around the country.

Houston-based Chevron brought in employees from around the world. Nick Thomas is a project manager for a $220 million water-purification project in Kazakhstan. He said he works 28 days on and then 28 days off the project and lives in Amsterdam when not in the Central Asian country.

With him was Erin Myers, a geologist, who is moving from Houston to Perth, Australia next week.

Chevron’s 100 percent rating with HRC gives the company a competitive edge, Thomas said, referring to Dallas-based ExxonMobil. But he preferred nondiscrimination and benefits equality over competitive advantage.

Tracey Ballard began working on employee equality at work in the early 1990s. Ballard works for the Central Intelligence Agency, which, she said, has a very diverse workforce and is always looking for the best and the brightest.

She said that the agency decided to start attending conferences like this one, “because we don’t need people self-selecting out.”

And change has come to the CIA both from the top down and from the bottom up. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta and current chief David Petraeus were very progressive with employment policies, Ballard said.

With Ballard was Michael Barber, who said that if an award was given at Out & Equal for best job title at the conference, he’d win: Barber is community outreach and LGBT liaison program manager for the CIA. The Agency Network of Gay and Lesbian Employees, “that includes allies, Bi’s and T’s,” is known as ANGLE and has about 200 members.

Barber said he was there to dispel myths about the CIA, like “Everyone drives sports cars with machine guns in the tailpipes,” and that the agency is homophobic. Barber didn’t say what type of sports car he actually does drive, however.

Barber said ANGLE has made some positive steps. Partner benefits are limited by the Defense of Marriage Act, just as at all federal agencies, he said, but a CIA employee being transferred overseas can take a partner.

All employees of the agency must report if they are cohabitating with someone who is a foreign national and offer a letter of resignation. But they also may register an intent to marry. ANGLE intervened in the case of a gay employee who reported his domestic partnership with a foreign national but was unable to marry.

Virginia, where the agency is based, has no relationship recognition. But the gay employee was allowed to retain both his job and live with his spouse.

Among the celebrities attending was Meredith Baxter, who played Elyse Keaton in the 1980s sitcom Family Ties. She spoke at the morning plenary on Wednesday about coming out on The Today Show last year.

“When my partner and I left the NBC studio that morning, I felt free, unburdened and so calm,” she said. “I had faced the devil and I survived quite nicely.”

Geri Jewell played Cousin Geri on the sitcom The Facts of Life. Born with cerebral palsy, she was the first actor with a recurring role in a prime time television show with a disability. She spoke at the Women’s Leadership Luncheon along with Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

“Being gay, having cerebral palsy, being blind are not disabilities,” Jewell said. “Prejudice, hypocrisy, false pride and hatred are the real disabilities.”

She signed copies of her book, I’m Walking As Straight as I Can at the Anatole. Baxter, who also recently released a memoir, signed copies at the hotel and that evening at Nuvo on Cedar Springs Road.

Rick Welts, the former manager of the the Phoenix Suns and recently hired president of the Golden State Warriors in Sacramento, is the highest-ranking male sports executive to come out.

“We’re afraid of things we don’t understand,” he said at the conference.

Welts spoke about breaking down barriers for the LGBT community even in professional sports.

“Before the story came out in the New York Times on the front page, I had no idea what to be prepared for,” he said. “I certainly was not prepared for the absolutely overwhelmingly positive response I got.”

Welts said that putting a human face on being gay made that difference.

Comedian Kate Clinton emceed Thursday night’s gala, which featured Margaret Cho and Wilson Cruz (Rent). JC Penney presented a fall fashion show. Speakers included Northrop Grumman Chairman, CEO and President Wes Bush and Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns.

The conference concludes Friday afternoon.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

OUT & EQUAL: Equal workplace around the world

More than 2,500 people have registered for Out & Equal Workplace Summit

Among the topics being addressed at today’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit taking place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel is extending LGBT rights to employees around the world.

Representatives of the Organization for Refugees, Asylum and Migration will speak about LGBT immigration problems. Another workshop addresses the state of the LGBT workplace in the Phillipines.

Robyn Ochs, a workshop speaker, said the issue of employment equality around the world involves U.S. employees who are transferred to countries where homosexuality is illegal. But it also involves people from countries with marriage equality who are unable to get visas for a spouse to come to the United States.

A panel this morning addressed the importance of LGBT diversity to drive innovation.

At the morning plenary, actress Meredith Baxter spoke. She will be at Nuvo on Cedar Springs Road this evening signing copies of her book.

Rick Welts, the first openly gay man in professional sports management, spoke as well.

“He hit it out of the ballpark,” said Out & Equal Director of Communications Justin Tanis.

Awards were given this morning for best affiliate. Houston won that award, Tanis said, because they have involved more than 80 companies and are extremely active. Bank of America was awarded best LGBT employer. Among the reasons are its transgender health benefits and its tax equalization plan for LGBT benefits announced this month.

The exhibit halls are open today and tomorrow and are free, but to enter, stop by the registration desk for a pass, Tanis said.

More than 2,500 people have registered for the conference.

Dani Siragusa is coordinating volunteers for the event, among other duties. She said that a number of individuals have volunteered throughout the week and the corporate teams have put in a special effort. Dozens of American Airlines employees are staffing registration. She said that 60 volunteers from Ernst & Young are the workshop room hosts who greet, distribute, collect and tally evaluations that she said are invaluable in planning future conferences.

“They’ve been doing that for years,” she said.

And JP Morgan Chase volunteers are acting as plenary greeters helping those events with thousands of people in the hotel’s largest ballroom go off without a hitch.

The conference continues through Friday. This evening is community day when attendees hit Cedar Springs Road.

—  David Taffet

OUT & EQUAL: Welcome to Dallas

American Airlines sponsored Out & Equal registration

More than 2,500 people have already registered for the Out & Equal Workplace Summit taking place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel this week. As many as 3,000 people may participate, according to Out & Equal’s April Hawkins. In the opening plenary, a number of executives from companies around the country talked about workplace equality.

A welcome video shown at the opening plenary session included executives from companies around the country welcoming participants with messages such as, “So much energy is wasted if you’re not out at work,” and “We all win when we bring our best selves to work everyday.”

Accenture Group Chief Executive Sander van ’t Noordende said he has been out at work since joining the company 24 years ago. Soon after joining the company, he attended a reception with his partner.

“Timing and tone are extremely important,” he said.

He said that a big difference today is that after someone is hired, they go to the website, click on the LGBT group and they’re hooked in with the network of LGBT employees.

He said that gaining equality is a process and his company is working on transgender benefits. At Accenture, 600 employees self-identify as transgender, he said.

And to lighten up the opening session, Candis Cayne, the first transgender actress to to have a recurring role on a primetime network series (Dirty, Sexy Money), spoke and entertained.

Out & Equal Workplace summit continues through Friday.

—  David Taffet

Local Briefs: Bloomin’ Ball is Saturday; TWCD performs on Mother’s Day

Bloomin’ Ball is Saturday

AIDS Interfaith Network holds its fifth annual “Bloomin’ Ball: Sowing Seeds of Hope” fundraiser on Saturday, May 7, in the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway. The event, which raises money to help fund the agency’s services for people living with HIV/AIDS, will include dinner, two auctions, live entertainment and the presentation of AIN’s Crystal Hope Awards.

Event co-chairs are Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld. Honorary co-chairs are Tim and Thom DeWitt and Dr. Barbara Cambridge with UT Southwestern.

Receiving the Crystal Hope Awards this year will be the James and Gayle Halperin Foundation, Gladys Brantley and the Cathedral of Hope HIV/AIDS ministry.

Tickets are available online at AIDSInterfaithNetwork.org and by phone at 214-943-4444.

 

TWCD performs on Mother’s Day

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas will present a special Mother’s Day concert, Nature & Nurture, Sunday, May 8, at 3 p.m. at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park.The one-hour concert will be held on Sunday, May 8th, 2011 at 3:00 p.m., at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. The concert will conclude with a live butterfly release.

Advance tickets are $20, available online at TWCD.org or by phone at 214-520-7828. Each ticket includes admission to the Texas Discovery Gardens.

 

AIDS Candlelight Memorial set

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held Sunday, May 15, in more than 1,200 cities and towns in 115 countries to commemorate the lives lost to AIDS, demonstrate support for people living with HIV/AIDS and mobilize community-based response to HIV/AIDS.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial observance in North Texas will be held at 4 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1819 MLK Jr. Blvd. Event Chair Auntjuan Wiley said the theme for this year’s event is “Touching Lives.”

Special guests will include District 7 Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn R. Davis, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson, Minister Kirby Harden and Company from Dallas and keynote speakers Michelle Anderson, Terrance Gilbert and Brianna Lamar.

 

Leather Knights’ Military Maneuvers

Leather Knights of Dallas will conducting their annual “Military Maneuvers” fundraiser for the Nelson-Tebedo Dental Clinic on Saturday, May 21 at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.

Organizers said the goal for this year’s event is to raise enough funds to directly purchase a Cavitron, an ultrasonic device used in the removal of hard deposits on teeth, at an approximate cost of $1,800.

The evening will include a silent auction from 8:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m., boot blacking from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., military haircuts on stage from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., a raffle to include a cash prize, a uniform contest at 10:30 p.m. with case prizes for most authentic uniform and sexiest soldier, and representation from local and national organizations.

To make an online donation, go to LeatherKnights.org.

—  John Wright

A lesson learned

We may never know for sure what happened between the gay man and the Marine during the LCR convention, but we can’t overlook the situation’s one clear lesson

David Webb

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

It’s hard to understand exactly what happened at a Dallas Hilton Anatole hotel bar last weekend when a Log Cabin Republican conventioneer was allegedly called a “faggot” and assaulted. Everyone involved seems to be engaging in high-gear damage control.

Although police cited the suspect for an alleged Class C misdemeanor assault at the scene, the victim reportedly advised police the next day he would not be pressing charges after the suspect apologized to him. That in effect gave the suspect a pass for allegedly slamming the victim’s face on a bar table.

What is extraordinary about this development is that the police apparently acted as mediators between the victim and the suspect the day after the incident. The negotiations reportedly involved the Dallas Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community, Laura Martin, who described the suspect as 27-year-old member of the U.S. Armed Services.

Dallas police spokesman Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse claimed that the alleged crime did not rise to the level of a hate crime — even though the suspect used the slur “faggot” during the attack — because either the victim or one of his friends allegedly provoked the assault by either whistling or making a catcall at the suspect and his friends. He described both the victim and the suspect as being intoxicated, and dismissed it as a bar fight.

After the charges were dropped, police considered reporting the incident as a hate crime for statistical purposes, but decided not to, according to Martin.

The victim and his friends, who do not want their identities revealed, have disputed the official police report, calling it “misleading.” The victim, who is from out of town, said he decided not to press charges because pursuing it would be time consuming and “arduous.”

What’s more, we learned that the suspect might be a member of the U.S. Marines who was staying over at the Anatole after a tour in the Middle East. Ironically, all of this began coming to light just as reports circulated about the Marine Corps conducting seminars aimed at smoothing the way for gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Services.

What a mess. If all that’s true, no wonder the Dallas Police Department found time to negotiate a cease-fire between the victim and the suspect.

On top of all that, we learned during the same weekend that U.S. Navy Seals had finally managed to take out Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the al-Qaida attacks on the U.S. in 2001. It’s not exactly the best time to be criticizing a member of the military.

Still, there are troubling aspects to this story. From decades of covering crime, I know that the most common defenses in crimes involving everything from assaults to murders of LGBT people is for the suspect to claim the victims made sexual advances. The suspect reportedly also told the police the next day that he didn’t remember much about the incident, another common excuse for attempting to shirk responsibility.

Likewise, the victim acknowledged being intoxicated.

Astonishingly, the victim took a real verbal beating in the comments sections of the Dallas Voice’s blog, Instant Tea, where the alleged assault was reported. It was interesting that so many LGBT people took the position that the victim deserved to not only be viciously assaulted, but to be humiliated in public as well.

As a member of the U.S. military, the consequences for the suspect would be far more severe than a mere hefty fine. A conviction would mean a nasty stain on his military record. Even if the victim or someone else at the table whistled or made a comment about someone “looking good,” it hardly merits a physical attack from someone who has sworn to protect U.S. citizens.

On the other hand, members of the LGBT community need to be respectful of heterosexuals and be on guard not to offend anyone through their actions or words. With all of the gains the community has made in recent years, we are more recognizable and subject to more scrutiny and criticism.

With the end of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy quickly approaching, members of the U.S. Armed Services are likely to be more on edge and prone to taking offense.

We saw a similar event occur in 1993 when three Marines stationed at Camp LeJeune allegedly attacked a gay man in a Wilmington, N.C., gay bar., when then President Clinton was vowing to end the ban on gay and lesbians serving in the U.S. Armed Services. That led to a high-profile lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center on the behalf of the victim. The lawsuit was later settled for a token amount. The Marines in that incident also claimed they were provoked by the bar patrons.

We may never know exactly what happened at the Anatole Hilton in Dallas that night, but maybe we can learn a lesson from it anyway: We probably all need to monitor ourselves a little more closely when we are in predominantly straight venues to make sure we aren’t pushing our luck. What is appropriate in a gay bar just doesn’t work well in most other places.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative press for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Log Cabin Republicans member assaulted, called ‘faggot’ during convention at Hilton Anatole

A Log Cabin Republicans member was assaulted and called a “faggot” early Saturday during an altercation inside a bar at Dallas’ Hilton Anatole hotel, where the gay GOP group is holding its National Convention, according to Dallas police.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, said the incident isn’t currently being treated as a hate crime because the suspect’s use of the word “faggot” was provoked by the Log Cabin member and his friends.

Janse said both the Log Cabin member and the suspect were intoxicated when the incident occurred at about 1 a.m. The Log Cabin member and his friends were whistling at the suspect, who got offended and shoved the victim, Janse said.

The Log Cabin member suffered minor injuries, described as a cut to his nose. The suspect was cited for class-C misdemeanor assault but was not taken into custody.

“Two groups of intoxicated individuals got into a verbal argument,” Janse said in an e-mail Saturday afternoon. “Supposedly the victim and his friend were whistling at the suspect, who took offense and shoved the victim. Officers interviewed both parties and made a class-C assault. Which is not a jailable offense if the two parties can be separated, which they were. Detectives are interviewing all parties as we speak but there is no indication of a hate crime based on what both parties are telling detectives. Just two drunk people.”

Asked to confirm rumors that the suspect used the word “faggot,” Janse said: “Yes. that word was used, but it was provoked.” Asked whether he meant that the word was provoked by the whistling, he said: “Yes. And comments about them ‘looking good.’”

Laura Martin, the police department’s LGBT liaison officer, said detectives were conducting follow-up interviews today with the suspect, the victim and witnesses. She added that the use of the word “faggot” doesn’t automatically make the incident a hate crime.

“The crime has to be motivated, has to start, because of the suspect’s bias,” Martin said. “‘In and of itself, calling a name during a fight doesn’t necessarily indicate that it was motivated by bias.”

Dallas Voice is withholding the names of both the suspect and the victim until more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Martin said late Saturday that the victim has opted not to press charges, meaning the case will be dropped.

Also, the victim contacted Dallas Voice via email Sunday morning and gave us his side of the story. The victim asked that his name continue to be withheld:

“I don’t want this to get more publicity but am concerned that your version, which is based on an inaccurate and misleading police report, is going to get more attention than it should,” the victim wrote. “The police treated this as a standard bar fight when instead the guy came up behind me and smashed my face into a glass tumbler while I was seated at a table with several other guys. I declined to prosecute because the suspect apologized in person and seemed to be sincere — plus it was clear any court experience would be a long and arduous process. … (As a side matter, I can’t believe how many commenters already are taking the position that I deserved it.)”

—  John Wright

LCR convention draws prominent Republicans

Attorney Dan Woods, right, speaks to the media at the United States District Court in Riverside, Calif., after making arguments on the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy last October. Woods, who represents Log Cabin Republicans who are the plaintiffs in the case, will be in Dallas this weekend to speak at the LCR National Convention. (Francis Specker/Associated Press)

DADT attorney Dan Woods, former Congressman Bob Barr slated to speak at gay Republican gathering at the Anatole Hotel

JAMES BRIGHT | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Several prominent GOP members will be spending some time in Dallas this weekend to participate in the Log Cabin Republicans’ annual convention, which will take place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel.

The event, which began Thursday, April 28, and runs through Sunday, May 1, will include discussions and speeches from politicians, lawyers and members of the media.

Dan Woods, lead attorney in LCR’s lawsuit challenging the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy,” will be speaking at the convention about the importance of the case, its current standing and some of the war stories involved in the suit.

“People think this case is over and it’s not,” Woods said in a recent interview. “Our case is alive and kicking.”

Woods said there are two different things going on with the case: Although LCR won at trial, the government has decided to appeal the decision. After months of legal arguments and appeals from both sides oral arguments are supposed to begin next week.

Despite the legal battle and action in Congress to repeal the anti-gay law, Woods said as of this point the repeal of DADT is not in effect. He said that steps have to be taken to get the military ready and although there are some efforts in this area service men and women are still suffering from this legislation.

“There is no timetable as to when this repeal will become affective,” Woods said. “Although the numbers are smaller the government is still investigating people under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

Another problem Woods said he has run into is that many potential presidential candidates have made stopping the repeal part of their platform. Political issues are key in this legislation’s evolution, according to Woods.

“The government has said they don’t want the courts deciding how our military is run. What’s really going on is President Obama wants to take credit for all this to help his next campaign,” Woods said.

In addition to talking about the current status of DADT, Woods said he will talk about some of those suffering from this legislation.

“We are going to focus on stories about those affected by ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the heart-breaking tales of how it impacted them and the unit they worked on,” he said.

One such servicemember, according to Woods, was Alexander Nicholson, who was kicked out of the Army because he was caught writing a letter to a former boyfriend. Another story involved a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves whose name cannot be used.

“This is just another story where someone is being denied their constitutional rights while they work to protect ours,” Woods said.

LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper said the repeal of DADT is a front page and front burner issue for the organization.

“We can’t take our eye off it,” he said.

The convention will also feature as keynote speaker former Congressman Bob Barr.

Barr, who ran as the Libertarian candidate in the 2008 presidential election, served in the House of Representatives as a Republican from Georgia from 1995 to 2003. During his time in office he authored and sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted as law in 1996.

At the federal level the legislation recognized marriage as being between a man and a woman and declared that individual states can choose not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Barr apologized in 2008 for his role in creating the legislation and now supports the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.

Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, said Barr is one of the speakers he is most looking forward to hearing, since the former congressman switched his position on DOMA. Schlein said it’s important for members of the LGBT community to hear this information due to misconceptions about the GOP’s opinion toward LGBT people.

“The Republican Party is one of liberty and freedom,” Schlein said. “Gay people should feel at home in the party.”

Cooper said having Barr available to speak at the convention was a wonderful advantage since he was the father of DOMA,

“We started at the top,” Cooper said. “It’s anti-government for the federal government to have such power over the states like what is granted in the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s going to die, but when that happens is just speculation right now.”

Cooper said communication is an important factor in battling for LGBT rights within the GOP.

“We need to let people know in the gay community who are businessmen, or servicemembers that they have a home in the GOP,” he said.

Cooper said the general consensus surrounding the idea of a gay Republican has become a matter of levity to him.

“I joke for gay Republicans there is coming out twice,” he said. “You come out first when you’re gay and then when you’re a Republican.”

Cooper said marriage equality at large is a growing issue on a broader scale. Although it is unlikely that debate over DOMA will be seen on the floor this year, Cooper said events like these give Log Cabin Republicans a chance to educate the entire party.

“We use traditional conservative values from the 19th century,” he said. “We should not regulate or impede on our neighbors’ rights and someone born differently should not be treated differently.”

Cooper said it is important for the entire GOP to know that Log Cabin Republicans are also interested in pushing the party’s larger and broader agenda.

“We want to educate while working with our fellow Republicans,” he said.

Republicans will be responsible for giving members of the LGBT community the liberties they want, according to Schlein, who said that Democrats are the ones perpetuating limited rights.

“Democrats need these issues to keep winning elections,” he said.

Even Democratic politicians at the top of the federal hierarchy are responsible for limiting LGBT equality, according to Schlein. He said President Obama could have easily repealed DADT when he had the support of a Democratic Congress during his first two years in office.

“He chooses not to repeal it, because he wants to enslave gay people,” Schlein said.

In addition to hearing some of the speakers at the convention, Schlein said he will also go to board meetings since he does sit on the national board of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Cooper said recently the number of supporters and members of Log Cabin Republicans have been increasing somewhat dramatically. The development of LCR candidates is an important issue the organization is tackling according to Cooper.

LCR members are developing relationships in the GOP, but also getting members to run, Cooper said.

“Our numbers are starting to grow as more people come out of the closet and more members start to become more supportive,” he said. “We are at a point in the organization where we have to say, ‘It’s just not enough to be visible. We need gay Republicans to run for office.’”

Ken Mehlman, former head of the Republican National Committee and campaign manager for President George W. Bush’s successful second run for president, will also be speaking at the convention.

And former Sen. Norm Coleman was a late addition to the event. Coleman, who served as a federal senator from Minnesota from 2003 to 2009, now works as an adviser to the Republican Jewish Coalition. He was one of three candidates in the highly publicized 2008 senate election in which the Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a ruling declaring comedian Al Franken the winner of the seat.

Coleman will not actually be at the convention, but has recorded a video message in which he welcomes all members of the GOP into the Republican tent.

Although originally listed as a speaker, Fox News correspondent Margaret Hoover will not be attending the convention. Cooper said her cancellation had nothing to do with the group’s social agenda.

Those interested in the event can register at Logcabin.org.

FULL CONVENTION PROGRAM:

Log Cabin Republicans National Convention and Liberty Education Forum National Symposium Program

WHAT:
Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans is holding its 2011 National Convention, in coordination with the Liberty Education Forum’s National Symposium.

WHO:
Alan Kittleman, State Senator (R, MD)
Alex Nicholson, Executive Director, Servicemembers United
Audra Shay, Executive Director, Project GOPink
Bob Barr, Former Congressman (R, GA)
Bob Kabel, Chairman, DC GOP
Chuck Wolfe, Executive Director, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
Dan Woods, Partner, White & Case
Dan Zwonitzer, State Representative (R, WY)
Dave Nalle, National Chairman, Republican Leadership Council
David Lampo, Political Director, LCR Virginia
Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry
Fred Karger, presidential candidate
Jeff Cook, Allegiance Strategies
Kristen Silverberg, Former Ambassador to the European Union
Len Olds, Chairman Emeritus, Liberty Education Forum
Lupe Valdez, Dallas County Sheriff
Mark Groombridge, United Against a Nuclear Iran
Meg Ten Eyck, Education Manager, The Trevor Project
Mike Gin, Mayor of Redondo Beach and candidate for Congress
Mitchell Gold, Founder, Faith in America
Ned Farr, Director, “A Marine Story”
Richard Grenell, Former Communications Director to the U.S. mission to the United Nations
Richard Tisiei, former State Senator (R, MA)
Roy Ashburn, former State Senator (R, CA)
S. E. Cupp, Conservative political commentator
Sarah Longwell, Berman & Co.
Scott Schmidt, President, LCR Los Angeles

WHERE:
Hilton Anatole
2201 Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, TX, 75207
214-748-1200

WHEN:
April 28 – May 1, 2011

Friday, April 29
9:00 am- 9:45 am
Reagan’s 80-20 Rule: Building new coalitions in our common goal of creating a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party. (Sarah Longwell, and Audra Shay, Dave Nalle)

10:15 am-11:00 am
Ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ An inside look at Log Cabin Republicans’ legal and legislative challenges to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (Dan Woods, R. Clarke Cooper, Alex Nicholson)

11:05am-11:55 am
Issues Around The Corner. Priorities being tackled by state and local leaders. (Jeff Cook, David Lampo, Evan Wolfson, State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer)

12:10pm-2:00pm
Log Cabin Republicans National Luncheon with remarks by Senator Richard Tisei & Senator Allan Kittleman, with recorded greeting by Congressman Pete Sessions. Introductions provided by Chuck Wolfe of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and R. Clarke Cooper of Log Cabin Republicans.

2:15 pm-3:15 pm
Foreign Policy Discussion. An in-depth look at global hot spots with leading foreign policy experts (Richard Grenell and Amb. Kristin Silverberg).

3:20 pm-4:15 pm
On the inside: Leading as Republicans. (Sen. Roy Ashburn, Scott Schmidt, DC Republican Party Chairman Bob Kabel, Presidential Candidate Fred Karger)

Saturday, April 30

9:30 am- 10:25 am
No Longer In Silence, Where We Are in 2011. A discussion of past Liberty Education Forum programs and looking forward to programs for 2011.

10:50am – 11:45am
Faith in America. Mitchell Gold speaks about his organization and book, “Crisis: 40 Stories of Growing Up Gay in America.”

11:55am – 12:55pm
Liberty Education Forum Luncheon featuring Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry and Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Film Screening: A Marine Story Followed byQ&A with Film Director Ned Farr

3:15 pm- 4:00 pm
It Gets Better. Overcoming bullying and discrimination with Meg Ten Eyck of the Trevor Project.

6:00-9:30 pm
Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner with remarks by S.E. Cupp & Congressman Bob Barr and recorded greeting by Senator Norm Coleman.

—  John Wright

DOMA author Bob Barr to keynote Log Cabin Republicans convention in Dallas next month

Former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Georgia

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who authored the Defense of Marriage Act but has since come out in favor of its repeal, will be keynote speaker at Log Cabin Republicans’ National Convention in Dallas next month, according to a press release from the group.

The convention is set for April 28 through May 1 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, and Barr will speak at the National Dinner on April 30.

“Congressman Barr is living proof that Republicans are becoming more inclusive, and doing so for conservative reasons,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, in a press release. “As a freshman member of Congress in 1996, Barr wrote DOMA.  He has since come to the conclusion that ‘DOMA’s language reflects one-way federalism’ and that the law ‘has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions,’ contrary to the traditional Republican respect for states’ rights, and that DOMA should be repealed.

“Barr’s principled stand shows what a real evolution on marriage looks like today, and Log Cabin Republicans look forward to hearing from him on this timely issue in Dallas,” Cooper said. “As evidenced by the last election, in which gay and lesbian support for Republicans nearly doubled and independent voters helped sweep a GOP majority into office, inclusion can and does win. Log Cabin will continue to work to expand the base of the Republican Party, all the while gaining new allies in the fight for freedom.”

According to the press release, other special guests at the 2011 National Convention will include FOX News contributor Margaret Hoover and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

—  John Wright