Only seven Texans receive perfect score in HRC Congressional scorecard

TexasThe Human Rights Campaign today, Oct. 9 released its Congressional Scorecard measuring support for LGBT equality in the 113th Congress. Only seven of Texas’ 38-member delegation received perfect scores, even as results show record gains in support for LGBT equality.

Members of Congress were scored based on their votes and co-sponsorships of pieces of legislation that are key indicators of support for LGBT equality, and for the first time ever, their public support for marriage equality, according to a statement provided by HRC.

“We stand at a critical juncture in our fight for full LGBT equality,” said Chad Griffin, president of HRC. “While we’ve made tremendous progress in gaining support from our elected officials in Congress, we certainly still have much to accomplish.”

His statement could not be more true, especially within the Texas delegation.

Of Texas’ 36 House representatives and two senators, only seven House Democrats received a 100 percent score. They are Reps. Al Green, Beto O’Rourke, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett, along with Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.

Other Texas Democrats had mixed scores: Rubén Hinojosa, 89 percent; Pete Gallego, Henry Cuellar and Gene Green, 68 percent; Filemon Vela, 84 percent. Gallego represents the only congressional swing district in Texas.

In the Republican camp, five Republicans received 30 percent: Louie Gohmert (no, really), Ted Poe, John Culberson, Pete Olson and Steve Stockman, who lost a primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn earlier this year. Cornyn, by the way, scored zero while his colleague in the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz, scored 20 percent.

To the North Texans looking at this list, unless you live in Johnson or Veasey’s district, your congressperson scored zero. A difference of 100 percent — 100 percent.

No other member of the local delegation even got brownie points for saying “gay.” That includes: Reps. Joe Barton, Michael Burgess, Kay Granger, Ralph Hall, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, Pete Sessions and Roger Williams.

(Don’t know who represents you? Click here and type in your info.)

Want to change that? Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 20 and runs through Friday, Oct. 31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.

—  James Russell

Welcome aboard, Erin Moore

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We are thrilled to welcome aboard the newest addition to the Dallas Voice family, graphic artist Erin Moore.

That name may sound — probably does sound — familiar. That’s because Erin has been an active member of DFW’s LGBT community for years. She has been president of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and vice president of Stonewall Democrats of Texas.
Erin’s also served on the Human Rights Campaign’s national Board of Governors and co-chaired National Coming Out Day.She grew up in Slidell, La., and moved to Dallas in 1992 to be staff adviser to Southern Methodist University’s student newspaper the Daily Campus. From there she began doing layout and design for Texas Lawyer and most recently worked at Brown & Partners designing jewelry advertising for national clients. Erin’s partner, Patti Fink, is currently president of DGLA and hosts the show that Dallas Observer named best talk show in Dallas, Lambda Weekly.

—  Tammye Nash

Susan Sarandon: An American for marriage equality

Award-winning actress and progressive activist Susan Sarandon has made this video (below) for the Human Rights Campaign’s marriage equality campaign. She says: “While marriage might not be my thing, if it’s your thing you damn well ought to be able to have it equally and unequivocally.”

—  Tammye Nash

Do gay boycotts cost more than they gain?

BeverlyHillsHotelAs a gay man, I have a complicated relationship with boycotts. Sometimes, protesting a business is exactly what brings more attention to the business anyway. Remember the right-wingers who defiantly went to Chik-Fil-A specifically to endorse management’s anti-gay stance? And what of conservative groups that boycotted Walt Disney World for decades, objecting to it allowing “Gay Day” to take place there (even though it was not officially sponsored by the company)? Even they eventually gave up, admitting it has no effect.

So I have mixed feelings about a boycott going on in Hollywood right now at the Beverly Hills Hotel (reported in Variety). The iconic hotel, famed for its Polo Lounge restaurant and celebrity-watching opportunities (as well as where Lucy and Ethel like to go on I Love Lucy), is owned by a company based on Brunei, a Muslim country. The sultan of Brunei has recently stated he will apply sharia (strict Islamic) law to companies in his country, including the owner of the hotel. Sharia law doesn’t treat gays or women very well, and so the Human Rights Campaign and other gay rights groups initiated a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel about a month ago.

In some ways, the boycott has been successful, decreasing attendance at the hotel. But from a practical standpoint, what that really means is, valets, waiters, bus boys and bell hops are losing out. American workers. And let’s face it — a lot of them are gay.

Is it likely that boycotting one hotel will force a political change in an island-nation half a world away for a policy that, as of today, has not even gone into effect? What if it is successful and the Beverly Hills Hotel shuts down? Will that benefit anyone? Or what if the Brunei company sells it … say, to the Mormon church? Will you boycott it still? In fact, how much do you know about any of the owners of the hotels you’ve stayed in?

I don’t claim to have an answer. But I think the consequences of a boycott are something everyone should consider in detail before jumping on the bandwagon.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas finance committee approves ‘comprehensive’ LGBT resolution

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Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, center, speaks during the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee meeting Tuesday. Burns joined Dallas Assistant City Attorney John Rogers, Dallas interim Assistant City Manager Theresa O’Donnell and HRC’s Cathryn Oakley to encourage the committee to pass a resolution in support of LGBT policy changes in Dallas. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Dallas councilmembers voted Tuesday to send a resolution to the full City Council to address inequalities in city employment, healthcare and lobbying efforts.

In a 4-1 vote at the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, councilmembers voiced support for the “Comprehensive Statement of Support” resolution, which guides city staff and the city’s LGBT Task Force to research areas for improved LGBT equality and report back to the committee quarterly on the progress. Items will then be addressed on an individual basis and voted on.

Members who voted in favor of it were Committee Chair Jerry Allen, who originally pushed for a broad statement of support, Vice Chair Jennifer Gates, Philip Kingston and Tennell Atkins. Sheffie Kadane voted against it because he said he didn’t like that it focused solely on the LGBT community.

O’Donnell said a resolution wasn’t originally expected to go before the committee Tuesday, but members of the city’s LGBT Task Force encouraged a resolution so research about policy changes could begin.

—  Dallasvoice

Black Tie Dinner says 2014 general tickets will increase to $400

Dustin Lance Black

Dustin Lance Black at the 2013 Black Tie Dinner

Black Tie Dinner announced Friday that ticket prices for 2014 will increase from $300 to $400 for general admission.

The organization, which begins its 33rd year, wrote in a press release that the price change will be implemented to ensure Black Tie beneficiaries receive as large a distribution as possible and to maintain low cost of fundraising.

“Undertaking new ticket pricing is always approached with careful consideration because we want to keep prices affordable while returning the most money possible to our beneficiaries,” said Black Tie Dinner co-chair Ken Morris.

According to the press release, the price of a general ticket to Black Tie hasn’t changed in 10 years.

“During that time, rather than change the ticket price to reflect rising unavoidable expenses, Black Tie Dinner has worked hard to reduce or eliminate negotiable expenses and sought additional sponsorships and underwriting to maintain consistent beneficiary distribution,” the press release states.

Black Tie officials also said the ticket price increased because fixed costs have risen 36 percent since 2004.

“After 10 years of avoiding changing the price, we undertook the change this year before increasing expenses adversely affected beneficiary distribution or the cost of fundraising,” Morris said. “We work in partnership with the North Texas LGBT community and its corporate and straight allies, and enjoy their generous support because they know we are careful guardians of their investments and interests.”

Black Tie Dinner supports a number of North Texas LGBT community organizations and its national beneficiary, Human Rights Campaign Fund. Officials say the new ticket price will address the past 10 years of increased expenses and allow for a number of years to pass before having to change ticket prices again.

—  Steve Ramos

HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

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The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Since filing for governor, Davis has publicly applauded San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Davis supported a similar ordinance in 2000 when she served on the Fort Worth City Council. But her campaign has since been silent on LGBT issues. Davis was a surprise speaker at HRC’s Black Tie Dinner in November, and she’ll be attending a Dallas LGBT fundraiser at a lesbian couple’s home this Friday, which is closed to media. Despite showing up at fundraisers and events where she appeals to LGBT voters, her campaign has refused several requests for an interview with Dallas Voice for the reason that she is too busy.

—  Dallasvoice

Louie Minor not shocked by John Carter’s support of DOMA 2.0, says ‘it’s time’ to represent LGBT Texans

Louie

Louie Minor

Louie Minor, the out veteran challenging Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter in Central Texas, said he’s not surprised the congressman recently co-sponsored the State Marriage Defense Act.

The bill would prohibit legally married same-sex couples in states that don’t recognize their marriages, like Texas, from receiving federal benefits.

“I was disappointed that they filed it, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Minor told Dallas Voice this week. “For over a decade, John Carter has continually voted against the LGBT community, and he’s received a zero on the HRC scorecard. So now I think it’s time for us to elect a congressman that will represent LGBT Texans and be our voice in Washington.”

Carter, who’s held the seat since 2002, has received a zero each session on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, which rates members of Congress on their support for LGBT issues.

Minor said that while there’s some timing to the fact that Carter signed on to sponsor an anti-gay bill when he’s facing an openly gay challenger, he said the legislation likely would’ve surfaced anyway. Both Carter and Minor are unopposed in their primaries.

“To be honest, I think he would’ve voted that way regardless if he was running against an openly gay candidate,” he said. “That’s just what he opposes.”

Since an interview with Dallas Voice about his candidacy, Minor said he hasn’t received any negative feedback in the district about being an openly gay candidate. He said he’s seen some sarcastic comments about the likelihood of him defeating a tea party Republican in conservative Texas to be the first openly gay congressman from the state.

“I think that this should be a wakeup call for the LGBT community and their allies across the state,” Minor said about the legislation. “There’s 12 Texan congressman that co-sponsored, so it should be a wakeup call that we have to organize, we have to work together, we have to support candidates, especially an LGBT candidate, to be our voice. Because if we do nothing, than nothing will change.”

—  Dallasvoice

Exxon remains at bottom of new HRC Corporate Equality Index

CEI_2014_ReleaseThe Human Rights Campaign was unimpressed when ExxonMobil began offering partner benefits to its LGBT employees earlier this year. That company retains its minus-25 a score on the new Corporate Equality Index released this week.

On the other end of the spectrum are AT&T, American Airlines, GameStop and Nokia, local companies with perfect scores.

“AT&T was the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation,” AT&T spokesman Charles Bassett said. “AT&T has also donated millions of dollars to support LGBT causes.”

HRC was bothered by Exxon’s refusal to add a nondiscrimination policy and noted its fierce opposition to a shareholder resolution to add the protection at its annual meeting held in Dallas in May.

Texas Instruments increased its score from 85 to 90. J.C. Penney kept its score of 95. Comerica Bank decreased from 95 to 90 this year. Southwest Airlines held steady at 90.

More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

HRC corrects Irving, Dallas scores on Municipal Equality Index

Texas-graphicThe Human Rights Campaign has adjusted two scores in North Texas after errors were discovered in the cities of Irving and Dallas regarding their LGBT-inclusive policies.

Last week, Dallas Voice pointed out that Irving received credit in the nondiscrimination law section for protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the county’s government policy, but Dallas County has that protection of county employees only; it’s not countywide.

Cathryn Oakley, the main author on the MEI, followed up with Dallas Voice on Monday to say the credit for the county policy for employees, which was also awarded to Dallas, was an error, bringing Irving’s score to 10, not 16. Dallas’ score won’t change for that section because the max points for that section was 18, which the city received for its citywide nondiscrimination ordinance.

But Dallas also received points for a contractor equal benefits ordinance. While the city of Dallas has a contractor nondiscrimination ordinance, it doesn’t mention anything about those contractors offering benefits to its employees. Losing those points lowered Dallas’ score to an 81.

Last year, Arlington was awarded points for protecting city employees against discrimination regarding sexual orientation, but those points were removed this year. While Arlington listed sexual orientation on its website under diversity, the protection is not city policy.

The MEI, now in its second year, ranks cities on their policies and practices that are LGBT-inclusive, showing how protected city employees and citizens are and how much their city leadership values equality.

HRC researches cities and then sends that info to officials for input and changes. Oakley said she was in touch with officials from Dallas, but wasn’t sure if contact was made with Irving.

 

—  Dallasvoice