Plans underway to ask Commissioners Court for new policy
The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance has started reaching out to the new straight faces around the Dallas City Council’s horseshoe, according to the group’s leaders.
“It’s going forward to continue the open dialog and discussion that we’ve enjoyed for such a long time,” said outgoing DGLA President Pete Webb, whose term is scheduled to end next week when the group’s board meets to elect new officers.
He noted that it is the first time in a decade for the LGBT community not to have one of its own sitting on the council.
“It is a concern because it is definitely a historic moment,” Webb said. “It has been quite some time since we haven’t had a representative on the council.”
Webb said DGLA leaders are talking with representatives of Mayor Tom Leppert and the seven new council members about setting up meetings.
“We want to talk about where they are and where we are and our issues issues that are important to the LGBT community,” Webb said.
Webb said he is confident Leppert will meet with DGLA representatives, even though he did not seek the endorsement of the group’s political action committee.
“Now that he’s won the seat, it’s time for him to live up to the promises he made as far as being the mayor for all of Dallas and reaching to all of Dallas,” Webb said. “And all of Dallas includes the LGBT community. We’re a very significant and active part of the community.”
Leppert promised during interview prior to his election that he would be responsive to the LGBT community if he were elected mayor. He has replaced former Mayor Laura Miller, who was widely regarded as the gay-friendliest mayor to ever preside over the council
“I think it is important for the LGBT community to not be afraid,” Webb said. “This is new territory, but I don’t think we will lose ground.”
Webb noted the group has succeeded in reaching out to and establishing a friendship with new District 3 Councilman Dave Neumann, of Oak Cliff, which has a large LGBT population.
“I was honored to have Dave Neumann as a guest at my table at DGLA’s anniversary dinner on June 28,” Webb said.
“He is very receptive and supportive of our issues. I think he will do a fine job representing District 3.”
Webb said the group is intent on reaching out to all of the new council members in North Dallas and South Dallas because LGBT people live in every council district.
“The LGBT community is very diverse, and we are all over Dallas,” Webb said.
Patti Fink, who is now vice president and is likely to succeed Webb as president, said the group also wants to reach out to Dallas County officials. Long-range plans were scheduled to be discussed this week after the new board was elected, she said.
“We need to plan our goals for the year and hopefully everyone will agree that will be a priority,” Fink said.
The group hopes to influence county officials to pass a policy protecting LGBT employees against anti-gay discrimination, Fink said.
“We’ll see how much support we can get,” Fink said. “A lot of that will depend on how successful we are in building relationships with the various commissioners.”
County Judge Jim Foster said after his election in November that he would help get such a policy adopted.
Fink said the group has not approached Foster about a proposed anti-discrimination policy yet because of the six-month scandal involving gay former Constable Mike Dupree, who recently resigned and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of official misconduct.
“Sometimes, timing can be very important with a lot of things,” Fink said.
Fink said she is hopeful there will not be fallout from the Dupree scandal that hinders the group’s progress.
“I don’t know,” Fink said. “I think that’s yet to be determined.”
Fink said she is hopeful county officials and Dallas County residents will realize that Dupree is only one individual and is not representative of the whole LGBT community.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 13, 2007