Gay activists respond to Vonciel Hill’s bigotry with #RevLOVE rally Saturday

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A rally to respond to the anti-gay bigotry of Councilwoman Vonciel Hill and the stigma of HIV in the black community will take place on Saturday outside the office of Abounding Prosperity, 2311 MLK Jr. Blvd., at 11 a.m.

Speakers will include Pastor Alex Byrd, senior pastor of Living Faith Convent Church and bishop-designate of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Community; community activist and health educator Alpha Thomas; youth advocate Eric Henry; and Abounding Prosperity founder and executive director Kirk Myers.

Poet Brandon Jackson and vocalist Miss Connie will perform.

Organizer Harold Steward encouraged everyone from the LGBT community to participate, especially those from the large LGBT community in Hill’s newly redrawn District 3.

The full press release is below.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Philip Kingston, Rick Callahan win Dallas City Council seats

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Dallas City Councilman-elect Philip Kingston, right, hugs outgoing Councilwoman Angela Hunt at his watch party Saturday at the Pour House. Kingston will replace Hunt, who endorsed him. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Philip Kingston narrowly defeated fellow attorney Bobby Abtahi on Saturday in a runoff between two LGBT allies for the District 14 Dallas City Council seat.

With 39 of 41 precincts reporting, Kingston has 2,339 votes, or 55 percent, to Abtahi’s 1,946 votes, or 45 percent.

Kingston will replace Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT supporter who was term limited and endorsed Kingston in the race. District 14 is among the most heavily LGBT in the city and covers parts of Oak Lawn, East Dallas and downtown.

Kingston and his supporters gathered at the Pour House on Skillman. In his victory speech, Kingston thanked his all-volunteer staff and supporters for running a clean and positive race.

“Our message was issues-driven and relentlessly positive,” Kingston told Dallas Voice. “That resonated with voters in District 14.”

Abtahi and several dozen supporters waited for results at The Mason Bar in Uptown. He called Kingston after it was clear he’d lost before thanking his supporters for their hard work and faith in him throughout a long campaign.

“We started this campaign at 1 percent. That was our name ID. That’s how much of the vote we were going to get, 1 percent,” Abtahi said. “And we came back and we showed people that you could have someone from the outside, you could have someone who wasn’t endorsed by the incumbent make a run for it and we did a great job. And I appreciate all your support and now it’s time to relax.”

Kingston and Abtahi expressed strong support for the LGBT community during the campaign, with both saying they’d back a council resolution endorsing marriage equality and statewide LGBT job protections.

Kingston was criticized for his mostly Republican primary voting history and for financial contributions to conservative causes, including a PAC now affiliated with Sen. Ted Cruz and the campaign of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. However, Kingston also gave money to the campaign to defeat Texas’ marriage amendment in 2005.

Abtahi, who has a lesbian sister, was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, while Kingston had the backing of the nonpartisan Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

In the other City Council runoff, Rick Callahan defeated Jesse Diaz in the newly created District 5, which covers Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas. Diaz was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats. In response to a Dallas Voice questionnaire, Callahan said he supports civil unions but not marriage equality, but his campaign manager later said he would support the council marriage equality resolution.

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Bobby Abtahi shakes hands with gay former Councilman Craig Holcomb at his watch party at the Mason Bar on Guillot Street in State-Thomas. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

—  John Wright

WATCH: Raw footage from Wednesday’s LGBT showdown at City Council

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In case you missed the fireworks at Wednesday’s Dallas City Council meeting regarding the LGBT equality resolution — or even if you witnessed it and just want to relive the highlights — we’ve put together the below compilation of some of the most dramatic moments. We’ll have a more in-depth story in Friday’s print edition, but for now, this is an absolute must-watch:

—  Dallasvoice

Thanks for the wake-up call, Mike

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CBS 11 aired this story last night about what we first reported Saturday — Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano’s last-ditch effort to get an LGBT equality resolution on the June 12 City Council agenda.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Mayor Mike Rawlings is vehemently opposed to the council considering the resolution, and he apparently convinced City Attorney Tom Perkins to take the position that the mayor is not absent — and therefore Medrano is not acting mayor — even though Rawlings is in South America.

Now I’m no attorney, but does this not seem like a pretty awful legal opinion? If Rawlings is not absent when he’s on another continent, where does he have to go to be absent? Antarctica? Mars? Though these may sound like good places for Rawlings, one has to wonder what the point is of even having a mayor pro tem or deputy pro tem, if they’re never going to be needed.

Anyhow, as we reported yesterday, LGBT advocates are planning to converge on Wednesday’s council meeting to express their disapproval of the council’s failure to take up the resolution. But personally, I think we should also take the opportunity to thank Rawlings.

We should thank him for giving us a wake-up call about the lack of support for the LGBT community at City Hall, and more importantly, we should thank him for galvanizing us around this issue — and mobilizing us to action. Although this is only a city resolution, we have much bigger fights ahead.

Let’s face it, the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t going to hand us nationwide marriage equality later this month, and the justices certainly aren’t going to hand us employment protections. The reality is, we’re going to have to continue to fight for equality city by city and state by state, so why not draw a line in the sand right here and right now in Texas?

After all, if we can’t prevail against a patsy like Rawlings in what amounts to a scrimmage, how are we going to go up against the state Legislature for the real thing?

Watch Channel 11′s report below.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Dallas mayor says he’s not absent even though he’s in Brazil, blocks LGBT equality resolution

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Mayor Mike Rawlings

Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, an LGBT ally who is acting mayor because Mike Rawlings is traveling overseas, sent a request to the city secretary Friday afternoon to place an LGBT equality resolution on the council’s June 12 agenda.

As you can see from the memo below, the city secretary then forwarded Medrano’s request to Rawlings and City Manager Mary Suhm. However, the LGBT equality resolution doesn’t appear on the June 12 agenda that was posted to the city’s website later Friday, apparently because Rawlings — who opposes the resolution — has convinced the city attorney to take the position that Medrano doesn’t have the authority to place it on the agenda.

Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Rawlings, said early Saturday that questions about why the resolution doesn’t appear on the agenda should be directed to the city manager and the city secretary.

“They manage the agenda,” Blackmon said.

Pressed about whether she had any knowledge of what transpired Friday afternoon, Blackmon gave an identical response.

Agenda items must be posted 72 hours before the 9 a.m. Wednesday council meeting, which means the effective deadline is normally 5 p.m. Friday because the city secretary’s office is closed on weekends. However, the resolution could still theoretically be added to the agenda Saturday.

What this boils down to is a complicated legal question. Only the mayor and city manager can place items on the agenda. However, the mayor pro tem assumes the mayor’s duties if he’s absent.

According to Chapter 3, Section 11 of the city charter, “The city council shall elect one of its members as mayor pro tem, who shall perform the duties of mayor in the case of the absence or inability of the mayor to perform the duties of office, who shall, during that time, be vested with all the powers belonging to the mayor. The council shall also elect one of its members as deputy mayor pro tem to act in the absence of both the mayor and the mayor pro tem and to exercise the powers of the mayor during that time. (Amend. of 11-8-05, Prop. No. 13)”

Rawlings is apparently taking the position that even though he is in Brazil, he is not absent. The city charter does not define “absence.” It’s sad that Rawlings is going to these lengths to avoid having to vote on the LGBT equality resolution, and this maneuver should only add fuel to the fire beneath tonight’s march and rally at City Hall.

Medrano couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

More to come …

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—  John Wright

Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston comes out as a Democrat

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The Texas Democratic Party Oath of Affiliation signed by Philip Kingston in March.

District 14 Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston came out as a Democrat on Saturday during a District 14 forum at the Oak Lawn Library.

Although council races are nonpartisan, District 14 leans strongly Democratic. And Kingston’s party affiliation has come under scrutiny since he signed an oath declaring his allegiance to the Democratic Party to become eligible for an endorsement from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas in March. Despite Kingston signing the oath, Stonewall’s endorsement went to Bobby Abtahi, his opponent in the District 14 runoff June 15.

Kingston has voted in five Republican primaries and one Democratic primary since 2002. Last month, he reportedly told The Dallas Morning News he’s an independent. But on Saturday, Kingston suggested the newspaper had misquoted him — and that he merely said he thinks independent-LY.

“I’m a Democrat and actually a fully paid-up member of the Stonewall Democrats,” Kingston said. “I’ll comply with that oath. I’m a fully paid-up member of the Stonewall Democrats and a straight ally.”

—  John Wright

Flip-flopper Delia Jasso withdraws support for marriage equality resolution

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Councilwoman Delia Jasso

Lame-duck Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso, defeated in the May 11 election, has abruptly withdrawn her support for an LGBT equality resolution, meaning Mayor Mike Rawlings is no longer required to place the resolution on the council agenda.

According to an email from the city secretary to council members on Tuesday, Jasso has pulled her signature from a memo in support of the equality resolution that she signed in April. Jasso was one of five council members who signed the memo, the required number to force Rawlings to place the resolution on the agenda under the city charter.

When she signed the memo, Jasso was running against fellow incumbent Scott Griggs, who authored the resolution, in District 1. Griggs handiy defeated Jasso May 11 after they were both placed in the same district when council maps were redrawn in 2011.

In response to Jasso’s decision to pull her signature from the memo, Griggs noted that Rawlings publicly came out in support of the resolution for the first time only hours before — in today’s Dallas Morning News. Griggs said he’s hoping that even though he’s not required to and once called the resolution a “misuse” of the council’s time, Rawlings will still place it on the agenda.

Griggs has said he has the eight votes needed to pass the resolution — but the current council leaves office at the end of June. Before Jasso pulled her signature, the resolution was scheduled for a vote June 12.

“I’d still like it to move forward, and I think we’ve got the votes, and I’m enthusiastic about the mayor’s support,” Griggs said. “I think it would send a great message.”

Rawlings chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said Wednesday morning that the mayor does not plan to place the resolution on the agenda.

—  John Wright

DGLA endorses Kingston in runoff

Kingston.PhilipThe Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance has endorsed Philip Kingston in the District 14 Dallas City Council runoff. Kingston faces Bobby Abtahi in the June 15 election. Abtahi has the backing of Stonewall Democrats. DGLA originally endorsed Jim Rogers, who finished third among seven candidates and out of the runoff on May 11.

DGLA PAC chair Damien Duckett said his organization believes Kingston has the same sort of independent spirit as incumbent Angela Hunt, who is stepping down due to term limits.

“It allows her to stand up on the council even when it’s not popular,” he said. “He made the PAC feel he’ll be that same sort of councilman.”

In deciding on the endorsement, PAC member Nell Gaither recused herself from the discussion because she had previously endorsed Kingston.

Duckett called the decision between Abtahi and Kingston difficult because PAC members like both of the candidates but felt Kingston was the stronger of the two.

Duckett said the group was impressed with Kingston’s performance at the DGLA forum held in March at Sue Ellen’s.

“One of the messages I tried to deliver at the forum was you can’t be the District 14 rep without reaching out to the LGBT community,” Kingston said.

Four of the seven candidates in the race skipped the forum.

“I like that group and I’m really excited about the endorsement,” Kingston said.

—  David Taffet

Defeated gay candidate Leland Burk: ‘I was running against Captain America’

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Leland Burk

Leland Burk says he does not believe his sexual orientation was a major factor in his surprisingly lopsided defeat at the hands of Jennifer Staubach Gates in the District 13 Dallas City Council race on Saturday.

In an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice on Tuesday afternoon, Burk acknowledged that District 13 is the city’s most conservative district and that some people may have voted against him because he’s gay. But he said he thinks those people are in the “vast minority.”

Burk said he believes the deciding factor in the race was simply Staubach Gates’ middle name and her status as the daughter of Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach.

“I just don’t think it approached in any way a significant number,” Burk said of possible anti-gay votes. “I think at the end of the day, I was running against Captain America, Roger Staubach, and there was absolutely no margin for error. … It was an uphill battle from the get-go.”

Burk said he has “absolutely” no regrets about running as an openly gay candidate. He said he didn’t run because he’s gay, but rather because of his experience and background, and noted that Houston has a lesbian mayor.

“I think we’re way past that, I really do,” Burk said. “I have a lot of friends in [District] 13, and I’ve lived there my entire life, and I think that my business background plays very well in District 13. I just think I was up against a name that no one could have overcome, and I think that’s the bottom line.”

Burk said he plans to remain heavily involved because he loves the city. He was relatively unknown in the LGBT community prior to the race, but he recently joined the Human Rights Campaign’s DFW Federal Club.

“There is of course more awareness now in the community, and I intend to use that for whatever positive impact I can have in the community,’ he said.

Which is a good thing, because even if it’s true that most people in Preston Hollow are now willing to vote for a gay candidate for City Council, the simple fact remains that most Republicans in Texas still don’t think we should be able to marry the person we love or have protections against being fired from our jobs.

 

—  John Wright

Anti-gay flier targeted Leland Burk on Election Day — did it make a difference?

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A gay resident found this homemade flier — a grossly distorted, anti-gay conglomeration of the New Testament and the April 26 cover of Dallas Voice  — in a newspaper box belonging to the Preston Hollow News near Preston Road and Royal Lane on Sunday.

“I found it there this morning, and it clearly had been placed there yesterday, the day of the election, to scare all the straight white folks about the scary gay people on Election Day,” the gay Preston Hollow resident wrote Sunday afternoon. “I’m so mad now I can’t think straight.”

The openly gay candidate on the flier, Leland Burk, suffered a surprisingly lopsided defeat in the District 13 Dallas City Council race on Saturday. In the most expensive, highest-turnout race in the city, Burk fell to Jennifer Staubach Gates, the daughter of Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach. (Staubach Gates is accurately quoted in the flier as having told Dallas Voice during the campaign that, “Sexual orientation is not an issue in this race.”)

District 13 covers all of Preston Hollow, and it marked the first time an openly gay candidate ran for City Council in the wealthy, conservative area that includes the homes of President George W. Bush and many other prominent Republicans.

—  John Wright