A few people we think of when we think 2014

BWDP_Bruce profile-1

Bruce Wood

Tomorrow’s edition of Dallas Voice reveals our annual choice for LGBT Texan of the Year. I won’t spoil who we chose, but in going over the year in my mind, some names stuck out — they were on my mind during 2014 a lot, for a variety of reasons. For instance, Bruce Wood — a friend and also one of the most frighteningly talented artists Texas has ever seen (I swear that’s not an exaggeration) — passed away, far too soon, at age 53 this past May. We did a cover story about Bruce the following week, cause he touched so many lives.

The community also reacted strongly to the passing of Chris Miklos, a muscleman popular in the bear community, but also a medical researcher who did a lot of good for people. Just a few weeks ago, I was stunned and saddened by the death, at age 31, of Brandon James Singleton, an actor, dancer and funny, skilled writer (he contributed a terrific series to Dallas Voice in 2012 about turning 30). Just as recently, two community leaders — Paul Lewis, a former executive with Caven and Steve Bratka, a huge fundraiser for the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats — passed away.

Wed Steve Dan

Noviello and Bedner

Not everyone who resonated died, of course. Mark Pharris and Victor Holmes of Plano won a marriage equality against the state of Texas — bully for them! And bully, too, for Jack Evans and George Harris, who finally tied the knot last March after more than decades as a couple (though not legally binding, their retired pastor wanted to make a statement to the Methodist Church). TV personality Steve Noviello did enter wedded bliss — legally — to his partner Doug Bedner in New York. Matt Miller brought the Gay World Series of Softball back to Dallas, and we were all glad to see thousands of athletes out at the clubs. And Stephan Pyles got more recognition for his cuisine for his new restaurant, San Salvaje. We were also pleased as punch when our favorite radio commentator, Rawlins Gilliland, did his first live spoken word show … and it was such a hit, he did several more.

There were some important allies who we cheered on, as well, from failed gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and lieutenant governor hopeful Leticia Van de Putte. Local chef John Tesar caused such a stir in the foodie community, we were happy he was on our side as a gay-friendly restaurateur. And Dale Hansen raised the bar high early on with his full-throated advocacy for gays in sports.

Think we left off someone important? Possibly — feel free to weigh in with comments. Then again, maybe they are in tomorrow’s paper — or even on the cover! Check it out Friday!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

UPDATE: Early voting numbers in Tarrant County.

Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 1.20.13 PMEarly voting numbers in Tarrant County are in.

Republican straight ticket voters outnumbered Democratic straight ticket voters 85,902 to 55,987.

There is little difference between the two down the ballot.

Republicans Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick received a plurality of the county’s early voters.

Abbott received 120,527 to Democrat Wendy Davis’ 88,067.

Republican Sen. Dan Patrick received 119,768 votes to Democrat Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s 85,043.

—  James Russell

WATCH: ‘The Daily Show’ in Austin

The Daily Show always gets to the heart of a matter, and there’s probably no better coverage of Ebola — and of the frenzy over covering it — than what aired last night on the show, which originated from Austin. The entire episode, though, was awesome … especially the opening credits and the rivalry between Austin and Dallas and an interview with Wendy Davis. To watch the whole episode, you can go here, but the excerpt below is a great look at Ebola.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Voting early with and nearly falling on Wendy Davis

I nearly fell on Sen. Wendy Davis at a press event this morning (see: second photo, sixth row). I was taking photos for the gallery below of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, who was in Fort Worth to cast her vote on the first day of early voting. Of all the reporters, photojournalists and broadcast journalists there, clearly the staff writer at the LGBT publication would be the one to cause a scene.

I’d also like to apologize the Fox 4 News cameraman for bumping him multiple times.

Here are some photos of the rally in front of the Griffin Sub-Courthouse in southeast Fort Worth and from the press conference after she voted. Reporters were not allowed into the polling site.

If you see me at your voting location in the next few weeks, beware. I may fall on you.

Photos and text by James Russell.

—  James Russell

The beginning of the end of bigotry in Texas

Editor’s note: Below is an opinion piece written by Todd Whitley, a columnist who contributes regularly to the Texas Voices (formerly Viewpoints) section of the print edition of Dallas Voice. Whitley will also be a regular contributor to our new blog page, which will be called CommuniTEA and which will feature the voices of people of our LGBT community. Watch for CommuniTEA, coming to our website soon.

A vision of what could be, if we all turn out to vote next month

Todd Whitley, Contributing Columnist

I can still remember that moment as if it were just yesterday: I had watched the past two presidential elections with amazement. But never had an election seemed to affect me so personally — in my own state.

Todd WhitleyYou see, back then, although gays and lesbians were making great progress toward marriage equality in other states, in Texas the nation’s longest serving governor, the Republican-controlled state Legislature, both U.S. senators and most of the U.S. representatives were against us. We had no marriage equality and no job protection.

Heck, the establishment was against women and poor people, too.

I admit: I had felt helpless, as if my vote — my voice — didn’t matter. But still, I voted.

As the polls closed, we had only a glimmer of hope. But we had no idea that hope was about to be realized.

A small group of us were watching the election returns at JR.’s. First, the early vote numbers came in and how we rejoiced at the landslide! Then, county by county, we held our collective breath.

Most — but not all — of the rural counties went red, as expected. But the vote count was closer than anyone could have predicted.

But how would the four major urban areas turn out?

The wait was excruciating and the entire bar was on edge, waiting to see what Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas would do.

Then, like a line of dominoes, they fell as something that had once seemed impossible happened. One county after another went blue — definitively so. People in overwhelming numbers — women, lesbians, gays, Latinos, African-Americans — had shown up at the polls and elected Wendy Davis as the first Democratic governor of Texas in 20 years, and only the third woman ever!

It is said, “As Texas goes, so goes the nation.” A state that had been so deeply red — the hateful, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-immigrant shade — began to change. And so did our country.

Our new governor set about to expand Medicaid so that the taxes we were sending to Washington came back home to take care of our most vulnerable citizens, including those with HIV/AIDS. She set a course for our Legislature that increased funding to our schools instead of slashing it. She fought the uphill battle to end discrimination of Texas gays and lesbians, both in matrimony and in the workplace. And she fought for the rights of young Texas “DREAMers” to receive higher education.

Eventually she increased the minimum wage and we experienced real job growth — not the kind that comes from more minimum wage jobs.

It was not easy at all. The stubborn, still-Republican-controlled Legislature fought her tooth and nail.

But by the next election, more Democrats and moderate Republicans had won seats in both houses, and the country began to take notice.

What our governor started could be continued for decades and could catch on in other formerly red states.

You see, no longer was Texas a safe haven for those who would try to oppress women, take away their access to safe healthcare or control their bodies. No longer would the state exclude lesbian, gay and transgender Texans from the benefits and protections heterosexuals enjoyed.

No longer did our students perform at the bottom of the nation but rather they excelled because of the investment we made in their educations. No longer was Texas a state that gave preference to white, heterosexual citizens and instead became known as the Everyone has a Chance State, where each one of us — white and Latino, straight and LGBT, wealthy and poor — had equal footing, was respected, and flourished.

We still had our guns. Churches still decided whether to perform same-gender marriages. But we moved ahead so far.  And the nation followed suit.

All because we showed up at that Nov. 4, 2014 election.

 *****

So.

This scenario is fiction, a vision of what could be.

This history has yet to be written. But it will be written, in just a few days.

And it could happen.

We are so close to seeing this vision become a reality. But only if you claim the power of your vote.

The future of Texas — and the nation — is up to you.

Todd Whitley is a local activist who can usually be found tweeting (@toddwhitley), holding a picket sign, thrift store shopping, or eating Tex-Mex. Read his blog at tdub68.wordpress.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Texas Voter ID law ruled unconstitutional. Here’s a breakdown on its impact.

vote-buttonA federal district judge on Friday, Oct. 10, struck down Texas’ voter photo identification law, just 10 days before early voting in the state is to begin.

In her 140-plus-page decision, federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos called the law “a poll tax” and “discriminatory”  against African-Americans and Hispanics.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately appealed the decision, urging the Fifth Circuit to “resolve this matter quickly to avoid voter confusion in the upcoming election,” said Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the AG’s office.

Explaining his appeal, Abbott said he believed the sudden ruling could confuse voters and burden election administrators. “Voters need certainty when they go to the polls and having this decision come out just 10 days before early voting begins injects uncertainty so I’m asking a court of appeals to decide this before early voting begins a week from Monday,” he told KXAN.

In the meantime, the law’s opponents praised the decision.

“Now we must redouble our efforts to restore the Voting Rights Act and to ensure that every LGBTQ voter gets the opportunity to vote at the upcoming election,” said the Rev. Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of National LGBTQ Task Force.

Texas state. Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running against Abbott for governor, blasted Abbott’s appeal. “This is great news for democracy. I call on Attorney General Greg Abbott to drop his defense of a law that a court has now called a ‘poll tax’ and ‘discriminatory’ against African-Americans and Hispanics.”

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, agreed. “Abbott should do what’s best for all Texans instead of pushing his discriminatory political agenda that would disenfranchise eligible voters.”

While the judge believes the law discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics, the ruling impacts the transgender community as well.

According to the Williams Institute, a LGBT policy think tank, of the 25,000 eligible transgender voters in Texas, around 6,800, or 27%, do not have updated voter ID records.

Should the ruling be upheld, said Nell Gaither of the Trans Pride Initiative, “It makes it easier for transpeople to vote.” But she added that the transgender community still faces barriers most other voters do not.

Texas does not have a statewide law accommodating people who have transitioned from one gender to another; voters or would-be voters must rely on their county laws.

Chad Dunn, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs, told the Lone Star Project he believes Abbott will appeal to the Fifth Circuit and likely ask for the U.S. Supreme Court’s final say.

“To my knowledge, a law found to be intentionally discriminatory, after a full trial on the merits, has never been allowed to remain in effect,” Dunn said.

—  James Russell

Davis Campaign to Hold “Out for Wendy” Day of Action Across Texas

WDNCODThe Wendy Davis campaign will celebrate National Coming Out Day tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 11, with “Out for Wendy” canvassing events across the state.

Joining LGBT Texans will be Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Amber Davis, daughter of Wendy Davis, and other campaign surrogates.

Click here to RSVP.

Austin

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Amber Davis, daughter of Wendy Davis

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Austin Coordinated Campaign Office

1910 E. MLK Boulevard

Austin, Texas 78702

Dallas

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Zac Petkanas, Communications Director for Wendy Davis for Governor Campaign

WHEN: 10:00 AM

WHERE: Oak Lawn Library

4100 Cedar Springs Road

Dallas, Texas 75219

Edinburg

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Starbucks

2720 W. University Drive

Edinburg, Texas 78539

Fort Worth

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Libby Willis (Candidate for State Senate – District 10)

WHEN: 10:00 AM

WHERE: Davis Campaign Field Office

La Gran Plaza – Suite 1711

4200 S. Freeway

Fort Worth, Texas 76115

Houston

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Houston Mayor Annise Parker

WHEN: 2:00 PM

WHERE: Matthiesen Law Firm

511 Lovett Boulevard

Houston, Texas 77004

Laredo

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Davis Campaign Field Office

1701 Jacaman Road, Suite 1

Laredo, Texas 78041

San Antonio

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 12:30 PM

WHERE: Sparky’s Pub

1416 N. Main Avenue

San Antonio, Texas 78212

—  James Russell

Election 2014: Second (and last) gubernatorial debate is tonight

DavisAbbottSplit_jpg_800x1000_q100Tonight is the last night voters can see the two candidates for Texas governor spar before the November 4 election.

State sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Attorney General Greg Abbott will debate live at KERA’s studios in Dallas It will be broadcast tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. on television, radio and online.

KERA is co-producing the debate with NBC 5, KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News.

The full list of channels hosting the debate is here. Both the Davis and Abbott campaigns are hosting their own watch parties. pre-debate phone banking and watch parties. You can check out the Davis events here.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas County Democratic Party are hosting a watch party at the Angelika Theater, 5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230, 7-9:30 p.m.

Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats are also hosting a watch party at Tommy’s Hamburgers, 2455 Forest Park Blvd., at 7:30 p.m.

I can’t find a lot of specific listings for Abbott watch parties, but I confirmed with the Dallas County Republican Party about at least one party hosted by the Abbott campaign. Details are here.

It will also be live streamed. A Spanish-language translation of the debate will be streamed online at Telemundo39.com.

Viewers are encouraged to also submit questions via Twitter @keranews using #texasdebates. I’ll probably also be having fun on Twitter as well. You can follow me @james4texas. Feel free to join in. (I also tweet a lot about traffic, the arts and cultural life if #texasdebates aren’t of interest to you.)

—  James Russell

Battleground Texas holds LGBT organizing meeting at Sue Ellen’s

Wendy-DavisBattleground Texas, the Democratic organizing group working to turn Texas blue in upcoming elections, meets at Sue Ellen’s on Thursday, Sept. 4 for LGBT for Wendy Davis. The strategy is to first turn Texas into a battleground state and hopefully win some statewide offices this year. The plan includes organizing support among key groups, including the LGBT community.

“Let’s make sure that the LGBT community in Texas has their voice heard in November and contributes to turning Texas blue!” Battleground Texas says on its event page on Facebook.

The meeting is 7–9 p.m. upstairs at Sue Ellens, 3014 Throckmorton St.

—  David Taffet

Wendy Davis works the phones, rallies supporters

LGBT activist Patti Fink was among the Dallas area Democrats who turned out Monday night for a rally for Wendy Davis and a phone bank for the Democratic slate of candidates. She graciously shared some of her photos with Dallas Voice.

—  Tammye Nash