Equality Texas, Resource Center, Cathedral of Hope, Lambda Legal, Dallas Leaders & the LGBT Community- Remember the Victims of Orlando, Commemorate the 1st Anniversary of Marriage Equality and Talk About the Fight for the Future for Full Equality for Every Texan 



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Contact: Susan Risdon (214)226-6741 susan@redmediagroupllc.com

Dallas, TX (June 26, 2016) – Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBT Texans, today on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on marriage equality, held a series of events across the state to honor the victory of the historic moment.  While commemorating the landmark decision, we have a heavy heart mourning the devastating loss of 49 of our brothers and sisters in Orlando in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and we recognize the stark reality that some, including Texas’ lieutenant governor and the attorney general, continue to advocate for discriminatory legislation in the upcoming legislative session despite the fact that LGBT people have no protections under state law in Texas.

“The events of the last year and the last few weeks show us the discrimination directed at LGBT persons,” said Cece Cox, Resource Center CEO.  “We remember those who lost their lives and we will never forget as we take our fight to the next legislative session to demand equality and legislation that protects LGBT citizens from getting fired or losing their home because of who they are.”

In a moment of silence at the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Dallas, the largest LGBT church in the nation, Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas remembered the 49 lives lost in a tribute to the Orlando victims.  Especially, heart-breaking on the one-year anniversary of marriage is the memory of a couple who was deeply in love when they were killed during the gunman’s shooting rampage.  Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, and his 32-year-old boyfriend, Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, were planning a marriage, but now their families are holding a joint funeral service.

“While one significant victory was won a year ago, there are many miles to go to reach full equality for Texans.  Today, we are launching a battle cry for the future that the LGBT community and millions of everyday Texas allies will not stop fighting until every Texan is treated equally under the laws of the state of Texas,” said Steve Rudner, Chairman of the Board for Equality Texas.

“Today, we reflect on how far we have come as we look back one year to the glorious U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that struck down all remaining state laws denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry,” said Paul Castillo, Staff Attorney with Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas.  “We are also fully aware of how much work we have left to do. “

“When elected officials in Texas misinform the community about LGBT people, it leads to fear, misunderstanding, and hatred.  By fueling hysteria and creating panic where none need exist, our leaders echo the worst chapters of our history, where discrimination runs rampant, and understanding and compassion are absent,” said Jennifer Campisi, a Dallas mother of a transgender son who is urging leaders to sit down with parents and educate themselves about transgender children.

“There are individuals, organizations, and politicians, in this great state and in our great nation, who seek to turn back the clock and reverse LGBT gains, both legislatively and judicially.  LGBT Texans and our allies will organize, register and vote this fall to make sure that doesn’t happen and that eventually full equality is achieved.  We call on all Texans – all those who want to honor those 49 individuals massacred in Orlando — to join with us and send a signal loud and clear to our leaders that hate and discrimination are not Texas Values,” said Mark Phariss, Equality Texas Board Member and one of the four plaintiffs in the gay marriage case in Texas.

“Many Texans may not know that if you are gay in Texas, yes, you can get married, but you can also be fired or denied housing for being gay.  No one should be fired, evicted from their home, or denied services because of who they are or whom they love.  All LGBT Texans deserve a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families and we must ensure that all employees are hired, fired or promoted based on their performance,” said Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas.

In addition to the lives lost in Orlando, at least 20 Texans have been attacked in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas.

“The hateful rhetoric and violence against innocent people that is created by such rhetoric must stop.  We will not be intimidated or deterred from living our lives authentically and with pride.  I’m somebody’s son, I’m somebody’s brother, I’m somebody’s cousin, somebody’s nephew, and grandchild.  Everybody has somebody and just imagine if you got a phone call saying that they’re dead.  They were left to bleed out on the street,” said Michael Dominguez, who is a Dallas hate crime survivor.

A new report confirms that the vast majority of Texans do not support discrimination of any kind against the LGBT community.  The Public Religion Research Institute shows there is widespread support for laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations.

In Texas, 67% of Texans favor a law protecting LGBT people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing.  And 53% oppose letting a small business owner refuse to serve someone who is LGBT based on their personal religious beliefs.  But in Texas, it is completely legal to terminate an employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression because there is no statewide legal protection.

Overwhelmingly, Texans believe that everyone throughout the state should be able to live without fear of discrimination or fear of being a victim of crime.  Link to the American Values Atlas study on public opinion about LGBT nondiscrimination laws and religious exemptions:


Discrimination is not a Texas Value.  Embrace Dignity and Respect for Every Texan.  We urge all Texans to join our campaign and speak out against discrimination. Join the Capitol Club and help us fight during the legislative session.





Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working solely to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.