Rhonda Davis, a lesbian Dallas police officer, told the Dallas Fire and Pension Board, “We put our lives on the line everyday, yet we can’t take care of our families.”
Dallas Police Lt. Barbara Hobbs has been with her wife 27 years and has served on the Dallas Police Department equally long.
“If you got married today,” she said, pointing at one of the board members, “your wife would have benefits.”
She told them after 27 years of service and her wife wasn’t taken care of equally.
Councilman Lee Kleinman serves on the board of the pension board. He made a resolution to amend the definition of spouse for the purpose of benefits to anyone married in Texas or any other state. Four members of the Dallas City Council — Kleinman, Scott Griggs, Philip Kingston and Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins — and one other member of the board voted to put that amendment on an upcoming ballot for members to take a vote. Seven board members voted against the proposal.
Those voting against the amendment said they were concerned there isn’t enough time to educate rank-and-file police and fire personnel about the issue in the few weeks before the election. Officers who were there to support the measure believed they had the votes and that officers already understand the issue.
After the measure failed, Griggs proposed putting together a committee to study the issue and decide the best way to educate police and fire personnel. Those board members against the proposal wanted to study the issue for six months. Griggs made a motion to give them two months to report back and make a final decision at the meeting after that.
Atkins expressed shock that the board voted down the measure after hearing emotional pleas from the officers to protect their families and while the officers were sitting in the room.
“How can they do that to their faces?” he said.