Top 10: Dallasites helped fuel GetEQUAL

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SPEAKING UP | GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup of Dallas uses a megaphone to get his message across outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office last week during a protest of her vote against repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

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Dallas activists have played key roles in GetEQUAL, which has quickly become one of the most influential national LGBT direct action organizations since ACT-UP.

According to its website, GetEQUAL’s mission is “to empower the LGBTQ community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”

The group was founded on March 11 by Robin McGehee and Kip Williams — organizers of last year’s National Equality March — as an alternative to other groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Mark Reed-Walkup, a Dallas business owner who also helped organize the National Equality March, now serves on the board for

GetEQUAL, which gained nonprofit status in June. In May, Reed-Walkup became the third activist from Dallas to be arrested at demonstrations organized by GetEQUAL. He was arrested along with five others for chaining himself to the White House fence in a protest to demand a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

On March 18, Dallas activists Chastity Kirven and Michael Robinson had been arrested — Robinson in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Washington office and Kirven in Pelosi’s San Francisco office — during protests to demand a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

This same day, Lt. Dan Choi handcuffed himself to the White House fence in his first protest of DADT as part of GetEQUAL’s new direct action campaign. Choi was dischraged from the Army under DADT.

Local members of Get Equal also organized several actions in Dallas.

They held an ENDA rally outside the Dallas office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. They also protested outside ExxonMobil Corp.’s shareholders meeting at the Meyerson in June, and at Oak Lawn-area service stations.

Last week, Get EQUAL Texas held rallies outside Hutchison’s offices across the state to protest her vote against repealing DADT.
Reed said GetEQUAL is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and should  become more active in Texas in 2010.

— From staff reports

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

GetEQUAL to hold ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ protest outside Sen. Hutchison’s Dallas office next week

GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed of Dallas, far right, is shown chained to the White House fence prior to his arrest in May.

GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed of Dallas sends along word that the Texas chapter of the national LGBT direct action group will hold a “don’t ask, don’t tell” protest outside GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office next Tuesday, Dec. 21. As we reported this past Tuesday, Hutchison says she plans to vote against the standalone bill to repeal DADT because it “could negatively impact unit cohesion and overall troop readiness — especially during a time of war.” The bill, which passed the House today, is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate sometime next week.

The protest will be from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday outside Hutchison’s office at 10440 N. Central Expressway, Suite 1160 in Dallas. From the Facebook event page:

Tired of being relegated to second-class citizenship, Texan LGBT activists say “Enough is enough!” It’s time for Texans to fight back against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s hate-filled votes in Congress and tell her to vote YES on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Closeted Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) military servicemembers are forbidden to stand up and demand repeal for themselves, so we must be their voice…. Join us in a state wide rally as Veterans, allies and LGBT community members show our support to repeal this law.

Join GetEQUAL Texas in front of Kay Bailey’s Dallas office for a grassroots protest. Please consider scheduling an appointment to discuss DADT with Kay’s staffers during our around the protest time.

Not in Dallas? Check the GetEQUAL TX Facebook page for other participating Texas cities.

***GetEQUAL Texas is a local chapter of the national organization, committed to fearlessly and urgently pushing for LGBT equality throughout the Lone Star State.***

—  John Wright

Officials in Washington, D.C. declare e-marriage invalid

Reed-Walkup says he and his husband are exploring legal options, will withdraw complaint against DMN over announcement for now

John Wright  |  wright@dallasvoice.com

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday, Nov. 26 from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter stated that thecouple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage.

The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup said Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was taken away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

UPDATE: Gay Dallas couple considers legal action after D.C. court declares Skype wedding invalid

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C., Instant Tea confirmed Monday afternoon.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter, shown below, states that the couple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage. The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup told Instant Tea on Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was take away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

—  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

The demons have learned how to use Skype

In our view, a gay news story doesn’t officially become a big gay news story until the fundies get their panties sufficiently in a wad to respond. And by this standard, the Skype wedding of gay Dallas couple Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup is now officially big gay news. The right-wing website WorldNetDaily posted an article Tuesday in which it dismissed the couple’s wedding as a “stunt.” But here’s our favorite part:

A leading traditionalist Anglican layman, Tim Udd, a vestryman from Christ the King Anglican Church in Evanston, Ill., told WND homosexuals who try to marry are rejecting their human nature, and returning to the pagan values of the pre-Christian era.

“There is an element in the modern/postmodern psyche that seeks to refute/refuse the nature of things. G.K. Chesterton [a leading late 19th/early 20th Century Christian writer, 1874-1936] presciently notes that it is common to the worship of demons so prevalent in the ancient religions,” Udd said.

Udd added that “male and female together” is what the Bible means when it says that mankind is created in the “image of God.” A homosexual marriage, by contrast, is “expression of the essentially demonic will to power,” Udd said.

—  John Wright

Gay Dallas couple’s Skype wedding goes viral

Mark Reed, left, and Dante Walkup

We spoke briefly this afternoon with Mark Reed, before he had to hang up because of a conference call with producers from CNN, which is set to interview Reed and his husband, Dante Walkup, on Tuesday.

Our story last week about Reed and Walkup’s Skype wedding has gone viral, getting picked up by media outlets from The Washington Post to Time magazine.

Reed said CNN’s interview — itself conducted via Skype — will air at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday Dallas time.

“It’s gotten wild,” Reed said. “I really didn’t think it would go this far. It’s good because the more times you can put real faces on stories about couples who are in love, it changes hearts and minds. It’s exciting.”

Despite all the national attention, one media outlet that hasn’t picked up the story is The Dallas Morning News, which is also refusing to publish their wedding announcement, Reed noted. (More on this later.)

Reed and Walkup attended a symposium on e-marriage this weekend at Michigan State University’s School of Law, where experts are pushing for state statutes to bolster the legality of e-marriage.

“The law school’s trying to find one state to introduce legislation and get it passed, and they feel like Vermont would be the best choice,” Reed said, adding that openly gay Vermont State Rep. Bill Lippert was on hand for the symposium. “He came to the symposium skeptical, but once he heard our story, it really touched him and he got really excited about it.”

—  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

Groom-to-be Mark Reed of Dallas named to GetEQUAL’s new Board of Directors

Mark Reed, far right, is shown chained to the White House fence prior to his arrest in May. Reed, of Dallas, has been named to GetEQUAL’s Board of Directors.

Dallas activist Mark Reed has been named to the nine-member Board of Directors for GetEQUAL, the national LGBT direct action group.

Reed, who co-owns a lighting company on Oak Lawn Avenue with his partner, Dante Walkup, served on the executive steering committee for last year’s National Equality March. Since then, he’s participated in several GetEQUAL actions. In May Reed was arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

“I accepted a board member position with GetEQUAL because I strongly believe in their mission to inspire our community to rise up and demand full equality and social justice,” Reed told Instant Tea on Wednesday. “For too long we have been asked to be patient for our rights and that strategy has clearly not worked. As Cleve Jones has stated, ‘If we want to be equal, we have to act like we are.’ For me, that means refusing to be treated like a second-class citizen and holding leaders accountable who don’t believe the time is right for our freedom.

“I am very impressed with the talent of people recruited to join the provisional board and am looking forward to working with them to provide leadership and guidance to GetEQUAL. This position is for a six-month period and a decision to remain with the board will be determined at the end of my term.”

According to Reed’s bio on the GetEQUAL website, he and Walkup, who’ve been together for 1o years, plan to marry on Oct. 10, 2010.

—  John Wright

Does Congressman Pete Sessions agree with Rand Paul about the Civil Rights Act?

Gay activist Mark Reed of Dallas sent over a letter this morning he received from Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, in response to Reed’s apparent inquiry about Sessions’ position on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. As Reed notes, the second paragraph of the letter sure makes it sound like Sessions doesn’t think any minority should be protected from discrimination — at least not by the government:

“I believe all people should have the same rights accorded to them under the Constitution,” Sessions wrote. “No one person or group of people should have an advantage or preferential treatment before the law. It is important that our nation does not disintegrate into a society of separate groups defined by certain characteristics. Moreover, the federal government should not sanction these differences.”

I’ve posted Sessions’ full letter after the jump.

—  John Wright