Texas Stonewall Dems to honor Dallas activist Erin Moore, Tarrant chapter

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Erin Moore

Texas Stonewall Democrats will recognize a Dallas activist and the Tarrant County chapter at the April Equality Forward Summit in Austin.

Longtime Dallas Democrat and activist Erin Moore will receive the Buck Massey Legacy of Leadership Award for her work over the last year in helping the Texas Democratic Party add marriage equality to its platform, as well as working with the National Platform Committee to ensure it made the national platform as well.

Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats, along with Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, will be recognized for outstanding work among chapters with the Roberto J. Flores Club Achievement Award.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, will be receive the Lone Star Equality Advocate Award for his championing for LGBT rights in the Legislature over the years.

The Equality Forward Summit is April 5-7 at the Hilton Austin Airport and will include Houston Major Annise Parker, state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, and former Congressman Barney Frank will be among the speakers.

The deadline to receive the group rate for the hotel has been extended to March 22. For more information or to register, go here. For the conference schedule, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

PHOTOS: Lobby Day draws record crowd to Capitol

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Openly LGBT state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, addresses the crowd on the south steps of the state Capitol on Monday during Equality Texas Lobby Day. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

AUSTIN — Hundreds of LGBT Texans and allies from across the state told their personal stories of discrimination, love and hope for a better future to lawmakers Monday during Equality Texas Lobby Day.

With more than 540 registered attendants, it marked the biggest Lobby Day ever, Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said.

Smith started working with the statewide LGBT advocacy organization as a lobbyist in 2003. He shared his experience with the crowd Monday morning, explaining that he came out to former state Rep. Carter Casteel, who had been his eighth-grade history teacher. He told her that he and his partner of 17 years, Rick, had loved each other dearly until his death in 2001.

And he asked her not to vote for the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage between a man and a woman and passed later that year.

Smith said she acknowledged his love between him and his partner but told him she couldn’t vote against DOMA because she would lose her seat.

“The day changed my life because I learned that the people who serve this state are real people just like me,” he said, adding that more legislators need to hear stories to earn their support. “They just need to hear from enough of us to give them the strength to do the right thing for the people of Texas.”

Pansexual state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, thanked those who attended for standing behind her when she came out during her contested Democratic Primary last year and for encouraging her with their fight for LGBT rights.

—  Anna Waugh

Poll: TX voters back marriage equality

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A growing number of Texas voters support the freedom to marry for gays and lesbians, according to new polls released today by Equality Texas and University of Texas/Texas Tribune.

The Equality Texas poll was similar to one commissioned by the organization in 2010 and asked about 11 key issues, including discrimination, domestic partner benefits and relationship recognition.

The biggest change was that 47.9 percent of voters support marriage equality compared to 47.5 percent who oppose it. In 2010, 42.7 percent of voters supported marriage equality.

The poll also found that 64.7 percent of voters support civil unions, compared to the 63.1 percent who favored it three years ago.

The poll was conducted by Glengariff Group, Inc. and surveyed 1,000 voters between Jan. 24-27. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Other areas with a high increase in support were making medical decisions for a partner, inheriting possessions without a will, extending domestic partnership benefits to government and public university employees, and recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll also released today found that 37 percent believe gay and lesbian Texans should be able to marry, 28 percent answered they should have civil unions and 28 percent said they shouldn’t have either.

As for what they feel is the most important issue facing Texas, 0 percent answered gay marriage. Only 1 percent answered that gay marriage is the most important problem facing America today.

The results are close to a similar October 2012 poll that found 36 percent support marriage equality, 33 percent support civil unions and 25 percent don’t support either.

That poll questioned 1,200 respondents between Feb. 15-25, with a 3.3 percent margin or error.

A summary of the Equality Texas finding is below.

—  Anna Waugh

Gay binational Texas couples must choose between partner and country

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For the holidays, GetEQUAL and Out4Immigration have been telling stories of same-sex couples forced to choose between country and partner.

Several of those stories involve Texas couples.

Art, a U.S. citizen from San Antonio, and Stuart, a citizen of the U.K.. are an example of a couple struggling to stay together despite U.S. marriage and immigration laws.

GetEQUAL’s Heather Cronk wrote in a press release that for more than 36,000 binational same-sex couples, holidays are times of sadness and loneliness, as LGBT Americans are prohibited under the Defense of Marriage Act from sponsoring their same-sex partner for immigration purposes.

Despite the White House’s refusal to defend the law in court, Congressional Republicans have spent $1.5 million defending the law in 14 pending cases and hit the spending limit set forth with the approval of the Committee on House Administration.

After the jump, read the stories of Texas couples Art and Stuart and Sally and Tammy.

—  David Taffet

Struggling Youth First Texas forced to cut summer hours, issues call for donations

Staff writer David Taffet will have much more on Youth First Texas in Friday’s Voice, but frankly this situation sounds almost too grave to wait three days. YFT’s Board of Directors has issued a statement that hints the 10-year-old organization for LGBTQ youth is in somewhat dire financial straits. Read the full statement after the jump. To contribute to Youth First, go here

—  John Wright