Jones Hill again fails to RSVP, has said religious beliefs prevent her participation; Greyson cites scheduling conflict
JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
Thirteen of the 15 Dallas City Council members, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, are expected to ride on the city’s float at gay Pride later this month, according to Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild.
Doughman, chief organizer of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, said this week that Vonciel Jones Hill and Sandy Greyson are the only councilmembers who didn’t RSVP affirmatively for the 28th annual event set for Sept. 18.
Jones Hill, in her third two-year term representing District 5, has indicated in the past that she won’t attend gay Pride because of her religious beliefs.
Greyson, elected to represent District 12 earlier this year, reportedly has a scheduling conflict.
Rawlings, who also took office this year, will become only the third mayor in Dallas history to appear at gay Pride, after Tom Leppert and Laura Miller.
“The mayor looks forward to being in the gay Pride parade and being part of the festivities,” Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said this week.
Greyson, meanwhile, hadn’t responded to a phone message from Dallas Voice by press time.
“It’s a scheduling conflict,” Greyson’s assistant, Lorri Ellis, said when asked why the councilwoman won’t be attending Pride.
Greyson, who served on the council from 1997-2005, voted in favor of a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2002. And in 1995, as a DART board member, she voted to add sexual orientation to the transit agency’s nondiscrimination policy.
Greyson also signed a letter from the council that appears in this year’s Pride Guide — distributed inside today’s Dallas Voice — congratulating organizers on the event.
The only councilmember who didn’t sign the letter was Jones Hill.
“I won’t be participating [this year], and based on my present beliefs, I won’t be participating in the future,” Jones Hill told Dallas Voice in 2008, when she was the lone councilmember who didn’t RSVP affirmatively for the parade. “There’s no reason I should be castigated for that.”
Asked what those beliefs are that stop her from attending Pride, Hill said: “I believe that all people are loved by God, all people are created equal under God, but there are acts that God does not bless.
“It does not mean the person is any less God’s child. I’m entitled to stand for what I believe, and I don’t appreciate anyone castigating me for standing for what I believe,” she said.
For the last several years, Jones Hill’s absence has thwarted a longtime goal of openly gay former Councilman Ed Oakley, who’s sought to have all 15 councilmembers attend the parade. Before that, former Councilman Mitchell Rasansky was often the lone holdout.
Doughman said he thinks having 13 of 15 councilmembers attend Pride is “exceptional for a city of this size.”
But he added that the Tavern Guild doesn’t pay much attention to the subject.
“I’m trying very hard to keep the politics out of this parade,” he said. “People want a celebration.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.