Groom-to-be Mark Reed of Dallas named to GetEQUAL’s new Board of Directors

Mark Reed, far right, is shown chained to the White House fence prior to his arrest in May. Reed, of Dallas, has been named to GetEQUAL’s Board of Directors.

Dallas activist Mark Reed has been named to the nine-member Board of Directors for GetEQUAL, the national LGBT direct action group.

Reed, who co-owns a lighting company on Oak Lawn Avenue with his partner, Dante Walkup, served on the executive steering committee for last year’s National Equality March. Since then, he’s participated in several GetEQUAL actions. In May Reed was arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

“I accepted a board member position with GetEQUAL because I strongly believe in their mission to inspire our community to rise up and demand full equality and social justice,” Reed told Instant Tea on Wednesday. “For too long we have been asked to be patient for our rights and that strategy has clearly not worked. As Cleve Jones has stated, ‘If we want to be equal, we have to act like we are.’ For me, that means refusing to be treated like a second-class citizen and holding leaders accountable who don’t believe the time is right for our freedom.

“I am very impressed with the talent of people recruited to join the provisional board and am looking forward to working with them to provide leadership and guidance to GetEQUAL. This position is for a six-month period and a decision to remain with the board will be determined at the end of my term.”

According to Reed’s bio on the GetEQUAL website, he and Walkup, who’ve been together for 1o years, plan to marry on Oct. 10, 2010.

—  John Wright

President Obama: 'Change never comes [from] — or at least never begins — in Washington'

President Obama on Tuesday spoke to a group of LGBT activists who were invited to a reception at the White House in honor of National Gay Pride Month.

Above is a video, released by the White House, of the president’s remarks during that reception. And here are a few of the highlights from his speech:

“Now, look, the fact that we’ve got activists here is important because it’s a reminder that change never comes — or at least never begins in – Washington. It begins with acts of compassion — and sometimes defiance — across America. It begins when ordinary people — out of love for a mother or a father, son or daughter, or husband or wife — speak out against injustices that have been accepted for too long. And it begins when these impositions of conscience start opening hearts that had been closed, and when we finally see each other’s humanity, whatever our differences. Now, this struggle is as old as America itself. It’s never been easy. But standing here, I am hopeful. …

“Because I believe in committed — I believe that committed gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country, I have called for Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  We are pushing hard to pass an inclusive employee non-discrimination bill. No one in America should be fired because they’re gay. It’s not right, it’s not who we are as Americans, and we are going to put a stop to it.

“And finally, we’re going to end ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’ That is a promise I made as a candidate. It is a promise that I reiterated as president.  It’s one that this administration is going to keep. Now, the only way to lock this in — the only way to get the votes in Congress to roll back this policy — is if we work with the Pentagon, who are in the midst of two wars.”

—  admin

Is anyone from Texas invited to Tuesday's gay Pride reception at the White House?

President Barack Obama is hosting a Pride reception at the White House tomorrow. Yippee!

The list of attendees hasn’t been made public, but The Washington Blade is reporting that “invitations generally were restricted to the heads of state equality groups, members of the LGBT community with compelling stories and a contingent of LGBT youth.”

We’ve sent a message to Chuck Smith, interim executive director at Equality Texas, to find out whether he’s invited or is going. And we haven’t heard anything about other invitees from Texas, so if you’re one of them, feel free to let us know.

Despite all our “compelling stories,” we didn’t receive an invitation here at Instant Tea. And yes, we feel snubbed. When is Obama going to start recognizing our accomplishments? Probably whenever we stop criticizing his administration and start giving him money.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: White House OKs DADT plan

There was huge news out of Washington on Monday night, as it looks like the White House has signed off on a proposal to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” by delaying implementation of the change until after the Pentagon completes its working group study.

The proposed repeal of DADT has been in doubt for weeks, after Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was opposed to lifting the policy before the study is completed in December. However, this green light from the White House paves the way for the House and Senate to take up the repeal later this week.

The White House on Monday night issued a Statement of Administration Policy in support of the delayed implementation proposal, which was submitted by congressional leaders who are committed to a legislative repeal this year.

“The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a statement. “The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week. President Obama’s support and Secretary Gates’ buy-in should insure a winning vote, but we are not there yet. The votes still need to be worked and counted.

“If enacted this welcomed compromise will create a process for the President and the Pentagon to implement a new policy for lesbian and gay service members to serve our country openly, hopefully within a matter of a few months,” Sarvis said. “This builds upon the support Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed for open service during the February hearing in the Senate, and further underscores that this Administration is committed to open service.”

—  John Wright

BREAKING NEWS: Deal possible on DADT

The Advocate is reporting that representatives from Congress, the White House and LGBT groups were working on a deal this morning that would allow a legislative repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” to go forward this year. The proposed repeal of the military’s ban on open service is expected to be considered in both the House and Senate later in the week. From The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld:

LGBT groups met with officials at the White House while legislative affairs representatives from the White House and the Department of Defense met with the House and Senate leadership offices on Capitol Hill along with those of Rep. Patrick Murphy and Sens. Carl Levin and Joseph Lieberman.

A White House aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the White House meeting. “Our understanding is that Congress is determined to act this week and we are learning more about their proposal now,” said the aide.

A Democratic leadership aide called the development “promising” but said discussions were ongoing. The House Democratic leadership is expected to meet about the proposal later this afternoon.

According to one person familiar with the White House meeting, the proposal that is being considered would legislatively repeal the statute this year, but the current policy would remain in place and implementation of repeal would not occur until after the Pentagon’s working group study is finished in December. Further, completion of repeal would require certification from President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullen that the new law will not have a negative impact on readiness, recruitment, retention and other key factors that affect the military.

Also this morning, we received an update on the DADT repeal from Dave Guy-Gainer, a Tarrant County resident who serves on the board of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. I’ve posted Guy-Gainer’s update after the jump.

—  John Wright

Mark Reed reflects on arrest for chaining self to White House fence during DADT rally

Mark Reed, far right, was released from jail Monday and ordered to pay a $100 fine.
Mark Reed, far right, was released from jail after 24 hours on Monday and ordered to pay a $100 fine.

Ironically, as he stood with one arm handcuffed to the White House fence on Sunday afternoon, Dallas activist Mark Reed says he felt “liberated.”

Reed, a successful business owner who’s in his early 50s, said he’d never been arrested before and hadn’t even had a traffic ticket in 10 years.

In fact, he’d always figured that if he were arrested, he’d probably faint due to his fear of authorities.

Strangely, though, that didn’t happen.

—  John Wright

Mark Reed of Dallas among 6 activists arrested for chaining themselves to White House fence

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Mark Reed of Dallas was among six people arrested today for chaining themselves to the White House fence during a “don’t ask, don’t tell” protest organized by GetEQUAL, Queer Rising and Talk About Equality. Reed is on the far right in the above photo, which was just posted on GetEQUAL’s Facebook page. Reed and the other five activists have been taken to the Anacosita Park police station, according to reports, and they likely will have to spend the night in jail. Whoever has Reed’s phone, presumably partner Dante Walkup, sent me a text message a few minutes ago saying, “He was proud when they took him away! Even happier when they let him keep his cigarettes.” Below is video of former DNC Chairman Howard Dean addressing the rally. For additional coverage, see The Advocate.

UPDATE: GetEQUAL confirms via Twitter that Reed and others will spend the night in jail. They’ll appear in municipal court Monday morning.

—  John Wright

GetEQUAL releases new video to promote next rally

The direct action group GetEQUAL released this video featuring Lt. Dan Choi in advance of a May 2 demonstration at noon in front of the White House protesting “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Choi has been arrested twice in the last two months for chaining himself to the White House fence protesting the military policy.

At the last protest, police chased reporters out of Lafayette Park when they made their arrests. Over the weekend, the White House apologized for being overly aggressive with the media covering the event.

GetEQUAL wants to coordinate other actions with their D.C. protest. On their YouTube channel they wrote:

There will be a rally in Washington DC on Sunday, May 2, 2010 to pressure the President with the demand he transmit IMMEDIATELY to the Senate Armed Service Committee the language for repeal into the Defense Authorization Bill.

If you would like to plan your action for this date, by all means do. If not please email the date and details of your action plan to: DADTRepeal@gmail.com so we can try to coordinate and assist in publicizing!

—  David Taffet

Dallas activist Mark Reed says he was ready to go to jail today outside the White House

Mark Reed
Mark Reed in a screen grab from CNN.

Mark Reed says was prepared to go to jail today alongside gay Army Lt. Dan Choi and the five LGBT veterans who chained themselves to the White House fence to demand an immediate repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Reed, a Dallas business owner and an activist with GetEQUAL, said his assignment was to make sure the six were successful in linking their second hand to the fence after they walked up to it with handcuffs around one.

“If they gave me the signal I would go over there and help them put the second one on,” Reed said by phone from D.C. this afternoon. “That’s how [GetEQUAL co-founder] Robin [McGehee] got arrested when she assisted Dan [Choi] putting his handcuffs on the last time we were here. So I was in an arrestable position. … I’ve been mentally preparing myself for that. I was totally cool today if that was going to happen. I had phone numbers written on my arm. What’s great is that you know everyone here has got your back. There’s a whole chain in place.”

As it turned out, Reed wasn’t needed to assist with the handcuffs, so instead he helped hold up a sign in front of his shackled comrades until being told to move by police, as seen in the CNN video below.

“As we continued to get pushed out away from them, we continued to hold the sign in front of them, so that people clearly understood when they looked across the street, why they were handcuffed to the fence,” Reed said. “[White House Press Secretary] Robert Gibbs was actually walking through Lafayette Park, and one of the guys spotted him, so there was a whole group of people yelling at him. It was really pretty wild.”

Reed said he was shooting photographs and video the first time Lt. Choi chained himself to the fence in March.

“This one I was a more active participant, and it was really an exhilirating experience, to be able to stand with five brave veterans and Dan Choi, as they chained themselves to the fence, and to continue to put more pressure on Obama, to not study this thing [DADT] for another year,” Reed said. “If it doesn’t happen this year, it could be several years before we could actually have it repealed. I think visually seeing six soldiers, one from each military division, being chained to the fence, and Dan coming back a second time, I think sends a powerful message.”

Reed said he and his partner, Dante Walkup, arrived in D.C. at 5 a.m. this morning, before a planning meeting at 9 a.m. and then the action at noon.

Though very tired, Reed said he’s looking forward to a meeting tonight where GetEQUAL leaders will discuss the possibility of another action in the next few days.

Reed said the six who were arrested today will have to spend the night in jail. He plans to attend their arraignment tomorrow.

Reed didn’t become an activist until a few years ago, when he attended a protest outside First Baptist Church of Dallas. From there he became one of the lead organizers for last year’s National Equality March.

Reed is one of several activists from Dallas who’ve been involved with GetEQUAL. He said Chastity Kirven, who was arrested during a sit-in at the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month, was on her way from Dallas to D.C. to join him tonight.

“I’m excited to be involved in this part of our movement, because I think we’re on the cusp of good things,” Reed said. “Civil disobedience was a major part of the civil rights movement, so we’ve done a lot of learning from tactics and strategies that they used.

“The clock’s ticking, and midterms [elections] are around the corner, and if we lose a lot of seats, we could be waiting several years to get back in the position we’re in now.”

MORE VIDEO FROM THE PROTEST AFTER THE JUMP:

—  John Wright

President Obama's speech at the hate crimes law reception

OBAMA ATTORNEY AT LAW

Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 28, President Barack Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. Later that same afternoon, he attended a reception at the White House to commemorate the passage of this historic law that includes special provisions for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed out of hatred based on the victim’s perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

At that reception, the president recognized the Members of Congress who were attending — including the three out lesbian and gay Congressmembers Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Jared Polis — and activists and community leaders in attendance. Those activists included Matthew Shepard’s parents and brother, Dennis, Judy and Logan Shepard, and James Byrd Jr.’s sisters, Betty Byrd Boatner and Louvan Harris.

Here is the text of the rest of his address:

“To all the activists, all the organizers, all the people who helped make this day happen, thank you for your years of advocacy and activism, pushing and protesting that made this victory possible.

“You know, as a nation we’ve come far on the journey towards a more perfect union.  And today, we’ve taken another step forward. This afternoon, I signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

“This is the culmination of a struggle that has lasted more than a decade. Time and again, we faced opposition. Time and again, the measure was defeated or delayed. Time and again we’ve been reminded of the difficulty of building a nation in which we’re all free to live and love as we see fit.

“But the cause endured and the struggle continued, waged by the family of Matthew Shepard, by the family of James Byrd, by folks who held vigils and led marches, by those who rallied and organized and refused to give up, by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy who fought so hard for this legislation and all who toiled for years to reach this day.

“You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits — not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights — both from unjust laws and violent acts. And you understand how necessary this law continues to be.

“In the most recent year for which we have data, the FBI reported roughly 7,600 hate crimes in this country. Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all.

“And that’s why, through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And prosecutors will have new tools to work with states in order to prosecute to the fullest those who would perpetrate such crimes.

“Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability.

“At root, this isn’t just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another — whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus.

“It’s hard for any of us to imagine the mind-set of someone who would kidnap a young man and beat him to within an inch of his life, tie him to a fence and leave him for dead. It’s hard for any of us to imagine the twisted mentality of those who’d offer a neighbor a ride home, attack him, chain him to the back of a truck and drag him for miles until he finally died.

“But we sense where such cruelty begins: The moment we fail to see in another our common humanity, the very moment when we fail to recognize in a person the same fears and hopes, the same passions and imperfections, the same dreams that we all share.

“We have for centuries strived to live up to our founding ideal, of a nation where all are free and equal and able to pursue their own version of happiness. Through conflict and tumult, through the morass of hatred and prejudice, through periods of division and discord we have endured and grown stronger and fairer and freer.

“And at every turn, we’ve made progress not only by changing laws but by changing hearts, by our willingness to walk in another’s shoes, by our capacity to love and accept even in the face of rage and bigotry.

“In April of 1968, just one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, as our nation mourned in grief and shuddered in anger, President Lyndon Johnson signed landmark civil rights legislation. This was the first time we enshrined into law federal protections against crimes motivated by religious or racial hatred — the law on which we build today.

“As he signed his name, at a difficult moment for our country, President Johnson said that through this law “the bells of freedom ring out a little louder.” That is the promise of America.

“Over the sounds of hatred and chaos, over the din of grief and anger, we can still hear those ideals — even when they are faint, even when some would try to drown them out. At our best we seek to make sure those ideals can be heard and felt by Americans everywhere. And that work did not end in 1968. It certainly does not end today.

“But because of the efforts of the folks in this room — particularly those family members who are standing behind me — we can be proud that that bell rings even louder now and each day grows louder still.

“So thank you very much. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”

—  admin