Lack of foresight on food pantry
I am concerned about the article on the Resource Center of Dallas’ food pantry ("Food pantry less than halfway to total needed for year-end move," Dallas Voice, Nov. 21). First, I think the food pantry is a valuable service that is provided for people who need it due to them having HIV. However, it is unfortunate that poor management and foresight have led to such a predicament. After all, how does such a large non-profit organization who has been in business for 25 years wait until the last month of a five-year lease to negotiate a new lease?

Considering that there have been town halls and Dallas Voice articles about how some of the other tenants and businesses on Cedar Springs have been upset with the food pantry’s attracting unsavory people, I would think it would have been in the best interest of the agency to have secured a lease prior to this time. So why would the agency’s administration and board wait? They would have to be deaf to not hear the concerns raised by their neighbors. Did they think people would just bail them out financially? Isn’t this the same agency that is trying to raise money for a new building? These are hard times financially for everyone. Now this agency with poor foresight is putting our community in a tight situation. Let’s face it. It will be the gay and lesbian community that will have to come to the rescue financially to help. When HIV/AIDS first hit, we had to take care of ourselves. Now that HIV/AIDS affects everyone, we have the burden of taking care of ourselves — and everyone else. I’m sure I’m in the minority opinion here. However, I just think that this is a situation that could have been avoided.

Armando Torres

Saying ‘married’ doesn’t make it so
I was shocked to read Michael Piazza’s op-ed piece on gay marriage ("We lost because we were crazy enough to keep fighting for ‘marriage’ instead of the rights that come with it," Dallas Voice, Nov. 21).

He said, "Same-sex couples can get married at any one of a dozen churches in Dallas if they want to, and no one can stop them."

This statement is not only erroneous, it is criminal. According to Texas state law, religious clergy and churches risk criminal prosecution from a misdemeanor to a felony offense, if they conduct illegal marriages.

Since the state constitution prohibits marriage between two people of the same sex, anyone who conducts such a marriage commits the same level of criminal offense who knowingly conducts a marriage involving underage people or already married people.

When a clergy member, of which I am one, conducts a marriage (s)he acts as an agent of the state and says clearly, "By the authority invested in me by the state of Texas." The word marriage can’t, under Texas law, be used in any situation where the couple doesn’t have a legal Texas marriage license that is at least three days old and no more than 30 days old.

We can call it a commitment ceremony or any other name to make ourselves feel better. But it is not marriage.

While I appreciate Mike’s sentiment, "My partner and I got married in a church in Atlanta in 1980," he is not married and does not have the married rights of heterosexual couples, who can be married in this state by license or simply by registering a common law marriage.

Letting our sentiment win out with such statements and not demanding full and equal rights before the law in name, is to dishonor our community.

The African-American community has taught us a great deal about fighting for equal rights. The 14th amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1868. But it was well into the 1960s, almost 100 years later, before those full rights began to be realized.

When we accept less that full equal rights, we accept the message of fear and ignorance that Christians have used to oppress people in this country. We allow members of our own community to believe that they are not deserving of equal respect by their neighbors and friends.

We tell gay men, who live in small town Texas, to stay in the closet and act like gay love is shameful. We tell every lesbian couple who live together to continue telling their family and friends they are merely roommates. We tell every transgendered person, or those so desiring, that they are some sort of strange creature to be ashamed of and secreted away.

If American history has taught us anything about civil rights, it is that only in standing up for those rights will we receive them. Women didn’t accept a "pink" ballot that could be discarded when they asked for the right to vote. Black people didn’t accept second-class rights when it came to schooling, marriage, voting and jobs.

People have stood actively against ignorance and oppression to the risk of their lives and livelihood. We, following in their footsteps, must not dishonor them by doing less.

Shame on us for allowing ourselves to be fooled into believing that we should accept less than everything. Shame on me personally for allowing fear to rule my life.

The mistake we made in California was believing too much in the idea that there is good in humans. Fear is a terrible animal that has ruled our species from its inception. It is an emotion that has great power when it is used to protect our lives or community. It is a terrible tool in the hands of manipulators who use it to oppress people.

When we forget that power, we forget the greatest tool our enemy has.

Marlin Bynum

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 28, 2008.
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