Meeting with Dallas City Councilman Sheffie Kadane reveals he believes LGBT people will be equal in death but should remain unequal in life
Sheffie Kadane was vocal during the discussion and asserted both that all of his district would not support the resolution and that he was against it on religious grounds.
This prompted a letter from me and a request to meet in person. I feel very strongly about bearing witness to our presence in the community and the impact a few face-to-face experiences with LGBT constituents can have on our elected officials.
I was greeted with a note from his administrative assistant asking me to detail the nature of the conversation and questions. Again, I sent a request with very pithy details on my problem with his statements, especially the ones on my behalf as a resident of his district. And then, silence for almost a month. I am not a big fan of silence.
After a terse note mentioning local media, I got a nice reply explaining Councilman Kadane was on vacation and would schedule a meeting on his return. And finally, thanks to the attention of his pleasant assistant, I had that meeting.
Now, I didn’t expect to change his mind, and frankly the resolution actually had no legal bearing since same-sex marriage is illegal in Texas. But I figured I could at least get a deeper understanding of why he voted against it. I also hoped to hear his theological reasons, since I seem drawn to those kinds of debates.
And so there I was, at City Hall being greeted by Kadane himself. He ushered me into his office and we sat down in a couple of serviceable city-issue chairs. I got straight to the point and let him know that even though he said citizens in his district would not support such a measure, I know a lot of LGBT people in his district, which includes White Rock Lake. Contrary to what he said in the City Council meeting, he is aware of the LGBT people living in his district, but he told me his objection was based strictly on his religious beliefs.
Now, I understand that some folks will never be comfortable with LGBT people being treated as equals, but the legal discrimination against a class of people just rubs me the wrong way, especially when the excuse for doing it is a religious claim. So I dug a little further.
Kadane, in his most gracious way, explained that at the previous meeting with LGBT leaders, he spoke with a lesbian who said she was a Christian. He was quick to assure me that he believes when he dies and goes to heaven there will be LGBT people there. “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me …”
The words spilled from his mouth like a preacher. I had to ask him point blank, so we are all going to heaven, but on Earth, well that’s a different matter? I then enumerated for him some of the more than 1,000 rights denied LGBT people because we can’t marry. I got a nice smile and nod.
He once again fell back on his “beliefs” and I figured there was no need belaboring the point, his mind was made up, and in reality he had no reason to change it. He has reached his term limit for City Council, so even though he still spoke like a politician, he is well aware that his days as an elected city official are numbered.
As I said in the beginning, I didn’t expect to change his mind; I just wanted to bear witness to the issue and put another face on the discrimination.
Perhaps my time would have been better spent working on the campaign of a future city council person who would be more LGBT affirming, but still I had to practice what I preach. I have always asserted that meeting with your elected officials is important, if for nothing else than to make them aware of your existence and burn a face into their mind that they can recall when they next decide on issues that affect you.
So I left Kadane with a friendly handshake and an assurance he was there to deal with any problems I had in the future. The unsaid part of that was “as long as they don’t deal with LGBT rights.” And so I left him at City Hall, still sharing his office with the “elephant in the room,” and hoping that creature would perhaps make him uncomfortable enough to take a deeper look at the issue. He would have to also deal with his belief system that makes us all equal in death but unequal in life.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 30, 2013.