LGBT advocates tell DART board to ‘jump on’ adding DP benefits

Posted on 15 May 2013 at 2:21pm
Damien Duckett

Damien Duckett

LGBT advocates are continuing to press DART’s Board of Directors to vote to add domestic partner benefits now instead of waiting until July to make a decision.

Transgender activist Pamela Curry addressed the board Tuesday night during public comments. She highlighted the issues customers, including herself, have had with bus drivers and other DART employees. She said the way to improve the quality of employees DART hires is offer competitive benefits.

“If you want to attract the best and brightest, you have to treat your operators, you have to attract the best and the brightest, and the way you do that is you make sure everyone gets the benefits for their family,” she said. “Just because their family doesn’t look like yours doesn’t mean it’s not a family.”

Damien Duckett from the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance also addressed the board, urging them to take up the issue again instead of waiting until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on two marriage equality cases in June. The board voted to postpone a decision on DP benefits in March until after the Supreme Court rulings.

“If you’re waiting for the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the federal recognition of marriage, stop waiting,” Duckett said. “Stop waiting and pass changes that provide equal access to employee benefits for your LGBT workers. Stop waiting to make clear that you are determined to look out for the health and well-being of every employee who takes pride in their job at DART and finally show you take pride in them and their families.”

Duckett also brought up Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s May opinion saying DP benefits violate the state’s constitutional marriage amendment,  reminded the DART board that it isn’t legally binding.

He also told them that DGLA asked City Council candidates whether they would hold DART appointees accountable, mentioning that their reappointment has to be approved by the whole council.

“You shouldn’t have to ask people in positions of power to do the right thing,” he said. “When they see an opportunity to better serve and protect those who you should jump on it.

The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to approve a recommended slate of DART appointees. Jerry Christian, Pamela Dunlop Gates, William Tsao and William Velasco were reappointed. But Claude Williams was not. Amanda Moreno Cross will take his place starting July 1.

Williams, who has served on the DART board since 2008, said he doesn’t know why he wasn’t reappointed.

“I’m at a loss for words,” he said.

Rafael McDonnell with Resource Center Dallas said all of the appointees stated in interviews they supported DP benefits, but losing Williams will be hard because he’s taken the lead on issues that affected the LGBT community.

“Now we’ll have to develop that relationship with someone else on the board,” McDonnell said.

DART’s board meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. GetEQUAL TX plans to have speakers or action at every meeting. The next meeting is May 28 at 6:30 p.m.

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