Over on the main page you’ll find my story for Friday’s print edition about Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings — who’ll be the target of an LGBT protest at City Hall on Friday night before meeting with LGBT leaders on Saturday. I also wanted to share the below statement that came across today from Lorie Burch, chairwoman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce:
As chair of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, I am disappointed by Mayor Mike Rawlings’ refusal to endorse the “freedom to marry” resolution. After all, as more than 100 American mayors (and six Texas mayors) know, marriage equality is a shot in the arm for business as well as for many business leaders and families like mine.
The vibrant gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community drives business here and benefits all. Our chamber and our partners work hard to show that Dallas is truly a welcoming and inclusive city. Consider in the past two years, two national GLBT conferences held in Dallas earned an estimated $14 million for our local economy. Aren’t we competing with Houston and San Antonio for these dollars?
Our chamber members know that successful businesses have an unquenchable appetite for strong talent and performance. It’s no surprise that some of our top companies actively recruit and reward their openly LGBT workers and place them in key roles.
Few GLBT professionals eagerly await employment transfer with spouses and children to states and cities that deny equal legal protections, respect and stability. Same-sex couples will align their best interests to choose to live and work in places that show them full respect and equal treatment under the law they need for their families.
Our mayor has the chance to be a leader and portray Dallas as a city where all are welcome. In addition to top corporations, consider that our city is hard wired for entrepreneurs and small businesses that add so much to the economy. Many small business owners are part of the GLBT community; their families and livelihoods are directly hurt by the lack of marriage equality and the 1,100 protective federal laws that they are denied. We know marriage offers equal rights and responsibilities by assuring better health care access for spouses and children, benefits and insurance coverage, tax breaks and incentives. Most of all, this brings our community a stronger cultural fabric that does not discriminate nor honor inequality.
Mayor Rawlings is the leader of one of the top cities in the world. As his constituents, we rely on him to make decisions that are best for our businesses, our community, and our families. This is not about politics. It is about fundamental fairness and equality and any leader today should be proud to sign that pledge. Dallas deserves that kind of leadership, and so do the members of Texas’ largest GLBT business group.
Lorie L. Burch
North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce
Law Office of Lorie L. Burch, PC