Gift prompts Parkland to change employee policy

Posted on 08 Mar 2007 at 8:41pm
By John Wright Staff Writer

Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas to celebrate record fundraising year, 5th anniversary at gala this month



Enrique MacGregor (Photo by JOHN ATER/Contributing Photographer) and Veletta Forsythe Lill

Members of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas will have plenty to celebrate March 24, including a record fundraising year, a fifth anniversary and Parkland Hospital’s recent decision to add sexual orientation to the antidiscrimination policy governing its 8,102 employees.

The decision by the Dallas County-owned hospital’s governing board came in response to the possibility of losing a large donation from GLFD, which does not contribute to entities that fail to protect LGBT employees from discrimination.

“I think this might have been the most significant development in gay rights that we have accomplished in Dallas in recent years,” said Enrique Macgregor, who co-founded GLFD in 2002. “We set out to help a needy organization. As a result of that, we accomplished a significant step forward in terms of equality.”

GLFD hosts a major gala every two years to benefit a nonprofit, non-LGBT organization.

This year’s event, billed as “A Night of Stars and Gargoyles,” will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Old Red Courthouse, at Houston and Main streets. Macgregor said he expects the event to raise upward of $130,000, the most in GLFD’s history. Of this year’s fund, $50,000 will go toward the hospital’s new Ambulatory Surgery Center, which opened in November, with the remainder going toward other programs at Parkland.

Veletta Forsythe Lill is president of the Parkland Foundation, which led the capital campaign for the $23.1 million Ambulatory Surgery Center. She said the facility fills a major need by adding six suites to the hospital’s 18 existing operating rooms.

“Until this new facility opened, Parkland didn’t have any more operating rooms than the day it opened in 1954,” said Lill, a former Dallas City Council member who will co-chair “A Night of Stars and Gargoyles.”

“Anything that was a non-emergency could be pushed out several months before those surgeries could be performed,” she said.

Lill also confirmed that the hospital’s decision to finally add sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy, a move that has been debated for years, was a direct response to the pending donation.

“It was pivotal to the decision making process,” she said of the gift. “It [the policy change] is a significant move in the community and for Parkland.”

Although the hospital’s decision will protect LGBT employees from discrimination and provide an appeals process, according to Lill, it will not provide insurance benefits to their partners.

“I would assume that could be another step in the process,” she said.

Other significant government entities that have added sexual orientation to their anti-discrimination policies in recent years include the city of Dallas, Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Dallas Independent School District, Lill said.

While GLFD donations were not a factor in those changes, they may also have recently played a role in influencing First Presbyterian Church to change the policy governing its 40 full-time and 20-30 part-time employees.

The Rev. Bruce Buchanan, associate pastor for community ministries at First Presbyterian, said the church added sexual orientation to its antidiscrimination policy shortly before receiving a $2,000 donation for its daytime homeless shelter from GLFD in January.

Buchanan, who oversees the shelter, said although he did not sit on the committee that made the changes, he and others tried to influence it to do so based on concerns about potential donors.

“We certainly spoke on behalf of that inclusive language when they were going through the process,” he said.

“I think it was a catalyst to do the right thing in many ways.”

Stewpot, which opened in 1975, feeds 500 people a day in addition to providing other services, such as medical and dental healthcare.
“Based on our estimates, that ($2,000) gift will feed 2,700 people, and we’re very grateful for that,” Buchanan said.

Macgregor said the decisions of the hospital and the church have prompted GLFD leaders to focus even more on ways they can try to promote equality through philanthropy.

“The idea is when we give money to non-gay causes we should do it in a strategic way,” he said. “We need to think of how we can continue making changes like this.”

For more information on “A Night of Stars and Gargoyles,” visit www.glfd. org.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 09, 2007

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