Hundreds march in support of Dallas equality resolution (photos, video)

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GetEQUAL TX and Hope for Peace and Justice rallied at City Hall on Saturday to demand an equality resolution be placed on the Dallas City Council’s agenda. Love is Stronger was the theme for the protest.

More than 100 people gathered at 6 p.m. on City Hall Plaza. Several people, including straight allies, spoke before the group marched across Downtown to Razzle Dazzle Dallas, which took place at Main Street Garden and opened at 7 p.m.

Before leaving City Hall Plaza, GetEQUAL TX regional coordinator Daniel Cates drew a line with chalk on the ground and compared it to William Travis drawing a line in the sand at the Alamo.

Cates said Mayor Mike Rawlings had gone too far in calling the equality resolution a waste of time and asked everyone to cross the line with him.

The march headed from City Hall west to Griffin Street, then north to Main Street, before traveling the final four blocks to Main Street Garden.

Along the route, people in cars honked and waved. People in restaurants ran out to take pictures and some along the route joined the march.

No protesters or detractors made themselves known along the route. One group of 10 street preachers reading from the Bible on Main at Akard Street stood silently as the procession passed.

Inside the park, the rally continued on the main stage. Several speakers, including Midway Hills Christian Church Senior minister the Rev. Arthur Stewart and Congregation Beth El Binah Rabbi Steve Fisch, addressed the crowd.

More photos and video below.

—  David Taffet

Creating equality in the workplace

12-year-old Out & Equal brings its annual summit to Dallas, home of workplace equality advocacy legend Louise Young

Young.Louise

Louise Young

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

To Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry, Dallas activist Louise Young is a workplace equality advocacy legend.

Young worked at Texas Instruments and helped found the employee resource group at that company. Texas Instruments added benefits for its gay and lesbian employees commensurate with its straight employees and nondiscrimination became a way of life at the company, due in no small part to Young’s efforts.

Then Texas Instruments sold the division in which Young and a number of other LGBT employees worked to Raytheon, a company that did not have the LGBT-related policies and benefits that TI had.

So Young made an appointment with top Raytheon executives. She explained to them that she worked hard to gain her equality in the workplace, and that former TI employees now moving to Raytheon would expect the same at their new company.

And she did it all long before Out & Equal was ever created.

Raytheon GLBTA Global President Gib Murray said, “They were very receptive to having an inclusive workplace, allowing employees to be their complete self and recruit and retain the best and brightest.”

And he said that the company was pretty thorough when it looked at employee benefits.

“It’s just kind of handled,” Murray said. “When a situation comes up, it’s addressed.”

He said that once Raytheon embraced diversity, it jumped to the head of the pack to become the first defense contractor to receive a 100 percent rating in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

Out & Equal’s mission

Equality has become the norm at large U.S. corporations, despite one very large local exception — ExxonMobil. But even in a category like defense contracting, Raytheon is no longer alone in ensuring equality.

Northrup Grumman also rates 100 percent and its CEO will speak in Dallas next week at the national Out & Equal Workplace Summit being held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel.

Out & Equal is the national organization committed to ending workplace discrimination for LGBT employees. It works with employee resource groups, or ERGs, from major corporations to encourage best workplace practices for all LGBT employees. The Oct. 25-28 conference will be the largest LGBT meeting Dallas has ever hosted, with 2,500 people expected to attend.

Max Rippetoe of JC Penney Pride said ERGs have three purposes — to attract and retain the best talent, to get the most out of those who are here and to reach out to the community.

At his company, he said having the Pride group may attract a designer that wouldn’t go to a cross-town, upscale rival — Neiman Marcus, which scored 30 percent in the CEI guide — that doesn’t have a similar group. He said having the group was simply good for business.

LGBT customers feel welcome shopping at a place that  maintains its 100 percent rating with HRC, Rippetoe said.

When the Out & Equal Workplace Summit comes to Dallas, JC Penney will be a “titanium sponsor.” The company will present a fashion show, and retiring CEO Mike Ullman and Liz Sweney, executive vice president, senior general merchandise manager and the executive sponsor of JC Penney’s Pride, will participate as plenary speakers.

Daphne Avila is a JC Penney company spokesperson and a member of Pride. She said, “Since this is the first time Out & Equal is coming to Dallas and this is our home base, it made sense for us to sponsor.”

She said that she was proud of how the company has transformed internally.

“The company made inclusion and diversity part of our turnaround,” Avila said, crediting Ullman with the company’s commitment to diversity.

Ullman himself has disabilities and has adopted two daughters with disabilities. The Penney’s group for associates with disabilities is one of the most dynamic of the company’s ERGs, Avila said.

Over the past few years, Avila said, associate participation in resource groups at JC Penney has grown. The groups contribute to “training programs that keep store employees cognizant of diverse customer needs.”

LEAGUE@AT&T, created in the late 1980s, will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, according to its president, Theresa Bates-McLemore, who called her group the original employee resource group.

She said that her company encourages its employees to come out, because staying in the closet at work takes up too much time and energy and is counterproductive to a healthy work environment.

She said that Gary Fraundorfer, vice president of human resources,  is so committed to  ending workplace discrimination that he recently joined the board of Resource Center Dallas. Because the current AT&T is made up of various phone companies that have merged, Fraundorfer is currently reviewing policies inherited from each entity to make sure that there is no discrimination company-wide.

Incoming LEAGUE@AT&T President John Cramer said that if a situation comes up, being a member of LEAGUE helps, since the group has direct access to top management.

He added that employees can’t get domestic partner benefits if the company doesn’t know about the partner.

Paul von Wupperfeld is a member of TI’s employee resource group and heads the local Out & Equal regional affiliate. Many companies are beginning to address transgender discrimination and benefits. He said the biggest argument against adding those benefits is cost.

“But no company was ever bankrupted by gender reassignment surgery,” von Wupperfield said.

Adding that benefit, he said, “sends a powerful message that they care about employees’ well-being.”

Von Wupperfield said that other area companies are working with is benefits equality.

A company may offer health insurance for domestic partners just as it is offered to married spouses. However, the federal government taxes the benefit given to a same-sex partner, but not toa heterosexually married spouse — even in states that have marriage equality.

“We’d rather see it fixed at the government level,” he said, but some companies have begun paying employees the amount they owe in extra taxes. Bank of America announced this month that it would pay that differential to its gay and lesbian employees.

TI is looking into this form of compensation as well, he said.

Von Wupperfeld said that the ERGs at his company work well together.

“No employee resource group can exist in opposition to any other,” he said.

So when the Christian Values Initiative formed, his group made a point of working with them.

This summer the two groups were among the co-sponsors of an exhibit on Nazi treatment of gays at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Members of the Christian group were at the museum when the exhibit arrived in crates, helping to unpack and assemble the displays.

 

2011-OE-DFW-Council

OUT AT WORK | The 2011 Out & Equal DFW council spent the year preparing to welcome the largest conference Dallas has ever hosted.

The Summit

Selise Berry said the Workplace Summit is inspiring. In little more than a decade, Out & Equal has grown into one of the largest LGBT organizations in the country.

A graduate of University of North Texas, Berry was a teacher in Dallas before moving to the San Francisco Bay area to attend Presbyterian Seminary. Because she was lesbian, she could not be ordained, so she went to work for non-profits and did diversity training.

In 1999, Berry created Out & Equal, pulling together the various employee resource groups around the country and regional groups of groups.
For three years she worked alone. Today, Out & Equal has 17 regional affiliates, including ones in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston.

The Workplace Summit is the organization’s big annual event, but the staff of 20 works throughout the year to create resources for healthcare providers, nonprofits and corporations of all sizes that do not have their own ERGs.

Berry said that one of the themes at this year’s conference is taking LGBT benefits global. Among the issues is whether a company would take a contract in a country where its LGBT employees would not be safe, and if it does, how does it deal with that discrimination.

Out & Equal is becoming an international organization. Among the attendees at this year’s conference are people from a number of companies around the world.

One measure of Out & Equal’s success is the lineup for the conference.

“It took us a number of years before a CEO agreed to speak,” she said. “This year we have two.”

The conference will feature 140 different workshops and a number of featured panels. CNN’s LZ Gunderson will interview Golden State Warriors President and CEO Rick Welts, the highest-ranking person in professional sports management to come out. Entertainers such as Meredith Baxter, Margaret Cho and Kate Clinton will attend.

Dallas will contribute to the entertainment with Turtle Creek Chorale, Dallas Black Dance Theater and Ballet Folklorico performing.

Online registration has closed but registration will be accepted at the door beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 8 a.m. at the Hilton Anatole. Three-day registration is $1,195. One-day rate is $400.

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Rosetti.Roseann

Roseann Rosetti

QUILT DISPLAY

The Collin County-based AIDS education group C.U.R.E. will display 18 blocks from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Dallas this weekend. In addition, there will be a signature panel for people who have viewed the quilt to sign.

Group founder Roseann Rosetti said many of the panels are in memory of people from Dallas.

The quilts will be on display at the Hilton Anatole in the Tower Building in the hall and rotunda and outside the Trinity Ballroom where the lunches and dinners for the conference take place. Rosetti said everyone is welcome to come view the panels.

— David Taffet

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Celeb Sightings
For a list of celebrities appearing at the
Out & Equal summit, Oct. 25-28 in Dallas, CLICK HERE.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Two LGBT workplace conferences coming to Dallas this month

In two weeks, the Out & Equal Workplace Equality Summit will be held at the Anatole Hotel in Dallas. This is expected to be the largest LGBT convention the city ever hosted.

But this weekend another large LGBT conference will take place at the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown Dallas and until today, we knew nothing about it.

Reaching Out is a student-run conference for LGBT MBA candidates and professionals that runs Oct. 13-16.

Theresa Bates-McLemore, president of LEAGUE@AT&T, said her company will be at the conference recruiting new employees. So will more than 50 other major corporations.

About 500 students and 500 professionals are expected at the Fairmont for the convention this weekend. Among the speakers are HRC President Joe Solmonese, CA Technologies executive and LGBT activist Meghan Stabler and Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns.

Organizer Anthony Esposito called the conference, “A forum to empower LGBT MBAs to go out into the workforce and change the workplace.”

A committee of four made up the sponsorship team that put together 77 corporate sponsors including top-level underwriter Target. That company, which got into trouble with the LGBT community last summer for a political donation to an LGBT equality adversary, will sponsor a charity event for the Point Foundation, Esposito said. That organization provides scholarships to LGBT students.

For more about the Out & Equal Workplace Summit at the Anatole Oct. 25-28, watch the Oct. 21 issue of Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Out & Equal conference coming to Dallas in October

In working to create inclusive and non-discriminating workplaces, Out & Equal provides resources to companies and individuals to achieve its goal. The nonprofit makes a big splash in Dallas by bringing its 2011 Workplace Summit to the area Oct. 25–28.

Through workshops and panels, professionals in diversity initiatives, human resources and more will share their practices and strategies in having, literally, an out and equal work environment.

Here is a sampling of what will be offered throughout the event:

Leadership seminars set for the summit include “Developing a Strong LGBT Ally Program,” hosted by Dr. David M. Hall, author of Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment. Another scheduled session will be “Implementing Transgender Inclusion: Comprehensive Programming to Ensure Workplace Equality,” with Ann Dunkin and Jamison Green.

A-list plenary speakers include Bravo’s senior vice president of original programming and development, Andy Cohen, and transgender actress Candis Cayne on Tuesday and the recently out actress Meredith Baxter speaking on Wednesday.

The Gala Dinner is just as star-studded, with appearances by comedians Margaret Cho and Kate Clinton and actor Wilson Cruz along with remarks by Hewlett-Packard President Leo Apotheker and Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns.

With more than 140 workshops planned, Out & Equal expects more 2,500 to attend. To register for the summit, visit OutAndEqual.org.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Margaret Cho, Andy Cohen to headline Out & Equal’s Workplace Summit in Dallas

If you didn’t know already, this year’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit happens right here in town. It’s gonna be huge. But then we just found out who the keynote speakers are and were kinda blown away.

Instant Tea has learned that the celebrity roster for the Workplace Summit will include actress Meredith Baxter, trans actress Candis Cayne, comedian Margaret Cho and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. OK, Cohen sometimes drives me nuts on Watch What Happens Live, but he’s kind of a big deal. The dude isn’t just a talk show host, he’s also Bravo’s senior veep of original programming and development.

So, go to the summit because of the work O&E does, but definitely stay for the primo gay celebs willing to come here for the event. Now that’s some A-list.

The summit will be Oct. 25–28 at the Hilton Anatole. To register, go here.

—  Rich Lopez

In NYC, gay groups are fighting Wal-Mart

A while back we told you how the anti-gay Wal-Mart plans to take over Dallas by building 12 new stores here. Little did we know at the time that the man who’s taking “credit” for bringing the new Wal-Mart stores to Dallas, former Mayor Tom Leppert, would show his stripes as a back-stabbing homophobe only days later. Anyhow, we just wanted to note that in New York City, LGBT groups are taking stands against allowing Wal-Mart to come into the city — due to the group’s anti-gay employment practices. Change.org reports:

Last week, Change.org writer Lauren Kelley noted that the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City issued a statement opposing the construction of a WalMart in the Big Apple. Their reasons for opposing WalMart? Pretty straightforward, really: the company receives a dismal grade when it comes to workplace equality, the company’s CEO supported efforts in Arkansas to ban LGBT people from adopting children, and last year, more than 100 WalMart stores announced that they would carry a book championing ex-gay therapy.

Yuck, indeed. Now this week comes word that another heavyweight organization is lending their voice in the effort to keep WalMart out of New York City. That group? The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which issued a statement this week knocking WalMart’s record on LGBT equality.

“With the expansion of Wal-Mart stores comes the expansion of antiquated employment policies that provide little to no protections for, and at times even hostility toward, their LGBT employees,” the Task Force said in a statement.

—  John Wright

Eureka Springs adds DP benefits for city workers

(From Eureka Pride on Facebook)

Eureka Springs, Ark., long known as a gay tourist destination, has become the first city in the state to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of municipal employees, according to a press release we received Monday:

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. — The only city in Arkansas with a Domestic Partnership Registry today became the first city in the state to provide health care coverage for the domestic partners of municipal workers.

The city’s insurance provider, the Arkansas Municipal League, notified the city that beginning January 1, 2011 both same- and opposite-sex partners of city workers will have the same access to health insurance as legal spouses.

The announcement culminated a year-long campaign by residents of the Northwest Arkansas tourist town which in June 2007 became the first city in the state to enact a Domestic Partnership Registry ordinance to officially recognize unmarried couples in committed relationships.

“Once again, Eureka Springs is leading by example, this time in the realm of workplace equality,” said Michael Walsh, who helped lead the effort to expand health care coverage. “Marital status shouldn’t be the deciding factor in access to ‘family plan’ insurance. Legally wed or not, all city workers should get the same employment benefits, including access to health insurance for their partners.”

Expanding the definition of “family dependent” was “the right thing to do,” Eureka Springs Mayor Dani Joy wrote to the Municipal League in August, just weeks before the city council passed a resolution endorsing domestic partnership insurance coverage.

“I am aware as well as you that some will construe this as a ‘gay issue’,” said Joy. “But the reality is that there are many heterosexual couples who chose to live together in a committed relationship – as a family – without entering into the civil contract of marriage,. These folks face the same ‘family’ challenges every day, not the least of which is providing health care for themselves and for those who are dependent on them. . . . the definition of family is at the center of our concerns.”

Joy and city Transit Director Lamont Richie met with the Arkansas Municipal League Nov. 4 to lobby for a more inclusive health insurance policy.

Today’s announcement that their efforts were successful “is a huge step forward,” said Richie.

“And though only employees of the City of Eureka Springs will be able to take advantage of it for now,” he said, “other communities in the state may be encouraged to adopt their own Domestic Partnership Registries as a means of providing health insurance benefits to domestic partners of their employees.”

—  John Wright

According to HRC, you shouldn’t be renting movies at Blockbuster or drinking Dr. Pepper

A record number of companies are rated according to their LGBT-related employment policies in this year’s Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, which was released Monday. Unlike in previous years, HRC has issued “unofficial” ratings for companies that didn’t respond to its survey. These unofficial ratings are based on publicly available information and information submitted to HRC by unofficial LGBT employee groups or individual employees. As a result, the CEI seems to present a more accurate portrait of workplace equality, because companies that know they’ll score well are more inclined to respond to HRC’s survey, and vice versa.

In North Texas, for example, a total of five companies now receive the lowest possible score of zero from HRC, meaning they don’t provide even the most basic protections, such as a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. North Texas-based companies that received a zero in this year’s CEI are ExxonMobil Corp. of Irving, Commercial Metals of Irving, Crosstex Energy Inc. of Dallas, Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas and Holly Corp. of Dallas.

Other notably low unofficial scores were given to Dallas-based Blockbuster (45), Plano-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (15)  and Fort Worth-based developer DR Horton Inc. (30).

Also of note, HRC docked Target, Best Buy and 3M 15 points each “for failing to respond to requests to take corrective actions following their sizable contributions to MN Forward, a political committee supporting the election of an anti-gay candidate for governor of Minnesota.”

Below is a full list of HRC-rated companies based in North Texas this year (companies are based in Dallas unless otherwise noted, unofficial scores shaded gray):

—  John Wright

Out & Equal convention coming to Dallas in 2011

Largest LGBT national convention should have an $8 million economic impact on city, officials estimate


DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

George Carrancho
George Carrancho

The 2011 Out & Equal convention will be held in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, officials with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We’re excited to host the 2011 Out & Equal Conference in Dallas,” said Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the CVB. “With its more than $8 million economic impact to the city, it will be the largest LGBT convention held in Dallas to date.”

Jones said that convention and leisure travel to Dallas has increased in the past five years.

“We were selected to host this convention in part because of our strong, cohesive LGBT community,” he said. “This community support is essential as we continue to promote Dallas as a top LGBT destination.”

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is a national organization based in San Francisco advocating from within companies for workplace equality for LGBT employees. They provide a variety of services to companies and employee resource groups and offer diversity training specific to LGBT workplace issues.

There are 18 regional affiliates, including ones in Dallas and Houston.

Tony Vedda, executive director of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, said his group partnered with the Dallas CVB to bring the convention to the city.

“They were looking at several cities,” he said. “We’re thrilled they chose us.”

Earlier this year, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force held its annual Creating Change conference in Dallas for the second time.Officials estimated the impact of that conference at about $4 million for the city.

Vedda said that successfully hosting one LGBT event helps bring the next one.

“It shows the rest of the world that Dallas is a welcoming city,” he said.

Vedda said that the GLBT Chamber works well with the city. When the area was bidding on this season’s Super Bowl, the GLBT Chamber was asked to send a letter supporting the bid.

Vedda said that these events are very important to the city’s economy and has a positive effect on LGBT-owned businesses, especially in Oak Lawn.

“When we bring in conferences, those people leave lots of tax money for us,” he said. “That’s money that local residents don’t have to spend for services themselves.”

Veronica L. Torres, director of diversity and community relations with the CVB called the convention a big win for Dallas. She said this was the largest LGBT convention the city has booked.

Each year different groups partner with the CVB to stage events, like the Dallas Bears who host the annual Texas Bear Round Up and Dallas Southern Pride which holds its annual black gay Pride each fall, Torres said.

In addition to Out & Equal, the CVB helped book Reaching Out MBA for Oct. 2011 at the Fairmont Hotel. Torres said that 500 to 1,000 people are expected for that convention. In Sept. 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Band Association will meet at the Melrose Hotel.

Torres said she is hoping a small meeting of GALA choruses managers in Dallas next month translates into the convention of LGBT choral association booking the city. They would take over the all of the performing arts venues in the Arts District.

“Dallas is our hometown,” said George Carrancho of American Airlines Rainbow Team. “We’ve been a partner of Out & Equal for at least eight years.”

Carrancho worked with the CVB and GLBT Chamber to bring Out & Equal to Dallas.

He said Out & Equal recognizes the work of the airline. American’s chief commercial officer, Virasb Vahidi, will be the opening speaker of this year’s convention in Los Angeles, and Denise Lynn, vice president of diversity and leadership strategies, is up for the Out & Equal’s Champion Award, given annually to an ally.

To help Dallas win the convention, Carancho said he offered the convention an aggressive discount program.

“This is a big win for American and a big win for Dallas,” he said.

Vedda said that a number of things work in favor of the city of Dallas including the annual press tour for travel writers.

“We get beaucoups of great coverage,” he said. “We’ve done a good job of showcasing Dallas and Fort Worth as welcoming cities.”

Vedda said groups are impressed by the corporate support the local LGBT community gets.

“And not every city can call the mayor, ask him to come to help us sell the city and he does,” Vedda said.

Vedda said the GLBT Chamber continues to work with the Dallas CVB and they have their sites set on several additional conferences, conventions and LGBT sports groups.

“We’re always working on bringing new stuff to Dallas,” he said.

Officials with Out & Equal declined to discuss the 2011 convention, saying they do not announce the coming year’s convention until the end of the convention for the current year.

The 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Summit is scheduled for Oct. 5-8 in Los Angeles.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens