Fairness Fort Worth Legacy Project honors community leaders

Fairness Fort Worth honored five community leaders for their activism for the acceptance and rights of LGBT people in the community last night, Friday, Oct. 25 at a private home in Fort Worth.

Todd Camp, a founder of both Fairness Fort Worth and QCinema, was emcee.

The five honorees were: Kelly Smith, immediate past president of and long-time volunteer with the AIDS Outreach Center; Xavier Khan, a OD Wyatt High School sophomore who founded the school’s gay-straight alliance; DeeJay Johnannessen, executive director of HELP in Fort Worth; Jean Wallace, vice president for human relations at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; and Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead. Wallace and Halstead were unable to attend.

Rev. Carol West received the inaugural Tom Anable Recognition of Excellence Award.

 

 

 

 

 

—  James Russell

Tom Anable’s family, Fort Worth police chief release statements on his death

The family of Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas Anable reacted to his loss in a statement Monday through family spokesman Paul Valdez.

The statement mentions the shock of Anable’s sudden death after he took his own life this weekend, but focuses on the advocacy work that he’d held so dear since becoming an “accidental activist” after the Rainbow Lounge led him to pursue LGBT equality in Tarrant County and beyond.

“As we mourn his tragic death, we must always remember and celebrate what he accomplished, not only for Fort Worth and Dallas, but on a national stage for both advocacy and empowerment. He taught us about moving forward and making a difference,” the statement reads.

“Tom was a beautiful soul, with a heart of gold, and we are devastated by his loss. Though we may never fully understand his death, our family has chosen to celebrate his life and the amazing legacy he leaves to us all.”

Anable’s death has been ruled suicide by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. He died from a gunshot wound to the head. He was 58.

Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead also released a statement Monday, saying he was “very saddened to hear the news about Tom.”

“Tom was a personal friend, a trusted colleague, and an inspiration. His advocacy for the LGBTQ community opened many eyes, including my own,” Halstead said. “Tom worked passionately to improve police department’s ‘hate crime’ policies and investigative protocols.”

Fairness Fort Worth, which Anable helped launch and has led since June 2010, played an integral role in mending the relationship between the police department and the LGBT community after the Rainbow Lounge raid.

“The Fort Worth Police Department is forever indebted to Tom for bridging the gap and strengthening our enduring commitment to work together for fairness and equality,” Halstead said in the statement.

A candlelight vigil honoring Anable will be held at the Rainbow Lounge at 7 p.m. Wednesday. A memorial service will then follow at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth.

Read the full statements below.

—  Dallasvoice

Petition calls for removal of Chick-fil-A from UTA campus

Students at the University of Texas at Arlington have started an online petition to remove the Chick-fil-A in the Hereford University Center.

Alohi Valdez, president of UTA’s Gay Straight Alliance, initially said she was conflicted about creating a petition due to concerns student workers would lose their jobs if Chick-fil-A closed. But after speaking to friends and GSA members over the weekend, she said she decided to start the petition. As of Monday afternoon, 65 people had signed it.

Valdez said she was also inspired to take a stand after hearing about the death of Fairness Fort Worth president and UTA alumnus Tom Anable.

“I had never met the man, even though Fairness Fort Worth had done so much for us, so I had really looked forward to shaking his hand one day,” she said. “When that hope was taken away from me, I really just felt this flame inside me: I had to do something. Even though I just had a long day and it was 3 a.m. on a Saturday night/early Sunday, I had to write something.”

Anable was chair of the local steering committee for the White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools and Communities that took place at UTA in March.

Valdez said Anable and FFW Treasurer David Mack Henderson, also a UTA alumnus, had done so much for the students at UTA and she wanted to continue their work.

“I have to complete what they started, do my part, and continue to make the University of Texas at Arlington the best school it can be, welcoming and open for everyone,” she said.

UTA spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan said she was waiting on the university’s response to the petition before commenting.

Two anti-Chick-fil-A petitions are ongoing at the University of North Texas, one by a student and another by an alumnus. A UNT spokeswoman told Dallas Voice students had the choice not to dine at the on-campus location but would not comment on whether the university would consider removing it.

A spokesman with Southern Methodist University told Dallas Voice last week that the university would not remove the restaurant from campus. SPECTRUM, SMU’s LGBT student group, spoke out against Chick-fil-A but has not announced plans to try to have the on-campus location removed.

—  Dallasvoice

Arlington police arrest 1st suspect in anti-gay hate crime; 4 others expected to turn themselves in

Daniel Sibley

Arlington police have arrested one teenager and expect four more to turn themselves in after video footage identified them as suspects in a vandalism spree June 10 that included anti-gay slurs spray-painted on a lesbian couple’s SUV.

Sgt. Christopher Cook said Wednesday during a press conference that Fort Worth teen Daniel Sibley, 18, was arrested Tuesday. He is in custody on a $2,500 bond.

Cook explained that two surveillance cameras on residences captured several teens spray-painting derogatory images and words on homes and cars in a total of 13 incidents. The second video captured the vehicle information and led to the identification of five teens ages 16-18.

Cook said the two other adults have attorneys and will be booked into jail Wednesday afternoon. A female juvenile is also expected to turn herself in. Police are still trying to contact a female adult.

All suspects will be charged with the state jail felony of criminal mischief for damage ranging from $1,500-$20,000.

The punishment for a state jail felony is 180 days to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. If the classification is enhanced by the hate crime statute to a third-degree felony, the teens could face two to 10 years behind bars in addition to the fine.

A racial slur was spray-painted on a vehicle, but Cook said it not being reported as a hate crime because the man who owned the car was Caucasian. He said based on the statement from Sibley that the teens saw a sticker on the lesbian couple’s SUV – which featured two female caricatures with a child and pet – and made an assumption that they were gay before vandalizing the vehicle.

Arlington police Chief Will Johnson

Acting police chief Will Johnson said it was clear that the incident involving the lesbian couple was hate crime from early on because the words “queers” and “faggot” were spray-painted on their SUV.

“A crime of hatred is not only a crime against an individual but it is a crime against the community,” he said. “Early in this investigation it was clear that hateful and biased language was used to damage property at multiple locations. It was equally clear that at least one of our 13 victims was targeted specifically because of their sexual orientation.”

He said the incident would be reported to the FBI as a hate crime and that authorities would continue to investigate and prosecute hate crimes in Arlington in the future.

“We are committed in Arlington to prevent all crime especially crime that was committed for no other reason than possibly toward hatred,” Johnson said. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated, it will be fully investigated — and to the fullest extent of the law prosecuted.”

Kim Lovering said she and her partner were woken up by police early Sunday morning, June 10. Neighbors had already called police but she said her family was unaware of the vandalism to their SUV. She said she was grateful her son, not yet 2, was too young to understand what happened.

From the police presence to Johnson calling her later that day to check on her family, Lovering said she was impressed by the support from the community and police.

“They stood behind us,” she said. “It was really a huge relief that something like this was handled the right way. And I’m glad it’s our city.”

As for the arrest and suspected capture of the remaining suspects, she said it will help her sleep at night and hopes the teens’ arrests will change their attitudes.

“I’m so thankful for the way this turned out just for our safety and peace of mind,” she said.

Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable praised the police response, calling it a “textbook” example of how police should respond and engage with the community.

Anable said anti-gay slurs are “so offensive and dehumanizing” and “will never go away,” adding that the quick identification and arrest of suspects send the message that hate crimes won’t be tolerated anymore.

“It’s nothing new for us. What is new is having a dialogue with law enforcement and the FBI,” he said. “I can’t say enough about how well the Arlington Police Department handled this. … It is absolutely textbook perfect.”

Anable said his organization has reached out to the Human Rights Campaign to try to bring national attention to “how things can go right.”

“The citizens of Arlington should take great pride in their police department and the quality of their city,” he said.

HRC released a statement Wednesday applauding Arlington PD for “responding swiftly and thoroughly.”

The full HRC statement is below, along with video from the press conference.

—  Dallasvoice

Officer assaulted in fight near Rainbow Lounge

Five people were arrested early Sunday — one for assault on a police officer — after a fight broke out on South Jennings Street, near the Rainbow Lounge. The officer was not injured, according to this report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Liaison officer Kellie Whitehead

Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, noted that the Star-Telegram story incorrectly implies the incident occurred inside the bar, which became famous after a June 29, 2009 raid by police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“This was a fight between two groups of people that happened outside the bar, after the bar was closed,” Anable said.

Fort Worth LGBT Liaison Officer Kellie Whitehead said today she’s still trying to confirm all the details, but reported that officers were called to the scene at 2:27 a.m. in response to a fight between two groups of people. She said the first officers to arrive on the scene approached a man who appeared to be about to fight with someone else. She said the man “turned on the officer and took an aggressive stance,” and so the officer put the man in handcuffs.

Rainbow Lounge owner J.R. Schrock, who made the call to 911, told Anable that he could not hear nor clearly see what transpired between the officer and the man, but that the officer “took him down and handcuffed him.”

At that point, Whitehead said, others in the crowd “started getting aggravated,” and someone threw a high-heeled shoe at the officer. Other officers arrived, and one of them approached a man “who appeared to be intoxicated,” and that person punched the officer.

—  admin

Fairness Fort Worth, city’s Human Rights Commission receive IAOHRA President’s Award

Tom Anable

When Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable headed to Austin this week, he thought he was just going to speak as part of a panel discussion during a session of the International Association of Human Rights Agency‘s annual conference. But conference organizers talked him into attending the conference’s Tuesday night dinner, and when he found out why they asked him to stay, it was a welcome surprise: They wanted him there to accept the annual IAOHRA President’s Award on behalf of Fairness Fort Worth.

The award, the organization’s highest honor, was presented jointly to FFW and to the Fort Worth Human Rights Commission in recognition of their work, in the wake of the June 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge, in creating positive change in the city on human rights issues. Human Rights Commission Chair Estrus Tucker was there to accept the award on behalf of the city.

“This is a big coup for the city,” Anable said Wednesday. “They [city officials] have done a great job. … I couldn’t be more pleased that they gave it to us jointly, because that shows they recognize how well we [FFW and the city] work together to solve our problems.”

Watch the Friday, Sept. 2 print edition [and online, of course] for more on the award, including — hopefully — photos from the award presentation Tuesday night.

—  admin

TABC settlements bring ‘closure’

Tom Anable

Fairness Fort Worth president says payments to Gibson, Armstrong fair; TABC spokeswoman says agency is happy with mediated settlements

JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Two years and one month after the Rainbow Lounge raid, Fort Worth’s LGBT community finally has some closure, according to the president of an advocacy group formed in response to the incident.

Last week it was reported that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had reached monetary settlements with two patrons injured in the June 2009 raid of the gay bar, which occurred on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Chad Gibson, who suffered a serious head injury in the raid, will receive $210,000 from TABC. George Armstrong, who suffered a torn rotator cuff, will receive $15,000.

The city of Fort Worth, whose police officers conducted the raid along with TABC agents, previously settled with Gibson for $400,000 and with Armstrong for $40,000.

“It closes all the legal issues, and the damage issues,” Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable said this week of the TABC settlement. “It’s closure in regards to the Rainbow Lounge incident.

“It’s all done and closed,” Anable added. “We have closure and we’re moving forward with other issues.”

TABC fired two agents and a supervisor after the raid, and FWPD suspended three officers.

“Fort Worth ran the operation. Fort Worth was in charge of the operation,” Anable said. “TABC fired employees, and Fort Worth gave some wrist slaps, so I think it was appropriate they [Fort Worth] paid more money.”

Carolyn Beck

TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said her agency’s settlements with Gibson and Armstrong were agreed to during mediation in March, but had to be signed off on by the offices of the attorney general and the governor.

“Those approvals came through in June, and so here we are now,” said Beck, who was named the agency’s liaison to the LGBT community following the raid. “We are happy that we were able to come to an agreement with mediation, and I personally feel like our relationship with the LGBT community is a lot different than it was two years ago. And I hope that it continues to stay positive.”

After the raid, TABC became the first state agency in Texas to conduct comprehensive LGBT diversity training for its employees.

Don Tittle, the Dallas attorney who represented both Armstrong and Gibson, didn’t respond to a phone message from Dallas Voice this week.

But Tittle told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “It is done. They are very relieved. I think they feel that they received a level of justice, although it was slow. The monetary compensation was fair, but I think it was important to both of them that there be change within both organizations. As a result of the incident, both Fort Worth and TABC have taken affirmative steps to improve relations and to be more sensitive to diversity.”

—  John Wright

Fort Worth school board adds gender identity and expression to anti-harassment policy

Carlos Vasquez

The Fort Worth school board passed a new student conduct policy Tuesday that includes gender identity/expression in anti-retaliation, nondiscrimination and anti-harassment language. Sexual orientation was already protected.

Gender identity/expression had previously been included in FWISD policies for faculty and staff. Tuesday’s change makes Fort Worth the first district in Texas to protect students, staff and faculty based on both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in conduct policy handbooks. Some districts, including Dallas, have added both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to their anti-bullying policies.

The new FWISD policy was on the consent agenda, which means it passed without discussion along with other non-controversial changes.

Openly gay FWISD board member Carlos Vasquez said he was delighted the new policy passed on June 28, the second anniversary of the Rainbow Lounge Raid and the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

He said the policy passed without public discussion but with some private discussions among board members.

“One didn’t know the terminology,” he said.

Vasquez said that before the policy passed for faculty and staff earlier this year, “We didn’t have a gay and lesbian teachers organization. Now we do.” While the policy doesn’t address bullying, he said it would affect bullying policy.

“If they violate the policy, they can be sanctioned and placed in an alternative school,” Vasquez said.

He said the district has a number of gay and lesbian principals and administrators. The only teacher he knew that would be covered by the new policy was a substitute who had some problems at one school where she worked.

“This settles that as far as policy is concerned,” he said. “This is a preventive policy to make sure people know we’re here to protect them.”

Fairness Fort Worth was instrumental in getting the policy passed, he said. He gave special credit to Tom Anable and David Mack Henderson for working with board members to get the policy passed.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Fairness Fort Worth criticizes police handling of apparent anti-gay hate crime

Tom Anable

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. LGBT advocates in Fort Worth say they’re troubled by the Police Department’s handling of an apparent anti-gay hate crime on May 23 in south Fort Worth, which we first told you about last Friday. As we reported this Monday, Fort Worth police are now investigating the attack as a hate crime, but advocates say authorities initially tried to downplay the incident, leaving anti-gay slurs out of their report and failing to classify the incident as a an aggravated assault. From today’s Star-Telegram: Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, said Tuesday that he is troubled by the department’s handling of the case and has requested an investigation into the assault by the FBI. Among Anable’s concerns is that officers did not include the derogatory terms in their initial report and that the case was not assigned earlier for investigation as a potential hate crime. “It’s clear to me, based on what I know, the officers on the scene downplayed the report,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that after all the progress we’ve made, an incident like this has to come back to Fairness Fort Worth and we have to call the FBI,” said Anable, referring to the changes that have been made since a controversial inspection of the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar, two years ago.

2. Gay California corrections officer Andrew Johnson will be allowed to march in uniform in Sunday’s West Hollywood Pride parade, after the state corrections department reversed its initial decision denying his request. The department’s decision to allow Johnson to march in uniform comes after he filed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint through his attorney, Gloria Allred.

3. CNN’s AC360 on Tuesday night aired part one of “The Sissy Boy Experiment,” a three-part series examining the consequences of an experimental “ex-gay” therapy program led by discredited psychologist George “Rent Boy” Rekers. Kirk Murphy, who was enrolled in the program at the age of 5, later took his own life at 38. Part two of the series airs tonight. Watch part one below.

—  John Wright

FW police will investigate attack as hate crime

After a story appeared in Friday’s Dallas Voice about an attack on a gay couple, Fort Worth police have decided to look into the assault as a possible hate crime.

Several members of Fairness Fort Worth contacted the office of Chief Jeffrey Halstead.

Fairness Fort Worth’s David Mack Henderson wrote, “Marvin Vann, a local GLBT teacher and parent in FW reached out on his own to make inquiries with the FWPD. Tom Anable has been doing the same in more direct channels, of course, discussing criteria for hate crimes investigations, officer and paramedic conduct, etc. Marvin just got these email responses today from Halstead’s chief of staff, Paul Henderson (no relation to David).”

Here’s what Paul Henderson wrote to Vann:

Thank you for your email. Our Major Case investigators (this unit investigates Hate Crime) reviewed the details of the case to determine if the assault meets the criteria to be classified as a “Hate Crime.” There are two distinct forms of hate-type incidents.

One is a Hate Crime which falls under the definition provided by the Department of Justice and basically states that in order for a crime to be classified as a “Hate Crime” it has to be “motivated” by prejudice against a particular person or group because of their culture, beliefs, or other factors.

The other form is considered a Hate/Biased Incident. This stems from a crime that is committed (such as a robbery, assault, homicide, destruction of property) for other motivations that are not necessarily connected to culture, beliefs, etc… If a suspect commits a crime, let’s say assault, due to an altercation as a result from a traffic accident or because the suspect felt an individual was looking at his girlfriend (which was the circumstance in the case you have referenced) and the suspect yells a slur during the process, this is considered a Hate/Biased Incident because it does not meet the criteria for a Hate Crime under the DOJ definition.

Hate crimes are filed and prosecuted federally therefore agencies must adhere to the definition provided by the DOJ. I would encourage you to go to the FBI’s website and click on information regarding Hate Crimes. The assault you reference is being investigated as a Hate/Biased Incident. Once the investigation is complete and evidence is revealed that would classify this as a Hate Crime, the FBI will then review and make a determination whether or not to file the federal charge.

I hope this helps! Thank you for your interest and your support in fighting all types of hate crime and hate/biased incidents.

In another email to Vann, Henderson wrote, “As a follow-up, I just learned that Major Case is accepting the investigation and will investigate as a Hate Crime. Thanks again for your email.”

—  David Taffet