LGBT Task Force skeptical of open meetings, unlikely to be led by Griggs

Pam Gerber, left, goes over the city’s HRC Municipal Equality Index score with members during the LGBT Task Force meeting in May. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Pam Gerber, left, goes over the city’s HRC Municipal Equality Index score with members during the LGBT Task Force meeting in May. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Members of former Councilwoman Delia Jasso’s LGBT Task Force hope to find her replacement by August.

Jasso has chaired the Task Force since its creation in 2009. Its members have helped implement sensitivity training at for Dallas police and firefighters and began having city Pride events last June. Jasso lost her District 1 seat to Councilman Scott Griggs in May after redistricting placed them in the same district.

Several members met Tuesday night to discuss the process for selecting a sponsor and maybe a co-sponsor. The Task Force will email all council members a questionnaire about what they feel is the force’s role and what they envision as their role working with the group.

Those interested will then undergo private interviews before a new sponsor is selected. Council members return from summer break Aug. 7, so the Task Force anticipates selecting a new sponsor by mid- to late August. City staff won’t participate in finding Jasso’s replacement because it’s a conflict of interest. Several city employees, including the fire and police LGBT liaisons, often attend the meetings.

There was uncertainty about having one sponsor or co-sponsors, so members agreed to be open to the idea and see how the questionnaires and interviews go. When asked if Dallas Voice could attend the interviews, members said it would be better to have them be private so council members could be honest and frank. Discussion then arose about how the Voice began attending Task Force meetings. Jasso was asked if the Voice could attend last year and she agreed to open the meetings up to the press since this February.

Members then seemed uncomfortable that the Voice was present as press and not as a member of the group. They said when the group began that they didn’t want media present because Jasso and City Manager Mary Suhm would help change things in City Hall quietly and attention to that would have received negative attention from City Council. Members said it would fall to new leadership whether the paper would be invited to future meetings.

Members discussed the three council members who have expressed interest in taking over the Task Force: Griggs, Philip Kingston and Adam Medrano.

—  Dallasvoice

LGBT advocates clash with City Council members over equality resolution

LGBT activists turn their backs and walk out a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday during remarks from Councilman Dwaine caraway about the equality resolution. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

LGBT activists turn their backs and walk out of a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday during remarks from Councilman Dwaine Caraway about the equality resolution. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

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Activist Cd Kirven yells at Councilman Dwaine Caraway before leaving the meeting. (Patrick Hoffman/Dallas Voice)

LGBT advocates expressed their frustration over the lack of support for an equality resolution Wednesday morning at a Dallas City Council meeting.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was absent during the meeting, though he was not considered absent while in South America last week, preventing Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano from using her power as acting mayor to place the equality resolution on the agenda.

The resolution supporting marriage equality and statewide LGBT-inclusive workplace protections, authored by Councilman Scott Griggs, was slated to be voted on Wednesday but never made the agenda after Councilmember Delia Jasso surprisingly withdrew her signature from a memo last month to require a vote. Jasso remained silent during the meeting. During the accusations from council members that the method of bringing the measure forward was misguided, Griggs also remained silent.

Tensions ran high after speakers addressed the council, resulting in several audience members walking out, turning their backs on Councilman Dwaine Caraway and even shouting at council members during the meeting.

Lesbian activist Cd Kirven said she expected more from council members and that they should support civil rights.

“You, as a municipal representative, should always represent those ideals and are a critical part of freedom’s foundation,” Kirven told council members. “Again the LGBT community is disappointed by officials who claim to be allies.”

—  Dallasvoice

CHART: Primary voting histories of Dallas City Council candidates

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We mentioned on Monday that District 14 Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston now says he’s a Democrat, even though he has voted in five of the last six Republican primaries. We also posted an Oath of Affiliation Kingston signed to become eligible for Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement, which he did not receive anyway. A copy of the oath was distributed to Stonewall members who attended the group’s endorsement screenings. On the opposite side of the sheet of paper containing Kingston’s oath was a chart showing the primary voting histories of all Dallas City Council candidates. Although candidates’ voting histories regularly come up at Stonewall endorsement screenings, this marked the first time they had been put on paper for all to see, and some Kingston supporters said they felt the move was designed to target him. In any case, we thought we’d go ahead and share the chart, above.

It’s interesting to note that, based on the chart, party affiliation doesn’t seem to necessarily correlate with support or lack thereof for the LGBT community. For example, the most anti-gay member of the council, Vonciel Hill, has voted in every Democratic primary since 1992. And so has Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who will go down in infamy for her betrayal of the LGBT community last week. On the flip side, Councilman Jerry Allen has an exclusively Republican voting history, including the last four primaries, yet he was among the eight council members who said they would support an LGBT equality resolution. Sandy Greyson, who also said she would support the resolution, has voted in two Democratic primaries and two Republican primaries. Others who supported the resolution are solid Democrats — such as Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt, Monica Alonzo and Dwaine Caraway. But other solid Democrats did not support the resolution, including Hill, Carolyn Davis and Tennell Atkins.

Is it possible that party affiliation only matters on LGBT issues when candidates are running for partisan offices and Republicans are forced to pander to right-wing voters who dominate Republican primaries? Also, and this is a little off the subject, but is there any chance Mayor Mike Rawlings is gearing up to run as a Republican in Texas House District 108 if Greg Abbott runs for governor and state Rep. Dan Branch runs for attorney general? It would certainly help explain his lack of support for LGBT issues as mayor.

—  John Wright

Petition asks Mary Suhm to put pro-equality resolution on council agenda

Mary Suhm

Mary Suhm

LGBT activists are now turning to Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm as their last hope for having a pro-equality resolution be placed on the council’s June 12 agenda.

Damien Duckett with Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance started the Change.org petition to urge Suhm to place the item on the agenda.

“This resolution deserves placement on the council agenda for an up or down vote. Marriage and workplace equality are of vital importance to local communities,” the petition reads. “This resolution allows the council to send a message in support of equality on behalf of all Dallas citizens that are disadvantaged as a result of bans on marriage and workplace equality.”

Suhm did not return calls this week asking if she’d put the item on the agenda. Her record on LGBT issues has been hit and miss. She spearheaded an “It Gets Better” video for the city, but wouldn’t back adding transgender healthcare coverage for city employees.

In addition to the city manager, Mayor Mike Rawlings, who said he wouldn’t budge on his refusal to place it on the agenda, can add an item, or five council members can add an item. But the latter failed this week when Councilwoman Deila Jasso pulled her support, leaving the memo one signature short. A new memo would require the resolution to be placed on the agenda within at least 30 days, so Suhm is the last option to bring it forward for a vote in June.

—  Dallasvoice

Councilwoman Jasso apologizes for flip-flop without giving her reasons

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Delia Jasso

Dallas Councilwoman Delia Jasso apologized to the LGBT community in a letter this afternoon, calling her decision to remove her signature from a memo to place a pro-equality resolution on the council’s agenda “impulsive.”

“My decision to remove my signature from the memo did not totally represent me, and it certainly did not represent you,” Jasso wrote. “I truly understand the pain, confusion and feelings of betrayal my decision has brought you, and I take complete ownership for causing these raw emotions.”

But Jasso didn’t explain why she removed her signature, saying only that her “judgment in that moment hurt people I care about and causes I’ve championed.”

She ends the letter by saying she will once again “stand for fairness and equality,” but she likely won’t get the chance.

City Secretary Rosa Rios told Dallas Voice today that Jasso can’t undo removing her signature.

She could, however, sign a new memo again along with four other council members, but Rios said the whole process starts again and the resolution would take at least 30 days to be added to an agenda. Unless Mayor Mike Rawlings adds it himself, which is unlikely. So, the new council session would have to vote on it.

Read Jasso’s full letter below.

—  Dallasvoice

Rawlings on LGBT equality resolution: ‘I’m not going to change my mind’

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Mayor MIke Rawlings meets with LGBT activists Thursday during his visit to Lakewood Country Club.

Protesters lined the entrance to the Lakewood Country Club in East Dallas early Thursday afternoon to call out Mayor Mike Rawlings on his lack of support for an LGBT equality resolution.

Rawlings said this week he doesn’t plan to place the LGBT equality resolution on the council agenda after Councilwoman Delia Jasso removed her signature from a memo that would have required the mayor to do so. .

Rawlings was scheduled to speak at the country club and surprised LGBT protesters when he came out and spoke to them briefly. He told Dallas Voice that he followed the process for the resolution and decided not to put it on the agenda after Jasso pulled her support.

He alo said he’s not worried about his personal support for equality being overshadowed by his refusal to place the resolution on the agenda without the needed signatures to do so.

“I just have to speak my mind. I’m not worried about anything being overshadowed by anything,” Rawlings said. “People can think what they want. They can call and email, but I’m not going to change my mind.”

—  Dallasvoice

GetEQUAL TX to protest Rawlings for pulling pro-equality resolution

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Mayor Mike Rawlings

LGBT activists plan to protest Mayor Mike Rawlings on Thursday morning after he said he planned to pull a resolution in support of LGBT job protections and marriage equality.

Regional GetEQUAL TX coordinator Daniel Cates said advocates will protest Rawlings’ appearance at Lakewood Country Club, 6430 Gaston Ave., from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It seems like we have a lot of work to do here,” Cates said.

Last January, after he declined to sign a pledge from the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, Rawlings skipped a neighborhood meeting to avoid a gay-rights protest.

Activists are also planning to communications bomb Jasso, who withdrew her support for the resolution and allowed Rawlings to pull it. They’re encouraging people to call her office, email and Facebook message her Thursday morning until Friday at 4 p.m. to demand why she withdrew her support.

Jasso’s assistant, Gary Sanchez, can be reached at 214-670-4052, and her secretary, Mariza Perez, can be reached at 214-670-4055.

—  Dallasvoice

UPDATE: Rawlings won’t put marriage equality resolution on council agenda

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

Mayor Mike Rawlings

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has opted not to place a resolution in support of LGBT equality on the City Council agenda, according to his chief of staff, Paula Blackmon.

On Tuesday, Councilwoman Delia Jasso withdrew her previous support for the resolution, meaning it no longer has the five signatures necessary to force the mayor to place it on the agenda under the city charter.

Rawlings came out Tuesday morning in support of the concept of the resolution and said he would vote for it. However, after Jasso pulled her support, Blackmon said Wednesday morning that the mayor continues to believe that the resolution is a “misuse” of the council’s time.

“He believes as he has stated that it’s a misuse of council time, and doesn’t feel that it needs to be considered at this time,” Blackmon said. “He doesn’t feel that he should be putting it on the agenda, even though he supports it. He supports the concept, marriage equality.  However, it coming through the council as a resolution, he just doesn’t feel that’s an appropriate thing for this particular government body to consider.”

LGBT activist Daniel Cates of GetEQUAL TX called Rawlings’ decision not to put the resolution on the agenda even though he says he supports it “a bunch of bullshit.”

“Most of the community is pretty pissed at most of City Hall right now,” Cates said. “I’m very disappointed in city leadership at this time, and GetEQUAL TX is looking forward to expressing the outrage of this community in the coming days.”

—  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

13 LGBT Dallas employees honored for participating in ‘It Gets Better’ video

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City employees who took part in an It Gets Better video with council members and video funders Ed Oakley and Greg Kilhoffer.

Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso honored 13 LGBT city employees who participated in the city of Dallas “It Gets Better” video at a council briefing this morning.

Jasso said what the employees did was truly special.

“They sat in front of a movie camera and told stories of being picked on and bullied at school and losing family and friends,” Jasso said.

She said she was proud this video that has been viewed more than 3,000 times. She also thanked former Councilman Ed Oakley and Caven Enterprises President Greg Kilhoffer for providing the funding.

“To make the video happen quickly took money,” Jasso said.

Oakley described the 13 participants as people you work with everyday who revealed part of their life you don’t know about. He said he hoped the video would inspire LGBT youth to know they could serve on City Council or run for mayor.

He said some of the people in the video he worked with everyday when he served on the council and didn’t know they were part of the community.

Mayor Mike Rawlings concluded the presentation.

“I love our LGBT community,” Rawlings said.

—  David Taffet