Dallas Voice signed amicus brief

Editor’s note: This is a repost because Facebook glitch blocked our earlier post.

amicus briefEven though the hearing is over and an expected two month wait has begun, I just learned Dallas Voice signed an amicus brief to Obergefell v. Ohio, the marriage equality case.

The brief was signed by 379 business across the country. Dallas Voice is the only LGBT publication among the signers.

Major North Texas-based businesses on the list are American Airlines, AT&T and Kimberley-Clark. No, ExxonMobil, surprisingly, isn’t there.

Several other small businesses from the area are also among the signers including Law Office of Lorie L. Burch PC, David Mack Henderson Income Tax Preparation, Steve Graves Insurance Agency, Stonewall Behavioral Health and Uptown Physicians Group.

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce are two of several local LGBT chambers to sign.

No Texas sports franchises are includes. The New England Patriots is the only professional sports team listed.

The brief’s theme is business benefits from diversity.

“To reap the rewards of diversity, employers need to be able to recruit and retain top talent, in part though equitable and competitive benefits packages,” the brief states.

“Employees in same-sex relationships receive varying, if any, access to the rights, benefits and privileges that different-sex couples enjoy,” it says.

The brief concludes, “marriage discrimination injures amici’s [signers] businesses.

—  David Taffet

LGBT advocates gather following SCOTUS marriage hearing

Local LGBT advocates and allies held a press conference outside of the Dallas County Records Building this afternoon (Tuesday, April 28, to show their support for marriage equality following a historic Supreme Court hearing held earlier today that could result in the legalization of marriage equality nationwide.

The combined cases, Obergefell v. Hodges and DeBoer et al v. Snyder, were heard over two-and-a-half hours.

Among the speakers outside the Records Building in Dallas were a broad coalition of faith and policy leaders and advocates, including Resource Center’s CEO Cece Cox, Omar Narvaez, community educator for Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office and Dallas County Schools board member, the Rev. Colleen Darraugh of MCC Greater Dallas and the Rev. Eric Folkerth, Northaven United Methodist Church. Two couples — Northaven congregants Jack Evans and George Harris of Dallas and Isabel Marquez and Victoria Estrada of Lewisville — also participated.

Each laid out the legal and theological justifications for marriage equality and shared personal experiences.

Darraugh said a ruling for marriage equality would “mean liberty and justice for all.” She added she married her partner in Canada and has recently wed couples in Oklahoma, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Narvaez said the fight for LGBT equality does not end with marriage.

“Same-sex marriage doesn’t end discrimination,” he said. “There is a lot of work to do.”

Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell, who introduced the speakers, said the location of the conference was symbolic because the district clerk’s office, which is on the second floor of the building, is responsible for issuing marriage licenses.

“When the Supreme Court ruling comes in favor of marriage equality, LGBT couples will come to this office,” he said.

—  James Russell

Local attorney comments on Supreme Court hearing he attended


Steve Rudner outside the U.S. Supreme Court

Steve Rudner, a local attorney and president of the Equality Texas Foundation board, was in the Supreme Court this morning (Tuesday, April 28) during oral arguments on marriage equality. He was admitted as a Supreme Court bar member, rather than having to stand in line as a member of the general public.

Rudner said watching Justice Anthony Kennedy was fascinating. Kennedy, who wrote the Windsor v. U.S. and Lawrence v. Texas opinions for the court, is widely expected to write the decision in this case as well.

Kennedy began his questioning by asking about changing the constitutional definition of marriage as a right two people have. He was worried about how fast change is made in social issues in the country.

Rudner said his believes the turning point was when Kennedy said the amount of time between Brown v. Board of Education case and Loving v. Virginia was the same amount of time as between Lawrence and this case. He said he thinks Kennedy answered his own question and he believes the right amount of time has passed.

Chief Justice Roberts may vote along with the majority, Rudner said, although the chief justice didn’t ask enough questions for Rudner to get a good sense of where he stood.

He thought one of the best comments was made by Justice Kagan who said the court defines constitutional rights and doesn’t decide who gets to exercise those rights.

Rudner said he despite the protesters outside the court, about 90 percent of those at the court building favored same-sex marriage and as many as 95 percent inside the court were on the side of equality.

—  David Taffet

Dallasites in D.C. for marriage equality

Jesse and Adam

Former Dallasite Jesse Garcia, left, and Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano were among those outside the U.S. Supreme Court Building today in Washington, D.C., rallying in support of marriage equality as the Court hears oral arguments in the landmark marriage equality case. We found this photo on Jesse’s Facebook page.

—  Tammye Nash

Audio of first half of oral arguments in marriage equality case

Supreme-Court-building-permissionThe Supreme Court made the audio of the first arguments in the same-sex marriage case available. The attorney speaking on behalf of same-sex couples is Mary Bonauto.

Here’s the link.

C-Span is covering the Supreme Court hearings outside the court. That link is here.

—  David Taffet

Downpour moves SCOTUS rally to Sue Ellen’s; hundreds gather to support equality

Despite flooded streets in Oak Lawn, hundreds of people turned out for a rally Monday night (April 27), the night before the U.S. Supreme Court was to hear arguments on marriage equality. The event moved from the Legacy of Love Monument to Sue Ellen’s because of the weather.

The LGBT community, allies and TV crews packed the second floor of the bar for a rally that lasted several hours and included speakers, singers and spoken word, and was topped off with wedding cake and champagne.

About a dozen people — from a Greenhill School sstudent and Texas Christian University student to allied pastors and community activists — gave short rallying speeches. Lambda Legal’s Omar Narvaez delivered the keynote, calling for an end to laws criminalizing HIV status, an end to anti-trans legislation and an end to LGBT youth homelessness — linking these and other battles for justice to not just marriage equality but to the social justice movement overall.

Emily McGaughy writes for AfterEllen.com. In her remarks she said she and her wife had to choose between a legal wedding out of state and a wedding in Texas that included family and friends.

“Tomorrow is a step in the right direction for equality,” she said. “It won’t solve all problems, but it’s a big step.”

Greenhill School student Josh Rudner said he realized he was gay at 11. He kept that bottled up inside himself for a year before telling his family.

“You can’t choose who you love,” he said, “but you can choose to love yourself.”

His father is now president of Equality Texas Foundation and is attending the Supreme Court hearing.

The Rev. Alex Byrd compared marriage bans today to slave owners preventing slaves from marrying. He said the purpose was to destabilize the community.

The Rev. Colleen Darraugh of MCC of Greater Dallas said, “Your religious freedom should not come at the expense of my religious freedom.”

Community activist John Seelig brought a message from Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson: “We can all feel the momentum,” Wolfson told Seelig. “America is ready for the freedom to marry.”


—  David Taffet

Henry’s Majestic gets onboard with marriage equality

IMG_0154Henry’s Majestic, the fabulous eatery on upper McKinney Avenue, is a supporter of marriage equality and is putting its money on the line to prove it. In recognition and support of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in the marriage equality cases Tuesday, 20 percent of all lunch sales (11 a.m.–4 p.m.) on April 28 — from wraps, pictured, to pasta and everything else — will be donated to Equality Texas, and specialty cocktails from Willa Vodka will be raised in support of LGBT rights. Cheers!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Wells Fargo gets it: We’re already family

Wells Fargo

Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 28), the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four cases challenging anti-marriage-equality laws in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky. The court’s ultimate decision in these four cases — not expected until sometime in June — could create marriage equality nationwide.

The anti-equality folks are still fighting tooth and nail. Homophobic lawmakers in several state legislatures, including Texas’, are trying to enact laws that would punish government officials who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of equality. I.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, last week introduced two bills in Congress, one of which would amend the U.S. Constitution to allow individual states to keep on discriminating against same-sex couples and the other of which tells the courts they can’t rule on marriage equality until the amendment is passed.

And of course, Sunday (April 26), “thousands” of anti-equality marchers descended on Washington, D.C., in the so-called “March for Marriage,” which was actually a march against marriage equality.

Here’s what all the anti-equality folks don’t get: We are not asking for anyone’s permission to be married, to form our own families, to make the kinds of commitments to each other that families make. We are already family. Your ridiculousness and hatred can’t stop that. What we are expecting of the Supreme Court — not expecting, demanding — is the same protections, the same rights and responsibilities that other families have.

The haters don’t get that. But Wells Fargo obviously does. This new ad for the bank shows that they get it.

—  Tammye Nash

Hillary Clinton urges SCOTUS to support marriage equality

Hillary ClintonA spokesperson for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told the Washington Blade this morning (Wednesday, April 15) that she hopes the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality.

“Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right,” Hillary for America’s Adrienne Elrod said.

The announcement comes ahead of the April 28 Supreme Court hearings challenging state same-sex marriage bans.

—  James Russell

DFW Federal Club welcoming lead plaintiff in marriage case before SCOTUS to spring luncheon

Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 1.18.23 PM

Jim Obergefell, left, and his husband, John Arthur, aboard the specially-equipped medical plane that flew them to Baltimore in 2013 to be married.

Jim Obergefell — lead plaintiff in a marriage equality case out of Ohio, one of four cases scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 — will be joining Susan Warbelow as a guest speaker at the DFW Federal Club‘s Spring Luncheon 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., on Saturday, March 28,, at the Tower Club in Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in downtown Dallas (on the 48th floor).

Seating is limited to 200, and RSVPs are required. Federal Club members can attend free of charge, and each member is entitled to bring one guest, also free of charge. The fee for additional guests is $35 per person, and the fee for visitors not accompanied by a member is $50. For tickets and to RSVP, go here.

Obergefell and his partner, John Arthur, had been together more than 20 years in 2013 when they traveled from their home in Ohio to Maryland to get legally married. That trip might have been relatively easy for most couples. But because Arthur was suffered from ALS and was paralyzed and confined to his bed, this couple’s trip required a small, specially-equipped medical plane, two pilots, a nurse and Arthur’s aunt, who officiated over their marriage ceremony.

The plane landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, sitting there for about 10 minutes — just long enough for Arthur and Obergefell to exchange wedding vows — before returning the men to Ohio. Arthur died three months later, but Obergefell has carried on with the fight for marriage equality.

—  Tammye Nash