Is DMN trying to intimidate gay couple into dropping their discrimination complaint?

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

Looks like The Dallas Morning News is going to considerable lengths to defend its ban on same-sex wedding announcements.

Mark Reed-Walkup, who’s filed a discrimination complaint against the newspaper for refusing to publish his paid same-sex wedding ad, sent over a copy of the legal response he received via certified letter last week from the DMN’s attorneys, Jackson Walker LLP. (Download a copy of the the legal document here and the letter here.)

In the DMN’s response, or “Original Answer to Complainant Mark Reed-Walkup’s Original Complaint,” Paul Watler of Jackson Walker LLP argues that wedding announcements don’t qualify as a public accommodation under the city of Dallas’ ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Watler also argues that Reed-Walkup and his husband, Dante Walkup, aren’t legally married in Texas, and that any effort by the city to prosecute The DMN would violate the newspaper’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press.

Reed-Walkup said he was shocked to receive the letter.

“My first reaction was, I thought we were getting sued,” Reed-Walkup said. “I thought it was very intimidating that we would receive a response from the law firm, and that they were not following the process set up by the Fair Housing Office.

“The maximum fine, worst-case scenario, if this did get prosecuted, is only $500,” Reed-Walkup said, adding that the newspaper likely has already spent more than that in attorney’s fees. “It’s not like a lawsuit where we’re trying to go after them to recover financially for the discrimination we feel we’ve experienced. It’s just trying to get them to the table. The whole spirit of the public accommodations law is to try to work it out between the two parties without getting attorneys involved.”

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

GAIN holding monthly meeting

GAIN, the GLBT aging interest network that is a program of Resource Center Dallas, will meet Thursday, April 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Resource Center, 2701 Reagan.
Educator, public speaker and writer Deneen Robinson, BSW, will present the program on Alzheimer’s and dementia in the aging LGBT community.
Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

Students seeks study participants

Cindy Chwalik, a clinical psychology student at Walden University who is interning with Youth First Texas, is looking for natal females (those who were born biologically female) who were born in the South and came out as lesbians while living in the South to participate in a research project she is conducting. She is particularly looking for women born in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

Participation involves a 60-to-90-minute interview. Chwalik said there is no compensation for participating, but the information will help those who come out in the future.
Contact her via email at cindychwalik @aol.com.

TDWCC to hear from candidates

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County will hold their next general meeting Monday, April 25, at 6:45 p.m. at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. in Frisco, Founders Hall, Shawnee Room F148.

The program will feature a forum of candidates in the upcoming non-partisan municipal elections. Confirmed thus far from Plano are Judy Drotman, campaign manager for City Council Place 3 candidate Andre Davidson; City Council Place 5 candidate Matt Lagos; City Council Place 5 candidate Jim Duggan, and City Council Place 7 candidate Pat Gallagher.

Candidates in the Frisco elections who have confirmed so far are Mayor Maher Maso, City Council Place 5 candidate Bart Crowder, and Frisco ISD candidated Anne McCausland and Dody Brigadier.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

The Kids Are All Right (Meeting Their Sperm Donor)

SpermDonorx390 (Screengrab) | Advocate.comTwo new studies published by the journal Human Reproduction find that a
majority of sperm donors who contact their biological children have
positive interactions.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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POST-HEARINGS: White House Holds Meeting With DADT Repeal Groups

Following today’s conclusion of the Joint Chiefs’ testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the White House hosted an off-the-record meeting with members of various DADT pro-repeal groups. Chris Geidner reports at Metro Weekly that today’s was the largest of several such recent meetings.

Two people who attended the meeting but asked to remain anonymous because of the off-the-record nature of the meeting told Metro Weekly that those organizations that were represented included Center for American Progress, Human Rights Campaign, Log Cabin Republicans, National Black Justice Coalition, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, OutServe, People for the American Way, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, Stonewall Democrats and Third Way. [Politico's Josh Gerstein, who first reported the news, also reported that representatives from OutServe and the Palm Center attended the meeting, a fact confimed to Metro Weekly by a third attendee.] As such, it would make it the largest of several such White House meetings held about DADT repeal this year. The two attendees of the meeting said that the White House was represented at the meeting by Christopher Kang, White House legislative affairs; Christina Tchen, director of the public engagement office; Brian Bond, deputy director of public engagement; and representatives from the Domestic Policy Council and White House Counsel’s Office.

According to Metro Weekly, White House representatives expressed optimism that a Senate vote on DADT will take place before the end of the year. One attendee reported that the meeting did not feel like pandering: “I know it wasn’t. I’ve been mollified before, and this wasn’t mollification.”

Read Chris Geidner’s full report.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee discusses her meeting at the White House

Yesterday, we put up a post from GetEQUAL’s Founder and Co-Director Robin McGehee titled, “Back to the White House — to walk through the gates.” Yes, Robin, who got arrested in front of the White House on Monday, had a meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Robin and Heather Cronk met with Brian Bond, who serves as Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement.

It’s been quite a week for Robin and GetEQUAL. Today, I talked to Robin about her visit to the White House, including how it evolved and what happened when she got there. As you’ll see, Robin’s post on AMERICAblog Gay played a role in the meeting. Unlike many of the meetings at the White House, this one was on-the-record. Robin wouldn’t have it any other way.

The interview is in two parts:




AMERICAblog Gay

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GetEQUAL strikes again with protest at White House’s Common Purpose meeting

UPDATE @ 11:01 PM Here’s the video of the group going after White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, the man who claimed only a few months ago that DADT would be repealed this year.  How’s that plan going, Jim?

UPDATE @ 8:14 PM via email from GetEQUAL. It was quite a protest:

David Smith, Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the Human Rights Campaign, Winnie Stachelberg, Sr. VP for External Affairs for CAP; Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, were greeted tonight by the protestors and asked to stand with the LGBT community and not attend the meeting. All three of them chose instead to cross the protest line and enter into the hotel. Smith refused saying, “I’m running late”.

Also, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina was greeted tonight by protestors who chanted to him “Obama, What’s Your Plan?” and “Keep Your Promise!

Here’s a photo of Justin Elzie, Rob Smith and Scott Wooledge at the protest:

______________________
On Tuesday nights here in DC, there’s usually a gathering of White House staffers, often led by Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, with leaders of progressive organizations. The meeting is called “Common Purpose,” but is better known as the “veal pen” — a term coined by Jane Hamsher. Basically, the White House gives the groups their marching orders — and most of the groups have done as instructed. We can see how well that’s worked.

Among those attending the meeting tonight are CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg and HRC’s V.P. David Smith. Rea Carey from the Task Force is there, too. (UPDATE: Just learned Messina was there.)

Tonight, the Common Purpose attendees were met by representatives from GetEQUAL, including seven of the DADT protesters who were arrested yesterday for handcuffing themselves to the White House fence. They decided to directly address the progressive leaders, because as the sign notes, “There’s no common purpose without equality.”

From GetEQUAL’s press release:

This evening, seven of the original 13 LGBT veterans and advocates who were arrested yesterday at the White House fence, stood outside of the Capitol Hilton (1001 16th Street NW) to protest the White House’s “Common Purpose” meeting, a mostly secret, low-profile gathering of White House officials and institutional, progressive organizations aimed at controlling the agenda and messaging around those issues, which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. The invite-only meeting, first launched back in 2009 by White House Chief of Staff Rahmn Emanuel, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and others, has been previously criticized by liberal, progressive bloggers and advocates for its attempt to shut-down any resistance to the White House’s strategy by instilling fear of retribution amongst the organizations invited.

Here’s the quote from GetEQUAL’s Heather Cronk via Politico:

“The White House’s Common Purpose meeting is the primary way that progressive ideas and values supported by a majority of Americans are being upended and compromised,” said Cronk in an email to POLITICO. “We are calling on the progressive groups attending these meetings to shake free the yoke of White House staff who are refusing to push forward the progressive ideals that President Obama campaigned on.”

Here are the messages the will greet the Common Purpose attendees tonight. I’ll post more about the protest when I get more details:







AMERICAblog Gay

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Meeting with Indiana Veterans Who Support Repeal

This weekend, with all of the events honoring our nation’s veterans, we were out in full force, urging people to tell Senator Lugar to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and honor all of our veterans. In addition to language that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” this bill includes important provisions that would give pay raises to our military and support for wounded veterans, allow for new equipment for National Guard and Reserve units and much more.

This weekend, we spoke to vets at the Veterans’ Day Parade and at the Veterans’ Appreciation Day Fair at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Lawrenceville, Indiana. We met vets from every war and each was supportive of making sure that repeal happens this year.

Make sure that you contact your senators and urge them to vote for the NDAA in this lame-duck session of Congress.

If you’re in the Indianapolis area and want to get involved repealing this failed law, contact me at Adrian.Matanza@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Michigan: openly gay student defends teacher at school board meeting (video)

Ann Arbor student Graeme Taylor stood up at a school board meeting in support of his teacher, Jay McDowell, who had disciplined two students for making anti-gay remarks in class. McDowell, in turn was disciplined on October 20 for that action, which spurred 14-year-old Taylor to speak out publicly. Via Towleroad:

During his speech in support of his teacher, Taylor revealed his problems with bullying and a suicide attempt at the age of 9.


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Watch: Young Gay Student Defends Teacher At School Board Meeting

Taylor
We all have teachers that make a lasting impression on us. It appears as if young Ann Arbor student Graeme Taylor has already found his.

The 14-year-old, who is openly gay, bravely stood up for his teacher, Jay McDowell at a recent school board meeting. McDowell was disciplined on October 20 for removing two students who had made anti-gay remarks in class. During his speech in support of his teacher, Taylor revealed his problems with bullying and a suicide attempt at the age of 9.

Watch young Taylor's very mature and highly inspiring speech, AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin