Dallas County Commissioners issue LGBT Pride proclamation

Dallas County Pride
Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel read a Pride proclamation in honor of Pride month. Several leaders of the community were at Commissioners Court to accept the proclamation and thank commissioners for presenting it. Commissioner Mike Cantrell conveniently had a phone call that he had to take so couldn’t be present while there were gay people in the chamber.

Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, GEAR, Resource Center, Hope for Peace and Justice, Cathedral of Hope, Stonewall Democrats and Lambda Legal were represented at the presentation.

Pride Month Resolution:

BE IT REMEMBERED, at a regular meeting of the Commissioners Court of Dallas County, Texas, held on the 9th day of June, 2015, on a motion made by Dr. Theresa M. Daniel, Commissioner of District #1…the following Resolution was adopted:

WHEREAS, 46 years ago this month, on June 27, 1969, the New York City Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood patronized by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The Stonewall Riots that followed that bar raid marked the beginning of the modern LGBT movement that transformed the oppression of people into a catalyst for pride and action; and

WHEREAS, The Stonewall Riots are key to the development of the LGBT movement in not only the United States but also worldwide, and it also led to LGBT Pride Month, where governments and ordinary people alike mark the events of June 1969 while also committing to work for equal justice under the law for LGBT Americans; and

WHEREAS, Dallas County’s LGBT community from youth to senior citizens has the right to feel safe, not be discriminated against and not live with the threat of harassment and persecution; and

WHEREAS, Dallas County leadership and staff have committed to make a LGBT-welcoming county by establishing a Dallas County Sheriff’s Department LGBT liaison, by establishing a LGBT task force in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, by ratifying a fully-inclusive employee nondiscrimination policy, and establishing both equal employment partner health benefits as well as family leave. Dallas County remains the first and only county in Texas to have an employee policy health benefits and equivalent family leave in place; and

WHEREAS, Even after an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage later this month, there is more work to be done to make sure that equality for all means all aspects of the LGBT community, and Dallas County wishes to be a leader in this quest; and

WHEREAS, The LGBT community has made great strides, however equality, inclusion and acceptance are not yet fully achieved. These values are fundamental to our county’s founding governing principles and are values that we all must practice and teach to future generations.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Dallas County Commissioners Court does hereby proclaim the month of June 2015 as LGBT Pride Month.

DONE IN OPEN COURT this the 9th day of June, 2015.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Dallas County approves domestic partner insurance benefits

Derrick Spillman with DFW Pride Movement addresses the Dallas County Commissioners Court on Oct. 30, 2012. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The gay and straight domestic partners of Dallas County employees will soon be eligible for a $300 monthly subsidy from the county to help pay for health insurance.

The County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 along party lines Tuesday morning to offer the subsidy to employees who have same- or opposite-sex domestic partners who do not have insurance through other means. The subsidy will be equal to the amount the county contributes to an employee’s health insurance.

County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Commissioners Dr. Elba Garcia and John Wiley Price, who comprise the court’s Democratic majority, voted in favor of offering the domestic partner subsidy. Republican Commissioners Mike Cantrell and Maurine Dickey voted against it.

Commissioners made comments before several speakers addressed the court on the issue.

Dickey said the court shouldn’t fund a special group outside of the Public Employee Benefits Cooperative because its members didn’t approve it.

Jenkins and Garcia, who spearheaded the initiative, had initially hoped to offer domestic partner benefits through the PEBC, a multi-county partner agency, but other members — including Denton and Tarrant counties — would not allow it.

Dickey said approving benefits for domestic partners would lead to funding other special groups, such as obese people, smokers or people that have blue Pontiacs.

“We must stay within the realm of our group, of our PEBC, in order to offer our employees the best possible and lowest possible health insurance,” she said.

—  Dallasvoice

Republican commissioners speak out against domestic partner benefits

LGBT activist C.d. Kirven addresses the Dallas County Commissioners Court about the importance of offering domestic partner benefits Tuesday morning. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The two Republican members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court said they oppose a plan to offer domestic partner benefits to county employees on Tuesday, citing the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

After the Commissioners Court was briefed on the plan, several speakers highlighted the issue of equality and the county’s need to be competitive to recruit and retain quality employees. The speakers were Cece Cox with Resource Center Dallas, Omar Narvaez with Lambda Legal, Travis Gasper with Equality Texas and C.d. Kirven with GetEQUAL TX.

Republican Commissioner Mike Cantrell then read a statement into the record, calling the plan part of a political agenda. He said the county should not offer the benefits because the federal and state government don’t recognize domestic partners.

“The county is an arm of the state government and as an elected official, my duties are bound to conform with legislation that dictates and defines what determines a legal union,” he said.

—  Dallasvoice

Top 10: County, DISD, FWISD added trans protections


STRIKING A POSE | LGBT activists celebrate outside the Dallas County Administration Building in April, after the Commissioners Court voted to add transgender protections to the county’s employment nondiscrimination policy. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

No. 6

Although transgender rights continue to be the last frontier in the ongoing battle for LGBT equality, the trans community made significant progress in North Texas in 2011.

The all-too-familiar scenario of transgender being left out of laws protecting lesbians and gays played out in March when the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted in favor of adding sexual orientation — but not gender identity and  expression — to the nondiscrimination policy covering the county’s roughly 7,000 employees.

County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, two Democrats who spearheaded the addition of sexual orientation to the policy, said they had not been aware of the distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

But after Dallas Voice reported on the oversight, LGBT advocates went back to the court to insist that commissioners correct the omission.

Republican Commissioner Maureen Dickey added insult to injury during an April Commissioners Court meeting when she not only announced she would vote against trans protections, but also compared being transgender to being overweight.

But on April 26 — after activists spoke at several consecutive meetings in an effort coordinated by Resource Center Dallas — the court voted 3-2 along party lines to add trans protections. Jenkins, Garcia and Commissioner John Wiley Price voted in favor of trans protections, while Dickey and fellow Republican Mike Cantrell voted against them.

Dallas County is the only county in the state with a trans-inclusive employment nondiscrimination policy — and momentum from the decision appeared to spread as the year went forward.

In late June, the Fort Worth school board added gender identity and expression to the district’s anti-bullying policy. And in early August, shortly before the start of a new school year, came news that the Dallas school board would consider a series of policy changes intended to protect transgender students, faculty and other employees from discrimination and harassment. The vote to add the protections came on Aug. 25.

The wave of transgender victories hit a small snag in November, when the Dallas County Community College District initially refused to add trans protections, insisting that the district’s protections based on sexual orientation covered trans people. But after another effort coordinated by the Resource Center, DCCCD President Wright Lassiter announced in November that an amendment to the district’s nondiscrimination policy to specifically protect transgender people is on the agenda for the board’s January meeting.

— Tammye Nash

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


—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Dallas County adds trans protections

LGBT advocates who attended Tuesday’s Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting gather on the steps of the administration building after the vote.

After listening to more than 30 minutes of public comments in favor of the proposal, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 along party lines Tuesday to add transgender protections to the county’s employment nondiscrimination policy.

About a dozen people from the LGBT community addressed the Commissioners Court prior to the vote, which came five weeks after the court voted unanimously to add sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression to the policy covering the county’s 7,000 workers. Despite rumors over the last few days, no one spoke against the proposal.

Commissioner John Wiley Price provided the third and decisive vote in favor of transgender protections, joining fellow Democrats County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia. Republican Commissioners Maurine Dickey and Mike Cantrell voted against the transgender protections. (Watch video of the court’s discussion below.)

LGBT advocates who attended Tuesday’s meeting erupted in applause after the dramatic vote, and they gathered on the steps of the county administration building for an impromptu celebration moments later.

“The community’s participation is what made this happen — the letters, the phone calls, the people who showed up here,” said Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell, who coordinated the community’s advocacy on the issue. “The fact that this was done in five weeks is what really surprises me. Five weeks is the blink of an eye in government time.”

—  John Wright