LGBT advocates to DART board: ‘You all should be ashamed’

Posted on 24 Apr 2013 at 10:55am
Omar Narvaez addresses the DART Board of Directors  on April 24. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Omar Narvaez addresses the DART Board of Directors on April 24. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

A small crowd turned out Tuesday to protest DART’s delay in offering domestic partner benefits, but the two speakers were passionate enough to get the LGBT community’s outrage across.

DART’s Board of Directors began receiving information about benefits last July and finally decided to table discussion in March until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in two marriage equality cases in July. LGBT advocates spoke at the board meeting earlier this month and vowed to be back until the board implements the benefits.

Omar Narvaez spoke on behalf of Lambda Legal, listing the agencies that already offer DP benefits and explaining how the agency has failed employees by postponing a vote for months before hiding behind a U.S. Supreme Court decision. He added that there was no legal risk in Texas because “too many other governmental agencies already get it and have for decades.”

“Marriage equality? What does that have to do with domestic partner benefits? They are employee benefits. Nothing more,” he said. “You are not defining relationship status by offering domestic partner benefits.

“You all should be ashamed that DFW Airport and Parkland get it and got it faster than you all are able to get it. It is time to bring this up, make it happen, we’re talking about paper clip money when it comes to the budget. When it comes to the employees of this organization, you are spitting in their faces.”

Daniel Cates, regional GetEQUAL TX coordinator, said the extended delay showed that the members didn’t care about the agency’s employees and made its inclusive nondiscrimination policy worthless.

“By continuing to delay a vote on domestic partner benefits, this board has proven that the words written in that nondiscrimination policy mean nothing. By continuing to delay a vote on domestic partner benefits, this board is sending a clear message to all DART employees that they have little concern for the real families that are impacted by the decision they make,” Cates said.

“By continuing to delay a vote on domestic partner benefits, this board has not chosen to be blatantly hateful. They have not chosen to add to long list of discrimination that LGBT people experience on a daily basis, they have not chosen to blatantly condemn nontraditional families. Instead, they have chosen to do something much worse. They have chosen to remain silent.”

Cates reminded them the board members that if they still couldn’t grasp the importance of DP benefits, several of their appointments were up for renewal.

Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell said several Dallas appointees on the DART board and one new appointee were interviewed for the position during Monday’s Transportation and Environment Committee. He said they were all asked if they supported offering DP benefits and they all said they did.

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 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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