Dallas protesters support trans students

The evening after President Trump issued an executive order allowing discrimination against transgender students in schools, about 150 people gathered in Belo Gardens across from the Earle Cabell  federal building to protest the order.

All of the speakers at the rally were transgender.

“We’re not going back in the closet,” Ethan Avanzino told the crowd. “We’re not going into the wrong restrooms.”

While Katie Sprinkle and Leslie McMurray were more political, Oliver Blumer and Mr. Black Trans Dallas just wanted the crowd to get to know them as people.

“I’m a man of trans experience,” Blumer told the crowd.

—  David Taffet

The View from D.C.: When the women marched ….

Headed to the march

Remember yesterday, when I posted those photos from the riots and the protests happening around D.C.? Remember that video from the balcony here, with the emergency vehicles and the sirens, and remember how I said it had been that way all day?


Well, that was yesterday. Today is a whole different story.

This morning, as my temporary roommates stirred, making breakfast and taking showers and getting dressed, I stood on the balcony and watched.

Early on, the streets were quiet, pretty still. But as I stood and watched, I begin to see them. Women mostly, but men, too, Coming out of apartments and hotels, out of side streets, converging into a tsunami of humanity rolling toward the halls of power here in Washington, D.C.

We left our apartment and joined the tide, headed toward the designated spot where the pre-march rally was to be held. We got, I think, maybe a mile away from that main stage before it became too crowded too really even walk.

I did get a glimpse of a Jumbotron showing scenes from the stage where speakers were gathered for the rally. But only a glimpse. I did hear America Ferrera speak, but I didn’t see her. Not even on the Jumbotron.

We turned to get out of the heaviest part of the crowd and maybe swing around to get there a different way, but that’s when I got separated from the group. And since cell service was non-existent, at least on my phone, I decided to just go it alone. We all knew how to get home, anyway.

So I wiggled my way out to the Mall, where the crowd was less dense, taking photos and watching people, listening to the chants. There was an ebb and flow, as strong and sometimes inescapable as the tides of the oceans themselves.

Unable to get to the actual location of the march, and unable to see or hear the speakers on the stage — like I said, we were probably a mile or so away — would start their own marches. Friends who had come to the event together would begin to chant as they made their way through the crowd. Others would join in, and the crowd would part to make way for them.

A large crowd — I’d say at least a couple hundred people — had gathered on the steps of the National Gallery of Art on Madison Drive, just on the north side of the Mall. And as they cheered and whistled, others staged their own march down Madison. Waving signs, they chanted and sang. For a minute, I thought that was the actual march.

There was even a group, each wearing coveralls decorated to look like brick walls, and led by a jazzy band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” They each represented, one woman explained to me, a brick in the wall we must build to keep out Trump’s hatefulness and divisiveness.

Eventually, I made my way to the Capitol Building, circling the large pool out front before finding Pennsylvania Avenue. I decided if I couldn’t get to the front to the march, then I would beat it to the White House.

Lots of other folks had the same idea. In the end, I never saw any of the many celebrities who were here today, and I only saw the throng of the “official” march across the expanse of the Ellipse in front of the White House.

But I was surrounded all day by the strength and the spirit of this Women’s March on D.C. There was anger and frustration, yes. But there was also determination, hope and a fierce kind of joy that seems to promise that while we may have suffered a setback, we can’t really be beaten.

And when I got back to the apartment and began to see the reports of the hundreds of people gathering for the sister marches back in Texas — in Dallas, in Fort Worth, in Austin — and around not just this country but the world, I felt that dark cloud that has haunted us since November start to lift.

Yesterday was a day of sirens here in D.C. Today though, there was a very different sound. You could hear it throughout the heart of the city, a muted thumping that grew into a roar. You could hear it start blocks and blocks away, the sound of thousands of voices yelling out, and it would move across the crowd — like in a sports stadium when the crowd does “the wave.”

“Here it comes,” a woman standing near me said one time. “Get ready.” And then she yelled. Everyone was yelling. Not in anger, but in determination. In hope.

I hope we keep that wave building, and the sounds of our voices joining together will sweep across this country. Don’t let the spirit of this day die.


—  Tammye Nash

The View from D.C.: One more video, an evening protest at 13th and M Street NW

—  Tammye Nash

Church halts funeral over photo of 2 women kissing

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 11.33.39 AM

This photo of protestors gathered outside New Hope Ministries on Tuesday was provided by protest organizer Jose Silva to ABC News

As we here at Dallas Voice are getting ready to publish on Friday, Jan. 16, the first of what is intended to become the annual Dallas Voice Lesbian Issue, we were horrified to come across this story about a Colorado lesbian whose funeral was halted midstream and forced to move to another location because of a homophobic pastor:

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Vanessa Collier

Friends of Vanessa Collier this week protested outside a Lakewood, Colo., church Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 13, after the pastor of New Hope Ministries church stopped their friend’s funeral on Jan. 10 because of a video showing Collier kissing her wife.

Collier, 33, died Dec. 30. She is survived by her wife, Christina Higley, and their two children, among other family members. Jessica Maestas, Collier’s cousin who helped Collier’s mother arrange the funeral, told ABC News that New Hope Ministries was aware that Collier was a lesbian because they told the church about her sexual orientation while they were making funeral arrangements. Maestas also said they told the church that they would be playing a video at the service, and that they had complied with the church’s rule that the video be submitted two days prior to the funeral so church officials could review it.

“I provided the video, and got the okay from the funeral home that we would be able to show it,” Maestas told ABC News.

But last Saturday, about 15 minutes into the funeral, New Hope Pastor Ray Chavez stopped the funeral and told family and friends they would have to remove a video that included photos of Collier kissing Higley, and photos of the two women together with their children. Irate mourners instead gathered up the flowers, the programs for the service and eventually Collier’s casket and moved to a new location. Fortunately, Newcomer Funeral Home, across the street from New Hope Ministries, was able to accommodate the funeral, although the crowd of about 180 had to pack into a room intended for about half that many.

Collier’s longtime friend Victoria Quintana told the Denver Post that the whole incident was “humiliating [and] devastating.”

The Post reported that about four dozen people gathered outside New Hope Ministries on Tuesday afternoon, waving signs saying “Shame on Pastor Ray” and demanding an apology for what happened, as security guards posted around the church made sure none of the protesters moved onto church property.

ABC News also notes that Collier’s relatives say they have received no refund on the money they paid New Hope Ministries to host the funeral.

Both ABC News and the Denver Post said that no one at New Hope Ministries would comment on the situation.

—  Tammye Nash

GetEQUAL TX plans Olympics protest, marriage equality rally this weekend

People flooded theCedar Springs Road in June for a Day of Decision rally after the Supreme Court marriage rulings. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

People flooded Cedar Springs Road in June for a Day of Decision rally after the Supreme Court marriage rulings. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, the protest in San Antonio has been postponed.

ORIGINAL POST: LGBT advocates plan to protest Coca-Cola at the company’s bottling plant in San Antonio on Friday, the opening day of the Winter Games in Sochi, and then rally to support marriage equality in Fort Worth on Saturday.

The protest, organized by GetEQUAL TX, urges Coca-Cola to expand its LGBT support from a national focus to a global one.

“As a sponsor of the Olympic,s Coca Cola has the chance to become a leader on global human rights forefront by demanding the International Olympic Commission refuse any future bid from countries that use the law to persecute LGBTQ people who simply wish to live with dignity,” GetEQUAL TX states in a press release.

Then on Saturday, Cowtown-area activists will gather at Avoca Coffee to protest the freedom to marry in Texas in support of a marriage lawsuit filed by a Plano and Austin couple in San Antonio federal court. A hearing for a temporary injunction to prohibit state officials from enforcing Texas’ marriage ban takes place Feb. 12.

Among the speakers on Saturday are Dallas couple Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who were arrested in their attempts to receive a marriage license in Dallas

“With a legal battle taking place in San Antonio, I could not help to think of the many civil rights that have been fought for in wars and completely forsaken,” protest organizer Damon Carver said. “After overturning DOMA, most of the nation celebrated good news, some couples who resorted to tourist weddings had great news. On this day we will be presumptuously toasting to celebrate our victories.”

“Defecting to another state for any freedom including marriage is anti-American, and will soon be anti-Texan,” he added.

Rally participants are encouraged to wear different styles of cowboy hats to the event since Texans are represented with cowboy hats. and the different styles represent the variety in the LGBT community.

The protest in San Antonio is 6 p.m. Friday at the bottling plant, located at 1 Coca-Cola Place.

The marriage rally is noon Saturday at Avoca Coffee, located at 1311 W. Magnolia Ave. in Fort Worth.

—  Dallasvoice

GetEQUAL TX to protest Rawlings for pulling pro-equality resolution


Mayor Mike Rawlings

LGBT activists plan to protest Mayor Mike Rawlings on Thursday morning after he said he planned to pull a resolution in support of LGBT job protections and marriage equality.

Regional GetEQUAL TX coordinator Daniel Cates said advocates will protest Rawlings’ appearance at Lakewood Country Club, 6430 Gaston Ave., from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It seems like we have a lot of work to do here,” Cates said.

Last January, after he declined to sign a pledge from the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, Rawlings skipped a neighborhood meeting to avoid a gay-rights protest.

Activists are also planning to communications bomb Jasso, who withdrew her support for the resolution and allowed Rawlings to pull it. They’re encouraging people to call her office, email and Facebook message her Thursday morning until Friday at 4 p.m. to demand why she withdrew her support.

Jasso’s assistant, Gary Sanchez, can be reached at 214-670-4052, and her secretary, Mariza Perez, can be reached at 214-670-4055.

—  Dallasvoice

Jury deliberates fate of homophobic reggae artist Buju Banton, who faces life in prison

The Associated Press is reporting that closing arguments have been given in the case of reggae singer Buju Banton’s drug case.

The 37-year-old Banton is accused of conspiring with two other men in setting up a drug deal in December of 2009. His album “Before the Dawn” won a Grammy for best reggae album this week, and he remains wildly popular in his native Jamaica.

A jury deadlocked in his first trial last year. If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to life in prison.

Every seat in the federal courtroom in Tampa was filled as the lawyers gave their closing arguments. Many of the seats were taken by Banton’s friends and fans, including well-known reggae artists Gramps Morgan and Wayne Wonder. During the lunch break, about a dozen supporters held hands and prayed for Banton in the court hallway.

“I’m fighting for my freedom,” said Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie. “I’m fighting for my life.”

Banton is notorious for his strongly homophobic songs calling for the torture and murder of gay men — or “batty boys” as they are known in his native Jamaica. He came to Dallas in 2009 on tour to face a protest at his concert at the Deep Ellum reggae venue The Palm Beach Club.

—  Rich Lopez

Arrests in Chi. Marriage Protest

CHICAGO SKYLINE X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMSix marriage equality activists were arrested Monday afternoon in Chicago.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

WBC, Smith Protest at Red State Premiere

KevinSmithx390 (Kevin Smith) | Advocate.comFew members of the Westboro Baptist Church appeared for a protest Sunday against Red State at the Sundance Film Festival, where director Kevin Smith declared that he would release the film himself rather than sell the rights to it.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

AZ Lawmakers Totally Harshing On Westboro Baptist’s Protest Of 9-Year-Old’s Funeral

Hoping to beat the Supreme Court in screwing with the Westboro Baptist Church's travel plans, lawmakers in Arizona are rushing through a bill that would prevent protests within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service, from an hour before to an hour after the event, effectively barring the Phelps clan from demonstrating at 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green's service on Monday. Green was among those killed during Saturday's Safeway shooting, and Westboro quickly announced plans to escort her body into the ground. That said, the bill will only make it a misdemeanor to show up within the safety zone, and I think Shirley Phelps would be willing to become a semi-martyr for a community service conviction.

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—  admin