UPDATE: Black Tie named most glamorous Dallas event by CultureMap

Black Tie Dinner has long been known as the largest LGBT fundraising dinner in the nation, but now the annual event can add another pendant to its tuxedo:

A CultureMap reader poll found that the 31st annual Black Tie Dinner in November was the most glamorous social event in Dallas this year.

CultureMap readers cast daily votes online for the finalists from Dec.17-23 for the Most Glamorous Event in Dallas. BTD was neck and neck with the Dallas Opera’s First Night but ultimately captured 48 percent of the vote to claim the title.

The Dallas Opera’s First Night was second with 45 percent of the vote.

Cattle Baron’s Ball, MTV RE:DEFINE, Two x Two by AIDS and Art and Crystal Charity Ball were also finalists.

—  Dallasvoice

PHOTOS: Black Tie distribution party

Members of Northaven United Methodist Church accept their distribution check. The church also received a special award for selling more than 100 raffle tickets, a Black Tie record.

Black Tie Dinner distributed proceeds from the November dinner on Thursday night. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL STORY)

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin flew into town to receive a check for more than half a million dollars. Resource Center Dallas CEO Cece Cox and other staff picked up a check for more than $75,000 — a Black Tie Dinner record for a local organization. Erik Folkerth received a special award on behalf of Northaven United Methodist Church for selling more than 100 raffle tickets, another BTD record.

The distribution celebration was held at the Dallas Contemporary, a gallery of Riverfront (Industrial) Boulevard near Oak Lawn Avenue. Photos below.

—  David Taffet

American Airlines responds to LGBT groups’ concerns about union vote

Reservationists, gate agents and customer relations employees at American Airlines have been trying to unionize for about a year. With its bankruptcy, the airline has delayed a vote on whether the employees can unionize. Pilots, flight attendants and mechanics already belong to unions.

A vote on the service agents’ union is now scheduled for Dec. 4. Although American tried to block the vote, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cleared the way today for about 10,000 American employees to decide whether to unionize.

While mostly a labor issue, the national LGBT group Pride At Work is concerned whether LGBT employees’ benefits would be among the first cut if service agents are not allowed to unionize. In states like Texas where employees have no protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a union contract can include those protections.

American Airlines has received a perfect 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the last 11 years.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS AND VIDEO: Black Tie draws 3,000, raises over $1 million

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, addresses the crowd of 3,000 during what was his first Black Tie Dinner on Saturday at the Sheraton Dallas. (Chuck Marcelo/Dallas Voice)

SLIDESHOW: CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM BLACK TIE

ANNA WAUGH  |  Staff Writer

Heartfelt stories of progress and hope at Saturday’s 31st Black Tie Dinner reminded the audience that while the LGBT community has accomplished so much, there is still more to achieve.

The sold-out event brought together about 3,000 in the community to raise money for the Human Rights Campaign and 18 local beneficiaries.

Chris Kouvelis, BTD co-chair, said Monday that more than $1 million was raised from the event. The total will be announced at the distribution party Dec. 13. He said the location of the party hasn’t been decided yet.

One of the most touching moments of the evening was when HRC President Chad Griffin mentioned 19-year-old Alice he met back in June on his first day as HRC president. The teen, who was Griffin’s guest at Black Tie on Saturday, drove two hours to the event in Little Rock, Ark., and asked him what he would do for people like her. Alice, as the teen goes by, lives in a small town with religious parents and is afraid to tell them she is a lesbian. Griffin said he could only guarantee Alice that the organization would fight to end hate and encourage acceptance in all states.

“The only thing I had to offer was a promise. A promise that HRC will keep fighting everyday until equality reaches every single person in every single corner of this vast country,” Griffin said.

Griffin said even after the LGBT community tips the balance in favor of President Barack Obama and lesbian Senate hopeful Tammy Baldwin on Tuesday, “there will still be people like Alice out there just trying to find a welcoming place to call home.” He said HRC will continue to fight battles for young people to provide a future “they deserve to inherit.”

Chaz Bono, who received the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, shared his coming out stories that both took place under the national spotlight, first when he came out as a lesbian and then later when he came out as trans. He said people needed to remember the T more when they think of LGBT, and he encouraged BTD to make a trans organization a beneficiary in the coming years.

Lesbian actress Meredith Baxter then addressed the audience as the keynote speaker. She highlighted the importance of her coming out three years ago on The Today Show. She said even with all her success as an actress, it wasn’t until she came out that she felt entitled to her success for being true to who she was.

“I could never have foreseen how transforming and how rewarding that my personal and public revelation was going to be,” she said.

Baxter mentioned the compelling story of Timothy Kurek, a straight man who spent a year living as a gay man in order to find empathy for his lesbian friend. She encouraged others to continue to be visible and tell their stories in order to continue the fight for equality nationwide.

“Not one thing changed in America until we chose to be visible to come out honestly to our friends and family and co-workers,” she said. “Just to be known. Just to be ourselves.”

Watch videos of the speakers below.

—  Dallasvoice

HRC needs Dallas phone bankers

Human Rights Campaign is coming to one of it strongest cities of support for some phone banking and is looking for volunteers.

HRC will hold four phone banks in Dallas in September. The calls will be made from Resource Center Dallas on Sept. 10–13 beginning each night at 6 p.m.

Callers will be phoning to marriage equality states.

The organization promises to give volunteers all the tools they need and refreshments will always be close by.

To volunteer, click here.

—  David Taffet

UT agrees to investigate professor’s flawed study that found children of gay parents are worse off

Mark Regnerus

The University of Texas at Austin is launching an investigation into a flawed parenting study that found children of straight couples have better lives.

Mark Regnerus of UT’s department of sociology and the Population Research Center conducted the study. Regnerus examined children living in stable, two-parent heterosexual households for his control group and analyzed a mixture of children raised by gays and lesbians, including those who had a parent in a same-sex relationship but didn’t live with that parent.

The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation funded the study. Both are known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

The study gained enormous negative backlash from the LGBT community, including groups like the Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, after it was discovered that right-wing organizations helped fund the project.

UT’s investigation will determine whether the study lacked scientific integrity and whether Regnerus had unprofessional relationships and gained from the study’s backers.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Chad Griffin in Dallas

I am delayed in getting this posted (it’s been a long week), but new Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin spoke in Dallas on June 23 during the DFW Federal Club’s Summer Luncheon at the Tower Club. Griffin took over for Joe Solmonese earlier this month. Watch video of Griffin’s remarks in two parts below.

—  John Wright

Flawed study from UT researcher attempts to prove children of heterosexual parents fare better

Mark Regnerus

LGBT advocates are denouncing a study from a University of Texas researcher that claims children with gay or lesbian parents don’t fare as well as children of heterosexuals. (Media Matters picked the study apart and found at least five ways the study is flawed.)

“Flawed methodology and misleading conclusions all driven by a right-wing ideology,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, in a statement. “That alone should raise doubts about the credibility of this author’s work. But on top of that, his paper doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring.”

The study was done by Mark Regnerus of the department of sociology and the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

For his heterosexual control group, Regnerus used children living in stable, two-parent homes. For his group of children of gays and lesbians, he used what was described as a hodgepodge of families that included any child whose parents had ever had a same-sex relationship, even if the child did not live with that parent.

“Because of the serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

In the study Regnerus showed that some disadvantages children of gays and lesbians face are a result of the discrimination against the LGBT community. That includes the added expenses and other hurdles gay and lesbians encounter because of the lack of relationship recognition. While not its intention, the study actually makes a good case for marriage equality.

Other studies show that children of gays and lesbians fare equally as well or better than the children of heterosexuals.

The Family Equality Council, HRC, Freedom to Marry and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation issued a joint statement slamming Regnerus and attacking the study’s funding.

Funding came from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, both known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

—  David Taffet

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin says she hopes Democrats add marriage equality to party platform

HISTORIC CAMPAIGN | Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., speaks Saturday during the DFW Federal Club's Spring 2012 Luncheon. Baldwin is vying to become the first openly LGBT person in the U.S. Senate.

Having a seat at the table has never mattered more for the LGBT community than in the 2012 election cycle, according to Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., who’s vying to become the first openly gay U.S. senator.

Baldwin, who in 1998 became the first out non-incumbent elected to Congress, was in Texas last weekend to raise money from LGBT donors for her Senate campaign. She attended a private gathering Friday night in Dallas before speaking Saturday at the Human Rights Campaign’s Dallas/Fort Worth Federal Club’s Spring 2012 Luncheon, at the Tower Club on the 48th floor of Thanksgiving Tower in downtown Dallas. Baldwin traveled to Houston for a brunch hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund on Sunday.

Baldwin is endorsed by both HRC and the Victory Fund.

Just recovering from losing her voice, Baldwin spoke softly Saturday afternoon as she gave an address that appeared to be one part standard stump speech infused with one part rallying cry for LGBT equality. Baldwin talked about the huge advances the LGBT movement has made since she was first elected 14 years ago — but also about how much work remains to be done.

“Whether the objective is large or small, whether the arena is public or private, whether you are a lone voice or a chorus of thousands, having a seat at the table matters, and this election season, I would argue that it has never mattered more,” Baldwin told the group of some 200 at the Tower Club.

—  John Wright