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LGBT Latino Group
Wins Texas Award

LGBT Latino Group
Wins Texas Award

The nation's first and only LGBT chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens was honored in Texas on June 7 with the statewide Council of the Year award, beating out an estimated 200 other LULAC chapters. The Dallas Rainbow Council, as the chapter is called, takes LULAC's focus on advancing Hispanic civil rights one step further by adding gay rights to the list. "It started with the intention of bridge-building for gay and lesbian communities and the Hispanic community," said council president Jesse Garcia.

The nation's first and only LGBT chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens was honored in Texas on June 7 with the statewide Council of the Year award, beating out an estimated 200 other LULAC chapters.

The Dallas Rainbow Council, as the chapter is called, takes LULAC's focus on advancing Hispanic civil rights one step further by adding gay rights to the list. "It started with the intention of bridge-building for gay and lesbian communities and the Hispanic community," said council president Jesse Garcia.

Garcia and others founded the Rainbow Council in 2006 because they wanted to recognize the "people who have always served in LULAC quietly, without being out," Garcia explains. "It was time to recognize our brothers and sisters." Along with LGBT Latinos, the council's membership includes people of varying ethnic groups, sexual orientations, and political views. "We even have a Republican!" he boasted.

The Rainbow Council works to create dialogue between Hispanic and LGBT populations in Texas, but that's not the only reason it won the Council of the Year award. The Rainbow Council hosted voter registrations, encouraged the local government to hire more Hispanic employees, and organized antiviolence marches. "We're just like any other council that stepped up to the plate to fight locally," Garcia said. "Basically, the council went above and beyond to promote the ideas of LULAC."

While Rainbow Council members, including Garcia, have had their fair share of challenges -- reaching out to older members and defeating the taboo many of them have toward LGBT rights -- Garcia said the support of the community and other LULAC chapters has proven to be constant. In his award acceptance speech, he thanked LULAC by saying, "LULAC is truly a civil rights organization, because it knows that discrimination of any type is wrong."

The Dallas Rainbow Council is now one of approximately 50 councils that will be eligible for LULAC's national Council of the Year award, which will be announced during the national convention in Washington, D.C., taking place July 8-12. Garcia said the fact that they come from Texas, which has the largest number of LULAC councils, gives the Rainbow Council an advantage. "This is our year, and I don't think we'll be able to do it again," he said. "We have a very, very good chance of winning if we step up our game and highlight our events and the people we've helped." (Hannah Clay Wareham, The Advocate)

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