People Issue

Daniel Cates and C.d. Kirven: The Equalizers

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Mark Graham. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue.

In January, Mayor Mike Rawlings held a closed-door meeting with 25 LGBT leaders. It was his way of trying to quell a huge outcry from the gay community after he declined to sign a pledge supporting gay marriage, a symbolic gesture most other big-city mayors easily got behind.

During the meeting, a few of the people in the room had lined up to show Rawlings photo albums of their families. They hoped snapshots of their babies and spouses and lives would help show him why the pledge felt so important.

"I'm not showing you a picture of my family," 36-year-old C.d. Kirven told the mayor. "I'm not showing pictures of them to someone who can't appreciate my family's importance." Instead, she promised, "I'm going to make it my goal and my partner's goal to get a candidate. We're gonna put people up against you and you're gonna lose."

Kirven is one of the lead organizers behind GetEQUAL TX, the state chapter of a nationwide organization that pushes for full equality for LGBT people. Among their core issues: marriage, employment protection, transgender rights and advocacy for people with HIV/AIDS. But GetEQUAL made its biggest headlines in Dallas this year for its focus on the mayor, and its general willingness to call out pols in both parties, the ones who court LGBT dollars but tend to forget gays and lesbians after the polls close.

"We believe civil rights and equality are non-partisan issues," says Daniel Cates, 32, another lead organizer. A lot of people were "too quick to celebrate" when President Obama declared his tepid support for gay marriage, he says. "It's time to stand up and say the crumbs are not enough."

GetEQUAL TX has conducted sensitivity training for local law enforcement, protested Exxon Mobil for its treatment of LGBT employees and worked to stop the "corporate co-option" of gay-pride events. And Rawlings? They're not quite done with him either.

Kirven grins. "I ain't giving nobody a break."

See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue.