WATCH: Fox 4 on Dallas’ failure to enforce ordinance prohibiting anti-gay discrimination

 

I’m on vacation this week but I couldn’t resist putting this up. Before I left on Friday for an undisclosed location, I got a call from Peter Daut at Fox 4. He wanted me to put him in touch with Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup, the local gay couple that filed a discrimination complaint against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their wedding announcement. Peter had seen our post on Friday saying that despite 53 complaints file in nine years, the city has never prosecuted a single case under its ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. So I connected Peter with Mark, and above is the result. It’s a good story that brings needed attention to the issue, but I should note that there is a fact error: The report says the case isn’t going anywhere because sexual orientation isn’t a protected class. Not true. Sexual orientation is a protected class in the city of Dallas, and that’s the whole point. There’s an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and people have been filing complaints under it, but the City Attorney’s Office isn’t doing anything with them. Peter is right when he says the complaint isn’t going anywhere. But he’s wrong about the reason why. Also, he should have given us credit.

—  John Wright

Gay couple complains about city’s handling of discrimination complaint against Morning News

Thomas-Mark-Reed-and-Dante-Karl-Walkup
Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

A few weeks ago we reported that two Dallas council members are reviewing the city’s handling of complaints filed under an ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

We’re still awaiting the results of that review, as well as the city’s response to an open records request filed by Dallas Voice for statistics related to complaints filed under the ordinance.

In the meantime, a gay couple who recently filed a complaint under the ordinance is complaining about the city’s handling of the matter. Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup filed a complaint against The Dallas Morning News, which refuses to publish same-sex marriage announcements in its Weddings section. The couple claims the DMN policy is a violation of the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations.

In a letter to Beverly Davis, director of the city’s Fair Housing Office, the Walkups said it’s been more than 60 days since they filed their complaint, and they haven’t heard anything from the city. The Fair Housing Office is charged with investigating complaints under the ordinance. Below is a copy of the couple’s e-mail, which they forwarded to Dallas Voice as well as City Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano:

Hi Beverly,

It has been over 60 days since we formally filed a complaint against the DMN for discrimination based on our sexual orientation. As you recall, my husband and I had a legal wedding on 12/10/2010 and tried to submit our paid wedding announcement to the Dallas Morning News and we were denied equal access to this public accommodation. Our ad was refused and money refunded based on the Texas ban on SSM.

We reached out to you 30 days ago to seek a status on our case and you told us to “be patient” and we have been. After 60 days, we must say that the lack of any follow-up to our case has been an extreme disappointment. We are a customer of the City of Dallas and your department has not done anything to reach out to us to advise us of any updates about our case.

We expect better service from the people we pay to enforce our laws and there should be no excuse to the lack of follow-up on our discrimination complaint. Please advise when we can expect an update from your department.

Mark & Dante Walkup

—  John Wright

Dallas Morning News bills gay couple $1,034 for wedding announcement it refused to publish

Thomas-Mark-Reed-and-Dante-Karl-Walkup
Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

After filing a discrimination complaint against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their marriage announcement under “Weddings,” a local gay couple reports that they received a $1,034 bill in the mail for the unpublished ad.

Mark Reed-Walkup, who filed the discrimination complaint against The DMN after marrying his partner Dante Walkup in Washington, D.C., says he wrote the following to James Moroney III, publisher and CEO of the newspaper:

“Does the DMN always send out invoices to ‘customers’ who placed an ad online but it was never published due to the paper’s discriminatory policies? We just received an invoice today for our December ad that you banned from your paper because our wedding wasn’t ‘really’ a wedding in your eyes. Unbelievable.”

Reed-Walkup says Moroney responded as follows:

“Not a good practice. I’ll take up with sales. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.”

Reed-Walkup also notes that more than 8,000 people have signed a petition launched by Change.org calling on The DMN to publish same-sex marriage announcements under Weddings. He’s hoping to get the petition up to 10,000 signatures.

As for the complaint filed against The DMN, the director of the Fair Housing Office told Instant Tea recently that the city was still in the process of reviewing it. The Fair Housing Office investigates discrimination complaints filed under a 2002 ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. Reed-Walkup maintains that Wedding announcements are a public accommodation.

—  John Wright

It’s finally official

Reed, Walkup travel to D.C. for 2nd wedding after officials invalidate October Skype ceremony

John Wright  |  wright@dallasvoice.com

Thomas-Mark-Reed-and-Dante-Karl-Walkup
NEWLYWEDS AGAIN | Mark Reed-Walkup, right, and his husband, Dante Walkup, were married a second time in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 10. (Photo courtesy Mark Reed-Walkup)

A gay Dallas couple who made headlines last year with a Skype wedding — only to have it later declared invalid — have since remarried and refiled a discrimination complaint against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their wedding announcement.

Mark Reed-Walkup said Thursday, Jan. 6, that he and his partner, Dante Walkup, traveled to Washington, D.C., and were married in a ceremony inside the Jefferson Memorial on Dec. 10. (Watch video from the ceremony at DallasVoice.com).

The couple had been married Oct. 10 at the W Dallas hotel, in a ceremony officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal. However, after their “e-marriage” made international news, D.C. court officials notified the couple that the marriage was invalid because they hadn’t been physically present in the district for the ceremony.

“We’re officially, legally married in D.C. and recognized in five states and several countries,” Reed-Walkup said Thursday, adding the couple chose not to challenge D.C. officials’ decision to declare the Skype marriage invalid.

“We had sought legal counsel, and they felt like we didn’t have a real strong case because the intent of the law was physical presence,” Reed-Walkup said. “Unless we felt like we had a strong case, we weren’t going to waste any time or resources on it.

“We think one of the objects of the Skype wedding was to help educate and hopefully change minds and hearts across the country, as they saw the effort that two men would go through to try to have a legal wedding in their hometown in front of friends and family,”

Reed-Walkup said. “In our hearts and minds, we believe that we were legally married during our [Oct. 10] ceremony, and it was a beautiful wedding. Having to go back and have the vows on D.C. soil was pretty much taking care of a technicality.”

After the Skype wedding, the couple also filed a discrimination complaint with the city of Dallas against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their wedding announcement, but they withdrew the complaint after the marriage was declared invalid.

They’ve since re-filed the discrimination complaint and are waiting to hear back from the city.

A representative from the city’s Fair Housing Office, which handles discrimination complaints, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

A Dallas ordinance passed in 2002 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. The couple maintains that wedding announcements are a public accommodation.

The Dallas Morning News publishes same-sex announcements under “Commitments” instead of “Weddings.”

James M. Moroney III, publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News, has said the newspaper’s policy is based on Texas law banning same-sex marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Gay Dallas couple re-marries at Jefferson Memorial after Skype wedding declared invalid

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup
Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup.

A gay Dallas couple who made headlines last year with a Skype wedding — only to have it later declared invalid — have since re-married and re-filed a discrimination complaint against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their wedding announcement.

Mark Reed-Walkup said today that he and his partner, Dante Walkup, traveled to Washington, D.C., and were married in a ceremony inside the Jefferson Memorial on Dec. 10. (Watch video from the ceremony below).

The couple had been married Oct. 10 at the W-Dallas hotel, in a ceremony officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal. However, after their “e-marriage” went viral, D.C. court officials notified the couple that the marriage was invalid because they hadn’t been physically present in the district for the ceremony.

“We’re officially, legally married in D.C. and recognized in five states and several countries,” Reed-Walkup said today, adding the couple chose not to challenge D.C. officials’ decision to declare the Skype wedding invalid.

“We had sought legal counsel, and they felt like we didn’t have a real strong case because the intent of the law was physical presence,” Reed-Walkup said. “Unless we felt like we had a strong case, we weren’t going to waste any time or resources on it. We think one of the objects of the Skype wedding was to help educate and hopefully change minds and hearts across the country, as they saw the effort that two men would go through to try to have a legal wedding in their hometown in front of friends and family. In our hearts and minds, we believe that we were legally married during our [Oct. 10] ceremony, and it was a beautiful wedding. Having to go back and have the vows on D.C. soil was pretty much taking care of a technicality.”

After the Skype wedding, the couple also filed a discrimination complaint with the city of Dallas against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their wedding announcement, but they withdrew the complaint after the marriage was declared invalid. They’ve since re-filed the discrimination complaint and are waiting to hear back from the city, Reed-Walkup said.

A representative from the city’s Fair Housing Office, which handles discrimination complaints, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

A 2002 Dallas ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. The couple maintains that wedding announcements are a public accommodation.

The Dallas Morning News publishes same-sex announcements under “Commitments” but not “Weddings.”

James M. Moroney III, publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News, has said the newspaper’s policy is based on Texas law banning both same-sex marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.

—  John Wright

Top 10: Dallasites helped fuel GetEQUAL

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SPEAKING UP | GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup of Dallas uses a megaphone to get his message across outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office last week during a protest of her vote against repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

No. 9:

View all of the Top 10

Dallas activists have played key roles in GetEQUAL, which has quickly become one of the most influential national LGBT direct action organizations since ACT-UP.

According to its website, GetEQUAL’s mission is “to empower the LGBTQ community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”

The group was founded on March 11 by Robin McGehee and Kip Williams — organizers of last year’s National Equality March — as an alternative to other groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Mark Reed-Walkup, a Dallas business owner who also helped organize the National Equality March, now serves on the board for

GetEQUAL, which gained nonprofit status in June. In May, Reed-Walkup became the third activist from Dallas to be arrested at demonstrations organized by GetEQUAL. He was arrested along with five others for chaining himself to the White House fence in a protest to demand a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

On March 18, Dallas activists Chastity Kirven and Michael Robinson had been arrested — Robinson in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Washington office and Kirven in Pelosi’s San Francisco office — during protests to demand a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

This same day, Lt. Dan Choi handcuffed himself to the White House fence in his first protest of DADT as part of GetEQUAL’s new direct action campaign. Choi was dischraged from the Army under DADT.

Local members of Get Equal also organized several actions in Dallas.

They held an ENDA rally outside the Dallas office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. They also protested outside ExxonMobil Corp.’s shareholders meeting at the Meyerson in June, and at Oak Lawn-area service stations.

Last week, Get EQUAL Texas held rallies outside Hutchison’s offices across the state to protest her vote against repealing DADT.
Reed said GetEQUAL is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and should  become more active in Texas in 2010.

— From staff reports

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Officials in Washington, D.C. declare e-marriage invalid

Reed-Walkup says he and his husband are exploring legal options, will withdraw complaint against DMN over announcement for now

John Wright  |  wright@dallasvoice.com

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday, Nov. 26 from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter stated that thecouple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage.

The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup said Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was taken away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

UPDATE: Gay Dallas couple considers legal action after D.C. court declares Skype wedding invalid

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C., Instant Tea confirmed Monday afternoon.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter, shown below, states that the couple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage. The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup told Instant Tea on Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was take away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

—  John Wright

Report: Gay Dallas couple’s Skype wedding declared invalid by District of Columbia

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

We’ve got a message in to Mark Reed-Walkup to try to confirm what we just read at TBD.com, which is reporting that Reed-Walkup’s recent Skype wedding has been declared invalid by the District of Columbia.

If you’ll remember, Reed-Walkup and his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, were married in October in a ceremony that was held in Dallas but officiated via Skype from D.C. Reed-Walkup told us previously that officials in D.C. had found nothing in the law that would prohibit such an e-marriage, but apparently they’ve change their minds. Amanda Hess reports at TBD.com:

On Oct. 10, Mark Reed and Dante Walkup made history by marrying in D.C. (where same-sex marriage is legal) at a ceremony in Texas (where it isn’t). The arrangement took some technological finesse: As Reed and Walkup exchanged vows in a Dallas hotel, D.C. marriage officiant Sheila Alexander-Reid oversaw the ceremony from the District, linking up with the couple online via Skype. The “e-marriage” inspired coverage in the Washington Post, CNN, and Time magazine. Now, it’s caught the attention of the D.C. marriage bureau.

“The D.C. marriage bureau kicked back the certificate we had filed,” Alexander-Reid told me today. Alexander-Reid says that she and the couple both received letters from D.C. Superior Court stating that it had determined the marriage license filed following the Skype ceremony to be invalid.

“The return is invalid because it has come to the attention of the court that the subject contracting parties to the marriage and you, the officiant, did not all personally participate in a marriage ceremony performed within the jurisdictional and territorial limits of the District of Columbia,” the letter reads. Alexander-Reid also received a fresh marriage license from the court. Alexander-Reid could use it to re-officiate a Reed-Walkup ceremony, should they choose to marry again in D.C., this time “with all parties . . . in physical attendance.”

UPDATE: Reed-Walkup reports via text message that he’ll call Instant Tea back as soon as he’s done with a CNN interview.

—  John Wright

The demons have learned how to use Skype

In our view, a gay news story doesn’t officially become a big gay news story until the fundies get their panties sufficiently in a wad to respond. And by this standard, the Skype wedding of gay Dallas couple Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup is now officially big gay news. The right-wing website WorldNetDaily posted an article Tuesday in which it dismissed the couple’s wedding as a “stunt.” But here’s our favorite part:

A leading traditionalist Anglican layman, Tim Udd, a vestryman from Christ the King Anglican Church in Evanston, Ill., told WND homosexuals who try to marry are rejecting their human nature, and returning to the pagan values of the pre-Christian era.

“There is an element in the modern/postmodern psyche that seeks to refute/refuse the nature of things. G.K. Chesterton [a leading late 19th/early 20th Century Christian writer, 1874-1936] presciently notes that it is common to the worship of demons so prevalent in the ancient religions,” Udd said.

Udd added that “male and female together” is what the Bible means when it says that mankind is created in the “image of God.” A homosexual marriage, by contrast, is “expression of the essentially demonic will to power,” Udd said.

—  John Wright