Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead this week announced that Officer Kellie Whitehead, at left, has been named the department’s new LGBT community liaison officer. She replaces former liaison Officer Sara Straten, who was assigned to the position in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid in 2009 and who left the position to return to patrol.
Whitehead has been with the FWPD since 1999and has spent the last six years as a neighborhood police officer in the department’s South Division.
In a written statement released late Wednesday, Sept. 28, Halstead said: “This position has been very successful for our department and for our city. At the time we introduced this position, there were challenges in many parts of our community and relationships were broken. When Sara Straten volunteered to be transferred to the Chief’s office and assume this role, she had no idea how important her job would be for the future of our department. Kellie will continue in the service-based legacy that Sara started. The strength of our profession is that we are made up of thousands of different personalities. We are so proud of what Sara accomplished in her position and we are excited what a new set of eyes will bring as well.”
Watch Dallas Voice next Friday, Oct. 7, for a complete profile on Officer Whitehead.
Earlier today, I got an e-mail from Pastor Curtis Smith with Trinity Metropolitan Community Church in Arlington, saying that a group calling itself “Believers Stand United” had been circulating an e-mail urging all the God-fearing Christians in the Metroplex to head over to Cowtown tonight for the Fort Worth City Council meeting to speak out against an impending “major move by the city to promote and implement a homosexual/transgender agenda in the city.”
The e-mail talked about the 20 recommendations made by the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid last June, and warned that the city manager “has started implementation of these without public discussion.”
(Just for the record, most of the items on the list required no action by the City Council. The only one that did that has been implemented was the amendment of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include protections for transgender people, and that happened after a marathon council session last year during which PLENTY of people had the chance to speak against it.)
The-email said: “All of these recommendations would be funded by your dollars as a taxpayer in Fort Worth and would give this group of citizens’ special status and privileges.” Hmm. We haven’t heard that “special privileges” argument before, have we?
The e-mail continued:
“Several churches and ministries are planning to attend the Fort Worth City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 13. The purpose of this meeting is two fold. First, to have the Christian community’s voice heard with regards to the cities plans to promote the homosexual lifestyle with taxpayer dollars. Second, to show support for our Police Department and to those officers who serve the city.
“We would like your involvement and participation in this meeting. Invite and bring as many people as you can to the city council meeting. Several pastors and ministers form the community as well from our ministry will be addressing the city council. The city council meeting starts at 7pm, but I would encourage you to get there early to ensure a seat. Click Here for directions to City Hall.
“There is a move in this country to redefine marriage. We as believers need to stand up in love and have our voices heard on this issue. Numbers matter; even if you do not live in Fort Worth your presence at this meeting will have a profound affect. Again, the meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July13 at 7pm in City Hall – 1000 Throckmorton St, Fort Worth 76102. Thank you for taking action. God loves everyone, and so do we.”
(Don’t you just love that last part: “God loves everyone, and so do we”? Oh yeah, these folks are just oozing love for the homosexuals and transgenders, aren’t they?)
Well, Pastor Smith was encouraging the LGBT community and our supporters to turn out for the meeting, too, to try and counteract all that love. And the folks over at Fairness Fort Worth — who said the group planning to attend the meeting are an offshoot of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries, led by Kenneth’s son John — are also stepping up to the plate to make sure the anti-gay agenda doesn’t get a free pass.
Here’s the statement from Fairness Fort Worth:
“To our GLBT Community and Supporters,
“Over the last 48 hours you may have heard that an off-shoot of Kenneth Copeland Ministries plans to attend tonight’s Fort Worth City Council meeting to protest issues important to us. Many have asked if we should create a large turnout as we did this time last year. Fairness Fort Worth recommends that we save that for a more productive day.
“Here’s why. Citizen presentations occur at the tail-end of the meeting. While last year the mayor moved these up due to an urgent issue — this time around there isn’t anything so pressing. In fact, this promises to be one of the longest Council meetings of the year. You’re certainly welcome to attend, but know this meeting may easily go until 1 a.m. Nothing on the agenda tonight specifically addresses GLBT issues. However, we have contingency plans in place to address adversarial remarks should it be necessary on any agenda item.
“Fairness Fort Worth continues to work through and be a significant stakeholder in our city process. Council members have come to respect our participation. This evening they will see the faces of our GLBT and supportive straight leadership in the gallery reinforcing the amazing initiatives they have taken over the last year.
“Tonight, watch the news; tomorrow, check your paper. Have water-cooler discussions with your colleagues and heart-to-heart conversations with your family and friends. Others may manufacture problems. We’re creating solutions.”
I also talked to Jason Lamers in Mayor Mike Moncrief’s office. He told me that there was nothing on the agenda specifically related to the LGBT community, and that he had not heard anything about the “Believers Stand United” group coming to the council meeting tonight. And, like Fairness Fort Worth, he warned that the meeting is likely to last late into the evening — at least till midnight — and that the public comment part of the meeting won’t happen until the end. He also pointed out that you can watch the council meeting live online at the Fort Worth city website.
So there you have it. The so-called Christians are planning to take their hate to the Fort Worth City Council again tonight. Fairness Fort Worth has pledged to have people there ready to answer the hatefulness if and when the need arises. But it couldn’t hurt to have a few more friendly LGBT faces in the crowd to back them up.
Watch for coverage of the meeting here on the blog tomorrow and in Friday’s Dallas Voice.
The LGBT community marked the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion and the first anniversary of the Rainbow Lounge raid with a rally, march and candlelight vigil on Sunday evening, June 27 in Downtown Dallas.
A crowd of about 150 gathered outside the Dallas County Records Building at 6:30 p.m. Elizabeth Pax energized the crowd before a march through downtown.
Event organizer Daniel Cates said he was inspired by the words of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, who encouraged the LGBT community to march down Main Street. From Historical Plaza in front of the Records building, marchers proceeded down Commerce Street, turned the corner at Neiman Marcus and returned to the square walking hand-in-hand while chanting along Main Street.
The march took about 30 minutes and was led by a group representing each letter in LGBT. They carried a banner that said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Another banner read, “Full federal equality now.”
Signs said things like, “Adam & Steve. Madam & Eve. It’s all good” and “Wake Up America. Being homophobic kills. Equality now.”
Several signs remembered Milk.
“Harvey Milk. American politician who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, winning the seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” one sign read.
Shannon Kern, a straight ally, served as emcee of the rally that followed the march.
“Burst down those closet doors because you are perfect the way you are,” Kern said.
Jesse Garcia of Dallas gay LULAC council told the crowd to vote and encouraged straight allies to do the same. He challenged the group to reach out to fellow minorities who understand that the fight is for civil rights, and to stick together and not bow to forces that want the community to turn against itself.
When Rafael McDonnell from Resource Center Dallas spoke, he began by asking how many were attending their first gay-rights rally. About a quarter of the crowd cheered.
Get Equal Now activist Michael Robinson reminded the crowd of last week’s DART non-discrimination victory.
“Lock me up and set me free,” said activist Chastity Kirven. She was referring to her arrest at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office while protesting inaction on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Kirven led the group in several chants including “One struggle, one fight,” driving home the evening’s theme of unity.
Referring to the handful of anti-gay counterprotesters from a Mansfield church who’ve become a fixture at local LGBT events, Kirven questioned their morality.
“When they want to look into your bedroom, who’s the pervert?” Kirven shouted.
Renee Baker spoke on behalf of the transgender community and, as a Youth First Texas board member, on behalf of young people.
“I’m doing this for our youth,” she said. “They’re taking the brunt of this because they’re still in the public schools.”
Nonnie Ouch, president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Texas Tech University, also mentioned the counterprotesters.
“Let’s not be like our enemy who cowers behind his theology,” she said.
Cates responded to the Mansfield group’s signs saying homosexuality is a choice that does not deserve “special rights.”
“I’ll tell you what’s a choice. Religion is a choice and it’s protected by the constitution,” Cates said.
Cates finished his remarks by thanking the Republican Party of Texas for defining their hatred of gays and lesbians so heinously in its platform that it’s being ridiculed in the national media.
The Rev. Steve Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth spoke about the response to last June’s Rainbow Lounge raid. He said the event united Dallas and Fort Worth into one LGBT community to produce an appropriate response.
He said while the goal of police was to harass and humiliate, the LGBT community showed it won’t be intimidated.
A candlelight vigil followed to remember those no longer with us.
Spencer Young, from the cast of the Tyler production of “The Laramie Project,” which right-wingers tried to cancel, remembered Nicholas West during the vigil.
West was 23 when he was kidnapped from a Tyler park and murdered on Dec. 30, 1993. Young compared that murder to Matthew Shepard’s five years later. As he told the story, the clock in the tower above Old Red eerily tolled the hour.
Pax ended the evening by leading the crowd in rounds of “We Shall Overcome.”