El Paso men who were kicked out of taco restaurant for kissing mark Stonewall anniversary by suing the city

Five men who were kicked out of Chico’s Taco’s in El Paso after two of them kissed last year have filed a lawsuit against the city, a security company and the restaurant, The El Paso Times reports. If you’ll remember, El Paso police threatened to charge the men under Texas’ sodomy statute, which was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

Plaintiff Carlos Diaz de Leon and lawyers with the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project announced the lawsuit at a news conference in Central El Paso.

Diaz De Leon, 32, said the other four plaintiffs are identified only as “John Does” because they fear threats or retaliation.

“I’m doing this because I want to see change, a lot of change,” Diaz De Leon said. “I would like for people to be aware of their rights, and basically, I want equality for everyone.”

Briana Stone, a lawyer and director of the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, said the date the suit was filed coincides with the June 28, 1969, anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

—  John Wright

Stonewall remembered at Dallas march

Rally draws more than 100 from as far as Tyler, Fort Worth


Activist Aaron Rathbun waves one of many Rainbow flags that could be seen flying during Sunday’s Stonewall commemoration in downtown Dallas. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer  taffet@dallasvoice.com

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.”

—  David Taffet

Stonewall anniversary march moving downtown

Rally marks 41st anniversary of New York rebellion and 1st anniversary of Rainbow Lounge raid in Fort Worth

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

For the first time since the original parade in Downtown Dallas in 1972, a Pride rally will take place outside of Oak Lawn. The march marks the first anniversary of the Rainbow Lounge Raid and the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Daniel Cates is one of the organizers the June 27 march.

“Harvey Milk said, ‘We’ve got to get out of the ghetto. We’ve got to take our fight to Main Street.’ We’re literally doing that,” Cates said.

A pre-march pep-rally, led by activist Elizabeth Pax, will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Founder’s Plaza on the corner of Main and Market Streets outside the County Records Building.

“We don’t just want to be chanting,” Cates said. “We want it to be echoing off the buildings.”

The march steps off at 7:15 p.m. Marchers will head east on Commerce Street six blocks to Ervay Street and return to Founders Plaza along Main Street.

Cates said police offered a route up Elm Street, which would have made a wider loop, but they chose Main Street for the symbolism.
He said he heard constant criticism of last year’s Equality March on Cedar Springs as “preaching to the choir.”

“This literally gets us on Main Street,” he said.

Although there are few people in Downtown Dallas on a Saturday night, he said thousands of people do live Downtown and lots of restaurants on Main and Commerce streets are open.

He expects media coverage that they did not get with the 2009 march.

A dozen speakers are scheduled during the freedom rally after the march. Stephen Sprinkle from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University is the keynote speaker.

“Just because we are 41 years from Stonewall doesn’t mean we’re free and equal,” Sprinkle said. “No one in America received rights and privileges as a gift.”

He also said the march and rally were a time to celebrate LGBT community, leadership, hope and talent.

Rafael McDonnell from Resource Center Dallas is also scheduled to speak.

“I promise to keep my remarks brief,” he said. “I am going to look at what has happened over the last year — a number of advances and where we’re heading.”

Cates said he scheduled activist Chastity Kirven to excite and rile up the crowd.

“Stonewall still lives within us,” Kirven said. “The first finish line we need to cross is civil rights. The baton has been passed to the civil rights leaders of today.”

Marla Compton, the program coordination for the transgender education and advocacy group GEAR, will also speak.

“We are marching to remember what happened at Stonewall and what we’ve accomplished since then,” Compton said. “I’m going to talk about our need for unity. That’s been very important to me ever since I became an advocate for the community.”

Other speakers include Omar Lopez who was discharged from the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and local performer Krystal Summers.

At 8:45 p.m., a candlelight vigil will feature vocalist Angela Rains. Cates called her a straight ally, mother of two and proud supporter.
Spencer Young will speak during the vigil. He is a Tyler-area student who performed in the recent, controversial production of “The Laramie Project.”

Cates said he expects the rally to end by 9:30 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice

Stonewall rally to be held in Founders Plaza

Organizer Daniel Cates sent over an update this morning on the event planned for June 27 in downtown Dallas to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion:

“We will have the official march route for June 27 on Thursday afternoon, but it looks like the rally portion will most likely take place at Founders Plaza at the intersection of Main and N. Market. We have some amazing speakers lined up — Dr. Steven Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School at TCU; Chastity (CD) Kirven and Michael Robinson with GetEQUAL, both of whom were arrested during ENDA demonstrations a month ago; Spencer Young, a student at Tyler Junior College, a member of Tyler Area Gays and a cast member in the Tyler Civic Theatre’s controversial production of “The Laramie Project”; Nonnie Ouch, president of the Texas Tech GSA; Krystal Summers, performer and actress, and star of the Israel Luna film “Ticked-Off Tr*nnies with Knives”; Marla Compton, GEAR coordinator for Resource Center Dallas; Rafael McDonnell, strategic communications director for Resource Center Dallas; Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC’s Dallas Rainbow Council; Mattie Williams of Queer Liberaction, Denton; and of course myself, lol. I will send you an official press release on Thursday as soon as we have our route finalized! Looking forward to this event, I hope you will be taking part!”

—  John Wright