PHOTOS: LGBT activists speak during pro-choice rally at Dallas City Hall

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Gay couple Mark ‘Major’ Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who gained notoriety last year when they were arrested for seeking a marriage license at the Dallas County Clerk’s Office, attend a pro-choice rally at City Hall on Tuesday night.

GetEQUAL TX was among the organizers of the Texans Unified for Change rally outside Dallas City Hall on Wednesday night.

About 50 people gathered to protest the anti-abortion bill working its way through the special session of the Legislature.

Activist Cd Kirven carried a wire hanger to symbolize women having to resort to dangerous methods of abortion.

Speakers included Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus co-chair Erin Moore and Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink.

Moore, wearing pink Wendy Davis sneakers, encouraged the crowd to become more involved in politics to help get more people like Davis in office and those who oppose women’s rights out of office.

“It’s easy for men to write a bill to attack women’s rights,” Fink said.

—  David Taffet

Wendy Davis honored by Stonewall Dems before heading back to Austin

State Sen. Wendy Davis addreses protesters at a rally in Austin Monday. (Texas Democratic Party via Facebook)

State Sen. Wendy Davis addreses protesters at a rally in Austin on Monday. (Texas Democratic Party via Facebook)

Thousands of opponents of anti-abortion legislation stormed the state Capitol Monday to protest Republican-backed legislation reintroduced during the Legislature’s second special session.

The legislation would ban abortions after 20 weeks and close the majority of abortion clinics in the state that provide women with other services.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has led the charge against the legislation since her 13-hour filibuster last week killed the legislation. Gov. Rick Perry then called a second special session to address abortion and transportation that started Monday.

Davis, who has been a champion for LGBT rights, was recognized for her hard work in Austin over the weekend at Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats’ Spring Extravaganza. About 150 people attended to hear Congressman Marc Veasey and state Rep. Chris Turner address key issues facing the state and nation.

Davis spoke briefly about her determination last week and the need to continue to fight in the weeks to come in the special session after she was presented with Tarrant Stonewall’s Hero Award.

Stonewall President Felipe Guttierez said the group voted on award recipients before Davis’ filibuster but said it demonstrated her commitment to her constituents and to Texas.

“I think it only added more to why she’s a champion for Senate District 10 and for women and our community,” he said.

Former Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Maxwell received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Lisa Thomas received the Member of the Year Award.

—  Anna Waugh

#StandwithWendy at Tarrant County Stonewall’s Saturday extravaganza

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Supporters of LGBT ally state Sen. Wendy Davis can stand with her this weekend at Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats’ Spring Extravaganza.

Davis is among the guests for the Saturday event, as well as U.S. Congressman Marc Veasey and state Rep. Chris Turner, who are also LGBT allies.

The event is 7 p.m. Saturday at the City Club in The Oak Room, 301 Commerce St. in Fort Worth. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased here. Sponsorships are also available for $500 and sponsors are invited to a VIP reception with guests before the event at 6 p.m.

For more information, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

People’s filibuster of Texas Senate was democracy at its finest

Araiza

This post comes to us from José Andrés Araiza, an Austin resident and board member for Equality Texas: 

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst labeled us “an unruly mob using Occupy tactics.” I call our actions nothing short of a historic expression of democratic principals.

On the morning of June 25, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis began a 13-hour filibuster of Senate Bill 5. The bill would have eliminated abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required all abortions be initiated in what amounts to surgical centers. This bill would force the closure of all but a handful of abortion providers in the second biggest state in the union. Women in rural areas would have to drive hundreds of miles to exercise their right to have an abortion.

At 11:18 a.m., Sen. Davis began her filibuster. Her goal was to keep talking until midnight to essentially kill the bill during a special session of the Texas Legislature. No bathroom breaks. No leaning on her desk. No sitting. Gov. Rick Perry put abortion as one of the many issues for lawmakers to address during the session.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Texas Republican senators used a series of parliamentary tactics to forcibly end Sen. Davis’ filibuster. Democrats in turn used a series of tactics to delay a vote on SB 5 but their tactics were running out as 11:45 p.m. approached.

I sat in the Senate gallery looking directly at Sen. Davis and her democratic colleagues. I will never forget the desperate look on those lawmakers’ faces. The filibuster had come so far and only 15 minutes remained. They were staring right at us. We knew something had to be done to kill SB 5.

But what could the citizens seated in the gallery do? We aren’t lawmakers. We were a group of men and women, grandparents, students and professionals. Voters elected the people below us to debate and decide legislation like SB 5.

—  John Wright

WATCH LIVE: Texas Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters anti-abortion bill

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis

UPDATE: Led by Davis, and with the help of protesters in the Senate gallery, Democrats were ultimately able to run out the clock and defeat the bill, the Texas Tribune reports.

Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who happens to be an LGBT ally, is in the midst of a 13-hour filibuster aimed at killing sweeping GOP-backed abortion restrictions in Texas. Davis must remain standing throughout the filibuster, without leaning on anything, and cannot take a bathroom break. She has been warned twice for breaking the rules — most recently for getting help from a colleague adjusting her back brace. If Davis receives one more warning and it’s upheld, the Senate can vote on whether to end the filibuster, which must continue until the end of the special session at midnight to be successful. Davis’ filibuster is now a trending topic nationally on Twitter and has spawned accounts such as @WendysBackBrace. Watch Davis’ historic filibuster live below.

—  John Wright

Could TX elect a lesbian governor?

Mayor Annise Parker polled 40 percent against Gov. Rick Perry’s 47 percent in a Public Policy Polling poll

Public Policy Polling’s latest indicates that Texans are ready for a change in the governor’s office. The polling outfit looked at everyone from one of the LGBT community’s staunchest opponents to a member of the LGBT community.

Of Republican Primary voters, 41 percent want Gov. Rick Perry to run for another term while 47 percent want someone else. Among Texans in general, 31 percent favor another Perry term while 61 percent don’t.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is the governor’s closest opponent and trails Perry by just 3 points. But Abbott doesn’t have good name recognition. Among voters who know him, he leads 55 to 33 percent. (Abbott is perhaps best know in the LGBT community for challenging two same-sex divorces.)

The poll shows that Democrats have a better chance to taking the governor’s mansion if Perry wins the Republican Primary.

Against three Democrats, Perry would get 47 percent of the vote, according to PPP. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro polls 42 percent, State Sen. Wendy Davis would get 41 percent and Houston Mayor Annise Parker would get 40 percent.

Castro was a strong supporter of nondiscrimination in San Antonio. Davis ran for re-election last year with support from Equality Texas and Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County. Parker, who is lesbian, is in her second term as mayor, making Houston the largest city with an LGBT person at the helm.

None of the Democrats has indicated whether they have interest in running for governor yet. Abbott has told supporters he plans to run.

The general election will be in November 2014.

—  David Taffet

Dallas, Tarrant County Stonewall Dems endorse in general election

Marc Veasey

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas members voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse state Rep. Marc Veasey for Congress and municipal court Judge Phyllis Lister Brown for district judge in the general election.

Stonewall had endorsed other candidates in the primary, but Veasey and Brown won their runoffs. Veasey is running for the new Congressional District 33 and Brown is seeking election to become judge of the 162nd civil district court.

At last week’s Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats meeting, the group voted on a slate endorsement of the Democratic ticket in Tarrant County with a special mention of Veasey, state Sen. Wendy Davis, Nicole Collier in House District 95, Lon Burnam in House District 90 and Chris Turner in House District 101.

Tarrant Stonewall doesn’t endorse in primaries, so President Felipe Guttierez said the special mention just highlights the group’s strategic plan to get those Tarrant County candidates elected.

—  Anna Waugh

Tarrant County Stonewall Dems fundraiser banks $20K to back Sen. Wendy Davis, House candidates

State Sen. Wendy Davis addresses the crowd at the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats Spring Fundraising Kick-off Party in Fort Worth Wednesday, May 23. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats raised close to $20,000 Wednesday night at the Spring Fundraising Kick-off Party in Fort Worth.

The event was the group’s launch for fundraising efforts and will go toward backing Sen. Wendy Davis’ campaign in the general election. She is unopposed in the primary. In addition, funds will go to state House candidates and the Congressional District 33 Democratic candidate selected in the primary, chapter President Felipe Gutierrez said.

About 100 people attended to donate, mingle and hear Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns and Davis speak about local and state issues.

Burns spoke first, addressing the national attention focused on marriage equality. He said the president’s announcement was among the things he “never thought I would see in my entire life.”

“Things like the president of the United States telling me that he wants me and my husband to legally marry here in the state of Texas,” he said. “This is something we should have all along. This is something that we are owed. It is a fundamental right that we should’ve already have but it’s still monumental.”

He also acknowledged local success, recapping the efforts of the Fort Worth City Council to embrace equality by adding transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, something he said he was “incredibly proud” to accomplish and acknowledged Stonewall and Fairness Fort Worth for the groups’ efforts in helping make it a reality. He also said the city has extended partner benefits for LGBT city employees and improved police and firefighter training.

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns speaks about the important accomplishments made in favor of equality locally and nationally at a Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats fundraising event May 23. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

While many lawmakers are following the president’s lead, he said he was “incredibly proud to have an ally” like Davis in Austin fighting for the rights of everyone. He told the audience to unite in the coming months to help motivate voters in Senate District 10 to re-elect Davis by “reminding them of just how incredibly kick-ass awesome Wendy Davis is.”

Davis then spoke about “shifting the dialogue” about what Texas has and can accomplish. She praised the state Legislature for passing an anti-bullying bill in the last session, but reminded the crowd to continue to fight for education and healthcare funding, two things she relied on as a single mother at 19 attending college. Davis has been outspoken about Texas defunding Planned Parenthood.

“I certainly didn’t ever look like I was going to be one of those people who made my way up into a place in the world that has the meaning that my life has today,” she said about her upbringing.

At 19, Davis said she destined to love the life of her mother, who raised her and her three siblings on her own. She was divorced with a 1-year-old, working two jobs and sometimes still couldn’t pay her bills.

But when a co-worker brought a brochure for Tarrant County College to work, Davis enrolled in classes to become a legal assistant. Later, she received a Texas Equalization Grant to attend Texas Christian University on her way to becoming a lawyer and graduating from Harvard.

The grant was “obliterated” in the last session, Davis said, placing the future generations at risk without opportunities others enjoyed in the past and what voters have the power to bring back by voting for candidates who want to improve people’s futures.

Davis was elected to the state Senate in 2008 in a district that still leans to the Republican side, she said. But that may not hinder her support in November because the voters in her district understand the issues she fights for.

“It doesn’t matter whether you have an R or a D next to your name when what you care about is your healthcare, your children’s future and education and so many of the other issues that we’re working on,” she said.

Founding members awards were given out at the end of the event to recognize the charter members who founded Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats. Certificates were presented to state Rep. Lon Burnam,  Mary Edward, Lisa Thomas, Steve Bratka, Drew Sutton, Bayliss Camp, Lynn Johnson, Glenda Thompson, Chris Randolph and Tim Meagher.

—  Anna Waugh

Fate of Texas primaries still up in the air after SCOTUS hearing today

Anybody expecting to get some hint of resolution to the redistricting battle raging here in Texas following oral arguments over the issue today before the U.S. Supreme Court is probably disappointed, as it seems the justices want to see the Texas primary elections, already postponed from March to April 3, pushed back to an even later date.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis

According Associated Press legal affairs reporter Mark Sherman (as quoted on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s blog, PoliTex), “The justices discussed moving the primary date back further to give the courts handling different aspects of the case more time. ‘Why can’t this all be pushed back, and wouldn’t that eliminate a lot of the problems we are grappling with in this case?’ Justice Samuel Alito asked.”

And TheHill.com indicates that justices were not happy with either the map drawn last year by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature or with the interim map drawn last month by federal judges in San Antonio, quoting Chief Justice John Roberts as saying during today’s hearing, “How do you decide between two wrong choices?”

TheHill.com also said, “Most justices indicated they thought both maps were unacceptable and could not be put into law without violating the Voting Rights Act.”

The Legislature’s map favors Republicans, especially in Tarrant County where Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis saw her district taken away, with portions of it allocated to more Republican-leaning areas north and south of Fort Worth.

—  admin

WATCH: Youth First Texas’ ‘You’re Not Alone’ project, a peer-to-peer version of ‘It Gets Better’

When members of Youth First Texas went to Austin in March to lobby for anti-bullying legislation, they did a better job of explaining the importance of such laws than any of the adults who were there. They were able to look senators and representatives in the eye and tell them personal experiences about having been bullied. Some of the youth told lawmakers they had attempted suicide, something that wouldn’t have happened if schools took bullying more seriously.

Walking back from the Capitol to a local church that was hosting lunch, the YFT members had an idea to make videos about their experiences. First, they sent copies to State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who shared them with other members of the Education Committee. But the videos also had another purpose — saving lives. While the “It Gets Better” videos are mostly adults telling teens they’ll get through their bad experiences in high school, YFT’s “You’re Not Alone” videos contain messages from LGBT youth to LGBT youth.

Watch the first set of videos from YFT’s “You’re Not Alone” project after the jump.

—  David Taffet