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

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

Eddie Bernice Johnson receives perfect score on LGBT equality from HRC

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Five members of Texas’ congressional delegation support marriage equality, according to the Human Rights Campaign, but only two earned perfect scores of 100 percent on the group’s Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress released Thursday.

Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, and Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, were among 115 members of the House nationally who receive scores of 100 percent from HRC. While Johnson is expected to win re-election easily on Nov. 6, Reyes was defeated by Beto O’Rourke in the Democratic Primary. Johnson received a perfect score for the sixth consecutive time, dating back 10 years to 2002. She has failed to receive a 100 only twice during two decades in Congress.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, who has regularly received a 100 on the scorecard, fell to 85 this year for failing to co-sponsor legislation that would “equalize the tax treatment of employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners and other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries.”

Overall, the average score in the House fell from 50.8 percent in the 111th Congress to 40 percent in the current Congress, according to the Washington Blade. In the Senate, the average score went from 57.3 percent in the 111th Congress to 35 percent in the current 112th Congress.

“While we continue to make advancements towards equality in Washington, the 112th Congress has more anti-equality members set on halting our progress,” HRC President Chad Griffin told the Blade.

This year, for the first time, HRC asked members of Congress whether they support marriage equality. Their responses are listed on the scorecard but were not factored into their scores.

The Texas representatives who said they support marriage equality were all Democrats: Johnson, Reyes, Jackson Lee, Charlie Gonzalez of San Antonio and Lloyd Doggett of Houston.

Among Texas’ 23 Republicans, the only two who didn’t receive zeroes on the scorecard were Ron Paul and Ted Poe, who both received a 15.

In the Senate, Texas Republican John Cornyn received a score of 15, while fellow Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison received a zero.

Click here to view the full scorecard.

—  John Wright

EQTX launches Hospital Equality Project

Equality Texas is surveying hospitals and patients to compile a database of hospitals in the state with LGBT-friendly policies.

Torsten Knabe, a public policy intern with the statewide LGBT advocacy group, said the idea is in response to many new federal guidelines regarding things like visitation, and he wants to see whether policies like it have been properly implemented.

Knabe is calling the project Hospital Equality Project, which has two parts. The first is a Hospital Equality Index that is completed by hospital human resources representatives about the policies they have. The second is the Hospital Equality Survey for patients to fill out based on their experiences at hospitals.

He has narrowed the survey down to about 10 policies to focus on for hospitals to see if they have them and to what level they are enforced. He said he still wants people to complete a survey even if the hospital does not have the policy, so he can work with hospitals to create them.

And he wants to direct people who have had bad experiences or faced discrimination in hospitals to contact the hospital or police to report it.

Knabe then wants to publish the hospital information into an online searchable database for people across the state, which he said would be a vital resource for comfortable and quality healthcare.

“It’s important because it’ll allow people to know and have more information to take care of their health needs,” he said.

Only two Texas hospitals completed surveys for the Human Rights Campaign’s Hospital Equality Index in 2012 about LGBT-friendly policies, Legacy Community Health Services and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, both in Houston.

To take the patient survey, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Austin street to be named in honor of lesbian activist Bettie Naylor

Naylor.Bettie

Bettie Naylor

Part of Austin’s West Fourth Street will soon bare the name of longtime Austin activist Bettie Naylor.

Austin City Council approved a resolution Thursday to name a five-block stretch of the street in Austin’s Historic District after Naylor. Naylor died in April at 84.

Naylor was a founding member of Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign and Annie’s List. After lobbying for women’s rights in the ’60s, she began fighting for LGBT rights in the ’70s, becoming Equality Texas’ original lobbyist. She later came out as a lesbian after 30 years of marriage.

Although Naylor stopped lobbying in 2009, she and her partner remained activists in the LGBT community and in Austin.

Libby Sykora, Naylor’s partner, told KUT News that she hoped the street would remind people to stop and think about what they could do for their community.

“That was Bettie’s thought every day,” Sykora said. “What am I doing for my community? And what could we do better?”

Bettie Naylor Street will be belong West Fourth Street between Congress Avenue and Rio Grande Street and will be unveiled during Austin’s LGBT Pride celebration in September.

—  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

Plano Chick-fil-A claims safety issues with Muppets toys; former Dallasite organizes same-sex kiss-in

A Chick-fil-A location in Plano reportedly is among those that have posted signs announcing an alleged Muppets toy recall, after the Jim Henson Co. severed its ties with the chicken chain over its opposition to gay rights.

The above photo from a Chick-fil-A store announcing it “voluntarily recalled all of the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toys due to a possible safety issue” is from a Plano location.

Human Rights Campaign board member Meghan Stabler, who lives in Round Rock, told Instant Tea the sign is from the Plano store at the Willow Bend Mall, where servers were instructed to tell customers that there were safety issues with the toys.

The sign states that “there have not been any cases in which a child has actually been injured, however there have been some reports of children getting their fingers stuck in the holes of the puppets.”

Phone calls to the restaurant were not answered.

The Jim Henson Co. announced that it would sever ties with Chick-fil-A after its President Dan Cathy again made anti-gay comments last week and expressed continued support for “traditional family values.” Henson Co. CEO Lisa Henson is a supporter of marriage equality and announced that the company would donate money from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD.

Meanwhile, former Dallasite Carly McGehee, who attended Flower Mound High School, has created the event National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick Fil A, scheduled for Aug. 3. McGehee, who now lives in New York, said she has boycotted the company since 2010 when she found out it funds anti-gay groups.

—  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

Arlington police arrest 1st suspect in anti-gay hate crime; 4 others expected to turn themselves in

Daniel Sibley

Arlington police have arrested one teenager and expect four more to turn themselves in after video footage identified them as suspects in a vandalism spree June 10 that included anti-gay slurs spray-painted on a lesbian couple’s SUV.

Sgt. Christopher Cook said Wednesday during a press conference that Fort Worth teen Daniel Sibley, 18, was arrested Tuesday. He is in custody on a $2,500 bond.

Cook explained that two surveillance cameras on residences captured several teens spray-painting derogatory images and words on homes and cars in a total of 13 incidents. The second video captured the vehicle information and led to the identification of five teens ages 16-18.

Cook said the two other adults have attorneys and will be booked into jail Wednesday afternoon. A female juvenile is also expected to turn herself in. Police are still trying to contact a female adult.

All suspects will be charged with the state jail felony of criminal mischief for damage ranging from $1,500-$20,000.

The punishment for a state jail felony is 180 days to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. If the classification is enhanced by the hate crime statute to a third-degree felony, the teens could face two to 10 years behind bars in addition to the fine.

A racial slur was spray-painted on a vehicle, but Cook said it not being reported as a hate crime because the man who owned the car was Caucasian. He said based on the statement from Sibley that the teens saw a sticker on the lesbian couple’s SUV – which featured two female caricatures with a child and pet – and made an assumption that they were gay before vandalizing the vehicle.

Arlington police Chief Will Johnson

Acting police chief Will Johnson said it was clear that the incident involving the lesbian couple was hate crime from early on because the words “queers” and “faggot” were spray-painted on their SUV.

“A crime of hatred is not only a crime against an individual but it is a crime against the community,” he said. “Early in this investigation it was clear that hateful and biased language was used to damage property at multiple locations. It was equally clear that at least one of our 13 victims was targeted specifically because of their sexual orientation.”

He said the incident would be reported to the FBI as a hate crime and that authorities would continue to investigate and prosecute hate crimes in Arlington in the future.

“We are committed in Arlington to prevent all crime especially crime that was committed for no other reason than possibly toward hatred,” Johnson said. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated, it will be fully investigated — and to the fullest extent of the law prosecuted.”

Kim Lovering said she and her partner were woken up by police early Sunday morning, June 10. Neighbors had already called police but she said her family was unaware of the vandalism to their SUV. She said she was grateful her son, not yet 2, was too young to understand what happened.

From the police presence to Johnson calling her later that day to check on her family, Lovering said she was impressed by the support from the community and police.

“They stood behind us,” she said. “It was really a huge relief that something like this was handled the right way. And I’m glad it’s our city.”

As for the arrest and suspected capture of the remaining suspects, she said it will help her sleep at night and hopes the teens’ arrests will change their attitudes.

“I’m so thankful for the way this turned out just for our safety and peace of mind,” she said.

Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable praised the police response, calling it a “textbook” example of how police should respond and engage with the community.

Anable said anti-gay slurs are “so offensive and dehumanizing” and “will never go away,” adding that the quick identification and arrest of suspects send the message that hate crimes won’t be tolerated anymore.

“It’s nothing new for us. What is new is having a dialogue with law enforcement and the FBI,” he said. “I can’t say enough about how well the Arlington Police Department handled this. … It is absolutely textbook perfect.”

Anable said his organization has reached out to the Human Rights Campaign to try to bring national attention to “how things can go right.”

“The citizens of Arlington should take great pride in their police department and the quality of their city,” he said.

HRC released a statement Wednesday applauding Arlington PD for “responding swiftly and thoroughly.”

The full HRC statement is below, along with video from the press conference.

—  Dallasvoice