Hundreds march in support of Dallas equality resolution (photos, video)


GetEQUAL TX and Hope for Peace and Justice rallied at City Hall on Saturday to demand an equality resolution be placed on the Dallas City Council’s agenda. Love is Stronger was the theme for the protest.

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.

More photos and video below.

—  David Taffet

Amnesty International holds candlelight vigil in Arlington for Matthew Shepard

A candlelight vigil will be held outside of Theatre Arlington from 10:20 to 11 p.m. on Friday evening, June 1 after the 8 p.m. performance of the play, The Laramie Project.

The play chronicles the circumstances surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming college student who was killed because he was gay. The purpose of the vigil is to remember Shepard and others like him who are bullied or killed because they are different or perceived to be different, and to shed some light on how we can be more pro-active in a way that makes incidents like Matthew’s death much less likely.

The vigil is being spearheaded by the leader of Tarrant County’s Amnesty International group, Ellen Kaner. Other speakers include Rev. David Howard (Minister of the Unity Church of Arlington), Len Ellis (Board Member of the Dallas Peace Center), Mary Jo Kaska (Director of Programming for Hope for Peace and Justice) and Rev. Rachel Ciupek-Reed, Pastor of the Cathedral of Hope in Bedford. Anyone is welcome to attend the vigil, whether attending the play that evening or not.

Theatre Arlington is at 305 W. Main St. in Arlington just east of the intersection with West Street.

Tickets for the play are available on Theatre Arlington’s website. There are also performances Saturday, June 2 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 3 at 2 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Mary Jo Kaska joins Hope 4 Peace and Justice

Mary Jo Kaska

Mary Jo Kaska is the new director of programming for Hope 4 Peace and Justice. Kaska is described as a passionate advocate with impressive credentials in ministry, social justice, intercultural travel and education.

Kaska expects to complete her doctorate in biblical interpretation at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in December. She holds a master’s in religious education from Loyola Institute for Ministry in New Orleans, and a bachelor’s in religious studies from Loyola University of New Orleans, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Kaska has been honored with the Nokia Research Award from the Texas Christian University Institute on Women and Gender in 2007, and recognized as the Nolan Catholic High School Teacher of the Year in 1993-94.

The Rev. Michael Piazza, who moved to Atlanta earlier this year, remains president of H4PJ, the organization that was created by Cathedral of Hope in 2004. Kaska will be the local program director. Before he left, Piazza said he expected the organization’s events to continue to be Dallas-based.

“Hope for Peace & Justice was founded to be a prophetic voice for inclusion, justice, and peace, so it is fitting to have a Hebrew scholar who is familiar with the tradition of the ancient prophets as its new program director,” Piazza said in a press release.

—  David Taffet