‘March On’ captures audience award at AGLIFF

Dallas activist Laura McFerrin’s documentary about the 2009 National Equality March, “March On,” was named Audience Favorite at the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival over the weekend. McFerrin said in an e-mail Tuesday morning that the film’s world premiere was a success and that everyone featured in the documentary came to Austin for the event (photo above). A big congrats to Laura. For more info about “March On,” go here.

—  John Wright

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

'March On' trailer released

Here’s the first trailer for “March On,” a documentary about last year’s National Equality March that’s being directed by Dallas activist Laura McFerrin. No word on when the film itself will be released, but the trailer also features another Dallas activist, Elizabeth Pax. For more info about “March On,” go here.

—  John Wright

When sports and gay rights collide – in a good way

On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints face off in Super Bowl XLIV. I’ll be rooting for the Saints, mainly because New Orleans is one of my all-time favorite cities and I have always liked the Saints. But now I have another reason – Scott Fujita.

Fujita is a white man with a Japanese name, a man who says he has no Japanese blood but does have a Japanese heart. He’s a straight man, married and the father of twin daughters. He’s a big, tough, manly-man linebacker with a championship football team. He is an an out, proud and vocal supporter of gay rights.

Last fall, Sirius Radio correspondent and sports journalist Dave Zirin started sending out e-mails to sports stars, asking them if they would speak out in support of gay rights and the National Equality March. Even the ones that Zirin knew supported gay rights said no. Until he asked Fujita.

Fujita said he sees his celebrity and the Saints’ championship season as “this small moment in time where you have a platform to do some good things.”

He said: “People asked me a question and I gave my opinion. People say, ‘That’s so courageous of you.’ To me, it’s not that courageous to have an opinion, especially if you wholeheartedly think it’s the right thing. For me, standing up for equal rights is the right thing to do.’’

Read the whole story here at Boston.Com.

—  admin

QL's Wilkinson, Vanderslice get in Mark Reed's face during last night's rally on Cedar Springs

I’ll have more on last night’s rally on Cedar Springs in tomorrow’s Voice, but for now I wanted to share this video of Queer LiberAction’s Blake Wilkinson and Rick Vanderslice confronting National Equality March organizer Mark Reed and his partner, Dante Walkup, during the rally. Wilkinson is apparently still smarting about Reed’s decision to cancel a plane ticket he’d given Wilkinson to attend the march over comments criticizing the event that were posted on QL’s Web site. During the confrontation, Wilkinson and Vanderslice get in Reed’s face and call him  a “piece of shit”  and a “slimy motherfucker.” Reed responds by calling Wilkinson “a fuckin’ liar.” I was paying attention to the rally and missed the whole thing, but Laura McFerrin captured it all on video and passed it along this morning. It’s definitely worth three minutes of your time.

—  John Wright

Pic of the day: Organizer Mark Reed is glowing about this weekend's National Equality March

reed.mark

I snapped this rather psychedelic photo yesterday of National Equality March organizer Mark Reed inside the studio for his lighting company, Wiedemark, on Oak Lawn Avenue. Reed is holding a megaphone autographed by Cleve Jones during Jones’ recent visit to Dallas. For a preview of this weekend’s march, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  John Wright

Dallas featured in Equality March video

Local activist Laura McFerrin, historian for this coming weekend’s National Equality March in Washington, put together the above promotional video currently featured on the march’s official blog. The video, called “Will You March With Us in Washington?”,  includes numerous images from Dallas over the last year, from rallies outside First Baptist Church in November 2008 to Cleve Jones’ recent appearance at Gay Pride. But I gotta warn you: Watching the video may result in having “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

—  John Wright

NEM organizer Mark Reed cancels plane ticket he'd given to QL founder Blake Wilkinson

reed.mark copy

National Equality March executive committee member Mark Reed (shown above), a successful Dallas business owner, says he’s given away about 12 airline vouchers so that others from the local LGBT community can attend the event Oct. 10 and 11 in Washington, D.C. One of those airline vouchers had gone to Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction. But according to e-mails I received today from both Reed and Wilkinson, Reed has canceled Wilkinson’s voucher over comments critical of the march that were posted on QL’s Web site. QL, along with the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago, has been trying to organize a protest outside the White House during the first day of the march. According to a “Call for a pro-LGBT picket of the White House” on the front page of the QL site:

“The organizers of the Sunday, October 11th March on Washington have placed almost their entire focus on Congress (which will be out of town) and almost none on the President. Indeed, rather than making demands of the President, the official march Web site goes out of its way to praise ‘Obama’s Mobile Messaging Team (for) Donating Services To The National Equality March!’

“By targeting congressional districts and lobbying Congress in an effort to win legal equality, the organizers’ strategy looks suspiciously like a drive to elect and re-elect Democrats in the 2010 bi-elections, rather than make uncompromising demands on this President and his Congress.”

Here are portions of an e-mail Reed sent to Wilkinson yesterday in response to the above comments:

“I am canceling your free ticket to Washington and informing you in time so you can still make affordable plans.

“Although I was tempted to wait [until] one day before the march, that is not my style … and [would be] fostered out of anger that unlike you, I have learned how to control.”

In response to the first paragraph from the QL Web site above, Reed wrote, “LIE. We didn’t praise Obama with this message. We were pointing the credibility of the group that has volunteered for this effort.” In response to the second paragraph, Reed wrote, “LIE. You obviously haven’t read anything about our strategy and I do not have time to explain it to you.” Reed then goes on to say:

“As someone that has been working extremely hard to help promote the march, I am very disappointed that you have not done jack shit to help. Instead, you are posting lies on your Web site and Facebook page about the organizers of this event.

“Dante & I have tried to be a support to you and your efforts. No more. We are now starting to believe what many of your enemies have written about you. So sad.”

And here’s Wilkinson’s response to Reed:

“I find it interesting that you’re canceling my ticket because of a difference of political opinion. What it boils down to is it my way or the highway, literally. I’m so disappointed with you and Dante. I would have thought that you would have tried to understand where we are coming from with QL. I have tried over the months, but I guess I have failed.

“As I said on the phone, and have said a million times over, if there is misinformation or differences of opinion I’m always happy to meet. I offered to meet your co-organizer to go over this stuff but she preferred to send me an email with corrected information. Yours is the only e-mail I have received.

“If you don’t like dialog or criticism then get out of politics. Just because you have gotten inspired to do something, which is great, it’s disappointing that because we disagree you’re using the only thing you have to try to squelch the fire, money. I, we, can’t be bought.

“So, as always, the phone is always on and I’m happy to meet. I’ll be eagerly waiting for your call and you and Dante’s generous support once again.”

—  John Wright

Six local youth headed to National Equality March, thanks to chamber dinner attendees

Youth

Last night during the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s Pride Dinner at the Warwick Melrose Hotel, keynote speaker Cleve Jones issued a challenge: If you can’t make it to the National Equality March in October, send someone in your place.

Shortly after Jones concluded his remarks, six chamber members and/or Pride dinner attendees responded, with each agreeing to pay for one of the local LGBT youth on hand to go to Washington. The six beneficiaries from Youth First Texas, shown after the dinner, are Will Mason, Chris Lopez, Victor Rodriguez, Steven Richmond, John McKnight and Hai Duong. They are pictured along with chamber member Jay Forte, far right.

Sending the youth to D.C. reportedly was the idea of longtime lesbian activists Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong, who conceived it during the dinner and will be sponsoring one of the youth. Afterward, Young noted that many of Dallas’ pioneering activists, including Bill Nelson and Don Baker, attended the first gay-rights march on Washington in 1979.

“I think it’s so important for the next generation of activists to have some of the experiences that have sustained us,” Young said. “These things [marches] are very energizing.”

UPDATE: According to Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda, the others who agreed to send a youth to D.C. were Cordey Lash, Derrick Brown, Mark Reed (2) and Jonathan Palant.

—  John Wright