GetEQUAL NOW to protest anti-gay Texas GOP platform at Republican event in Dallas next week

When I caught up with Michael Robinson this morning, he was on his way to perform 10 hours of community service stemming from his arrest a few months ago in San Francisco at a protest related to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Robinson was arrested in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an action organized by GetEQUAL. Since then, he and fellow local activist CD Kirven have split off from GetEQUAL and formed thier own group, GetEQUAL NOW, which is aimed at bringing more diversity to the LGBT equality movement. (Incidentally, Robinson said GetEQUAL leaders have demanded that the new group use a different name, but he has no plans to change it.)

I was calling Robinson because I noticed that GetEQUAL NOW is preparing to stage its first action, and it looks like they’ve picked a good one. According to the Facebook page, they’ll be protesting anti-gay language in the Texas GOP platform next week outside the Blue Mesa restaurant across from NorthPark Center.

As best I can tell, that’s where conservative radio host Mark Davis of WBAP will be speaking on immigration at a meeting of the Dallas Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

Robinson noted that the GOP platform also calls for anti-immigration legislation similar to the bill that recently passed in Arizona. And he noted that even GOP groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus have come out against the anti-gay language in the GOP platform.

Robinson acknowledged that the anti-gay language in the platform is not new, but he said it’s time to do something about it before GOP legislators decide to act on it.

“Somebody needs to get mad,” he said. “They need to change that platform. It’s ridiculous, it’s stupid and it’s hurtful.”

Robinson said while many LGBT people are aware of the anti-gay language, they’re passive about it and choose instead to complain about President Barack Obama.

“We’re going to make some noise on this one,” Robinson said. “This is crazy. We’re calling them out, and we’re serious, we’re not playing.”

Rob Schlein, presdient of Dallas Log Cabin Republicans, told me earlier today he won’t be participating in the protest. Log Cabin has been working to remove the anti-gay language from the platform for several years, and the group issued an official statement about the controversy over the platform earlier today. Asked whether he would attend the protest, Schlein said: “No. Our disagreement is focused on the anti-gay elements and the harsh language. This protest takes a more broader vision of opposition.”

Here’s Log Cabin’s full statement:

Recent attention has been given to the Republican Party of Texas and what many consider are the anti-gay planks in its 2010 Platform.  Although these planks are not new, the attention is.  From the Dallas Voice to bloggers all over the nation, Republicans are being painted as anti-gay and intolerant.

At the Texas Republican Party State Convention we warned our fellow delegates of the consequences of including extremist language in the party platform regarding gay and lesbian Texans.  For years, Log Cabin Republicans (a group representing gay, lesbian and like minded Republicans) has submitted resolutions to remove the extremist language at the precinct and state senatorial convention levels.  Emails were also sent to every member of the state platform committee imploring them to either remove the passages or reword them, and  Log Cabin Republicans Dallas offered suggested substitute language.  Those resolutions and emails were ignored by the Platform Committee at the state convention.

Language such as, “We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders”, and language equating gay parents with child molesters and abusive parents is obviously not supported by the majority of Texans, rank and file Republicans or even people of faith.

We are regularly contacted by activist Republicans and Republican groups expressing their concern about the appalling language included in this document.  Many gay and lesbian business owners and professionals that are natural allies of the GOP sit on the sidelines at a time when we need their help more than ever.  Young Republicans and young evangelicals are often embarrassed by the antiquated statements in the platform. Worse yet, a recent fundraising drive by a left leaning Washington D.C. gay rights organization highlighted the language from the Texas Party Platform in a letter to its well healed contributors.

The enemies of the Republican Party will do anything during this election to distract voters from the dangerous consequences of their explosive expansion of government and unsustainable deficits.  Republican fiscal and pro-free enterprise policies can save our country.  Now is not the time to be shooting ourselves in the foot simply to pacify passionate but wrongheaded elements of our own party.

The party platform is controlled by a handful of party activists.  We call on Republicans at all levels to publicly repudiate many of the extremist positions taken in the Texas Party Platform.  It is time for Republican office holders to stop pointing fingers while claiming to have “never read the state platform” and clearly state their agreement or disagreement with such foolish language.

We are happy this language is receiving wide exposure since we are certain it cannot survive the light of scrutiny. That said, we also believe the stakes are too high and Log Cabin Republicans is committed to working toward Republican victory despite the language in the platform.

—  John Wright

DADT update: Pelosi says she believes 'votes are there' for DADT repeal in House

Roll Call is reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the “votes are there” to pass an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that would repeal “don’t ask don’t tell.” The House will debate the Defense Authorization Act, as well as the amendment, this afternoon. You can watch the proceedings live by going here.

—  John Wright

Over 300 march in Austin to honor Harvey Milk

MilkDay.Austin

More than 300 people marched and rallied in Austin on Saturday to commemorate the first Harvey Milk Day, according to Dallas activist Chastity Kirven, who attended the event and sent over the above photo. Kirven was also among the presenters at a pre-march conference organized by Equality Across America. I’ve swiped a few more pics of the march from Facebook and posted them after the jump. The Austin event was one of dozens across the country honoring Milk, a one-time Dallas resident who would’ve turned 80 Saturday. At Equality California’s Milk Day event in San Francisco, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured attendees that “don’t ask don’t tell” will be “a memory come Christmas.” Watch video of Pelosi’s speech below.

—  John Wright

Pelosi vows votes on ENDA, DADT this year

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

We couldn’t squeeze it into this week’s print edition, but over on the main page we’ve posted an update from Lisa Keen on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Read it by going here.

—  John Wright

GetEQUAL plans ENDA picket today

Rally outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco office on Tuesday. (Rex Wockner)
Protesters gathered outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office on Tuesday. (Rex Wockner)

GetEQUAL plans an emergency picket on Capitol Hill at noon today to demand that Democratic leaders in Congress live up to their promise of holding votes this year on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. As we reported last week, time is running out for the legislation to be considered year. From GetEQUAL’s press release:

Legislative action on the bill has already fallen victim to numerous postponements surrounded by a lot of rhetoric, without any real action. The legislation has yet to be scheduled for a floor vote in either the House or the Senate and according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s legislative calendar, less than 45 full voting days remain before Congress adjourns for the mid-term elections nearly six months from now in November. Today’s GetEQUAL protest, to be held at the corner of Independence Ave. SE and 1st St SE (by the Library of Congress), is the latest in a series of actions the grassroots LGBT organization has taken this week to push for a vote to be scheduled now on ENDA.

“We’ve heard all we can stand to hear from leaders in Congress, they promised a vote this calendar year and we expect them to honor their word,” said Robin McGhee, co-founder of GetEQUAL. “As the window continues to slowly close on available legislative calendar dates to vote on ENDA in the House and in the Senate, we will continue to hold Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid accountable for the direct promise they made to the LGBT community. Our community has done the work to lobby and educate members of Congress on the need for a fully inclusive ENDA and now is the time to stop the talking and start the voting.”

This past Tuesday, GetEQUAL and other groups staged a rally outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office, shown above. They also reportedly plan a second rally at the same location today. For more on the status of both ENDA and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” see Friday’s Voice.

—  John Wright

Mayor Annise Parker makes Time's list of 'World's Most Influential People'

Annise Parker is #13 on most influential list
Annise Parker is No. 13, just behind Glenn Beck

Houston’s hot and sexy new mayor, Annise Parker, came in at No. 13 on the Time magazine list of “World’s Most Influential People.”

In the list of leaders, Parker ranks right after Fox broadcaster Glenn Beck but before Tidjane Thiam, a former politician from Cote d’Ivoire and current head of British insurer Prudential that is buying AIG’s Asian unit.

Really? People know who the head of Prudential in Great Britain is?

And Barack Obama? He’s only No. 4. Brazilian President Luis da Silva gets the top spot. J. T. Wang, president of Acer computers is No. 2 and Admiral Mike Mullen is No. 3.

Um, I think the President of the United States is more important than the president of the number two computer maker.

—  David Taffet

Obama to gay-rights protesters who disrupted his speech: 'I don't know why you're hollering'

Gay-rights activists demanding a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” twice interrupted President Barack Obama’s speech at a Los Angeles fundraiser for Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer on Monday night. The activists were from GetEQUAL, the same group that staged sit-ins at offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a month ago.

Shortly after Obama took the stage Monday, the activists began chanting things like, “What about ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’?” Obama halted his speech before saying, “I agree, I agree, I agree. What the young man was talking about was, we need to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ which I agree with, and which we have begun to do, but let me say this: When you”ve got an ally like Barbara Boxer, and you’ve got an ally like me who are fighting for the same thing, then I don’t know exactly why you’ve got to holler, because we already hear you. It would make more sense to holler that at the people who oppose it.”

A few minutes later, when the activists began chanting again, Obama said: “I’m sorry, do you want to come up here? Because can I just say once again, Barbara and I are supportive of repealing ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’ so I don’t know why you’re hollering.”

Obama then walked over to Boxer before returning to the podium. “I just wanted to confirm,” he said. “I just checked with Barbara, so if anybody else is thinking about starting a chant, Barbara didn’t even vote for ‘don’ t ask, don’t tell’ in the first place, so you know she’s going to be in favor of repealing ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’”

Watch video of the disruption by going here.

—  John Wright

Lt. Dan Choi speaks at Texas A&M

Get Equal member Lt. Dan Choi spoke at Texas A&M on April 8. In this video, he talks about the consequences of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Choi was arrested outside the White House in March after being handcuffed to the fence. That same day, the ENDA 4 were arrested in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The ENDA 4 case was settled last week with each getting six months probation. Choi’s trial is set for April 26.

—  David Taffet

DC arraignment for ENDA 4 today; local rally planned outside Hutchison's office

Chastity Kiven and others as they are led in handcuffs from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on March 18
Chastity Kiven and others as they are led in handcuffs from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on March 18.

The ENDA 4 will appear in a D.C. courtroom today for their arraignment. Dallas activist Chastity Kirven said that their attorney, former Attorney General for the District of Columbia Robert Spagnoletti, has worked out a plea agreement.

Kirven said that more than 200 supporters signed up to attend the hearing. Demonstrations supporting the ENDA 4 and their goal of getting the Employment Non-discrimination Act out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote will take place today across the country.

In Dallas, supporters will gather outside the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The rally will begin at 3:30 p.m. The office is located at 10440 N. Central Expressway in the hotels.com building (on the east side of Central Expressway between Meadow Rd. and Royal Lane).

When the rally ends at 5:15 p.m., Get Equal, the group sponsoring the demonstration, will gather at The Brick in Oak Lawn and get an update on the arraignment in D.C.

Kirven and three other activists were charged with illegal entry when they refused to leave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office after a scheduled meeting with her staff. The meeting was to encourage Pelosi to move ENDA out of committee and up for a vote.

UPDATE: 10:55 a.m. — From a report from National Equality March and Get Equal in Washington D.C.

The ENDA 4 pleaded NOT GUILTY to charges stemming from the March 18 meeting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. They have been sent to an immediate “status hearing” in the same courthouse. The judge has ordered them to stay away from the Capitol and related buildings.

Kirven told Dallas Voice yesterday that she expected to plead “no contest” and was told that her attorney had worked out a plea deal that would have included community service and six months probation. No word on what happened to the plea bargain.

Among those in attendance at the hearing was Lt. Dan Choi who has been charged separately. Earlier on that same day, he was handcuffed to the White House fence protesting “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

—  David Taffet

ENDA Four: Chastity Kirven speaking in Pelosi's office

Four people were arrested in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington D.C. on Thursday. Here, Dallas activist Chastity (C.D.) Kirven speaks and in the second video is arrested. The video is by Mark Reed, also of Dallas. The group, from the activist organization Get Equal, was demanding the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) be moved to the House floor for a vote.

See this Friday’s Dallas Voice for more information.

—  David Taffet