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

DPD investigator denies rumors that arrests are ‘imminent’ in gay Dallas woman’s disappearance

Lisa Stone
Lisa Stone

On Tuesday afternoon we reported that Lisa Stone’s friends believe arrests may be “imminent” in the six-month-old disappearance of the 52-year-old gay Dallas woman.

But Sgt. Eugene Reyes of the Dallas Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit told Instant Tea this morning that those rumors are simply untrue.

“I have no idea who we would be arresting and what we would be arresting them for,” Reyes said. “You blindsided me.”

Reyes said he had no new information about DPD’s investigation into Stone’s disappearance. He’s said previously that investigators believe foul play is “very likely.”

Reyes acknowledged that DPD recently contacted America’s Most Wanted, which posted a story about Stone’s disappearance on its website last week. Asked whether this indicates that authorities are desperate, Reyes said: “We’ve been desperate since day one. As soon as [Stone's longtime partner] Sherry [Henry] quit talking, what else is there? We have nothing to go on. It’s another way to generate publicity, keep it out there.”

Reyes added that the America’s Most Wanted story hasn’t generated any tips in the week since it was posted. He said investigators continue to believe that even if Henry wasn’t somehow involved in Stone’s disappearance, she knows something about it.

“Either Sherry is not telling anyone or if she did they’re not sharing that information,” Reyes said.

—  John Wright

Report: Gay Dallas couple’s Skype wedding declared invalid by District of Columbia

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

We’ve got a message in to Mark Reed-Walkup to try to confirm what we just read at TBD.com, which is reporting that Reed-Walkup’s recent Skype wedding has been declared invalid by the District of Columbia.

If you’ll remember, Reed-Walkup and his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, were married in October in a ceremony that was held in Dallas but officiated via Skype from D.C. Reed-Walkup told us previously that officials in D.C. had found nothing in the law that would prohibit such an e-marriage, but apparently they’ve change their minds. Amanda Hess reports at TBD.com:

On Oct. 10, Mark Reed and Dante Walkup made history by marrying in D.C. (where same-sex marriage is legal) at a ceremony in Texas (where it isn’t). The arrangement took some technological finesse: As Reed and Walkup exchanged vows in a Dallas hotel, D.C. marriage officiant Sheila Alexander-Reid oversaw the ceremony from the District, linking up with the couple online via Skype. The “e-marriage” inspired coverage in the Washington Post, CNN, and Time magazine. Now, it’s caught the attention of the D.C. marriage bureau.

“The D.C. marriage bureau kicked back the certificate we had filed,” Alexander-Reid told me today. Alexander-Reid says that she and the couple both received letters from D.C. Superior Court stating that it had determined the marriage license filed following the Skype ceremony to be invalid.

“The return is invalid because it has come to the attention of the court that the subject contracting parties to the marriage and you, the officiant, did not all personally participate in a marriage ceremony performed within the jurisdictional and territorial limits of the District of Columbia,” the letter reads. Alexander-Reid also received a fresh marriage license from the court. Alexander-Reid could use it to re-officiate a Reed-Walkup ceremony, should they choose to marry again in D.C., this time “with all parties . . . in physical attendance.”

UPDATE: Reed-Walkup reports via text message that he’ll call Instant Tea back as soon as he’s done with a CNN interview.

—  John Wright

Gay Dallas couple legally weds in Texas, aims to bring ‘e-marriage’ to the same-sex masses

Mark Reed, left, and Dante Walkup

John Wright  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Each year countless gay and lesbian couples travel from Texas to places where same-sex marriage is legal to tie the knot.

But Mark Reed hopes same-sex couples in Texas will soon be able to conveniently — and legally — marry without even leaving the state.

Reed, a board member for the national LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, recently married his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, at the W Dallas Victory hotel.

Their “Skype” wedding was officiated via teleconference from Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal, and they received their license in the mail a short time later.

It’s called “e-marriage,” and it’s a sort of high-tech version of the proxy wedding traditionally held when one of the parties can’t be physically present — because, for example, they’re in the military stationed overseas.

“The reason we wanted to do it this way is because we wanted to have a wedding here in Dallas with our family and friends,” Reed said. “It was very important that all of our family came. It was the first time they actually met, even though we’ve been together 10 years. If we had to go to D.C., there’s no way we could have had the people there who we wanted to be there.”

Reed and Walkup, co-owners of WDM Lighting on Oak Lawn Avenue, were married in a conference room at the W hotel on Oct. 10, in front of about 80 people with a 6-by-8-foot screen looming behind them.

The couple had rented a similar room at a W hotel in Washington, where marriage quality activist Sheila Alexander-Reid officiated the wedding.

“When we walked down the aisle, as soon as we reached the front, she comes on the screen like The Wizard of Oz,” Reed said. “It was beautiful. It wasn’t make-believe. It was like she was really there.”

Although Reed and Walkup were able to hold their ceremony in Dallas, they had to go to D.C. beforehand to register. And Reed said while D.C.’s marriage law has no provision against e-marriage, the validity of the procedure could theoretically be challenged in court.

That’s why the couple is now working with legal experts and legislators from states where same-sex marriage is legal to draft statutes that would solidify the practice. Reed and Walkup traveled this week to Michigan for a symposium on e-marriage.

While the couple has no intention of using their case to challenge Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage, Reed said they want to make it more convenient and less expensive for same-sex couples to legally wed.

Reed is also in the process of changing his surname in a Texas court, and he’s been fighting The Dallas Morning News — thus far unsuccessfully — to print their announcement in “Weddings” instead of in another section called “Commitments.”

“It’s like the more equal we can get through creative ways, we’re going to do it,” Reed said. “It’s just important to do anything we can to find creative ways around inequality.”

—  John Wright

The search continues

Police acknowledge foul play likely in disappearance of Lisa Stone; friends fighting to keep investigation alive

WATCH VIDEO OF LISA STONE’S FRIENDS TALKING ABOUT THE CASE

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

GARLAND — Dallas police for the first time this week publicly acknowledged that they believe foul play is likely in the disappearance of Lisa Stone, a 52-year-old lesbian who’s been missing for more than three months.

However, Sgt. Eugene Reyes of DPD’s special investigations unit said detectives won’t formally reclassify the case as a homicide until Stone’s remains are found, and he stopped short of identifying her longtime partner, Sherry Henry, as a suspect.

“Every time there’s a body found, we’re hoping it’s Lisa,” Reyes told Dallas Voice in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Sept. 14. “Not that we’re hoping she’s dead, but at least that will bring closure and get us closer to a suspect. It’s not like her to be out of touch this long. I think foul play is very likely, yes, because it’s out of her characteristics.”

Stone’s friends, who’ve long said they suspect foul play in her June disappearance, expressed frustration with DPD’s handling of the case and said they recently hired a private investigator. But Reyes insisted that investigators have tracked down every lead, including sending 70 officers to search a wooded area of Hunt County in July. Police also searched the home Stone shared with Henry and are awaiting results from forensic tests, Reyes said.

“I am just as frustrated as they are, but we’re bound by the Constitution, and there’s only certain things you can do without violating that, and if we violate them then what good is it if we go to court and everything gets thrown out?” Reyes said. “Whoever did this told someone. All we need is that someone to step up.”

Stone’s friends, many of whom have known her since they attended Mesquite High School together in the 1970s, have held several vigils outside her home on Truxillo Drive in Northeast Dallas. Their Facebook page, “Looking for Lisa Stone… help us find her!,” has almost 2,000 fans. They’ve also set up another website, www.ForTheLoveofLisa.webs.com, and rented a billboard in Garland.

Standing beneath the billboard at LBJ Freeway and Northwest Highway this week, two of Stone’s friends said that while they may be growing increasingly desperate, they’re not about to give up until they obtain both closure and justice.

“It’s very frustrating at this point to have brought all this evidence to the police, and now feel like we don’t know what’s going on,” said Lyndi Robinson, one of Stone’s gay friends. “That’s probably the most frustrating part of the whole thing, is we feel like nothing’s happening, so we’re to the point where we want to scream. I don’t know what we need to do. We need to raise a ruckus, because we want to know the answers.”

Tina Wiley, one of Stone’s straight friends, noted that a $10,000 reward is being offered through Crime Stoppers, and that another vigil is planned for Sunday evening, Sept. 19 at the site of the billboard.

“I know without a doubt she’d be doing the same thing for me, and I basically have no choice,” Wiley said. “I cannot go to sleep at night if I don’t feel like I’ve done everything I can, and I don’t feel like I will ever rest until I feel like I’ve done everything I can.”

Henry, Stone’s partner, isn’t cooperating with police or communicating with her friends. According to both Reyes and Stone’s friends, Henry has left the state and may be staying with relatives in Missouri.

Shortly after her disappearance, one of Stone’s friends witnessed Henry discarding some of Stone’s personal items in a Dumpster, including her birth certificate and the last effects of her late gay brother, Dennis. Henry has also filed a stalking complaint against Stone’s friends and threatened to sue them for harassment, they said.

Stone’s friends questioned why given that they were together for 17 years, Henry isn’t actively assisting in the search for Stone.

Police questioned Henry when they searched the home in July but released her later the same day. Henry couldn’t be reached for comment.

Robinson, who was close friends with Stone’s brother Dennis who died from AIDS in 1997, said she promised him before he passed away that she would look out for Lisa.

“Any one of us, especially in the gay community, could be the last of their family, and your friends are your family, and we’re here to say we’re not going away until we find you, Lisa, and we bring you home,” Robinson said.

Anyone with information about Stone’s disappearance should call Crime Stoppers at 877-373-8477.  Sunday’s vigil will be at 7 p.m. at the site of the billboard, 2010 Eastgate Drive in Garland. For more info, e-mail fortheloveoflisa@aol.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Letting the music speak

Despite a very public and nasty break up, Oscar-winning rocker Melissa Etheridge finds solace and confidence in her career

GREGG SHAPIRO  | Contributing Writer greggshapiro@aol.com
RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Melissa Etheridge
GUITAR HERO | Right now, Etheridge focuses on her music and new album, staying mum about her personal life.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE
McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane on the SMU
campus. Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. $55–$100. Ticketmaster.com.

Longtime Melissa Etheridge fans who miss the harder sound of her early years will find much to like on her new album, Fearless Love. Etheridge hasn’t rocked with this much   passion in years and it’s clear that she hasn’t forgotten how to do it.

Such rock-n-roll fury could be a way for her to be working out some personal issues, including the recent public ending of her relationship with longtime partner Tammy Lynn Michaels. Whatever it is, Etheridge is back in ass-kicking mode.

……………………………

Dallas Voice: Your new disc, Fearless Love, is co-produced by John Shanks who also produced your Breakdown album. What do you like about working with John? Etheridge: We played in my first band and we played together on the road for years and years and years before he became mister mega-producer. I know him like a brother. He can tell me anything and I can tell him anything. He knows, musically, what I’m about. I think he’s incredibly talented. It’s a perfect fit.

Is it hard to believe that it’s been more than 20 years since your self-titled major-label disc was released? Yeah! The passage of time has been kind of freaky. And feeling like I do in the entertainment industry now, looking back [I’m] going “Wow, it’s been over 20 years!” There’s a certain amount of, “Oh, I think I can relax. I’m still selling tickets. People are coming to see me.” It’s a good feeling and it’s also a “time flies” feeling.

You do some serious rocking out on songs such as “Miss California,” “Nervous,” “The Wanting of You,” “Drag Me Away,” “Indiana” and the title track. How did it feel to rock like that again? Oh, it feels so good, and it’s really reflected in the live show. I plug those songs in and then I do all the other songs around them. It’s like, “Whoa!” That’s a couple of hours of rock and roll right there. It feels really good; I like it.

You’ve been on tour in support of Fearless Love for a few months — are the new songs being received by your fans the way you want them to be? Even more so. I have to tell you, when I start “Indiana,” [it gets] a huge response. It’s really nice. And everybody’s singing along. That means so much, especially for the new material to reach people like that. That’s what you want.

“Miss California,” like “Tuesday Morning” from Lucky, “Scarecrow” from Breakdown and your Oscar-winning tune “I Need To Wake Up,” is an example of your political voice in your work. What does it mean to you to be able to combine your music with causes and issues about which you feel strongly? That’s been quite a journey for me. That started on my second record [Brave And Crazy] with the song “Testify,” which was an awakening of that part of me. Realizing that I have a voice and that I’ve been gifted with the ability to maybe make people think or do something socially through my music. I’m always very conscious when I do it. I never want to preach from my personal perspective.

Rock musicals have been dominating Broadway stages in recent years. Is there any chance that there is a Melissa Etheridge Broadway musical in the pipeline? I have been thinking about doing a Broadway show even before the rock musicals were in. When I saw that U2 was doing something and Green Day, I was like, “Aw, come on! I’m putting mine together!” But, no, it’s good. I’m glad that they’re doing it and they’ve been successful. Yes, I am actually in the process now. It’s very near to being written.

Did you do theater in high school, too? I did! Love theater. Of course, I’m gay! Theater!

Lilith Fair is going on and Lollapalooza is right around the bend. Have you considered organizing a music festival either of LGBT musicians or one in support of a cause that is near to you? Those thoughts pass by me. I tried to get something together Dinah Shore Weekend [but] it’s hard: It’s hard to find people who want to do it with you. It’s just hard, especially with the economy right now. I’m doing well and I’m very grateful. When people are feeling a little better, it’s might be something I’d be in to, but not right now.

You helped pave the way for artists such as Chely Wright (a fellow Kansan), Ricky Martin and Christian singer Jennifer Knapp to come out publicly this year. How do you feel about that? I love it, because coming out publicly when you are a public figure is such a personal choice. It’s a big thing and it’s [a] huge responsibility. To help and inspire and be a part of anybody’s experience in that, I’m honored. Because I know it’s the best thing to do for yourself because you can never feel your success all the way in to your bones if you don’t. You feel like you’re living a lie and it’s unhealthy.

Your break up with Michaels has been publicized across magazines and blogs. Do you think that the media has been fair in its coverage of you? There is no way that the press can be fair because they can never know everything. You basically are listening to one person and that’s the one person’s perspective. Because of that, I’ve chosen not to go into too much detail.

With all that’s been going on personally, how has the tour been for you? Is it a difficult endeavor or is it possibly therapeutic?  It’s a bunch of different things. For me, it is this great safe place. People come to a show and look for a good time and that gives me a wonderful feeling. And it is cathartic and therapeutic. Music has always been that for me. This  is what I have to do.  I do miss my kids when I don’t see them but I get back enough.

Would the album have been any different had it come out last week as opposed to before everything came out in the open? I wrote this album last year and so I can’t say it would have. Of course, it would have sounded different if I was writing after everything happened, but I wouldn’t have changed anything here and I wouldn’t have rescheduled its release because of it all. Music is the one thing I feel really confident in. It feeds me and it’s my work. Music I can do — everything else, maybe not so much.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas