Cruz, Gohmert among Texas officials inducted into HRC’s Hall of Shame

Louie GohmertIf you didn’t know already, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Louie Gohmert aren’t LGBT allies. Today HRC enshrined their anti-LGBT legacies in its inaugural Hall of Shame, recognizing a bipartisan group of legislators who rank poorly on their annual congressional scorecard.

The latest scorecard will be released Thurs., Oct. 9, on the HRC website here.

Joined by Cruz and Gohmert are 16 other members of the 113th Congress, including two additional Texans, Reps. Randy Neugebauer and Randy Weber. While there are a lot of anti-LGBT members in the Texas delegation and in Congress, HRC notes this list is not solely based on votes but clear vitriol and rhetoric lobbed at the LGBT community.

“HRC identified these elected officials … by looking at their voting records in this and previous Congresses, their introduction and co-sponsorships of anti-LGBT legislation and their public statements. These elected officials’ legislative actions, votes and anti-LGBT vitriol unfortunately marks them with a modern day scarlet letter,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director in a statement. ”Although Congress is beginning to catch up with the American people in supporting LGBT equality, Representative Gohmert [and Sen. Ted Cruz] record stands in stark contrast to the views of the majority of Americans,” Stacy added.

Gohmert is a vitriolic, right-wing lightning rod with a law degree representing a chunk of East Texas. HRC cited his colorful allusions of the LGBT community in explaining its choice. “Gohmert always has negative things to say about LGBT people.  Not content to falsely blame gay men for pedophilia, or state with certainty that same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality, his outrageous comparison this Congress was to compare LGBT advocates to Nazis.”

Gohmert recently passed on the opportunity to run in the GOP primary against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. He didn’t, and instead Texas got to see his fellow Republican Rep. Steve Stockman crushed.

Cruz is a vitriolic, right-wing lightning rod with a law degree (hah, see that?) who was elected to the Senate in 2012 who is considering a presidential run. Stacy did not hesitate to ding the feisty Cruz. “[He] likes to stand out in a crowd.  As the author of the federal ‘State Marriage Defense Act’ introduced in February, he collaborated with his Texas colleague Rep. Randy Weber to make sure his same-sex married constituents would have no federal protections.  He is actively working to prevent marriage equality from becoming a reality for all Americans. Following the Supreme Court’s action on Monday to reject the appeals requests of five states with same-sex marriage bans ruled unconstitutional by lower courts, Senator Cruz announced he will introduce a constitutional amendment barring the federal government and the courts from overturning state marriage laws.”

Joining Gohmert, Neugebauer and Weber in the House are: 2012 GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachman (R-MN), Andy Harris (R-MD), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Mike Kelly (R- PA), Steve King (R-IA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Tim Walberg (R-MI). Bachmann and McIntyre are not running for re-election.

Cruz is joined by Michael Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Enzi, Inhofe and Sessions are all up for re-election this fall but are expected to cruise to re-election.

—  James Russell

W Hotel launches gay happy hour in support of HRC

Living Room BarThe W Hotel at Victory Park is weighing in on marriage equality, and — no surprise — is coming out in support. That’s worth raising a toast … which is exactly the plan.

Turn It Up for Change is a monthly happy hour on the first Sunday of each month for the next year, starting Oct. 5. Guests can enjoy craft cocktails and music from a rotating slate of DJs from 4–7 p.m. in the Living Room Bar, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Human Rights Campaign. Valet is even complimentary for the mixer. You can RSVP here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

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.

—  Anna Waugh

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

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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.

—  Anna Waugh

10% of LGBT workers have quit jobs due to non-inclusive work environment

Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC’s Workplace Project, spoke about inclusive practices in the workplace Degrees of Equality Luncheon Workshop at Thanksgiving Tower Monday.

Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC’s Workplace Project, spoke about inclusive practices in the workplace at a Degrees of Equality Luncheon Workshop at Thanksgiving Tower on Monday. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Ten percent of LGBT workers have left jobs because the work environment wasn’t inclusive, according to a new Human Rights Campaign study.

Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC’s Workplace Project, spoke about the study’s unpublished results at a Degrees of Equality Luncheon Workshop at Thanksgiving Tower in downtown Dallas on Monday.

Fidas said the study was first done in 2009 where LGBT workers were asked about the workplace climate. That study showed that 51 percent of workers were closeted on the job.

The study was redone last year and its results will be made public in a couple of weeks, but Fidas gave a few of its findings at the luncheon. In addition to the 10 percent of workers who leave over the climate, she said one in four workers have stayed with a company because of an inclusive environment.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas’ Cd Kirven played role in Supreme Court rally controversy

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Cd Kirven at Supreme Court (Photo courtesy Cd Kirven)

Dallas activist Cd Kirven says she played a role in the much-publicized controversy involving a transgender pride flag at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

Kirven said that after an HRC staffer told transgender activists to remove a transgender pride flag from behind the podium,  she picked it up and tried to make sure it was in every camera shot.

On March 26, about 8,000 people rallied for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court while justices heard oral arguments in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. The rally was organized by United for Marriage, a coalition of 180 groups, but Kirven, who was a scheduled speaker, said HRC was in control of the stage and the event. Kirven is a national board member for GetEQUAL.

Kirven said she had to submit her speech and got it back about 15 minutes before she was about to speak with sentences blacked out and words changed. She said she stumbled through parts of it because it wasn’t her words.

“They said I was too aggressive and dark,” Kirven said.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Business Journal honors Miller with Minority Business Leader Award

4Felicia MillerBlack lesbian leader Felicia Miller will be honored Thursday by the Dallas Business Journal with a Minority Business Leader Award. Miller is regional director of human resources central region for Tenet Healthcare Corp. overseeing 15 hospitals with 11,000 employees in three states — Texas, Missouri and Tennessee.

The award honors minority business owners and executives who also have leadership roles in their communities.

Miller served on the board of Black Tie Dinner and the Human Rights Campaign’s DFW Steering Committee. Nationally she was on HRC’s Board of Governors on the National Diversity Committee. She worked to help HRC partner with groups such as Lambda Legal, Dallas Southern Pride and Legacy of Success Foundation.

She was a founding member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

Miller joined Tenet in 2010 from Texas Health Resources where she was director of human resources for Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.

Miller was born in San Antonio. She earned bachelor’s degrees in health information and healthcare administration from Texas State University and began her career with the Bexar County hospital system, work in medical records and cancer statistics. She lives in Dallas with her partner, Katrina Franklin.

On Saturday night, Dr. Steven Pounders and Jim O’Reilly will hold a reception in Miller’s honor at their Turtle Creek condo.

—  David Taffet

Gov. Perry, President Obama weigh in on proposed BSA policy change

The Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News on Monday to encourage the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board to add a nondiscrimination policy.

Today the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board will begin discussing a proposed policy change to allow local troops to decide to let in gay Scouts and leaders.

A decision on whether remove the national gay ban is expected Wednesday.

Lesbian former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell will be at the Scouts’ Irving headquarters at 11 a.m. to deliver petitions started by her, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, gay former Scoutmaster Greg Bourke, and Eric Andresen, father of a gay Scout denied his Eagle Award. The petitions have garnered 1.4 million combined signatures.

The issue has brought about heated debates on both sides as some people are against the decision while others think it doesn’t go far enough. The Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page ad in today’s Dallas Morning News, above, encouraging the board to go beyond removing the no-gays requirement and adding a national nondiscrimination policy.

Gov. Rick Perry chimed in this weekend while addressing hundreds of Scouts at the state House during the Texas Scouts’ 64th annual Report to State.

Perry, an Eagle Scout, told reporters his views on homosexuality haven’t changed his writing his book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For, and hoped the national position would remain the same.

“Hopefully the board will follow their historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make scouting this very important and impactful organization,” Perry said.

President Barack Obama also spoke about the issue during a pre-Super Bowl interview, calling scouting a “great institution” that should welcome gay members and leaders. He said the organization provided youth with lifelong leadership and character building training and “no one should be barred from that.”

Watch the clip of Obama below.

—  Anna Waugh

San Antonio mayor appoints LGBT liaison in response to city’s MEI score

Adam Greenup

After reviewing San Antonio’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s new Municipal Equality Index, Mayor Julian Castro took action in appointing a mayoral LGBT liaison to keep him informed about LGBT issues.

San Antonio scored a 48 out of 100, compared to Austin’s 91 score and Dallas’ 76.

“We weren’t last in Texas, but our score showed room for improvement,” Castro told the San Antonio Express-News.

Castro appointed Adam Greenup last week. He currently serves as senior policy adviser to Castro and will continue in that role in addition to his new duties as LGBT liaison.

Greenup has worked with the LGBT community during his time as chief of staff for Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros.

“My life experiences have provided me a good foundation to connect with members of the LGBT community and groups that feel like they are underrepresented in the community,” he said. “I am a familiar face a lot of members of the community feel comfortable going to.”

HRC reports on its blog that Greenup hasn’t wasted any time getting to know people in his new role as LGBT liaison for the mayor, attending a local HRC Steering Committee after his appointment.

“The local San Antonio LGBT community and HRC are thrilled that Mayor Castro took this important step,” HRC regional field director Karin Quimby writes.

While Dallas officials have pledged to increase the city’s score by 10 percent this year, no specific initiatives have been announced yet.

—  Anna Waugh

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.

—  Anna Waugh