What’s Brewing: Sarah Palin; Ron Natinsky; high court rejects challenge to D.C. gay marriage law

1. Sarah Palin is, not surprisingly, totally unapologetic (video above). In her first interview since the Tucson shooting (if you call an appearance on Fox News an interview), Palin says she’s been falsely accused of being an accessory to murder (her words, not ours). But Palin says she’s not going to let that lie live. No sir, she’s not going to sit down or shut up. In fact, the only reason the map with the rifle crosshairs was removed from her PAC’s website after the shooting is that some graphic artist decided on his own to take it down. But Palin’s not really even sure whether it’s been taken down or not. Besides, everyone uses those maps, just like everyone knows what “blood libel” means, you stupid media people. You probably think she should just say the two words that any decent human being would say after a tragedy like this — “I’m sorry.” Silly you.

2. District 12 Dallas City Councilman Ron Natinsky confirmed that he plans to run for mayor. Although he represents a conservative district in far North Dallas, Natinsky has been fairly supportive of the LGBT community, and he’s been endorsed in the past by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

3. BREAKING: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a group seeking to overturn same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C.

—  John Wright

CCGLA launches partnership with Health Services of North Texas, donates 160 pounds of food

CCGLA members Kathy Scalise, from left, Jeanne Rubin, Jane Schmidt and Morris Garcia volunteer at HSNT.

By Jeanne S. Rubin

PLANO — Each year at the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance Annual Holiday Party, CCGLA members collect for various charities. This year the board decided to focus on one longtime partner, Health Services of North Texas and develop a more meaningful relationship between the two organizations. After consulting Plano nutrition center employee Diana DeLashaw, members were encouraged to donate macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper, popular items that are hard to keep on the food pantry shelves.

Volunteers delivered more than 160 pounds of food to HSNT and worked with DeLashaw to weigh, check dates, take inventory and stock shelves. I took the opportunity to meet with DeLashaw about further volunteer opportunities for CCGLA members and plans for a second food drive. In addition, HSNT Director of Development Leslie Runic-Boysen and CCGLA President Morris Garcia spoke about common goals and a desire to work together in the future.

“I only had a short window to help out because I had to pick up my granddaughter,” explained CCGLA member Kathy Scalise, “but I am really glad I made the time. This experience made the donation more more meaningful. I encourage other members to give a few hours of their time. You will definitely get more than you give.”

The mission of HSNT is improving the quality of life of underserved North Texans through medical care, support services and advocacy. For more info, go to www.healthntx.org. The mission of CCGLA is advocating equality, dignity and respect through education, political awareness and social interaction. For more info, go to www.ccgla.org.

Jeanne S. Rubin serves on the board of the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance.

—  admin

Hutchison, against DADT before she was for it, has long history of opposing gays in military

That’s right, the GOP senator from Dallas who says she’ll vote against the standalone bill to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” actually opposed the policy when it was enacted 17 years ago.

That’s because she supported the outright ban on gays in the military — open or not — that was in place before DADT.

In fact, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sparked controversy when her opposition to DADT was featured in a letter promoting a campaign fundraiser in October 1993, according to Dallas Morning News archives. Hutchison was first elected to the Senate in 1992.

“We are well-aware of the tremendous benefits of the Clinton presidency,” the fundraising letter from the Hutchison campaign said. “We get to enjoy such benefits as socialized medicine, gays in the military (not to mention every other government post available), a weakened defense, and if you are a member of the ‘rich’ or the dead, fantastic retroactive tax increases.”

The letter was roundly critcized by LGBT groups, according to a DMN article dated Oct. 28, 1993:

“If she’s sanctioning that kind of tripe, then there are a lot of Texans that can find a lot of reasons not to support her,” said Paul von Wupperfield of Austin, state president of Log Cabin Republicans of Texas.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean going out and supporting a liberal Democrat. But there are a lot of options, including sitting on your hands,” he said.

Deb Elder, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said Ms. Hutchison’s fund-raisers should be working to recruit supporters, not alienate them.

“It’s really sad that neither the political office nor the people heading up her fund-raising campaign are astute enough or respectful enough of the American public to understand that it’s not wise to say some people are equal and some aren’t,” she said.

As the above flier indicates, a protest is planned outside Hutchison’s Dallas office next week in response to her opposition to DADT repeal.

—  John Wright

Local briefs • 12.03.10

National Stonewall leader to attend Dallas group’s holiday party

Michael Mitchell, the new executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, will be the special guest at the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ annual holiday party Monday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at The Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. The program begins at 7 p.m., and the event is free and open to everyone.

The event will include a holiday basket auction, and proceeds will be divided between Stonewall Democrats and Youth First Texas’ anti-bullying and suicide prevention efforts.

There will also be an auction where participants can bid on a lunch with their favorite elected official from among the list of elected officials who have signed up to participate. And Stonewall Democrats will be collecting donations of toiletry items for clients at Legacy Founders Cottage, a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS. Legacy clients need paper towels, laundry detergent, latex and nitrile gloves, men’s socks, new men’s underwear, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, disposable razors and shaving cream, tissues, body lotion and baby powder.

Stonewall Democrats will also present its annual awards to members, allies and elected officials. Nominees for the “Distinguished Democrat” award are Judge-Elect Tonya Parker, Dallas County District Attorney Gary Fitzsimmons, Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia and Judge Carl Ginsberg.

Nominees for the Buck Massey Member of the Year Award are Pamela Curry, Michael Wetter, Laurie McClurg and Tony McMullen. Nominees for Ally Organization of the Year are the Dallas County Democratic Party, Equality Texas, Preston Hollow Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. And nominees for the Pink Pump Award are Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jassa, Judge Elizabeth Crowder, Judge-elect Tina Yoo and George Freeman.

Bill Fry and Darryl Sanchez will be presented with the P.L. Moore Philanthropist Award, and Stonewall Democrats President Erin Moore will present the Board Member of the Year Award.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas elected new officers at the organization’s Nov. 16 meeting. They are Omar Narvaez, president; Michael Wetter, vice president; Phyllis Guest, secretary and Mike McCue, treasurer. Outgoing officers are President Erin Moore, Vice President Jay Narey and Secretary Kenneth Denson.
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Round-Up holding benefit for Resource Center food pantry

Demand is up and donations are down at Resource Center Dallas’ food pantry for people with HIV/AIDS. So to help bring donations up to the level of demand, the Round-Up Saloon will host a raffle during Retro Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m. Anyone who brings at least three non-perishable food items to donate to the pantry will get a free raffle ticket for a drawing for a new DVD player. Movie tickets and other prizes will also be raffled off during the evening.
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Tarrant Area Food Bank offers to send holiday cards for donors

Sending holiday greeting cards can be such a chore. But now there’s a way to let somebody else do the tedious part, while at the same time donating to a worthy cause.

Just send a donation and a list of up to 20 recipients to the Tarrant Area Food Bank, and the food bank will mail out special cards — hand-addressed and stamped — to those on the list.

The 5-inch-by-7-inch cards say “Season’s Greetings” on the front and have a special holiday recipe from Chef Blaine Staniford with Grace Restaurant in Fort Worth inside the front cover. The message inside reads: “Thanks for making eating a part of everyone’s holiday season. A gift has been made in your honor to Tarrant Area Food Bank by ___________.”

Deadline to participate is Friday, Dec. 10. There is no minimum donation required.

TAFB officials said all information and mailing lists remain strictly confidential. Capital One has helped underwrite the cost of the project so that all donations go directly to helping feed North Texans in need.

Tarrant Area Food Bank has 300 partner agencies, including the food pantry at AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County, which provides food for people with HIV/AIDS.

TAFB officials said those agencies have seen the need for food assistance grow by 40 percent over the previous two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

DGLA hosts rally for safe schools in Oak Cliff

About 50 people gathered around a pavilion in Lake Cliff Park in Dallas on Friday evening for a safe schools rally organized by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

The crowd, which included several local TV news crews and about a dozen youth, listened as a series of speakers talked about what can be done to stop bullying, mentor children and quell the national gay teen suicide crisis.

Jesse Garcia, president of Dallas’ gay LULAC council, choked up as he recounted his own struggle to overcome bullying.

“We’re here for you,” Garcia said. “We care about you. You are our children. Don’t give up.”

Larry Duncan, president of Dallas County Schools, which provides transportation and other services for local school districts, told the crowd it was unfortunate Friday’s rally was even necessary.

“It isn’t about why we’re here, it’s about why the other people in our city and county aren’t here,” Duncan said. “The fact that we have to be here is a shame.”

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, vowed to push safe schools legislation that includes LGBT youth in next year’s legislative session.

Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso said she’ll encourage the Dallas Independent School District to add sexual orientation and gender identity to a proposed new anti-bullying policy the district is considering.

“Just know you are not alone,” Jasso said. “There are lots of us on the City Council, myself included, who are here to help you. We cannot afford to lose any more teens to suicide.”

As currently written, DISD’s proposed new anti-bullying policy doesn’t include specific protections for LGBT youth. But Lee Taft, associate executive director at Resource Center Dallas, said DISD’s board of trustees agreed to delay discussion of the new policy this week in response to a request from his organization.

Taft, who lost his partner to suicide in the 1980s, said the community must focus on prevention instead of “post-vention.” He also said the media needs to strike a balance to avoid glamorizing suicide and fueling a copycat phenomenon.

“Let’s make sure that we don’t make martyrs and don’t empower bullies,” Taft said.

Patti Fink, president of DGLA, said the bullying children endure in school wouldn’t be tolerated in any other part of society, including the workplace or even people’s own neighborhoods.

“It’s a travesty that our children are experiencing brutality in our schools every day that prevents them from learning,” Fink said, issuing a call to action. “This is the time, this is the date, this is the energy we need to go forward.”

—  John Wright

Local leaders turn focus on bullying

Rally set Friday in Dallas to promote legislation, promote awareness of bullying in schools, teen suicide

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

RALLYING FOR SAFE SCHOOLS  |  Rep. Roberto Alonzo, a Dallas Democrat, right, speaks to a witness during a meeting of the House Committee on Higher Education during the 2007 session of the Texas Legislature. Alonzo is among those who will speak at a rally Friday to promote awareness of the problems of bullying in schools and teen suicide.
RALLYING FOR SAFE SCHOOLS | Rep. Roberto Alonzo, a Dallas Democrat, right, speaks to a witness during a meeting of the House Committee on Higher Education during the 2007 session of the Texas Legislature. Alonzo is among those who will speak at a rally Friday to promote awareness of the problems of bullying in schools and teen suicide.

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance will hold a rally in Lake Cliff Park in Oak Cliff on Friday, Oct. 15 to draw attention to the problem of gay teen suicide and to opportunities in the next session of the legislature to end school bullying.

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo is among the speakers. In the last session he coauthored a safe schools bill with Rep. Mark Strama of Austin. The legislation did not pass.

Larry Duncan, president of Dallas County Schools, is also scheduled to appear. Dallas County Schools is providing shuttle bus service from 8th & Corinth Station on the Red and Blue lines to Lake Cliff Park. The park is located at E. Colorado and Zang boulevards.

“The rally is important because we need a safe schools law that empowers teachers, administrators and staff to stop bullying when they see it,” said DGLA President Patti Fink. “No kid can focus on algebra when they’re fearing for their safety. Kids are losing their lives over this issue. It’s got to stop.”

Most states, including Texas, do have some form of anti-bullying laws.

Only five states — Hawaii, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana — remain without any student protection.

In 2005, the Texas legislature passed Chapter 37 of the Education code that requires school districts to adopt student codes of conduct that proscribe bullying and harassment.

The law does not specify groups that are often the targets and doesn’t enumerate what must happen when school staff observes bullying behavior.

Laws that are not specific have proven to be ineffective in preventing bullying of LGBT students, according to advocates.

The current Dallas Independent School District regulations list groups protected from harassment. Among those is the unclear “gender orientation,” sort of a combination and confusion of gender identity and sexual orientation, which are not listed.

Four representatives from the LGBT community attended a DISD board of trustees meeting on Thursday, Oct. 14. The board is considering a new anti-bullying policy. The proposed policy, as currently written, doesn’t specifically protect LGBT students.

Gregory Pynes, vice chair of the board for Resource Center Dallas, spoke during public comments and commended the trustees for wanting to strengthen their anti-bullying policy.

But he urged them to amend the proposed policy by listing protected categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pynes invited trustees to work with Resource Center on the policy, which is expected to come up for a final vote later this month.

Others from the LGBT community who attended the DISD meeting were Chastity Kirven of Get Equal Now, David Plunkett of Hope for Peace and Justice and Pamela Curry of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Earlier this year, Fort Worth ISD ran a district-wide poster campaign called “It’s Not Okay” to bully one’s fellow students or to allow others to be victimized. The district sponsored parent workshops throughout the district to combat bullying.

Sexual orientation is included in the Fort Worth school district’s bullying policy under its code of conduct. Gender identity is not.

Other large school districts in the area —  including Plano, Richardson and Arlington ISDs — do not specify groups that are covered by anti-bullying policies.

One of Tarrant County’s largest school districts, Birdville ISD, does not list covered groups. Earlier this year, Haltom City parents called police about bullying incidents at a BISD school and brought their complaints about bullying including assaults to CBS 11.

At this week’s city council meeting, Fort Worth city council member Joel Burns gave an emotional speech about having been bullied in school and considering suicide. He showed pictures of six teens who recently committed suicide after having been bullied and told their stories.

“This bullying and harassment in our schools must stop,” he said.

His 10-minute speech received a standing ovation from other council members and from citizens attending the meeting.

Equality Texas Deputy Director Chuck Smith said that stronger safe schools legislation will be the top priority of the upcoming legislative session. He said that electing legislators who will support an anti-bullying law is important. Several bills will be introduced in the House.

The law that Smith was most excited about is one being crafted by Rep. Mark Strama of Austin. Strama has introduced safe schools legislation each session since he was elected in 2004. Local representatives Alonzo and Raphael Anchia of Dallas, Paula Pierson of

Arlington and Lon Burnham of Fort Worth co-authored the bill in the last session.

Burnham’s legislative director in Austin reaffirmed Burnham’s commitment to the issue.

“He certainly supports and is concerned with the issue,” he said.

Smith said next session’s proposed law is different from previous versions. The exact language of the new bill is still being written.

However, Strama’s proposed legislation will specify what does and does not constitute bullying and what school personnel must do when they see bullying occur or when it is reported.

In defining the problem, schoolyard fights, for example, are not considered bullying.

Bullying refers to verbal or physical acts committed by a student to harass, intimidate or cause harm to another student. The more recent problem of cyber-bullying includes threats, harassment and intimidation on line as well as in texting or through other electronic means.

Locally, support for anti-bullying legislation appears strong although some representatives would not commit to supporting a particular bill until they saw final wording. Specifying gay, lesbian or transgender students has been the reason some withhold support of anti-bullying legislation in the past.

Rep. Eric Johnson represents part of Oak Lawn and campaigned on the issue of safe schools. His wife serves on the board of Resource Center Dallas.

“We must provide all Texas schoolchildren with an atmosphere in which they feel, and in fact are, safe while learning,” said Johnson.

“Our very future depends on it. I will support comprehensive legislation in the Texas House to address the issue of bullying directly so that all of our children have the opportunity to make the most of their education and their lives.”

Calls to other area legislative offices showed general consensus that schools need to be made safer for students.

Republican Rep. Linda Harper-Brown’s office said, “Of course. She’s against any bullying in schools.”

Harper-Brown’s district is in Irving. Her opponent is in the upcoming election is Loretta Haldenwang. Her campaign manager, Kirk McPike, also indicated support.

Multiple calls to other area Representatives’ local, Austin and campaign offices were not returned. Many of those legislators did support the Strama bill in the current session.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

CCGLA elects board

Colling County Gay and Lesbian Alliance Board
ALL A BOARD | The Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance elected a new board of directors at the organization’s recent annual meeting at Collin County College. Board members are, standing from left, John Perez, Roseann Rossetti, Belinda Carmikle, Morris Garcia, Scott Smith, Jeanne Rubin and Bob Schimmin; and seated from left, Rosemarie Odom and Jane Schmidt-Ahsan. Not pictured is Ron Turner. The new board has already met to begin planning the organization’s first program of the summer, the sold-out Party Barge on Lake Lewisville.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local Briefs • 07.16.10

Equality Texas Foundation offers training in Frisco

Equality Texas Foundation staff will train North Texas residents in Frisco on Saturday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Global Peace Factory Coffee Bar, 1133 Legacy Drive in Frisco.

The training is co-sponsored by Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Youth First Texas-Collin County, Equality March Texas, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, and Texas Democratic Women of Collin County.

For more information contact Equality Texas Foundation at 512-474-5475.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Cece Cox named new ED at Resource Center Dallas

Equality Texas extends offer to ED candidate while YFT puts search on hold for the summer

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

NEW DIRECTOR | Cece Cox assumes her new duties as executive director of Resource Center Dallas on Saturday, July 3.

Resource Center Dallas on Thursday, July 1 announced that Cece Cox has been named as the new executive director of the organization, replacing Mike McKay, who resigned in April to take the position of chief of operations in the Volunteer Recruitment and Selection Division for the Peace Corps.

RCD board chair Reid Ainsworth sent an e-mail to staff on Thursday, announcing Cox would become the new executive director of the organization.

Cox already works at the center as associate executive director of GLBT Community Services. She assumes her new position on July 3.

“I cut my teeth as a baby activist in this building,” Cox said.

She has been active in the LGBT community since the early 1990s when she started a local chapter of GLAAD. She was later president of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

Cox has also worked as director of development and marketing for the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Cox was instrumental in coordinating support on the Dallas city council to include non-discrimination based on sexual orientation for city employees and the inclusion of sexual orientation in 1995 in DART’s employment policy.

Cox received her law degree in 2004 and after a short period of working for a private law firm, took the position at the community center.

“I missed my community terribly,” Cox said of why she returned to community activism.

She said she always thinks about the history of the community center.

“Before John [Thomas] died, he told me, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t stop.’”

Thomas was a founder and original executive director of the center.

Cox sees her immediate goals as serving the increasing number of people with HIV and working locally to achieve equal rights for the LGBT community.

“And I’m going to get us into that new community center so we can serve more people,” she said. “There are lots of opportunities for us to engage and get our community the rights we deserve.”

Resource Center Dallas was one of three high-profile LGBT organizations searching for new executive directors over the past few months, along with Equality Texas and Youth First Texas.

Equality Texas may be at the end of its search process for a new executive director after the board met Thursday and decided to extend an offer to a candidate.

Paul Scott stepped down as executive director of Equality Texas in January to become executive director of AIDS Services of Austin. Scott preceded McKay as executive director of Resource Center Dallas.

Judith Dumont left Youth First Texas in June to assume a position at Eastfield College but it is unlikely the organization will begin looking for a replacement for her until fall, officials said.

On Thursday, July 1, the boards of Equality Texas and the Equality Texas Foundation met jointly by phone to approve and extend an offer to a candidate to become the organization’s new executive director.

Interim executive director Chuck Smith said an announcement should be made next week when the candidate accepts the offer.

Equality Texas began its nationwide search for a new executive director on Jan. 8. At the time of the announcement, the goal was to have a new director in place by May 15, but the interview process took longer.

Smith said he’s looking forward to going back to his position as deputy director and getting a day off.

“It certainly has been a rigorous and thorough process,” he said. “We’ve seen many strong candidates.”

Smith said he expects the new director to be in place during the summer, long before the start of the new legislative session in January 2011.

When fully staffed, Equality Texas has six full-time positions. In addition to the executive director vacancy, the position of director of development is also open.

Smith said it made sense to wait until the new director was hired and for that person to select the new development team.

He said the work of the organization has continued on schedule. The political action committee will be making endorsements in legislative races through the summer.

Political director Randall Terrell, who was recently in Dallas for the DART vote on nondiscrimination, said he is already planning for the January legislative session.

YFT board chair Cathy Gonzalez said that the organization would staff activities and programs with volunteers through the summer. She said some volunteers would be given job titles and responsibility for supervising other volunteers.

“It will get us through the summer,” Gonzalez said.

The board met this week for the first time since Dumont resigned.

“In the fall we’ll convene a search committee,” Gonzalez said. “We need someone with a counseling or social service background.”

But she said they weren’t ready to start accepting resumes.

“That wouldn’t be fair to applicants,” she said, since they wouldn’t be looking at them through the summer.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas