‘I suspect that no LGBT group will want to come to Dallas when they learn of the mayor’s position’

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox issued a statement this afternoon, criticizing Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for failing to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality this week.

“As the executive director and CEO of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community center in the sixth largest LGBT community in United States, I am concerned that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is not supporting marriage equality alongside other big-city mayors,” Cox said. “Legally recognized marriage is a civil rights, an economic and a legal issue that directly affects the members of the LGBT community where he serves as mayor and who call Dallas home.

“In the last two years, two major LGBT conferences (Creating Change and the Out & Equal Workplace Summit) have visited Dallas, bringing millions of dollars in local economic impact. I suspect that no LGBT group will want to come to Dallas when they learn of the mayor’s position,” Cox wrote. “LGBT families are shut out of the legal protections granted with marriage. The result is that couples and children in LGBT families are precluded from legal health benefits, economic benefits and the safety and security that so many others enjoy because the laws automatically protect them. I urge Mayor Rawlings to revisit and reconsider his decision.”

Below is video from this morning’s press conference in Washington, where Freedom to Marry formally launched the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry campaign. According to the press release we’ve posted after the jump, 80 mayors from across the country have now signed the pledge in support of marriage equality. Among those who spoke at the press conference was Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is co-chairing the campaign.

“Everyone here believes in the vital importance of marriage to our constituents, to our communities, and to our country,” Parker said. “Together, we will work to ensure that our cities have what they need to thrive – and in order to keep our cities competitive in business and welcoming in culture, we will work hard to win the freedom to marry everywhere and end federal marriage discrimination once and for all.”

—  John Wright

Top 10: Out & Equal summit drew 2,600

Berry-Selisse

CORPORATE EQUALITY | Out & Equal founder Selisse Berry spoke at the Workplace Summit held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

No. 10

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit held Oct. 22-25 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel broke records and had a bigger impact on the city than any other LGBT conference Dallas has hosted.

More than 2,600 people registered for the convention, with participants coming from 42 states and 23 countries.

That included 60 corporate CEOs, including Wes Bush of Northrop Grumman and Mike Ullman of J.C. Penney, who both addressed the LGBT group.

According to Out & Equal spokesman Justin Tanis, the Workplace Summit raised a total of $2.5 million.

The Thursday night gala’s live and silent auctions brought in $74,660 that will benefit the Out & Equal Scholarship Fund for LGBT students.

The conference had a big impact on the local economy both in the LGBT community and Dallas in general.

At the Thursday night dinner, Bush handed Youth First Texas’ Sam Wilkes a check for $20,000.

According to Cordey Lash, a senior sales manager with the Hilton Anatole, the conference had a $3 million impact on the hotel, which included about 6,000 room-nights plus food and beverage sales. During three nights of the conference, the Anatole sold out, so three neighboring hotels filled hundreds of additional rooms.

Lash called the Summit “one of the most impactful conferences of the year.”

He also expected future business from corporations whose executives attended and were impressed with the city and his hotel’s facilities.

The conference had an impact on local LGBT merchants as well. Wednesday was Out & Equal community night.

The Cedar Springs strip was as crowded as on a busy Saturday night.

While many of the attendees were from companies that affirm and encourage diversity and have top ratings in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, the conference also attracted employees of companies such as ExxonMobil that have poor ratings.

And the conference wasn’t all business. Top-name entertainment included Candis Cayne, the first transgender actress to have a recurring role on a primetime network series (Dirty, Sexy Money); comedians Margaret Cho and Kate Clinton; actors Meredith Baxter and Wilson Cruz; and the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Speakers included Andy Cohen, Bravo’s openly gay senior vice president of original programming and development; and Rick Welts, president and chief of operations for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Because evaluations of the event from attendees were so positive, Tanis said Out & Equal is already talking to the Anatole about returning, possibly as early as 2014.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

TCU LGBT alumni group forms

Organizer says school has been helpful, supportive in forming group for gay graduates

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

There are some schools that are — or have been — affiliated with religious institutions that  not only wouldn’t welcome an LGBT alumni group, they would block such a group outright.

But when Doug Thompson, a graduate of Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), approached his alma mater’s alumni association about forming an LGBT affiliate, he said, the response was, “Absolutely. No problem.”

TCU’s new LGBT alumni group will hold its first large meeting on Saturday, Oct. 22, after the TCU homecoming game. Thompson acknowledged that sports isn’t the main concern of many LGBT alumni, but homecoming is still a time when many alumni return to visit the campus.

Thompson said when he asked the alumni association whether the LGBT group would need approval by the school’s administration, he was told the administration would back it. The group was approved in April.

Unlike Baylor University, which sued to keep its LGBT alumni from using the school name to organize a group, Thompson said there has been no objection from the TCU campus.

“We just want to get people involved however they want to be involved,” Kristi Hoban, associate vice chancellor alumni of relations, said. “We just reach out, whether it’s a class or the business school or a special interest group.”

She said that black alumni were not participating until the Black Alumni Alliance formed about 11 years ago. Now, she said, they’re active leaders in class reunions, homecoming and department alumni events, adding that she hopes to see the same thing happen with the LGBT network.

Finding LGBT alumni hasn’t been easy, Thompson said, as students aren’t asked about their sexual orientation before they graduate.

But Thompson said about 120 alumni have already responded, mostly to calls on social media sites. And now that the school has a Gay Straight Alliance, he said, finding future alumni will be easier.

“Our goal will be to support gay and lesbian students and start a scholarship,” Thompson said. “And we’ll form activities around things gay alumni have an interest in.”

He mentioned support for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival on campus as a direction for the group.

Thompson said that having an LGBT alumni group will help the school provide a better environment for its LGBT students.

Two years ago, TCU proposed setting aside dorm space for LGBT students. A week after the announcement, when only eight students had signed up for the housing, the school scrapped those plans.

“That got totally blown out of proportion,” Hoban said.

She said the intention was never segregated housing but really just an LGBT campus group.
Thompson said the school would have avoided the bad publicity if it had the alumni group to guide them.

The LGBT alumni group will get together after the homecoming game against New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 22. They will meet at Tommy’s Hamburgers’ Camp Bowie Boulevard location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

…………………

OUT, PROUD ATHLETE

Pryor.Victor

Victor Pryor

Perhaps one of the best known Texas Christian University grads that will be attending the new LGBT alumni group’s meeting this weekend is Vincent Pryor, a TCU Horned Frogs football star from 1994.

That year, before the final game of the season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Pryor came out to his teammates. Rather than shunning him, Pryor’s coach told him he was proud of his honesty

“My teammates and my coaches overwhelmingly supported and accepted me,” Pryor writes on his website, VincentPryor.com. “All of the fears and concerns I had about being kicked off the team, or losing my scholarship, or embarrassing my school — none of that happened.  And the best part of it was that I became a better athlete after I came out.”

That day, Pryor had the biggest game of his college career, tallying a record 4.5 sacks — a record that still stands today. His performance helped TCU win the conference title and a berth in a post-season bowl game.

Today, Pryor works in sales and lives in Chicago with his partner of 12 years, who was a classmate at TCU. To watch his just-
released an “It Gets Better” video, below.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pride 2011 • Making business better for LGBT Dallas

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce works to improve the business climate for its members

Vedda.Tony
Tony Vedda

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Pride Guide Dedication

The 2012 Pride Guide was dedicated to the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce in recognition of the chamber’s work to advance equality and make things better for the community. And chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda said this week that the chamber has planned an even busier year ahead.

In October, the Out & Equal conference comes to Dallas. The chamber was instrumental in bringing that convention to the city, the largest LGBT group that Dallas has ever hosted.

Vedda said he hopes that more LGBT groups — both large and small — continue choosing Dallas for their meetings. He said he’d like to see  Creating Change return and for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund hold candidate training classes here. The next GALA choruses festival will be in Denver but Vedda’s hoping Dallas will snag the one after that.

Vedda said that a variety of smaller groups that have never been to Dallas hold annual conventions, specifically mentioning the Gay and

Lesbian Medical Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association as groups he’d like to see come to Dallas for their annual conventions.

And, of course, he hopes the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber will schedule an annual meeting in Dallas sometime in the next few years.

Vedda said that Dallas has an advantage in bringing groups to the city because of the good working relationship the chamber and the LGBT community in general have with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau and with other city institutions.

“We have the same goal as any chamber,” Vedda said. “We help our members become bigger and more profitable. That helps us do good work in the community.”

He said that when an LGBT businessperson tells him that they don’t need the chamber, he tells them that the chamber needs them. A strong LGBT business community helps provide good role models and supports the vast array of non-profit organizations as well as chamber projects, he said, adding that in many ways, the chamber is a big, professional “It Gets Better” organization.

The organization’s newest project is its LEAP scholarships.

“We love our acronyms,” Vedda said, “And LEAP stands for Leadership, Education, Advocacy Program.”

Students who self-identify as LGBT, members of LGBT families or allies who advocate for the LGBT community are eligible. The first scholarships will be awarded in December for the spring semester. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 15 and are available online at GLBTLEAP.org.

Winners will be announced Dec. 8 at the Holly Jolly Ball, which is also the chamber’s major fundraising event for LEAP. Tickets will be $75, with silent and live auctions raising money for scholarships and other LEAP projects.

Vedda said he expects applications for the 2012-13 school year to be available online soon after the first awards are made.

LEAP is also planning an LGBT leadership institute. Former participants in Leadership Lambda have been advising the chamber on what worked in the past. Vedda said he wants participants to leave with a good understanding of LBGT history and accomplishments.

“The goal is to develop more ‘best and brightest’ for the non-profit sector of our community,” he said.

Those who go on to attend Leadership  programs in Plano, Dallas or Fort Worth will be better representatives of the LGBT community, he said.

Working with the National GLBT Chamber, the North Texas chamber is offering a designation of LGBT-certified supplier, Vedda said.

“We’re working to make sure opportunities are given to our community like other minority groups,” he said.

The chamber holds two monthly general networking programs and maintains three closed networking groups.

“Those groups have closed millions of dollars in new business for members,” Vedda said.

Several fun events are coming up as well.

A Cedar Springs Road progressive mixer will be structured like a progressive dinner. The evening starts at Tan Bar on one end of the block and works its way up the street, stopping at several chamber members before ending at Axiom Sushi.

The annual chamber dinner will be held in March. A community marketing conference will be held that month as well.

Vedda said he hopes each of these events and everything the chamber does helps Dallas’ LGBT businesses grow and prosper. He said a strong LGBT business community supports equality and the non-profit groups throughout the community that make it get better for everyone.

For more information, go online to GLBTChamber.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Maurine ‘Trans Fat’ Dickey to visit Log Cabin

Fresh off her vote against transgender protections for Dallas County employees, Commissioner Maurine Dickey is slated to visit the LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans Dallas this coming Monday. Above is an online invite from the group, which doesn’t mention Dickey’s vote against trans protections, or her previous statements comparing being transgender to being overweight (thus the headline). Dickey has said she feels the addition of “sexual orientation” to the county’s nondiscrimination policy was “overdue” — despite the fact that she was absent for a vote on that amendment in March. But she opposed the transgender protections in April because she didn’t want to add any more “special protected classes.” In the wake of her vote, 53 percent of respondents in a Dallas Voice online poll said they think the LGBT community should boycott Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, the restaurant chain she owns with her husband. We’ve been trying to determine whether Dickey’s — which bills itself as the largest barbecue chain in the U.S. — includes LGBT employees in the company’s nondiscrimination policy, but thus far we haven’t had any luck. The Log Cabin meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at Mattito’s Mexican Cafe 3011 Routh St. in Dallas.

—  John Wright

Carrollton Project hosts candidate forum tonight

Bob McCranie

Bob McCranie sends along word that the Carrollton Project, a local LGBT group, will host a candidate forum tonight for Carrollton City Council and the Carrollton/Farmers Branch Independent School District.

The forum begins at 7 p.m. at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas, 1840 Hutton Drive, #100, Carrollton.

McCranie formed the Carrollton Project in 2006 with the help of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

“I’m really proud of the community we’ve built in five years,” McCranie said. “This meeting isn’t about the past or about our previous interactions with any one candidate. Everyone is walking in with a clean slate to learn about our concerns and to earn our votes. Most city elections are won or lost by 400 votes. Using the 10 percent rule, there would be 12,000 LGBT votes available in Carrollton. I’m happy that the MCC of Greater Dallas and The Carrollton Project can provide this opportunity for both groups to learn from each other.”

 

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: HIV/AIDS progam not a priority for Texas Senate panel; Target sues gay group

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Things aren’t looking good for the Texas program that provides life-sustaining drugs to 14,000 low-income people with HIV/AIDS. The Texas HIV Medication Program, which needs an additional $19.2 million from the Legislature over the next two years, was not among the top priorities listed by a Senate budget panel that made its recommendations Thursday. If the Legislature doesn’t provide the money, the program will have to cut off enrollment or otherwise restrict access. “We’re basically making a decision regarding who lives and who dies,” said Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Houston, who voted against the panel’s recommendations.

2. Servicemembers United reports that 261 people service members were discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2010. “While this latest official discharge number represents an all-time annual low, it is still unusually high considering that the Secretary of Defense issued a directive half-way through the fiscal year to make it much harder for military units to discharge troops under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United. “Despite this law clearly being on its deathbed at the time, 261 more careers were terminated and 261 more lives were abruptly turned upside down because this policy.”

3. Target is suing an LGBT group in San Diego to stop it from gathering petitions in support of marriage equality outside eight of the retailer’s stores. Target says the group, Canvass for a Cause, is bothering customers, but the group says the company has anti-gay motives. Arguments in the case are set to begin today.

—  John Wright

Stonewall endorses Kunkle, Nowlin

David Kunkle

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed former police chief David Kunkle for mayor and openly gay candidate James Nowlin for the District 14 City Council seat on Saturday.

Kunkle and Nowlin were among 12 who received the LGBT group’s backing after 57 members interviewed 23 candidates in May 14 municipal elections, during a seven-hour session at Resource Center Dallas.

Stonewall’s endorsement of Kunkle came after Ron Natinsky pulled out of the candidate screening when he learned he would not be eligible for the group’s backing because he’s a Republican. Despite his party affiliation, Natinsky has received endorsements in the mayor’s race from some prominent gay Democrats, including openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley. Municipal elections are nonpartisan.

The other two candidates for mayor, Mike Rawlings and Edward Okpa, also sought Stonewall’s endorsement.

In heavily gay District 14, Nowlin beat out incumbent Angela Hunt for the group’s backing, despite the fact that Hunt has been an LGBT ally on the council.

Stonewall also endorsed Delia Jasso for District 1, Pauline Medrano for District 2, Scott Griggs for District 3, Monica Alonzo for District 6, Cassie Pierce for District 7, Cynthia Durbin for District 10 and William Tsao for District 12.

The group opted not to endorse Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway, who’s seeking re-election to his District 4 council seat. Caraway is currently finishing out the term of former Mayor Tom Leppert, who stepped down to run for U.S. Senate. Stonewall also opted not to endorse Sheffie Kadane in District 9. Both Caraway and Kadane sought the group’s endorsement and attended Saturday’s screening.

A full press release after the jump.

Kunkle, Nowlin receive Stonewall endorsements

After seven hours and 23 interviews, 57 Stonewall Democrats of Dallas members selected to endorse in 12 races for the May 14 municipal election.

Former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle won the endorsement for Dallas Mayor, which was ratified along with other races by the membership immediately after the endorsement screening ended at 4:45 p.m.

Also winning endorsements for Dallas City Council were Delia Jasso for District 1, Pauline Medrano for District 2, Scott Griggs for District 3, Monica Alonzo for District 6, Cassie Pierce for District 7, Cynthia Durbin for District 10, William Tsao for District 12 and James Nowlin for District 14.

The lone Dallas Independent School District candidate that sought the organization’s endorsement, Mike Morath, was endorsed for District 2.

Candidates for Dallas County School Board Trustees Anthony Pace for District 1 and James Hubener for District 4 were also endorsed.

Stonewall decided not to endorse interim mayor and District 4 City Councilmember Dwaine Caraway and City Councilman Sheffie Kadane for District 9. They were the only ones who screened in their respective races.

“We had a lively discussion and great participation,” said Jesse Garcia, SDD communications director. “Conversation and debate remained civil. We had great candidates seek our support and we’re proud that the process was fair and transparent.”

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will work hard to promote endorsed candidates over the next eight weeks before Election Day Saturday, May 14.

The deadline to register to vote in time for the May 14 election is Thursday, April 14. Your registration card needs to be postmarked by April 14 or dropped off at the Dallas County Elections Department, located at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 820, in Dallas. Early voting takes place May 2-10.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will register voters Saturday, March 26, from 2 to 6 p.m., in front of Hunky’s, located at 3940 Cedar Springs Rd., in Dallas.

“The LGBT community needs to turn out to make sure our voice is heard,” said Garcia. “Only one in eight Dallas voters takes part in city elections. Heavy turnout in our neighborhoods will make a greater difference this time around.”

Candidates who were endorsed will be invited to speak at the next general meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, at Ojeda’s Restaurant, located at 4617 Maple Ave. in Dallas. Meeting is open to the public. For more information, visit www.stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org.

—  John Wright

Ron Natinsky isn’t eligible for Stonewall’s endorsement, but he’s screening for it anyway

Ron Natinsky

Twenty-four candidates in local municipal elections are seeking the endorsement of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. The LGBT group will screen candidates on Saturday at Resource Center Dallas before voting on which horse to endorse in each race.

Those scheduled to appear Saturday to seek Stonewall’s endorsement include all four candidates for Dallas mayor. However, according to Stonewall’s bylaws, Ron Natinsky isn’t eligible for the group’s endorsement because he’s a Republican. The group’s bylaws read: “No member of the Republican Party, candidates in the Republican Primary, nor Republican candidates in a General or Non-Partisan Election are eligible for endorsement by this Organization. Endorsements may be made in Dallas County non-partisan elections if the candidate has a Democratic Party primary election voting history and/or affirms allegiance to the Dallas Democratic Party.”

Natinsky has been endorsed by some prominent gay Democrats, including Ed Oakley and Chris Luna, but it looks like Stonewall will be choosing between David Kunkle and Mike Rawlings.

In District 14, Stonewall members will have to decide between openly gay challenger James Nowlin and incumbent Angela Hunt, who’s been a strong LGBT ally on the council. It’s great to see gay candidates like Nowlin running for office, but I’d be shocked if Stonewall’s endorsement doesn’t go to Hunt.

In District 2, both challenger Billy MacLeod and incumbent Pauline Medrano are seeking Stonewall’s endorsement, which will undoubtedly to Medrano, who’s also a strong LGBT ally.

In District 3, only challenger Scott Griggs is seeking Stonewall’s endorsement. Griggs is running against incumbent Dave Neumann, who’s been endorsed by the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance in the past but is not currently scheduled to appear on Saturday. We suspect Neumann is in the same boat as Natinsky when it comes to being eligible for the endorsement.

In District 4, Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway is seeking Stonewall’s endorsement for re-election to his council seat. Caraway, of course, is finishing out Tom Leppert’s term after Leppert stepped down to run for Senate. Caraway is a shoe-in for re-election, but it’s good to see that he’s scheduled to appear on Saturday.

In District 7, openly gay challenger Cassie Pierce is the only candidate scheduled to seek Stonewall’s endorsement on Saturday. Pierce is running against incumbent Carolyn Davis.

Stonewall will screen candidates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Resource Center Dallas. Only those with their membership dues as of Feb. 17 may vote.

A full press release, including a list of all candidates who are scheduled to appear, is after the jump.

—  John Wright

Marriage amendment introduced in Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in a unanimous ruling in 2009. Now, state legislators are seeking to overturn that decision by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions, domestic partnerships and any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. The Iowa Independent reports that 56 of the 60 Republicans in the Iowa House — where the GOP has a 60-40 majority — have signed on as co-sponsors. However, Democrats still have a majority in the Iowa Senate, and Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to block the amendment.

The statewide LGBT group One Iowa reports:

DES MOINES – An amendment that seeks to exclude gay couples from marriage was introduced in the Iowa Statehouse today. The bill (House Joint Resolution 6) seeks to amend the Iowa Constitution to exclude gay and lesbian couples from the freedom to marry. If passed through the legislature in two consecutive General Assemblies, the issue could be on the ballot as soon as 2013.

“Amending the Iowa Constitution to exclude gay couples will harm thousands of Iowa families,” said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison. “Marriage says ‘we’re a family’ like nothing else and is an important way we care for those we love. Writing discrimination into the Constitution will only divide us at a time when we need to work together to tackle common concerns. Iowans expect their elected officials to focus on issues that matter to everyone, like creating jobs, providing educational opportunities, and improving healthcare. Going backward on equal rights sends the wrong message.”

HJR6 goes beyond marriage, and would ban civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.

“This bill intends to forever strip basic protections from loving and committed gay couples,” Jenison said.  “It goes against Iowa’s cherished tradition of protecting equal rights for all.  Now is the time for Iowans to come together and send a clear message to their legislators that discrimination has no place in Iowa’s Constitution. Our legislators should continue to uphold Iowa’s long-held value of equal rights for all.”

—  John Wright