Stonewall turns 20

Founded to support one particular LGBT community hero’s reelection, Stonewall has grown into a political powerhouse


DAVID TAFFET |  MSenior Staff Writer

Michael Milliken, one of the four founders of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, credits Log Cabin Republicans for the founding of the group.

Log Cabin was supporting a candidate running against state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, who had been an icon in the LGBT community since her days as a Dallas Independent School District board member supporting gay and lesbian teachers that superintendent Linus Wright was determined to fire.

An organization called the Lesbian Gay Political Coalition had previously been interviewing and endorsing candidates. Milliken said that group was all-inclusive, and that worked until it came to someone like Ehrhardt.

“We needed to do something about this,” Milliken said, explaining how a group met in his living room to create Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, modeled after a similar group from Los Angeles. The organization has grown from that small group of four to one of the largest Democratic Party groups in the state.

Former Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said Stonewall has gone from being an organization that begged candidates to come screen with them to one candidates beg for its endorsement. That’s because a Stonewall endorsement brings money, volunteers and votes.

Being a member of Stonewall helps get candidates in Dallas elected. Gary Fitzsimmons, one of Stonewall’s founders, served two terms as Dallas County district clerk. Narvaez was elected to the board of Dallas County Schools. Judge Tanya Parker and Sheriff Lupe Valdez are members of Stonewall. A number of members have been elected precinct chairs.

Being a Stonewall member hasn’t just worked for LGBT candidates. A slew of elected officials are straight members of Stonewall. Judge Tina Yoo’s husband even served several years on Stonewall’s board.

Former Stonewall President Erin Moore said, “I saw Stonewall evolve from challenging elected officials about our rights to working with elected officials to ensure our rights.” She said Stonewall became a trusted political organization within the Democratic Party by being the “trusted boots on the ground.”

That included providing volunteers for everything from block walking for candidates, phone banking and holding voter registration drives to making donations to campaigns.

Moore credits former President Shannon Bailey for organizing at the state level. The State Democratic Executive Committee added two seats for Stonewall Democrats of Texas.

Narvaez credits former President Jesse Garcia with creating alliances with groups like LULAC. Not only did he bring many LGBT Latinos into Stonewall, but helped LULAC understand that LGBT issues were their issues and their issues were Stonewall issues.

LULAC’s condemnation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, among the first by a national organization that didn’t represent LGBT interests, originated largely in Dallas and Narvaez credits Garcia with laying the groundwork.

Moore said that in her years with Stonewall, she saw support for LGBT issues in the Democratic Party go from silence, to a whisper to full support. In 2012, she sat on the state platform committee, which made marriage equality a plank.

A turning point for Stonewall came in 2006 where Democratic candidates swept Dallas County elections. For the first time, a Democrat was elected sheriff. Judges such as Dennise Garcia came into office. By 2008, Democrats swept judgeships in the county, and by 2012, Republicans only held one position on Commissioners Court.

Many elected officials credit the largest Democratic club in the area for those victories.

Jay Narey is Stonewall’s current president and has been a member for most of the organization’s 20 years. He said he learned about Stonewall at a state Democratic convention where he was a delegate.

“What intrigued me was people walking around with rainbow Texas stickers,” he said. “The lesbian and gay community was welcomed and supported in the party.”

In addition to growth from a core group of 10 people when he first joined to paid membership of up to 300 during election years, Narey said he has noticed the support from local officials and how comfortable they are working with Stonewall.

To celebrate its 20-year anniversary, Stonewall will be the first group to hold an event at the new LGBT Community Center, with an open house and fundraiser Monday, May 23, at the new building at 5750 Cedar Springs Road. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres would be served and members will reflect on where the organization has been and discuss plans for moving forward.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2016.

—  David Taffet

DGLA and Stonewall endorsements differ

DGLA PACStonewallIn March, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed a slate of candidates for Dallas City Council. That slate differs, in some cases, from the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance PAC slate endorsed this week.

DGLA endorsements are non-partisan. Stonewall endorsements require the candidate to have a Democratic voting history or to sign a pledge to the Democratic Party. Local elections are nonpartisan.

Here’s a comparison of the endorsements:

District DGLA Stonewall


Scott Griggs Scott Griggs


Adam Medrano Adam Medrano


Wini Cannon Joe Tave


Carolyn King Arnold no endorsement


Sherry Cordova Sherry Cordova


Monica R. Alonzo Monica R. Alonzo


Tiffinni A. Young Hasani Burton


Gail Terrell no endorsement


Mark Clayton Mark Clayton


Adam McGough James White


Lee M. Kleinman no endorsement


Sandy Greyson no endorsement


Jennifer Staubach Gates no endorsement


Philip T. Kingston Philip T. Kingston


Marcos Ronquillo Marcos Ronquillo



—  David Taffet

LGBT groups join forces for school supplies drive

imageRainbow LULAC has teamed up with Resource Center, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, DIVA, Texas Latino Gay Pride and Congregation Beth El Binah for a school supplies drive for DISD students at 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21 at Havana, 4006 Cedar Springs Road.

Dallas City Councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston and Dallas County Schools Trustee Omar Narvaez will be on hand to collect the supplies. Crayons, 3-ring binders, back packs, 5-subject notebooks, pens, pencils and writing tablets are among the supplies needed.

Supplies can be dropped off that night at Havana or during the business day at Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis, Third Floor through Aug. 22.

—  David Taffet

Early voting begins Tuesday

EEarly voting for the Democratic and Republican primaries begins Tuesday, Feb. 18 and runs through Friday, Feb. 28. The primary takes place on Tuesday, March 4.

A registered voter may vote at any early voting location in the county where registered. On primary day, voters must go to their own precincts. No early voting locations will be available in Oak Lawn, which is one of Dallas’ most densely populated neighborhoods. Grauwyler Park Recreation Center on Harry Hines Boulevard, five blocks north of Mockingbird Lane, is the closest.

Early voting times in Dallas County:

Tuesday, Feb. 18 – Friday, Feb. 21 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 23 1 p.m.–6 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 24 – Friday, Feb. 28 7 a.m.–7 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Craig Watkins backs marriage equality, proposes domestic partner registry


Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins addresses Stonewall Democrats of Dallas on Tuesday as President Omar Narvaez, right, and Jay Narey look on.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins came out in support of marriage equality Tuesday and proposed that the county establish a domestic partner registry similar to one administered by Travis County.

Watkins, a two-term incumbent who is facing a possible challenge in next year’s Democratic Primary from former Judge John Creuzot, addressed Stonewall Democrats of Dallas during the group’s monthly meeting at Ojeda’s Restaurant on Maple Avenue. Watkins delivered what appeared to be his standard stump speech to the group’s membership, and he didn’t mention LGBT issues. But he spoke to Dallas Voice in an exclusive interview after the meeting.

“This is America, and we shouldn’t discriminate against anyone for whatever reason, and so I think it’s a disservice for us as Americans to say that just because you are a certain lifestyle, that you can’t have the same rights as someone else,” Watkins told the Voice. “I think it goes towards, you know, when we were going through the civil rights movement, issues that we dealt with back then, which, basically, I can understand very clearly because of who I am. … “

“It goes back to quality of life issues, and as a DA, I’m responsible for improving the quality of the lives of all of the citizens I represent,” Watkins said. “I’m the lawyer for everybody in Dallas County, and so I can’t be against something that will make your life better. So I’m for whatever we need to do in Dallas County to make the quality of life better, and in my opinion to have that —marriage equality and the registry — it makes lives better for citizens of Dallas County.”

—  John Wright

Stonewall Dems finalize City Council endorsements without discussion


Garland mayoral candidate Delores Elder-Jones speaks at a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting March 19. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas ratified its full endorsement slate for City Council races without discussion or objections at Tuesday’s general membership meeting at Ojeda’s.

The endorsement are: Delia Jasso in District 1, Adam Medrano in District 2, Claudia Meyer in District 3, Jesse Diaz in District 5, Monica Alonzo in District 6 and Bobby Abtahi in District 14.

Among the speakers at the meeting was Delores Elder-Jones, who is running for Garland mayor. She’s running against three other candidates. Incumbent mayor Ronald Jones is not seeking re-election.

Elder-Jones said she was running so in Garland “we can be inclusive of everyone.”

“When I’m mayor of Garland, you can be that Garland will be a city that recognizes LGBT citizens,” Elder-Jones said.

She said she would work to change the city’s policies to protect against LGBT discrimination in and help provide domestic partner benefits for the city’s employees.

Arturo Sierra, who is running as an openly gay DISD trustee candidate in District 7, said he would work to help the district offer DP benefits, which it currently cannot do.

“I will push for same-sex benefits across the board,” he said.

Sierra has two challengers in the race, including incumbent Eric Cowan. The district covers North Central Oak Cliff and parts of West Dallas.

Kim Morris, the new executive director for the Dallas County Democratic Party, also spoke briefly about her new role. She said she wants to get Democratic clubs like Stonewall more involved in the party.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Congressman Marc Veasey calls for LGBT immigration equality


Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey addresses Stonewall Democrats at Ojeda’s on Tuesday night. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Comprehensive immigration reform must include equal rights for same-sex binational couples, Congressman Marc Veasey told Stonewall Democrats of Dallas on Tuesday night.

“Any bill we pass does not go far enough if same-sex language is not included,” Veasey said. “It absolutely has to be necessary.”

President Barack Obama also supports including a provision in immigration reform to allow gay Americans to sponsor their immigrant partners for legal residency. However, key House Republicans are opposed to the idea, setting up a potential showdown over the issue.

Veasey, a freshman Democrat who represents North Texas’ newest congressional district, pointed out that he became the first member of Congress to bring a DREAMer to the State of the Union last week.

“I support the president 100 percent on the principles that he’s laid out,” Veasey said, referring to Obama’s immigration reform proposals.

—  John Wright

Faced with $30K shortfall, National Stonewall Democrats goes ‘on hiatus’

Jerame Davis

National Stonewall Democrats is officially “on hiatus,” Executive Director Jerame Davis said in an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice on Monday.

The organization suspended operations on Jan. 1 but plans a relaunch for 2014.

“A lot of decisions are being made,” Davis told the Voice. “It’s likely our office will be closed for most of this year.”

Davis continues to work as an unpaid volunteer and will use the current office in Washington, D.C., at least through the end of the month.

Local and state chapters will continue to operate normally. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez said his group’s regular monthly meeting is Jan 15. He described the Stonewall as very grassroots, operating from the bottom up, and said locally nothing will change.

In an email to members in early December, Davis warned the organization was facing a $30,000 deficit and might be forced to close if the money was not raised.

Davis became executive director of National Stonewall Democrats in December 2011 and inherited the organization’s debt.

“We’ve never raised enough money out of dues alone to keep the organization going,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Stonewall Democrats kick off week of LGBT holiday events tonight

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will kick off the holiday party season with their annual holiday bash tonight.

Members will gather at the Round-Up Saloon on Monday for treats and the presentation of awards. Lunches with elected officials will also be auctioned off for a chance to dine with Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Judge Gena Slaughter and Judge Tonya Parker.

Donations for the group’s Santa’s Helpers Drive benefiting Legacy Founders Cottage will also be collected at the party. Needed items include socks, razors, toilet paper, paper towels, disposable forks and spoons, cleaning supplies, latex gloves, depends, soap and body wash.

• Don’t miss the Cedar Spring Merchants Association’s The Holidays on Cedar Springs Wednesday, Dec. 5, featuring live music on TMC: The Mining Company’s patio and the Christmas tree lighting at 7 p.m.

• The GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s Holly Jolly Ball is 7 p.m. Thursday at Avneu Lounge, 2912 McKinney Ave. Proceeds benefits the chamber’s Leadership Education & Advocacy Program (LEAP).

• Metroplex Republicans will host its Christmas/Hannukah Party Friday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. at President Rob Schlein’s home, 5502 Bent Trail.

• Also on Friday, is HRC’s DFW Federal Club’s Holiday Gala, complete with drinks, jazz and dancing beginning at 8 p.m. at Dallas Contemporary, 161 Glass St.

• Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats will serve up cheer at its holiday party Monday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. The party will be at the home of Julie and Dick Abrams, 4301 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth. R.S.V.P. to

—  Dallasvoice

Stonewall Democrats endure taunts from motorists at Election Day rally

Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez, left, leads the group’s traditional Election Day get out the vote rally at the Legacy of Love Monument on Tuesday.

Members of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, including a few elected officials, rallied this morning at the monument at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road to get out the vote in an Election Day morning tradition. They stood on the chilly street corner for two hours during rush hour.

Many people driving down Cedar Springs Road honked and waved. Some driving on Oak Lawn Avenue also waved but others coming from the direction of Highland Park shouted epithets. One stopped, rolled down his window and yelled, “Get a fucking job.”

The Stonewall member standing nearest that car said he was self-employed and thought he was entitled to get to work a little late. He said he thought voting and getting people to the polls was important.

But other Stonewall members said it was a sad indication of how polarized the country’s become. Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said because they support Democrats, Republicans think their next stop is a government office looking for handouts.

Among the rally participants was Judge Tina Yoo. Because of her position, she cannot support a candidate, so her sign carried a simple “get out the vote” message. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s campaign manager stopped by with donuts for the rally crew.

Stonewall and other groups will host an Election Night watch party beginning at 7 p.m. at the Round-Up Saloon. The first statewide returns from the East Coast, including swing state Virginia, should be announced at 6 p.m. Texas early voting totals will be announced shortly after polls close at 7 p.m.

—  David Taffet