Putting the final touches on Black Tie

Co-chairs hoping for banner year as fundraiser marks its 30th year

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com
With two weeks left to go before the annual Black Tie Dinner, organizers are busy putting the finishing touches on what BTD Co-chairs Nan Arnold and Chris Kouvelis said this week will be one of the most outstanding events in the dinner’s 30-year history.

“We have a particularly good line up for the dinner this year,” Arnold said. “We are absolutely thrilled to have Marlee Matlin as our keynote speaker this year. And we have an emcee — Caroline Rhea — this year for the first time. I am sure our patrons will be glad they don’t have to listen to me and Chris all night!”

Award-winning actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson of television’s Modern Family will be on hand to accept the 2011 Media Award, and singer Taylor Dayne will provide entertainment.

Gay Marine veteran Eric Alva, the first U.S. serviceman injured in the war in Iraq, will receive the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, and partners Chet Flake and the late Bud Knight will receive the Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

Arnold noted that tables at the dinner sold out in August, “before we even announced that Marlee Matlin would be our guest speaker. We were just ecstatic when we sold out that early. I think that is the earliest date we’ve ever sold out,” Arnold said.

But the co-chairs also pointed out that there is a waiting list available for regular and VIP individual tickets that might become available at the last minute. “Anyone who still wants to buy a ticket can go online to our website, BlackTie.org, and get on the waiting list. Or if you want to talk to someone directly, email Mitzi Lemons at mlemons@blacktie.org,” Kouvelis said.

Arnold added, “We will also accept cash donations from folks who want to support the organization but can’t attend the dinner.”

“Thirty years is a huge milestone, no doubt. But we had a huge retrospective for our 25th anniversary, bringing in past board members and honorees from out of town and looking back at the history of Black Tie, and that wasn’t that long ago,” Arnold said. “So we chose to focus on having a celebration, on looking ahead to 30 more great years. That’s why we chose ‘Shine’ as our theme this year, because we want to shine a light into the future.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Anti-war activist and LGBT ally Cindy Sheehan takes controversial position on DADT repeal

Cindy Sheehan

Activist Cindy Sheehan came out against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Sort of.

Ever since I first met Cindy Sheehan in 2004, she has been controversial. She was the first Gold Star Mom — the mother of a fallen soldier — to come out publicly against the war in Iraq. When I interviewed her then, I asked what her goal was. At the time, her main focus was that what happened to her shouldn’t happen to another mother.

She rapidly became the center of the small anti-war movement. For her efforts, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

After she demanded a meeting with President George Bush, who refused to meet with her or any other Gold Star Mom, she camped out in a ditch off Prairie Chapel Road outside the Bush “ranch” in Crawford, about 19 miles from Waco.

“Camp Casey,” named after her son who was killed, moved from the ditch to Bush’s backdoor neighbor’s property. That neighbor couldn’t stand the president or his policies either.

In today’s Al Jezeera, Sheehan wrote, “Don’t go, don’t kill.” She makes the interesting argument that the gay rights movement, which is a human rights movement, shouldn’t measure progress based on anything related to the military. She emphasizes that she is as much a marriage-equality advocate as she is a peace activist.

She reasonably asks whether enacting the bill “is going to stop the current systemic harassment of gays in the military?”

Her choice of forum is as controversial as she is. Her opinion is interesting and worth debating. She’s really saying — of course gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve. And now that you have the right, don’t do it.

When Sheehan was in Dallas for the protest against the groundbreaking of the Bush Library, she told me she’s thinking of a run for president. She promised we’d be among the first to know when she makes her decision.

—  David Taffet