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Philanthropy Day Awards, Texas Marriage Equality Case, Wendy Davis and more

day 1
Michael Barnes

GIVING: I endorse emcee Rebecca Powers' position. No award should consist of 32 syllables or more. Think: "Best Picture." With that in mind, let me rephrase the high honors given today before 800 guests during the Philanthropy Day Lunch at the powered-up Hyatt Regency Austin. Top award for giving went to incredibly thoughtful and generous Marc and Carolyn Seriff. AFP Austin chapter founder Chris Collier earned special laurels and gave an inspiring speech. Amber Carden was named the top volunteer. Alyssa Epstein took home the Kelly Davidson youth giving award. AFP saluted Kristi Katz Gordy as lead giving pro. Much lauded RGK Foundation gained more honors for giving, and Greg Kozmetsky accepted with brevity. IBM scored kudos for large Austin giving group. Cook-Walden took prize for small/medium giving group. (Every single winner is worth a separate story.)

LAW: Lively debate, but no ruling in Texas marriage equailty case. From Chuck Lindell's story online: "After hearing almost two hours of arguments Wednesday morning, U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia told a crowded courtroom that he will decide the future of Texas’ ban on gay marriage at a later, unspecified date. Two same-sex couples, including two women from Austin, have asked Garcia to find that the state ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s right to equal protection under the law. Mike Murphy, an assistant solicitor general in Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office, argued that the couples are trying to “rewrite over 150 years of Texas law” by asking courts to intervene in the democratic process. “These questions are political questions, not federal constitutional rights,” he told Garcia. Same-sex marriage, “a more recent innovation than Facebook,” is not deeply rooted in the tradition and history of Texas and cannot be considered a fundamental right that must be protected, Murphy said. Barry Chasnoff and Neel Lane, lawyers for the couples, argued that tradition cannot justify an unconstitutional law. http://shar.es/Q9b31  (Watch this space.)

POLITICS: Amid Wendy Davis' very good day, an ethics asterisk. From Jonathan Tilove's blog post: "Deep into his nearly 8,000-word cover story - Can Wendy Davis Have it All? - which will appear in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Robert Draper writes: The controversy over her narrative had metastasized into criticisms that her communications team had proved inept at controlling her message, in turn feeding broader concerns among Texas Democratic supporters that Team Wendy did not have what it took to wage an underdog campaign in a solidly Republican state. “Name one good day they’ve had,” one such ally told me. Draper answered: There had in fact been a single good day: Jan. 14, when it was announced that her supporters had raised $12.2 million, a surprising amount that eclipsed Greg Abbott’s $11.5 million over the same six-month reporting period. Now, I would add, she's had second very good 24 hours, beginning with what was apparently a bravura performance before the Dallas Morning News editorial board yesterday, and extending to the posting on-line of Draper’s well-written opus, which I think could prove an important milestone in helping Davis right her campaign." http://shar.es/Q9ozF  (Deep political coverage from Draper and Tilove.)

MEDIA: This is the best piece of personal journalism I've read in a while. From Michael Corcoran's blog post in Arts + Labor: "Was this really happening? Being marched, handcuffed behind my back, through the crowd of about 5,000 at Waterloo Park, sobered me up and gave me time to think practically. Busted for hitting on a joint a friend passed me, I would certainly be fired from my job as music critic for the Austin American Statesman and so as the faces, some familiar, stared at me with looks of shame, horror and amusement, I considered my options. Maybe this newfound notoriety would help me get an edgier new job. Maybe this was a sign that I should switch fields and start writing screenplays. Maybe Willie Nelson, the great hemp activist, would play a benefit concert to keep me out of the shelters. Maybe this would end up being a good thing." http://bit.ly/MdBLf2 (Read it all.)

TEXAS: Can a wrongful conviction ever be forgiven? From Maurice Chammah's story in Texas Monthly: "Every story of a wrongful conviction is a story of lingering bitterness and lasting feuds. Consider Anthony Graves, who is filing a complaint with the State Bar against prosecutor Charles Sebesta, who has never admitted to the mistakes that led to Graves’s sitting on death row for twelve years. The San Antonio Four, sent to prison for more than a decade for a bizarre sexual assault that never happened, have had no contact with the prosecutors, police, or doctor involved in their convictions.  And even when former district attorney Ken Anderson publicly apologized for “the system’s failure” that sent Michael Mortonhttp://bit.ly/1j6mW8V to prison for nearly 25 years for a murder he didn’t commit, Anderson still defended his prosecution of Morton. Do these stories ever end with reconciliation? http://bit.ly/1j6mW8V  (Stories that must be told.)

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