Wendy Davis says she’ll announce possible governor bid on Oct. 3

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Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer

State Sen. Wendy Davis announced today that she’ll make an announcement about her political future — and a possible governor run — on Oct. 3.

The Fort Worth native and LGBT ally was the talk of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting Tuesday.

The Texas Democratic Party’s new Executive Director Will Hailer addressed the group and hinted that Davis will run for governor.

Hailer moved to Texas from Minnesota in May and since his arrival the party’s staff has increased from four to 21. He said he expects to double that as the 2014 election approaches.

His experience includes the election that saw the defeat of an anti-marriage amendment in Minnesota by 10 points that led to the state becoming a marriage-equality state within six months.

In his first few months at the helm of the party, Hailer said he’s traveled around the state visiting Democratic clubs.

“People are fired up,” he said.

His strategy to take a statewide office for the first time in 20 years is to do what Democrats did in Minnesota.

“Have neighbors talking to neighbors,” he said.

And talk about the issues. He said Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a statewide Lilly Ledbetter bill. He wants to talk about equal pay for women.

He wants Democrats to talk about healthcare, affordable education, clear air and clean water.

“Talk about our values,” he said. “We can’t let Republicans bully us anymore. We believe in equality and the right to marry who you love.”

He said Texas is not a Red State but a non-voting state and is planning massive voter-registration and voter-turnout drives.

Hailer described the ticket he’d like to see on the 2014 statewide ballot.

“I think we need a woman from Fort Worth,” he said, but then stopped short. “I’m not making an announcement.”

But he said an announcement would come shortly, and it seems it will.

This morning, Davis sent out an email to supporters.

There’s one question I’ve gotten quite often in the past few months. I’ve heard it online, while I’m traveling around the state, from the media, and in my Fort Worth neighborhood: What’s next?

On October 3rd, I’ll be answering that question. And as part of my dedicated network of grassroots supporters, you will be among the very first to find out.

So look for her announcement on Oct. 3. And just an observation: No one does this type of build up to announce they’re not running.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: LGBT activists speak during pro-choice rally at Dallas City Hall

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Gay couple Mark ‘Major’ Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who gained notoriety last year when they were arrested for seeking a marriage license at the Dallas County Clerk’s Office, attend a pro-choice rally at City Hall on Tuesday night.

GetEQUAL TX was among the organizers of the Texans Unified for Change rally outside Dallas City Hall on Wednesday night.

About 50 people gathered to protest the anti-abortion bill working its way through the special session of the Legislature.

Activist Cd Kirven carried a wire hanger to symbolize women having to resort to dangerous methods of abortion.

Speakers included Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus co-chair Erin Moore and Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink.

Moore, wearing pink Wendy Davis sneakers, encouraged the crowd to become more involved in politics to help get more people like Davis in office and those who oppose women’s rights out of office.

“It’s easy for men to write a bill to attack women’s rights,” Fink said.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: About 500 attend Day of Decision rally on Cedar Springs

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By the time Dallas’ Day of Decision rally began at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love Monument, more than 300 people had gathered. As the crowd grew to close to 500, police closed a lane of Oak Lawn Avenue and two lanes of Cedar Springs Road.

GetEQUAL TX organizer Daniel Cates began the rally with chants of, “Right here, right now, I deserve full equality!”

Before the scheduled speakers, people from the crowd spoke in an open-megaphone session. One who claimed to be an “ex-lesbian” was countered with a chant of “No more hate” until the mic was taken from her and she left the steps of the monument.

Some of the speakers discussed the implications of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decisions. Lambda Legal’s Ken Upton called the DOMA ruling a broad decision. He said it would take awhile to sort out the full implications.

“The ruling benefits the whole LGBT spectrum,” trans activist Oliver Blumer said. “It breaks down barriers.”

—  David Taffet

CHART: Primary voting histories of Dallas City Council candidates

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We mentioned on Monday that District 14 Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston now says he’s a Democrat, even though he has voted in five of the last six Republican primaries. We also posted an Oath of Affiliation Kingston signed to become eligible for Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement, which he did not receive anyway. A copy of the oath was distributed to Stonewall members who attended the group’s endorsement screenings. On the opposite side of the sheet of paper containing Kingston’s oath was a chart showing the primary voting histories of all Dallas City Council candidates. Although candidates’ voting histories regularly come up at Stonewall endorsement screenings, this marked the first time they had been put on paper for all to see, and some Kingston supporters said they felt the move was designed to target him. In any case, we thought we’d go ahead and share the chart, above.

It’s interesting to note that, based on the chart, party affiliation doesn’t seem to necessarily correlate with support or lack thereof for the LGBT community. For example, the most anti-gay member of the council, Vonciel Hill, has voted in every Democratic primary since 1992. And so has Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who will go down in infamy for her betrayal of the LGBT community last week. On the flip side, Councilman Jerry Allen has an exclusively Republican voting history, including the last four primaries, yet he was among the eight council members who said they would support an LGBT equality resolution. Sandy Greyson, who also said she would support the resolution, has voted in two Democratic primaries and two Republican primaries. Others who supported the resolution are solid Democrats — such as Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt, Monica Alonzo and Dwaine Caraway. But other solid Democrats did not support the resolution, including Hill, Carolyn Davis and Tennell Atkins.

Is it possible that party affiliation only matters on LGBT issues when candidates are running for partisan offices and Republicans are forced to pander to right-wing voters who dominate Republican primaries? Also, and this is a little off the subject, but is there any chance Mayor Mike Rawlings is gearing up to run as a Republican in Texas House District 108 if Greg Abbott runs for governor and state Rep. Dan Branch runs for attorney general? It would certainly help explain his lack of support for LGBT issues as mayor.

—  John Wright

Houston Mayor Annise Parker to kick off re-election campaign Thursday

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Mayor Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker kicks off her third and final run for mayor on Thursday.

In 2009, Parker became the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a top 10 U.S. city. Houston limits its mayor and council members to three two-year terms.

The campaign kickoff will be at the Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar St., Houston at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Last weekend, Parker was in Austin addressing Stonewall Democrats at its annual Texas conference. She told Dallas Voice her opponent, lawyer Benjamin Hall III, has indicated he’ll spend as much of $3 million of his own money on the race.

“I fully expect to be re-elected, but I’m going to have to work for it,” Parker said.

Since Parker took office, Houston has earned the title America’s Coolest City to live (Forbes 2012) and others, including:

• Leading the nation in job creation (Houston Chronicle 2013)
• Best city in America to advance a career (Monster.com 2013)
• Number one city where a paycheck stretches the furthest (Forbes 2012)
• Best city in America for personal safety (Mercer Human Resources)
• Leads America in women-owned business revenue (American Express Open 2012)
• Leads America in diversity (Rice Kinder Institute 2012)

To attend the campaign kickoff, RSVP here.

—  David Taffet

Stonewall Dems gather in Austin to talk pro-equality strategy in Texas

Former Congressman Barney Frank addresses the crowd during the Equality Forward Summit in Austin on April 6. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

AUSTIN — Texas Stonewall Democrats met in Austin this weekend for the first Equality Forward Summit to discuss how to gain support for pro-equality measures and ultimately turn Texas blue.

The event was the first collaborative effort between the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus and drew about 150 people for the weekend’s workshops.

About 250 people, many standing, packed a room at the Hilton Austin Airport hotel after a day of workshops on Saturday to hear former Congressman Barney Frank speak about his time in office and the change he expects in the future.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker introduced Frank, during which she said she still considers herself an activist and has since learned of a gay agenda.

“I don’t know of any gay agenda, but I have been doing this long enough that we do have a gay agenda,” Parker said. “Our gay agenda is the ability to have jobs that we love, to support the families that we care about and to pay taxes.”

She said No. 2 on the gay agenda was serving openly in the military, which has been accomplished, No. 3 is feeling safe in schools and being free from bullying, and No. 4 is the freedom to marry.

Parker said all of the items on the list will gain support from Texas votes but it is Stonewall and the state party’s job to get that message out.

“But just as we as Democrats have a message that will resonate in Texas, the GLBT community has that same agenda that will resonate across Texas,” she said. “And when we openly advocate for that agenda, I’m standing here as proof that being who we are, being open and honest, we can win at the ballot box.”

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas City Council candidates to screen for Stonewall Democrats on Saturday

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Twelve candidates or their surrogates from six Dallas City Council races will appear at Resource Center Dallas on Saturday as they vie for endorsements from Stonewall Democrats.

Everyone is invited to attend the candidate screening sessions, but only those who have been members of Stonewall Democrats for more than 30 days may vote on the endorsement recommendations, which will be ratified at the group’s next general meeting on March 19.

Opening remarks and instructions begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and candidates will appear by district. Oak Cliff-area races will be covered in the morning, with Oak Lawn-area races in the afternoon.

Stonewall political chair Jeff Strater is organizing the screenings. He said each candidate will be given three minutes to make a statement and then members can ask questions for seven minutes.

Under Stonewall’s bylaws, the organization may endorse only Democrats, even though the races are nonpartisan.

Of the seven people running in District 14, five have predominantly Republican voting histories, according to Strater. Phillip Kingston signed a pledge affiliating with the Democratic Party to qualify for the Stonewall endorsement. Bobby Abtahi’s most recent voting is in Democratic primaries, which qualifies him without signing a pledge, Strater said. Only Jim Rogers has a record of voting exclusively in Democratic primaries.

The full schedule for Saturday’s screenings is below.

—  David Taffet

Marc Veasey visits Stonewall Dems; Barney Frank to keynote state summit

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Rep. Barney Frank

Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey will be one of three featured speakers at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ monthly meeting on Tuesday night. Veasey, of course, represents the newly created District 33 that stretches from South Fort Worth to North Oak Cliff.

Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who represents North Oak Cliff and is up for re-election in May, and Equality Texas field organizer Daniel Williams will also speak. Williams will talk about pending legislation in the current session and the upcoming March 11 Lobby Day.

Stonewall Democrats also announced more details about their statewide Equality Forward Summit April 5-7 in Austin. This is the third biennial statewide meeting the organization has held.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker will attend and introduce keynote speaker Barney Frank, the openly gay former U.S. congressman from Massachusetts. In 1998, Frank founded National Stonewall Democrats, which is currently on hiatus. Frank retired from Congress at the end of 2012.

Other speakers at the summit will include Jamie Citron, director of the Obama campaign’s LGBT Leadership Council and LGBT Vote; State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, the first LGBT member of the Texas Legislature since Glen Maxey; Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith; and Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.

Locally, on March 9, Dallas Stonewall’s Endorsement Committee will hold its candidate screening for municipal elections at Resource Center Dallas. Jeff Strater chairs the committee. In order to vote at the screening meeting, members must be current dues payers at least 30 days in advance of the vote.

Stonewall monthly meeting Ojeda’s Restaurant, 4617 Maple Ave. Feb. 19 at 6 p.m.

—  David Taffet

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

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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

Record number of Texas voters back legal recognition for gay couples

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll this week showed nearly 70 percent of Texans support legal recognition for same-sex couples – the highest percentage since polls began asking the questions in 2009.

The Tribune’s poll showed 36 percent support same-sex marriage and 33 percent support civil unions, for a total of 69 percent in favor of relationship recognition. Although with 25 percent against marriage or civil unions, the data could be interrupted as 58 percent against same-sex marriage.

Still, the findings in support of relationship recognition are 6 points higher than the second-highest result in February 2010, when a Tribune poll found 63 percent of Texans supported relationship recognition, with 28 percent in favor of marriage and 35 percent supporting civil unions.

The new poll is also 9 points higher than a Tribune poll from this February, which showed 31 percent supporting marriage and 29 percent favoring unions, totaling 60 percent in favor.

Erin Moore, who serves as co-chair of National Stonewall Democrats Leadership Council and was a member of the national Platform Committee, said polls are not a good basis for argument, but help get conversations started.

“I think it’s a great gauge of attitude, but I don’t think we should use it as ammunition for a basis for any sort of argument,” she said.

Moore said she questions the new poll because the percentage for marriage equality and civil unions were equal, as it has been in past years. She said she worries if people are against relationship recognition but choose civil unions to not appear bigoted.

“I wonder how much of that is support and how much of that is let me pick the non-bigoted answer but still not say I’m in favor of marriage,” she said.

As for the 9-point jump in support from February and the highest percentage in favor of marriage equality, Moore said that high a jump is a “significant shift” and that President Barack Obama’s public support for same-sex marriage and local efforts have helped the movement.

“What I attribute it to is that we’re continuing to do our work and get out into communities and to let people know that separate but equal doesn’t work in that we are full-fledged citizens who deserve rights that everybody else has, and that word is getting out,” she said.

In May 2011, a Tribune poll found 61 percent of Texans supported gay relationships with the support split between 30 percent backing  marriage and 31 percent favoring civil unions.

A Texas Lyceum poll in October 2010 found that Texans supported gay relationships by 52 percent. More than half at 28 percent supported marriage equality and 24 percent supported civil unions.

An Equality Texas poll released in December 2010 asked Texans 12 questions related to LGBT equality. The survey didn’t give an either/or option, but rather asked each question separately, resulting in 43 percent supporting gay marriage and 63 percent favoring civil unions.

In 2009, a Texas Politics Poll found 61 percent of people supported relationship recognition, with 29 percent for marriage equality and 32 percent for civil unions. A Texas Lyceum poll the same year found 57 percent in support, with 25 percent for marriage and 32 percent for civil unions.

—  Dallasvoice