Dallas finance committee approves ‘comprehensive’ LGBT resolution


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


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 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

Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio top Texas cities on HRC’s Municipal Index


This year’s Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index released Tuesday ranked 16 Texas cities, compared to seven last year.

Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio saw a score increase, while Arlington saw a 5-point decrease. Fort Worth, which ranked higher than Dallas last year, is again ahead of Dallas in the report. Dallas, however, saw a 9-point increase.

San Antonio received a score of 86, jumping from a 48 last year, despite the controversy this summer over a nondiscrimination ordinance.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said Grand Prairie’s score of 21 impressed him. He said the city’s leaders quietly adopted a nondiscrimination policy for city employees in 2008 and later implemented Dallas Independent School District’s LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy in 2011.

“It shows that the quest for equality isn’t just a city of Dallas or a county or quasi-governmental issue,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that’s available to be done throughout the area.”

The report ranked 291 cities this year, compared to 137 cities last year, on a scale of 0 to 100, which reflects their commitment to LGBT equality.

For more on the 2013 MEI, see Friday’s paper.

Below is a list of Texas cities included in the report from highest to lowest score.

—  Dallasvoice

S. Texas school says it will allow trans teen’s tuxedo photo to run in yearbook

Jeydon Loredo

Jeydon Loredo

Trans student Jeydon Loredo will now be remembered in his senior yearbook for the way he wants to be remembered after his school district consented late last week to allow his photo to run in the book.

The La Feria Independent School District  previously told Loredo his photo wouldn’t run because he needed to be pictured wearing feminine clothing. He appealed the decision to the school board last Monday. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined by the Human Rights Campaign, intervened on his behalf, threatening legal action if the district didn’t run the photo.

The decision was reversed on Friday when attorneys with the district and SPLC met to ensure Loredo would be included in the yearbook. In addition to agreeing to run the picture, the district will have the superintendent apologize to Loredo for the treatment he received and have the school board discuss adding gender expression to its nondiscrimination policies.

“We are very pleased that the school district has recognized Jeydon for who he is and will allow his photo in the yearbook along with all his classmates,” SPLC staff attorney Alesdair Ittelson said in a statement. “This is as a signal to other school districts that transgender students should be recognized as important members of their communities rather than ostracized and subjected to discrimination. We applaud Jeydon’s courage in standing up for his rights.”

HRC President Chad Griffin applauded the decision.

“We’re thrilled Jeydon will be getting the justice he deserves,” Griffin said in a statement. “It’s a shame that it took a threat of legal action for the school board to make the right decision, but we’re grateful that, in the end, Jeydon’s photo will be included in the yearbook. Discrimination has no place in our society — especially our schools.”

—  Dallasvoice

9 ways to fabulize your week

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 3.24.24 PM

It’s a music-filled week in Dallas.

For more traditional concerts featuring gay artists, Saturday is super-busy, with Deborah Vial and Jane Doe reuniting for a concert at The Kessler Theatre (doors open at 6 p.m.). Down the road in The Cedars, Eric Himan, pictured, launches his new national tour promoting his CD Gracefully at Poor David’s Pub (doors open at 7:30 p.m.).

If you prefer dance music from a DJ, Dick’s Night Out is back at the W Hotel Ghostbar on Friday, with DJ Charlie Phresh spinning. Then on Sunday, Honey Pot celebrates its first anniversary with Summer Chill at the Dallas Eagle, with DJ Medic making some noise.

Prefer your music in showtune form? You can still try to get tickets to see The Book of Mormon, which settled into the Winspear with a Tony Award-winning score. (The musicals Kiss of the Spider Woman, Xanadu and Miss Saigon all close this weekend, so if you haven’t seen them yet, this is your last chance.)

For non-musical outings, Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown delivers the laughs at Teatro Dallas, and the irrepressible Molly Ivins spins her homespun liberalism in Red Hot Patriot at WaterTower Theatre. And Gaybingo is back at the Rose Room with a Slumber Party theme on Saturday with Drag Racer Latrice Royale in tow, and the HRC’s Fruit Bowl rolls into Richardson on Sunday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DFW Federal Club hosts Town Hall discussion on DOMA, Prop 8 rulings


The DFW Federal Club is hosting a HRC Town Hall event tomorrow evening that will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings.

HRC Legal Director Brian Moulton will explain the rulings, answer questions, and explain what LGBT advocates should expect and do next in the marriage equality movement.

An individual has offered to match federal club pledges made at the event up to $25,000.

The event is Friday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Tower Club on the 48th floor of Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. RSVP is required.

For more information or to RSVP, go here.

—  Dallasvoice