DFW Federal Club welcoming lead plaintiff in marriage case before SCOTUS to spring luncheon

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Jim Obergefell, left, and his husband, John Arthur, aboard the specially-equipped medical plane that flew them to Baltimore in 2013 to be married.

Jim Obergefell — lead plaintiff in a marriage equality case out of Ohio, one of four cases scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 — will be joining Susan Warbelow as a guest speaker at the DFW Federal Club‘s Spring Luncheon 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., on Saturday, March 28,, at the Tower Club in Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in downtown Dallas (on the 48th floor).

Seating is limited to 200, and RSVPs are required. Federal Club members can attend free of charge, and each member is entitled to bring one guest, also free of charge. The fee for additional guests is $35 per person, and the fee for visitors not accompanied by a member is $50. For tickets and to RSVP, go here.

Obergefell and his partner, John Arthur, had been together more than 20 years in 2013 when they traveled from their home in Ohio to Maryland to get legally married. That trip might have been relatively easy for most couples. But because Arthur was suffered from ALS and was paralyzed and confined to his bed, this couple’s trip required a small, specially-equipped medical plane, two pilots, a nurse and Arthur’s aunt, who officiated over their marriage ceremony.

The plane landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, sitting there for about 10 minutes — just long enough for Arthur and Obergefell to exchange wedding vows — before returning the men to Ohio. Arthur died three months later, but Obergefell has carried on with the fight for marriage equality.

—  Tammye Nash

AFA’s map of bigots

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The AFA Map of Bigots. Notice they didn’t list themselves

Well, this is interesting.

The American Family Association has created the “AFA Bigotry Map,” and no, surprisingly enough, it isn’t a map that shows all the places where AFA has perpetrated its hatefulness.

AFA President Tim Wildmon explained in a written statement, “Families and businesses that express a Christian worldview on social issues often face vicious retaliation from anti-Christian zealots, and it’s time to call them out for their intolerance.” And so, they created the “Bigotry Map.”

The AFA Bigotry Map website explains: “The American Family Association has identified more than 200 groups and organizations that openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith and is educating Americans about these groups through an online map.”

The interactive map “identifies groups whose actions are deeply intolerant of the Christian religion.” These groups strive to “silence Christians and to remove all public displays of Christian heritage and faith in America,” usually through lawsuits and threats of lawsuits demanding that prayer be removed from schools and city council meetings, that 10 Commandment monuments “be stricken from courthouses and that memorial crosses be purged from cemeteries and parks.”

Wildmon claims, “Because of anti-Christian bigotry, private business owners have been sued and forced to close their businesses. Families and businesses that express a Christian worldview on social issues often face vicious retaliation from anti-Christian zealots, and it’s time to call them out for their intolerance.”

He also claims that some members of the groups targeted by the “Bigotry Map” have “committed violent crimes against Christians and faith-based groups,” and that they also target Christians with physical and “profane verbal” assaults in an effort to intimidate them.

The “interactive map” on the website is dotted with markers indicating where these groups are located and what kind of groups they are. Rainbow-striped markers denote groups with a “homosexual agenda” that “advocate for the legalization and promotion of same-sex marriage and viciously attack Christians who exercise their First Amendment right to voice support for God’s plan for marriage as between one man and one woman.”

There is a red marker with a white A for the atheist groups, a gray marker with a white cross marked out by a red X for “anti-Christian” groups which “actively engage in the complete eradication of the Christian faith from society, government and private commerce. These groups file lawsuits and use intimidation to silence any reference to Christianity from the public square.” And then there is the blue marker with the white outline of a human form to denote the “humanist” groups that believe “critical thinking and physical evidence are the sole basis for beliefs. Humanists believe science triumphs faith in issues of morality and decision-making.”

I checked the map and it only lists four “homosexual agenda” groups in Texas: HRC Dallas/Fort Worth, HRC Houston, HRC Austin and HRC San Antonio. Dallas Voice is not listed; I don’t know whether to be relieved or insulted.

Resource Center in Dallas isn’t listed. Neither is Fairness Fort Worth. Nor Equality Texas, Tyler Area Gays, … . The list of what isn’t listed goes on and on.

There are five atheist organizations listed for Texas, two anti-Christian groups (both of them Americans United groups), and five humanist groups. We LGBTs need to get busy! Those atheists and humanists are outnumbering us!

—  Tammye Nash

Marriage begins in Alabama, HRC calls for Moore’s impeachment

Marriage_Equality_Map_FL_01-30-2015Marriage has begun in Alabama, according to the Alabama Media Group, despite orders to the contrary from the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Campaign has launched a petition to remove Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore from office. Moore urged the governor of Alabama and probate judges, who issue licenses in the state, to stand in the way of same-sex marriages despite an explicit order by a federal judge.

The HRC petition calls on the Judicial Inquiry Commission to take action against Moore — who previously declared that homosexuality should be a punishable offense and grounds for losing parental custody — for shirking the law and the obligations of his office.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is sitting this round out, according to the Washington Blade. Asked if the House Republican leadership would weigh in on the outcome of pending marriage equality litigation before the Supreme Court in an official capacity, Boehner said, “I don’t expect that we’re going to. The court will make its decision and that’s why they’re there, to be the highest court in the land.”

Unlike in the Windsor case, where the federal government was a party in the case and the GOP congressional leadership spent $2.3 million in taxpayer dollars to defend the law, the federal government is not a party in the current case pending before the Supreme Court.

—  David Taffet

California judges banned from participating in Boy Scouting

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Zach Wahls

This week the California Supreme Court barred the state’s judges from participating in youth groups that discriminate against LGBT people.

The change to the ethics rules prevents judges in California from participating in the Boy Scouts of America, which is based in Irving. BSA changed its policy on gay scouts under the age of 18, but it retains its discriminatory policy on scout leaders.

That standard will be part of this year’s Corporate Equality Index that is prepared by the Human Rights Campaign.

“The Boy Scouts of America’s practice of discrimination in banning LGBT leaders is not just wrong but totally incompatible with professional values of equality, fairness and equal opportunity,” said Deena Fidas, director of HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program, and co-author of the foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index, in a statement on HRC’s website.

A number of demonstrations in front of Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving were, in part, responsible for the change in policy for scouts. Pressure mounted when Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two moms who founded Scouts for Equality, got several major corporate donors to drop their support of the organization, because funding a group that discriminates violated their own corporate policies.

The CEI’s new policy may encourage additional companies with otherwise perfect scores to stop funding the Boy Scouts.

—  David Taffet

Socially conscious shopping tips for the Dallas holiday shopper

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While Neiman’s gets a miserable score, gay Giorgio Armani scores a shameful zero

If you’re still holiday shopping and want to make sure your LGBT dollars are going to companies with the best policies for its employees, one place to look is Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

It’s been out for awhile, but for the holiday shopping season, I’ve pulled out some highlights for local Dallas shoppers.

Department stores

Let’s say you’re looking for something from a local department store. That’s a no brainer, because what’s more gay than Neiman Marcus?

Well, local and gay friendly? J.C. Penney for one. Plano-based J.C. Penney gets a 95. Neiman’s scores a miserable 15. In the 1950s, Jack Evans was once fired from the store because he was gay. They couldn’t do that now or they wouldn’t have a staff, but they also offer few protections and no benefits to their LGBT employees.

So if you’re counting out Neiman’s, what about the rest of NorthPark’s anchors? Macy’s and Nordstrom get 100 percent. Dillards? Not so much. 30.

If you’re shopping at the Galleria, the new Belk gets a failing 15.

Elsewhere in NorthPark

Abercrombie, American Eagle, Gap, Nike and Tiffany rate 100

Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren: 90

Aeropostale: 85

H&M: 70

J. Crew: 30

Foot Locker, Donna Karan, Burberry, Guess, Urban Outfitters: 15

Ann Taylor, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Versace, Express, Skechers: These are the ExxonMobils of the mall that offer no protection and no benefits to their LGBT employees. And Versace was gay and so is Armani. I guess just because you’re gay (or built your retail empire on the reputation of someone who was) doesn’t mean you don’t say fuck you to those who work for you or your LGBT customers. If Armani just had a no-cost nondiscrimination statement that included sexual orientation and gender identity, he’d get a 15. Shame on him for not saying, “Of course we won’t fire our gay, lesbian and transgender employees.”

Local chains

What about other local chains? Pier 1 and Radio Shack are both based in Fort Worth. Radio Shack: 30. Pier 1: 15.

Do the Dallas-based The Container Store or Michaels do better? Both rate a pitiful 15.

Strip centers:

Shopping for the lesbian on your list may be easy this year. Home Depot gets a 90, but, across the street, Lowe’s only gets a 30.

Target: 100

Office Depot and Staples: 100 (Office Max: not rated)

Ross: 70

Bed, Bath and Beyond go below: 30.

Big Lots: 15

Dollar stores

Dollar stores aren’t all the same. Family Dollar and Dollar Tree rate just 30, while Dollar General gets a more respectable 70.

Drug stores

Both CVS and Walgreens rank 100.

Groceries

Safeway (which owns Tom Thumb) gets 100.

Kroger rates 85.

Whole Foods could do better with a 75.

Central Market: 40.

Trader Joe’s: 30.

Aldi, Fiesta and my favorite local supermarket Rio Grande: not rated.

—  David Taffet

2014 Black Tie Dinner: The Night in Photos

The Sheraton Dallas hotel was wall-to-wall Saturday night for the 33rd annual Black Tie Dinner, which raised funds for local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign.

The event featured the presentation of the Kuchling Humanitarian Award to Mike Anglin, the Black Tie Media Award to Dale Hansen and the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award to attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, along with special appearances by NBA star Jason Collins and the Prop 8 plaintiffs.

Comedienne Dana Goldberg emcees the evening, which also featured entertainment by Alex Newell and Steve Grand.

Dallas Voice photographer Cassie Quinn captured the evening in photos:

—  Tammye Nash

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