Should Mayor Mike Rawlings be booed during Sunday’s gay Pride parade?

Posted on 14 Sep 2012 at 7:19pm

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings breaks me off some beads during last year’s gay Pride parade.

In an op-ed in today’s Dallas Voice, GetEQUAL’s Daniel Cates notes that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings gave $2,500 to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“Yes, this is a man who maintains that he is a proponent of equality, yet his only recent campaign contributions have been to Tom Leppert ($1,000) and Mitt Romney ($2,500),” Cates writes. “You heard that right: Mike Rawlings, ‘believer’ in equal rights, wants Mitt Romney, a man who would roll back almost every civil rights gain the LGBT community has made, to be president of the United States. Weren’t we just upset with Chick-Fil-A for making donations to bigots? Where is their Pride float?”

According to Open Secrets, a website that tracks campaign contributions, Rawlings gave $2,500 to Romney on May 16, 2011, shortly before he was elected mayor, and he gave $1,000 to Leppert on June 21, 2011, three days after he defeated David Kunkle in a runoff. According to Open Secrets, those are Rawlings’ only two campaign contributions for the 2012 election cycle.

Although I had been aware of these contributions by Rawlings for some time, I got to thinking about them recently during the Democratic National Convention.

It was widely reported during Rawlings’ campaign for mayor that he’s a Democrat, and even though mayor is a nonpartisan office, this undoubtedly helped him among some voters in Dallas — a blue city. So it was a little strange not to see Rawlings at the Democratic convention when the mayors of Texas’ only two larger cities — Houston’s Annise Parker and San Antonio’s Julian Castro — were both there, with Castro of course delivering a keynote speech.

But then I remembered Rawlings’ contribution to Romney, who supports a federal marriage amendment and signed a pledge (a pledge!) from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. So, last week, I reached out to Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, to get the mayor’s official explanation for his contribution to Romney. Here’s the statement from Rawlings that Blackmon sent over the other day:

“Over the years I have supported candidates from both sides of the political aisle. Last year I contributed to Mitt Romney after a request from my business partner who serves as his finance co-chair and is a good friend of Romney’s. After taking office of mayor I no longer participate in partisan politics because I represent the interests of the citizens of Dallas, not the interests of political parties.”

Given his refusal to sign the Freedom to Marry pledge earlier this year along with the contribution to Romney, it will be interesting to see how the crowd responds to Rawlings in Sunday’s Dallas gay Pride parade.

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