Iconic LGBT activist Ray Hill files for Texas House seat

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

Long time Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill filed paperwork this week to run for the 147th Texas House seat against incumbent Garnet Coleman, D – Houston. The iconic (and iconoclastic) Hill said that he and Coleman agree on many issues but that he had “some issues  that aren’t on the table in Austin.”

Specifically Hill has concerns with the legislature’s approach to criminal justice issues. “The Texas legislature is a serial world class red-necking competition,” says Hill. “What they are doing on criminal justice is wrong and it doesn’t work… we need a serious rethink.”

Coleman has a strong history of supporting LGBT legislation. For the last three sessions he has attempted to pass anti-bullying legislation that would require school districts to report instances of bullying using an enumerated list of motivating characteristics that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, he has also filed legislation to remove the the crime of “homosexual conduct” from the Texas penal code (a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), to equalize age of consent laws in Texas and to add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime law. In the 82nd legislature earlier this year Coleman authored seven pieces of legislation designed to create greater equality for LGBT people, including the first ever filing of legislation to standardize change of gender marker procedures for the transgender community and the first effort to repeal the state’s constitutional prohibition against marriage equality.

Hill recognizes Coleman’s historic contributions, “The incumbent and I agree on a lot of issues,” says Hill, “but we don’t tell young gay people ‘if you work real hard and go to school and do your best you can grow up to have straight friends in Austin who like you.’ No, we tell them ‘if you work hard they can grow up to be Mayor of Houston, or City Supervisor of San Francisco.’”

When asked why the community would be better served by him than Coleman, a 20 year legislative veteran, Hill replies “I understand how government works. A freshman legislator can’t do anything more than irritate, but that’s about all any member of the minority party can do. On that level the incumbent and I are on the same level… I think we need somebody obnoxious [in the legislature] who’s going to purposefully rub the cat hair the wrong direction.”

Since being elected to the legislature for the first time in 1992 Coleman has been unopposed in 5 of his 9 primary reelection bids. No primary challenger to Coleman has pulled more than 21% of the vote.

—  admin

Upstate NY newspaper runs trans-tastic series

A view of Downtown Albany from the Hudson River

My college town newspaper, the Albany Times Union, is running an awesome series of articles about the transgender community this week that I wanted to share.

When I was in school, the Times Union was the conservative newspaper and the now-gone Knickerbocker News was the liberal paper. But the surviving paper knows its audience and Albany is liberal. No, that should read LIBERAL.

This whole series is worth a read. But not only are the articles good, so are the comments. The biggest complaint is that the LGBT community is getting too much coverage. Imagine that in the local Dallas newspaper. I expect more negative comments right here in a Texas LGBT newspaper than an Upstate New York mainstream paper is getting.

Here’s an article filled with statistics. They claim more than 8 million LGBs in the U.S. and 700,000 transgenders. There’s no census count so I’m not sure where the numbers come from.

Here’s the main page — Transgender: A Special Report. The online version begins with 75+ photos.

People just know me as Pat

The long, difficult journey of how a man became a woman

Surgery, pain, humor and no turning back

Going from Kenny to Kym was no easy road

For Drew, nothing is written

‘I like my fluid identity’

A little about Albany

Albany is a small city of about 100,000 people. The capital of New York, it’s about 150 miles north of New York City, north of the Catskills, south of the Adirondacks and where the Mohawk River empties into the Hudson River. Where the northbound New York State Thruway makes a sharp left turn to head west to Buffalo — giving the city its nickname — the armpit of New York.

Oh, and Albany is a very liberal city. So it’s not surprising they’d run this series. I just don’t know when another mainstream daily has devoted this much space at one time to transgender issues.

Albany is home to the first LGBT community center ever created in the country. Located in a brownstone a few blocks the Capitol, it’s now called the Capital Pride Center. The building was purchased in 1974 by a professor at my school and a group of us helped renovate the building. That was the first time I ever helped build stairs. Hopefully they’ve been rebuilt since then.

And Sen. Gillibrand — who represented Albany before becoming senator — was a leader in getting rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and pushed for marriage equality along with Governor Andrew Cuomo.

—  David Taffet

Investigation continues into Marcal Tye’s murder

St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department investigators in Forrest City, Ark., have some leads in the March 8 murder of transwoman Marcal Tye, but have made no arrests yet and are waiting on the Arkansas State Crime Lab to complete forensic testing to move forward, according to reports in The Republic newspaper in Columbus, Ind. The Republic based its report on reports in the Forrest City Times-Herald, which requires a subscription to read its content online.

Marcal Tye

Preliminary autopsy reports indicate Tye was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head and from blunt force trauma caused by being run over. Her body was dragged several hundred feet by a car after she was shot. Investigators found two .38-caliber shell casings at the scene.

Tye, who was well known as a trans woman in Forrest City, was found dead by passersby on a country road just outside the Forrest Hill city limits in the early morning hours of March 8. The case received national attention when early news reports called Tye “a man in a dress” and quoted St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May as calling her a crossdresser.

The FBI is investigating the case as a possible civil rights violation but has made no determination on whether her death was a hate crime. Sheriff May has said it was “an ordinary murder” and not a hate crime.

The case has also raised new concerns for the transgender community in Memphis, about 45 miles away on Interstate 45, where a number of trans women have been killed or injured in attacks over the last five to six years.

—  admin

Advocate says Texas voter ID bill will force transgender people to out themselves at polls

Rep. Van Taylor of Plano believes only the right people should vote.

The Republican-backed voter ID bill passed the Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday night.

During the floor debate on the bill, Laredo Democrat Richard Raymond asked, “Anytime you deal with a law as comprehensive and as big as this you have to take into account people’s voting rights. You would agree with that, right?”

Plano Republican Van Taylor said, “I think it is important to remember that this bill is about making sure that the right people show up on election day and vote.”

“That the right people show up on election day?” Raymond asked. “Who are the right people?”

As much as any group, the transgender community will be affected if — and when – this bill becomes law.

Katy Stewart of the Transgender Education Network of Texas said her organization opposes voter ID bills.

“This law would make transgender persons out themselves at the polls,” she said.

Lisa Scheps, former executive director of TENT, said the law would have a tremendous effect on transgender people.

“So many times transgender people are cross-identified,” Scheps said.

If the photo on a government-issued identification doesn’t match someone’s presentation, the ID will be questioned and the person may be denied the right to vote, she said. While the transgender community wasn’t the main target of this legislation, she said many in the community will be affected.

“It’s a bad bill,” she said. “One more way to disenfranchise many groups of people.”

—  David Taffet

Stonewall Dems of Dallas responds to Ramos

Omar Narvaez, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, sent over the below resolution responding to recent statements by Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos, who last week compared gays to “termites” and Stonewall to the “Nazi Party.” As we noted this morning, Ramos followed up with another anti-gay rant in which he said being gay is “not natural” and compared it to being born with a polio leg. Narvaez said the resolution was approved unanimously by Stonewall’s members at Tuesday night’s meeting:

Whereas, the Texas Democratic Party Platform supports action against all forms of discrimination and specifically calls for the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; and

Whereas, the honor of serving as County Chair in the Democratic Party in the State of Texas is accompanied by the solemn responsibility to uphold the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution without equivocation; and

Whereas, the Bexar County Democratic Chair Dan Ramos has gone on record describing the gay-rights movement as “very sinister”, the Stonewall Democrats as “termites” that “managed to get their people in key positions” in the Bexar County Democratic Party, and other reprehensible characterizations; and

Whereas, the unanimously elected Texas Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie and many Dallas County Democratic Party officials have publicly called upon Bexar County Democratic Chair Dan Ramos to apologize or resign to no effect; and

Whereas, it is incumbent upon us as both Democrats and staunch defenders of equality for all people under the law including the LGBT community; therefore be it

Resolved, that the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas County join the chorus of voices from San Antonio, Rio Grande Valley, Houston, Austin and elsewhere in this great state of Texas to call for the resignation of Dan Ramos as Bexar County Democratic Party Chair.

—  John Wright

Removal of sexual orientation doesn’t stop bigots — or the ACLU — from opposing anti-bullying bill

Jonathan Saenz

The removal of sexual orientation from an anti-bullying bill didn’t stop anti-gay groups from opposing the measure during a Texas House committee hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affiars for the Plano-based Liberty Institute, told the House public education committee that even though sexual orientation and other enumerated categories were removed from Rep. Mark Strama’s HB 224, Saenz fears the categories will be restored to the measure at some point.

“It is about the gay rights, the homosexual community, the transgender community, and an effort to create special categories and special rights in our law that don’t currently exist, and really carve off protections for some groups and not others,” Saenz told the committee. “It’s not about bullying, and it’s not about solving this problem. It’s about creating new classes of people and giving special protections to some categories and not others.”

Strama said during the hearing that he has no plans to restore the enumerated categories to the bill.

“We took all those classes out so we wouldn’t have to have this discusssion,” said Strama, D-Austin. “It’s not my intention to put any of that list back in the bill. At this point I’d like to keep it the way it is if we can get this bill moving through the process.”

Representatives from Equality Texas, which supports the bill and testified in favor of it on Tuesday, have said the enumerated categories were removed to improve the bill’s chances of passage and de-politicize the issue.

Also testifying against Strama’s bill were both the anti-gay Texas Eagle Forum and the normally pro-equality American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU representatives say Strama’s bill, which would allow school officials to crack down on cyberbullying that occurs off campus, creates concerns about free speech and parental rights.

The bill was left pending in the education committee. To watch video of the committee hearing, go here.

—  John Wright

Ricky Martin becomes a hero for Latino gays

SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS | Associated Press

NEW YORK — It’s been almost a year since Ricky Martin announced to the world he was gay, but among many gay Latinos, a community that has lived in obscurity for fear of harassment or rejection, his message is still making an impact.

“Today I ACCEPT MY HOMOSEXUALITY as a gift that gives me life,” Martin wrote last March in an open letter to his fans, after refusing to speak about his sexual orientation for years. “I feel blessed to be who I am!”

“By hiding, he validated millions of closeted gays’ that homosexuality is not honorable,” Daniel Shoer Roth, a Venezuelan columnist of the Miami Herald who is gay, told The Associated Press recently.

“In the gay community we have always known that Ricky Martin is one of us,” he added. “Because he is an idol, Ricky has paved the way so these gays now say, ‘If he could do it, so can I.”’

The revelation of the Puerto Rican singer and activist, whose album Music+Soul+Sex came out last week, has had positive effects for the Latino gay community and the society in general, according to advocates for the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

“The example of Ricky Martin as citizen of the world, humanitarian, father, intelligent person, is a good example for those who have obvious stereotypes and also for those who don’t have prejudice but have ideas that may act as barriers in the lives of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT),” said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). “Ideas like ‘a gay man is good to water my flowers at home but not for business’ limit the opportunities for the LGBT community.”

Pedro Julio Serrano, communications manager of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says that “when Ricky made the announcement the tectonic plates moved, it was almost like an earthquake.”

“It was one of the most important news in the fight for equality that the Latino LGBT community leads. It touches the hearts and opens the minds of many people,” said Serrano, who became a friend of the artist after his announcement.

Ricardo Torres, a Mexican man who was raised in Texas and lives in Chicago, was in the audience when Oprah Winfrey interviewed Martin last year. He thanked Martin, saying that his revelation was good for his own relationship with his mother.

“For the first time my mother asked me personal questions. For almost 20 years she has known that I am gay but she never asked anything … she told me not to tell anyone else in my family. It was a secret … a big taboo,” Torres, 38, told the AP.

“Everything changed after Ricky came out of the closet,” he added. “Like someone in our family came out and by doing so gave us the right to live more openly.”

And the audience in general seems to support Martin.

Me, which came out Nov. 2, was a New York Times best-seller and its Spanish edition, Yo, reached No. 1 biography in the United States. His single “Lo mejor de mi vida eres tu,” released the same week of the book, was at the top of Billboard’s Latin Pop Songs chart (English version “The Best Thing About Me Is You” debuted on Oprah and was officially released on Feb. 1.)

“If in Puerto Rico people used to love him, now they love him even more,” said Serrano, who recounted that during Martin’s first public appearance post-announcement, in April at the Latin Billboard Awards, the singer not only received a standing ovation in the theater but a multitudinous cheer from the people on the streets.

“That says a lot about the welcoming and I think demonstrates the reality of our society,” he said. “Even though we still have to fight a lot of homophobia, there is much more acceptance today.”

According to statistics published online by The Trevor Project, a help-line for LGBT teenagers who may be contemplating suicide, LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers; more than one third have attempted taking their own lives and those in highly rejecting families are more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Torres considers that “one of the biggest positive effects (of Ricky’s coming out) is that Latino teenagers that are struggling with their sexuality have an example to follow.”

“Ricky gives hope to thousands of teens that are recognizing their sexual orientation or their gender identity and this tells them that even when there is homophobia and lack of acceptance, they can get to be whatever they want to be,” Serrano concluded. “I believe that with his story he is saving lives, and for me that is crucial, it is wonderful.”

—  John Wright

‘Another bridesmaid moment for the transgender community’

Repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ doesn’t apply to transgender recruits, who are barred from serving

LISA LEFF | Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Before handcuffing herself to the White House fence, former Petty Officer First Class Autumn Sandeen carefully pinned three rows of Navy ribbons to her chest. Her regulation dress blue skirt, fitted jacket, hat and black pumps were new — fitting for a woman who spent two decades serving her country as a man.

Sandeen was the only transgender person among the six veterans arrested in April while protesting the military’s ban on openly gay troops. But when she watched President Barack Obama last month sign the hard-fought bill allowing for the ban’s repeal, melancholy tinged her satisfaction.

“This is another bridesmaid moment for the transgender community,” the 51-year-old San Diego resident said.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy now heading toward history does not apply to transgender recruits, who are automatically disqualified as unfit for service. But the military’s long-standing posture on gender-identity has not prevented transgender citizens from signing up before they come out, or from obtaining psychological counseling, hormones and routine health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs once they return to civilian life.

So as the Pentagon prepares to welcome openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members for the first time, Sandeen is not alone in hoping the United States will one day join the seven other nations — Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, the Czech Republic, Thailand and Australia — that allow transgender troops.

“There is really no question, it’s just a matter of when,” said former Army Capt. Allyson Robinson, 40, a 1994 West Point graduate who has spoken to sociology classes at the alma mater she attended as a male cadet. “There are active-duty, as well as reserve and national guard transgender service members, serving today.”

No one knows how many transgender people are serving or have served. Neither the Department of Defense nor the VA keep statistics on how many service members have been discharged or treated for transgender conditions or conduct.

The Transgender American Veterans Association, an advocacy group founded in 2003, estimates there could be as many as 300,000 transgender people among the nation’s 26 million veterans.

When 50 TAVA members laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier six years ago, representatives from every U.S. conflict since World War II were there, said former Navy Machinist Mate First Class Monica Helms, the group’s co-founder and president.

Most had spent years, if not decades, as veterans before they could acknowledge the mismatches between their brains and their bodies. Helms, 59, spent four years in the engine room of a nuclear submarine during the Vietnam War, but did not start living as Monica until 1997.

Military regulations state that men and women who identify with or present a gender different from their sex at birth have mental conditions that make them ineligible to serve. Those who have undergone genital surgery are listed as having physical abnormalities. Service members caught cross-dressing on base have been court-martialed for interfering with “good order and discipline,” according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Until the American Psychiatric Association removes Gender Identity Disorder from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as it did for homosexuality in 1973, that’s likely to remain the case, Sandeen said.

The very diagnosis that keeps transgender Americans out of uniform has enabled some to obtain transition-related medical care and other services when they become veterans.

Federal law prohibits Veterans Health Administration (VA) facilities from performing or paying for sex-change surgeries. But some VA medical centers provide psychological counseling, sex hormones, speech therapy and other medical treatment short of gender reassignment surgery.

Sandeen said the VA hospital in San Diego made it possible for her to start living as a woman once she retired from the Navy a decade ago.

“As soon as I got an appointment with the psychiatry department, the first thing I said to them is, ‘I have gender issues. I don’t know if I’m a transvestite or a transsexual or if I’m something in between, but I need to work this out with a therapist,”’ she recalled.

She eventually received a recommendation to see a VA doctor who could prescribe estrogen to help her grow breasts and hips and diminish body and facial hair. The endocrinologist told her she first would have to try presenting herself as a woman for two-and-half-months.

Sandeen, already classified as a disabled vet with bipolar disorder, had lined up a work-study job at the hospital’s patient health library.

“February 6, 2003, my first day of being publicly female, I was working for $10 an hour at the VA helping other vets with health care needs,” she said. “The VA is the organization that helped me work this out.”

The attention Sandeen received as a veteran is not unusual, but not universal, transgender advocates say. In response to complaints that some transgender veterans have been treated disrespectfully or denied care at VA facilities, Helms’ group has lobbied the Veterans Affairs department to issue guidelines on services to which transgender patients are entitled.

San Diego resident Zander Keig, who was a woman during a two-year stint with the Coast Guard, had been on testosterone for a year when he wanted his prescription transferred from a suburban VA clinic. But veterans are not allowed to change their names on discharge papers so he was directed to the women’s VA clinic in San Francisco.

Keig, 44, said a senior physician there “grilled me with questions. Why are you taking T? Do you know what it’s doing to your body? How are you eligible for these services?”

“I said, ‘I established my eligibility for VA services in 1988, I have every reason to be here. Am I going to get my shots or not?”’ Keig recalled. He did get his injections.

In 2007, the VA complex in Boston became the first veterans’ medical provider to draft a policy designed to assure transgender veterans received consistent and sensitive care.

Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Katie Roberts said the VA is reviewing the Boston policy and others, hoping to create a formal directive in the “near future.”

“As all veterans served this nation with the same expectation of honor and excellence, VA strives to provide all veterans equitable treatment respecting their honor by providing medical services with excellence,” she said.

Even with the enormous changes in their lives, many transgender veterans maintain connections with their military service. Sandeen still shops at a Navy commissary and grabs her military identification when she goes walking. Robinson considers her four years as a West Point cadet the best of her life, although she feared being caught with women’s clothes in her trunk.

“I love this country and I felt a personal calling to express that love of America through my willingness to sacrifice,” she said.

But when Robinson made her triumphant return to the academy for her speaking engagement, along with the congratulations, came comments that she was unworthy to be part of the “Long Gray Line.”

“It was as though the service I had rendered was suddenly worthless,” she said.

Former Air Force Sgt. Nicole Shounder, 52, who underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1999, has spent the last four years wearing a uniform at sea, first with the Coast Guard auxiliary and now, as a civil service mariner nurse aboard the USNS Robert E Perry, which recently supplied deployments in the Mediterranean.

Shounder considers it a privilege to wear Navy-issued collar brass and shoulder boards.

“Given my circumstances, it really is,” she said. “Essentially until someone can say otherwise, I am probably the only out and open post-op transsexual in uniform for the Navy, or as close as you can be.”

—  John Wright

Top 10: Bus driver’s plight led to trans protections at DART

No. 5:

View all of the Top 10

Ever since Democrats took over the Dallas County courthouse in 2006, judges here have been routinely granting gender-marker changes — court orders that allow transgender people to obtain driver’s licenses and other forms of ID that match their appearance.

Needless to say, this has been a critical development for the transgender community, but as it turns out, even with Democrats in power, gender-marker changes don’t always go smoothly.

In one controversial case uncovered by Dallas Voice in February, an employer tried to intervene in family court to challenge an employee’s gender-marker change, prompting a Democratic judge who was considered a strong LGBT ally to overturn her decision to grant it.

The employer was Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the judge was Lynn Cherry, and this newspaper’s report about the case prompted an outcry from LGBT advocates.

After all, if DART was willing to intervene in family court to challenge an employee’s gender-marker change, would the agency do the same if it didn’t agree with a divorce settlement or a child custody arrangement?

DART offered no good explanation as to why it had sought to intervene in the case, leaving the LGBT community to believe the decision was fueled by bigotry and transphobia. And LGBT advocates demanded that the agency redeem itself by adding gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy.

The employee in the case, a longtime DART bus driver who asked not to be identified, said the agency’s decision to challenge her gender-marker change was the culmination of years of discrimination and harassment on the part of the agency.

DART had added sexual orientation but not gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy in 1995.

After meetings between representatives from DART and Resource Center Dallas, the proposal to add gender identity appeared to be on a fast track for approval when it unanimously cleared a committee in April.

But suddenly in May, despite the fact that the amendment had been under review for months, the agency’s Board of Directors voted to table it so they could seek more information about the definition of gender identity.

Then, following a 30-minute, possibly illegal closed-door session in mid-June, the board hastily approved new language that effectively gutted the proposal.

The new language said the agency wouldn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, “except to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law.”

Because there are no federal or state protections for LGBT workers, legal experts said the new language would’ve not only undermined the trans protections, but also rescinded DART’s sexual orientation protections from 15 years ago.

The LGBT community was outraged anew and even more galvanized than ever over the issue.

Claude Williams, an LGBT ally on the DART board, accused the agency’s attorneys of “duping” board members into supporting the new language. Incidentally, it was these same attorneys who’d sought to challenge the employee’s gender marker change.

Finally, on June 22, Williams and other allies on the DART board put forth a motion to remove the language that would’ve gutted the proposal, and to approve it as previously written — with both gay and transgender protections in tact.

Faced with immense pressure from the LGBT community, the board unanimously approved the motion — and received a standing ovation from what was the largest LGBT audience to attend a government meeting in North Texas since Fort Worth City Council meetings in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: GetEQUAL Texas calls out Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for vote against DADT repeal

Transgender woman Chris Tina Foxx Bruce holds a sign conveying the message of today’s rally outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office.

About 10 people gathered outside Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office this afternoon to protest her vote on Saturday against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The protest was organized by GetEQUAL Texas, the state chapter of the national LGBT direct action group, and similar rallies were scheduled today outside Hutchison’s offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.

Wielding signs, bullhorns and a Rainbow-colored American flag, the Dallas protesters chanted “Shame on Kay!” and “Retire, Kay Bailey!” as they stood on a grassy median along the service road outside her 11th floor office in the Hotels.com building at 10440 N. Central Expressway.

Despite Hutchison’s vote against DADT repeal, the bill passed and is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. However, the protesters  didn’t appear to be in a celebratory mood.

“This is just the beginning,” said protester Marlin Bynum, a 47-year-old former preacher who came out as gay five years ago. “We still need ENDA. We’ve still got to repeal DOMA. This is just the beginning. In fact, I don’t know if the fight will ever end.”

Another protester, Chris Tina Foxx Bruce, said she attended the rally because she wanted to make sure the transgender community was represented.

“We have to put on a united front,” she said.

Foxx Bruce added that she’s toying with the idea running for Hutchison’s Senate seat in 2012. Foxx Bruce said Hutchison voted against DADT repeal even though everyone knew it had enough votes to pass.

“She was making a statement, and her statement was, she doesn’t believe in equality,” Foxx Bruce said.

Jade Rea, who traveled to the rally from Fort Worth and said she was representing the bisexual community, acknowledged that Hutchison is unlikely to ever support the LGBT community.

“Probably not, but it’s better for her to see something going on in support than nothing at all,” Rea said. “If you’re not vocal, you’re not heard, you’re not seen, it’s like you’re invisible.”

At the end of the rally, a representative from Hutchison’s office, Byron Campbell, came down to meet the protesters, who handed him two signs on which they’d written personal messages.

“Eighty percent of this country supported the bill,” GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup told Campbell as he handed him the signs. “We e-mailed, we called her, she asked for a study, the study came back positive, and then she still voted no. We’re extremely disappointed, and we’ll be back.”

“I appreciate this. Thank you very much, and thank you for your time,” Campbell said before quickly going back inside.

Reed said GetEQUAL, which formed this year, is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and likely will become more active in Texas in 2011.

“We’ll continue to hold our elected leaders accountable,” Reed said.

More photos from the rally after the jump.

—  John Wright