Category Archives: Equality

Longview Celebrates It’s First Pride!!

LGBT Pride Month is a commemoration of the Stonewall riots, which (by most estimations) was the start of the gay rights movement.  After enduring seemingly endless police brutality, a group of New York City residents gathering at the Stonewall Inn finally decided to fight back.  It was the start of huge sea change in 1969, and that same struggle for rights has now spread to cities and towns all over the world.  Many LGBT communities celebrate Pride through a parade and festival, most during the month of June.

And last weekend for the first time in city history, the Pride tradition came to the town of Longview in Northeast Texas.  Long regarded as a region that frowns upon the LGBT community, this town sought to prove that their community could have a safe and successful parade.  From the Glenn Evans of the Longview News Journal, here was the result…

The rainbow’s end rested Saturday on downtown Longview as members of a minority and their supporters celebrated pride in the gay and lesbian community.

Actually, they celebrated the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, evidenced by the “Hey there!” a man in a white dress and fishnet stockings had for folks arriving at Heritage Plaza.

“We were hoping to get 50 or 60 people,” organizer Mallory Waugh said, 30 minutes into the festival as the crowd approached 200. “And look at this. There’s people here from Shreveport, Dallas, all over.”

Waugh is secretary for the local chapter of PFFLAG, formerly Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays. She said organizers hope to make the festival an annual event.

“This is important for Longview,” she said. “Because Longview wants to be a thriving and inclusive community.”

The event was important enough for Mayor Jay Dean to pen a letter commending its spirit. Councilwoman Kasha Williams read the mayoral missive after embracing the crowd.

“This is such a commemorative event here in Longview,” she said, noting people had come from near and far. “That is a message that this is a much-needed event. I am a Christian, but in the same vein I have to add we can no longer afford to hide behind the veil of Christianity. So, to you today, I say I love you.”

The organizers, originally concerned about a larger crowd of protesters than celebrants, were met by a miniscule group of 4 men with a couple of signs.  It’s sufficient to say that even in Deep East Texas, the Longview Pride Festival was a rousing success.

As communities all over the world celebrate the LGBT liberation, it’s especially wonderful to see a community starting a new tradition, and shattering old misconceptions in its wake.

Congrats to Longview PFLAG, the city of Longview and all of your supporters! Cities all over the nation are definitely proud of you.

Longview Pride


Houston Equal Rights Ordinance PASSES

It’s a moment that was years in the making, and for some Houstonians, a moment that means so much more than words on any page could convey.  The silent, and often private struggles of discrimination have long been endorsed by the city of Houston… an endorsement via inaction and refusal to address those who are oppressed.  But on May 28th 2014, that endorsement of discrimination ended in the Bayou City, as Houston City Council has passed a comprehensive, non-discrimination ordinance.  Known now as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, it passed Council by a vote of 11 to 6.

Both sides argued passionately for and against H.E.R.O., though many questioned how much of the opposition’s argument was based in factual information.  Speaker after speaker gave eerily similar scenarios that all revolved around some imaginary figure in a bathroom waiting for the opportunity to molest a child.  But in the end, this vast cloud of falsehood did not win out, and the city took an important step forward to protect all of its citizens.

From a political standpoint, many see the passage of H.E.R.O. as “a victory for the Mayor” or a victory for her base, being the LGBT community.  I don’t see it that way, but instead this is a victory for everyone in the city of Houston.  A city that seeks to protect all of its citizens is a city that is safer for all.  Ask anyone in the LGBT community… it takes real courage to live as an out individual.  Just like someone who goes around hating openly gay people… there’s a strong possibility that the person initiating the hatred is gay themselves, but haven’t found the strength to deal with their internal feelings.  They lash out against others because of fear of themselves.  Laws like H.E.R.O. get rid of that fear by helping to create an environment where that person can walk their individual journey in a healthier way.  They are less likely to lash out… less likely to cause any harm to others.  By standing up for equal protection, Houston is sending a message that we care about everyone’s safety.

As I wrote in an earlier post, Annise Parker has accomplished much as Mayor of the City of Houston.  In 4 short years, she has shepherded historic growth and prosperity for the city and region… tackling a host of problems her predecessors were too scared to face.  But one has to believe that she was uniquely skilled for this moment in time.  Parker will be long remembered for her bravery and expert strategy to get the ordinance through.  Because of her leadership, we are a better city today than we were yesterday, and 2.2 million Texans have a home where discrimination is no longer acceptable.

Transgriot, Brains and Eggs and Off the Kuff have more.


Arkansas Issues Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

What seemed nothing short of impossible just a few weeks ago is now happening in the Arkansas, as marriage equality has made a surprise visit to the Natural State.  Here’s more from LGBTQNation via the Associated Press…

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Couples lined up before dawn Monday outside Little Rock’s courthouse as the state’s largest county began issuing gay marriage licenses following a judge’s ruling overturning Arkansas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The Pulaski County clerk’s office issued its first same-sex marriage license shortly after 8 a.m. After business hours closed Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that Arkansas’ voter-approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Piazza did not issue a stay, and 15 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses Saturday in the left-leaning tourist town of Eureka Springs.

The first Little Rock license went to Shelly Butler, 51, and Susan Barr, 48, of Dallas, who have been together since they met at Southern Arkansas University in 1985.

“When we heard the news in Arkansas, we had to jump in the car to get here,” Butler said shortly before receiving the license. “I’m just excited to marry my best friend of almost 30 years, finally.”

The second couple to receive a license was Thomas Baldwin, 37, and Devin Rudeseal, 24. The Bryant couple quickly married in the courthouse, and Rudeseal planned to take a final at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock later Monday morning.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who recently said he supported gay marriage but would defend the ban, has asked Piazza to suspend his ruling. McDaniel said Saturday that he wants the state Supreme Court to take up the matter, but no appeal had been filed as of Monday morning.

More than 100 people gathered outside the Pulaski County courthouse before doors opened Monday. Randy Eddy-McCain, pastor of Open Door Community Church, was on hand to help perform marriage ceremonies for those seeking licenses at the courthouse. Eddy-McCain, who is gay, married his partner in New York. He said he looked forward to presiding over same-sex ceremonies in Arkansas.

“I want to get everybody in that I can before they issue a stay,” said Eddy-McCain, who along with his husband is a plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to Piazza’s ruling.

When Piazza didn’t issue a stay, Arkansas’ 75 county clerks were left to decide for themselves whether to grant marriage licenses. That caused confusion among county clerks, Association of Arkansas Counties executive director Chris Villines said.

A. G. McDaniel apparently didn’t see the need to file an emergency stay of Judge Piazza’s ruling, thereby setting the scene for future court battles just like the one that struck down California’s same-sex marriage banThe marriage licenses issued during this interim period will form the backbone that could permanently bring marriage equality to Arkansas, and if it travels to the Supreme Court, may even have national implications.  Besides Carroll County (home of Eureka Springs) and Pulaski County, same-sex marriage licenses are also being issued in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the Washington County courthouse, where dozens of couples were wed this morning.  All told, hundreds of licenses could potentially be issued before the stay.

This is in stark contrast to the state of Texas, where Attorney General Greg Abbott begged the state appeals court to issue an emergency stay, which prevented the granting of any same-sex marriage licenses in the state.

Just like the historic integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957, it appears Arkansas is leading the way again as new Civil Rights battles come to the South.  Check back at Texas Leftist for more updates.

Marriage Equality Fayetteville

(photo credit:  The Fayetteville Flyer)

Today’s the Day for Equal Rights in Houston!!

Today is a very big day in the progress towards Houston’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance (aka the Equal Rights Ordinance or Human Rights Ordinance). If you support equality for all Houstonians, then please consider attending today’s meeting at Houston City Hall. The Quality of Life Committee will convene at 2pm, but there is also a rally that begins at 1:15pm in front of City Hall.  This session is the best opportunity for the public to comment for or against the ordinance.

Even if you cannot make today’s events, there’s still time to contact your 6 City Council Members.  Houston residents are each represented by 1 District Council Member, and 5 Members At-Large.

As was written previously, the other side is working hard to defeat this ordinance, but they can be defeated by a clear majority of citizen support.  We’re so close to making the Bayou City a better, safer city for everyone.  Don’t let them win!!



A Southern Strategy for LGBT Equality

If we could travel back in time just 5 years, it would seem impossible to imagine the pace at which marriage equality is occurring today.  To think that even less than 2 years ago, no popular vote granting same-sex marriage rights had been won in any state.  That didn’t occur until the November 2012 elections.

But since those first wins at the ballot box in Washington state, Maine and Maryland in 2012, large parts of the United have seen nothing short of a transfiguration on LGBT marriage rights.  Sometimes it seems like magic to sit and watch this play out from a southern state like Texas or Arkansas… it feels as though time is moving forward in other areas, yet we’re still stuck squarely in the past.  But this swift movement towards equality was anything but magic.  It was earned through the blood, sweat, voices, votes and tears of millions of people working to advance these rights.  For the past several years, marriage equality has been the central orb around which the country’s largest and most powerful Civil Rights organizations have revolved.  You throw all of your time and money into a cause, and hopefully you yield some results.

But a new report from The New York Times reveals that this singular focus on marriage equality is about to change.  The movement itself is now turning to those that have stood patiently on the sidelines…

The country’s leading gay rights groups and donors, after a decade focused on legalizing same-sex marriage, are embarking on a major drive to win more basic civil rights and workplace protections in Southern and Western states where the rapid progress of the movement has largely eluded millions of gay men and lesbians.

The effort will shift tens of millions of dollars in the next few years to what advocates described as the final frontier for gay rights: states like Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, where Republicans dominate elected office and traditional cultural views on homosexuality still prevail.

The new strategy reflects the growing worry within the movement that recent legal and political successes have formed two quickly diverging worlds for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans: one centered on the coasts and major cities, and another stretching across the South and up through the Rocky Mountains, in states where gays enjoy virtually no legal protections against discrimination.

“We can’t allow two distinct gay Americas to exist,” said Tim Gill, a Colorado philanthropist whose foundation is putting about $25 million into a handful of mostly conservative-leaning states over the next five years. “Everybody should have the same rights and protections regardless of where they were born and where they live.”

The push is likely to encounter resistance. Gay rights groups will be engaging in communities where churches and other religious institutions are tightly woven into daily life, and where efforts to expand civil rights protections to gays are sometimes viewed as an attack on people of faith…

In some states, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union and groups Mr. Gill helps fund plan to lobby for nondiscrimination ordinances in housing and employment and for legislation allowing gay parents to adopt. In other states, they are building new grass-roots organizations and pushing for the election of openly gay and lesbian officials where there are none.

Those involved in the planning described it as the biggest realignment of gay rights activism in a decade, one that will shift the movement’s focus into territory where there is almost no unified network of support and where gay people are more likely to hide who they are, making them more difficult to reach.

Just the American Civil Rights movement two generations ago, today’s fight for equality has always been about much more than marriage.  In my opinion this shift in focus is welcome, and long overdue.  When they do get to the south, they will be able to build on the great work of groups like the Campaign for Southern Equality.  This fight is already being waged, but with the help of larger resources, it can be won decisively.

For this shift, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign are in capable hands.  The group’s President, Chad Griffin, knows much of the territory to which he is taking this next great push.  He is a native Arkansan, and grew up in the small, bucolic college town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas (full disclosure, I went to college in the very same town).  Knowing the struggles that some of our most vulnerable LGBT Americans face, Griffin’s voice is sure to be an even greater attribute in this “new” frontier.

Arkansas Pride

(photo credit: