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


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 …


—  John Wright

Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston comes out as a Democrat


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


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’


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?

Leland Burk049

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

Rawlings sets LGBT equality resolution for June 12 but won’t say how he’ll vote

Daniel Cates says Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, confirmed today that Rawlings plans to place an LGBT equality resolution on the City Council agenda on June 12 — which just so happens to be right in the middle of National LGBT Pride Month.

As we reported last week, Rawlings is required to place the resolution on the agenda on or before June 12. He has chosen the latest possible date. The resolution would express the council’s support for marriage equality and LGBT employment protections.

Rawlings, who claims he personally supports marriage equality, made national news when he said he believes the resolution is a “misuse” of the council’s time because the city doesn’t have jurisdiction over marriage. Rawlings also said last week he hadn’t made up him mind how he’ll vote on the resolution.

Councilman Scott Griggs, author of the resolution, counters that it won’t take much time at all and would send a powerful message to officials in Austin and Washington, D.C. — not to mention Dallas’ LGBT residents.

Blackmon said today that Rawlings will wait until after Municipal Elections on Saturday before commenting further on the resolution.

Griggs says he has the eight votes needed to pass the resolution — with or without Rawlings’ support.

Those who’ve indicated they’ll vote for the resolution are Griggs, Delia Jasso, Angela Hunt, Pauline Medrano, Monica Alonzo, Jerry Allen, Dwaine Caraway and
Sandy Greyson.

Those who haven’t publicly said how they’ll vote are Rawlings, Sheffie Kadane, Ann Margolin, Linda Koop, Tennell Atkins, Carolyn Davis and Vonciel Hill.

To email council members, go here. For phone listings, go here. To find out which district you live in, go here.

—  John Wright

The hypocrisy of Mayor Rawlings


The above image — from the front of today’s Dallas Morning News Metro section — highlights the hypocrisy of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ argument that marriage equality isn’t a city issue.

Public education, of course, isn’t technically a city issue, either. The school district is run by an elected school board, which appoints a superintendent. Neither the mayor nor the City Council has any jurisdiction over the school district. But as you can see from the headline, Rawlings isn’t shy about wading into public eduction issues. I’m not saying he’s wrong for that. I’m saying it’s hypocritical for him to turn around and argue that a resolution expressing support for the basic civil rights of tens of thousands of Dallas residents is a “misuse” of the council’s time.

—  John Wright

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings suggests LGBT civil rights are a waste of time

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that he thinks a proposed City Council resolution backing marriage equality and LGBT employment protections is “a misuse of City Council time.”

As we reported Tuesday, Councilman Scott Griggs, who authored the resolution, says he believes it has the eight votes needed to pass. Griggs filed the resolution last Friday, and Rawlings now has until June 12 to place it on the council agenda.

Later Tuesday, Rawlings’ chief of staff told the Morning News that the mayor hadn’t read the resolution, even though he received a copy of it three weeks ago. Then, on Wednesday, Rawlings told The DMN’s Rudy Bush that while he personally supports marriage equality, he doesn’t think the council should debate political issues over which it has no power:

“I don’t want to be talking about late-term abortions, or gun control, or GITMO,” he said.

To do so is “a misuse of City Council time.”

Well, personally I’d argue that the city should be involved in gun control. Besides, Rawlings has not been shy about getting involved in other issues the city doesn’t control, including public education.

Furthermore, although the city doesn’t have direct control over marriage equality or employment discrimination outside its limits, the council can certainly exert some influence.

Dallas has had an ordinance banning anti-LGBT employment discrimination since 2002, so it would only be logical for the council to give its blessing to a statewide law — especially when enforcement of the city’s ban has been inhibited by the lack of a state or federal statute. In fact, Rawlings reportedly agreed last year to travel to Austin and lobby in favor of statewide LGBT employment protections. But now he’s getting cold feet about a council resolution?

The “misuse of City Council time” excuse is similar to one Rawlings used last year when he refused to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality. At the time, he said he wanted to focus on “substantive” things, not “symbolic” ones like the pledge.

But symbols do matter, and any expert will tell you that the U.S. Supreme Court, which is about to decide two key marriage equality cases, is influenced by public opinion.

And those 300-plus mayors from across the U.S. who did sign the marriage pledge? Turns out they ended up filing a friend-of-the-court brief in one of the marriage equality cases. Now, what could possibly be more substantive than that?

—  John Wright

Scott Griggs files marriage equality resolution, says it has votes to pass


Scott Griggs

Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs says he has the eight votes needed to pass a resolution in support of marriage equality and statewide LGBT employment protections.

Griggs has said he didn’t want to place the item on the agenda until he was sure it had the eight votes needed to pass. He told me Friday that in addition to the seven council members who’ve previously indicated support for the resolution, Sandy Greyson is now a yes. Greyson couldn’t immediately be reached to confirm her position. The other seven supporters are Griggs and co-author Delia Jasso, along with Angela Hunt, Pauline Medrano, Monica Alonzo, Jerry Allen and Dwaine Caraway.

It remains unclear whether Mayor Mike Rawlings will vote in favor of the resolution.

The only definite “no” vote is Vonciel Hill, who has made her anti-gay positions clear. Another likely “no” is Sheffie Kadane, who attends First Baptist Church of Dallas. Linda Koop, Ann Margolin, Carolyn Davis and Tennell Atkins are question marks.

Griggs filed a memo Friday with the five signatures needed to place the resolution on the agenda, and Rawlings now has 30 days plus one meeting to do so. The latest the mayor could place the item on the agenda is June 12.

Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, confirmed Monday she had received Griggs’ memo.

“Yes I received the signed memo this morning and will have to check with attorney/city secretary/city manager on timing,” Blackmon wrote in an email.

Asked whether the mayor would vote for the resolution, Blackmon said Tuesday: “I do not know. We take one agenda item at a time.”

Blackmon reportedly told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that Rawlings was traveling and had not seen the resolution. However, Griggs copied Dallas Voice on a draft of the resolution he sent to both Blackmon and Rawlings on April 9. (Click here to see a screen grab of the email.)

The City Secretary’s Office sent over the below copy of the memo and resolution.

—  John Wright