UPDATED: Rawlings won’t attend neighborhood meeting due to threat of LGBT protest

Daniel Cates

The fallout continues over Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, confirmed today that the mayor may cancel a neighborhood meeting scheduled for Kiest Park on Tuesday night, after LGBT activists threatened to stage a demonstration at the event.

Last week, Rawlings angered many in the LGBT community when he said that although he “personally” supports same-sex marriage, he won’t sign the pledge because his policy is to avoid social issues that don’t directly impact city government.

Dallas is the largest city in the nation whose mayor hasn’t signed the pledge unveiled by the national group Freedom to Marry during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C.

“It doesn’t need to be a demonstration, it needs to be conversation,” Blackmon said. “He’s willing and he’s open to sit down and talk about it, but he doesn’t want it to be done in an atmosphere that’s not constructive.”

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, said Blackmon contacted him this morning and offered a meeting with Rawlings if the group called off the demonstration.

Cates said he’s interested in meeting with the mayor, but when he refused to cancel the demonstration, Blackmon rescinded her offer.

“Preconditions are not acceptable,” Cates said. “We’ll meet him at Starbucks at midnight if that’s what it takes, but we’re not going to cancel a demonstration in order to have a meeting. [The LGBT] community is pretty outraged by this, and I think they have a right to express that. We’ll call off the demonstration if he signs the pledge.”

Blackmon said when it became clear that Cates wouldn’t settle for anything less than Rawlings signing the pledge, she decided it would be better to pursue a meeting with other LGBT leaders. “The mayor is not going to sign the pledge,” she said.

Blackmon added that it was still “up in the air” whether the mayor would cancel the Kiest Park meeting.

Cates, who’s also launched an online petition calling for Rawlings to sign the pledge, said if and when the Kiest Park neighborhood meeting is canceled, he’ll call off the demonstration. However, he said GetEQUAL will look for other opportunities to demonstrate, possibly outside City Hall.

“We are determined to escalate this if they continue to refuse to cooperate,” Cates said.

UPDATE: Blackmon confirmed this afternoon that Mayor Rawlings will not attend the Kiest Park community meeting.

She said residents who plan to attend the “Meet the Mayor” meeting want to talk about things like potholes and loose dogs, and it would be unfair to subject them to an LGBT demonstration.

“He just does not want to put them through that, so he plans to meet with them on a more individual basis,” Blackmon said.

She added that City Councilwoman Delia Jasso and Councilman Scott Griggs still plan to attend the Kiest Park meeting. She also said the mayor is reaching out to other LGBT community leaders to set up a meeting with them. However, she said it’s doubtful that the meeting with LGBT community leaders will be open to the media.

—  John Wright

Dallas now largest city whose mayor hasn’t signed pledge in support of same-sex marriage

Julian Castro

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has signed Freedom to Marry’s pledge in support of same-sex marriage, making Dallas the largest city in the country whose mayor hasn’t signed the pledge. Castro becomes the third mayor from Texas to sign the pledge, joining Austin’s Lee Leffingwell and Houston’s Annise Parker. San Antonio is the nation’s seventh-most populous city, and Dallas is 9th. The mayors of all eight cities larger than Dallas have now signed the pledge. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he personally supports same-sex marriage but won’t sign the pledge. The only other mayor in the top 1o who hasn’t signed the pledge is Chuck Reed of San Jose, which is No. 10.

According to Facebook, the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL is planning a demonstration at Kiest Park during a neighborhood meeting that Rawlings plans to attend on Tuesday evening.

—  John Wright

‘I suspect that no LGBT group will want to come to Dallas when they learn of the mayor’s position’

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox issued a statement this afternoon, criticizing Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for failing to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality this week.

“As the executive director and CEO of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community center in the sixth largest LGBT community in United States, I am concerned that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is not supporting marriage equality alongside other big-city mayors,” Cox said. “Legally recognized marriage is a civil rights, an economic and a legal issue that directly affects the members of the LGBT community where he serves as mayor and who call Dallas home.

“In the last two years, two major LGBT conferences (Creating Change and the Out & Equal Workplace Summit) have visited Dallas, bringing millions of dollars in local economic impact. I suspect that no LGBT group will want to come to Dallas when they learn of the mayor’s position,” Cox wrote. “LGBT families are shut out of the legal protections granted with marriage. The result is that couples and children in LGBT families are precluded from legal health benefits, economic benefits and the safety and security that so many others enjoy because the laws automatically protect them. I urge Mayor Rawlings to revisit and reconsider his decision.”

Below is video from this morning’s press conference in Washington, where Freedom to Marry formally launched the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry campaign. According to the press release we’ve posted after the jump, 80 mayors from across the country have now signed the pledge in support of marriage equality. Among those who spoke at the press conference was Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is co-chairing the campaign.

“Everyone here believes in the vital importance of marriage to our constituents, to our communities, and to our country,” Parker said. “Together, we will work to ensure that our cities have what they need to thrive – and in order to keep our cities competitive in business and welcoming in culture, we will work hard to win the freedom to marry everywhere and end federal marriage discrimination once and for all.”

—  John Wright

Here’s the pledge in support of same-sex marriage that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings refuses to sign

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is among the co-chairs of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

Jackie Yodashkin at Freedom to Marry sends along word that the group has now posted a list of 74 of the mayors who’ve signed its pledge in support of same-sex marriage, as well as the text of the pledge itself.

As many of us are painfully aware by now, the list doesn’t include Dallas’ Mike Rawlings, who says he “personally” supports same-sex marriage but doesn’t sign things related to social issues that don’t directly impact city affairs. Read our latest story here. (It’s worth noting that since we broke this story Wednesday, it’s been picked up by both the Dallas Morning News, which ran it on the front page of the Metro section today, and the Dallas Observer.)

Rawlings.Mike

Mike Rawlings

Rawlings has also posted a statement on his Facebook page further explaining his position: “Upon taking office, I made a conscious decision to focus on issues that create a healthy, viable city and not on those that are partisan and social in nature. I was asked to pledge my support to ‘Mayors for the Freedom to Marry’ in an effort to pressure state and federal entities to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. I decided not to sign onto that letter because that is inconsistent with my view of the duties of the office of the mayor. To be a world class city, we must be inclusive towards all citizens, including the LGBT community. Personally, I support the LGBT movement and its efforts for equal rights that they deserve.”

Judging by the 63 comments on Rawlings Facebook post, the LGBT community isn’t satisfied. As of this morning, 173 people had signed a Change.org petition calling for Rawlings to sign the pledge. There’s also a Facebook page where you can find contact information for the mayor’s office.

Yodashkin also said that Houston Mayor Annise Parker is now a co-chair of the campaign, called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. And while Austin’s Lee Leffingwell hadn’t been added to the published list, Yodashkin told me Thursday that Leffingwell had signed the pledge. Yodashkin also mentioned that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak at a press conference at 9:45 Eastern time this morning to formally unveil the campaign. Is it possible that Rawlings will have a change of heart and show up, pen in hand? We’ll find out, but for now the full text of the pledge is below.

—  John Wright

Annise Parker only Texan among “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry”

Mayor Annise Parker

Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker is scheduled to appear at a press conference tomorrow in Washington D.C. alongside a bi-partisan coalition of U.S. Mayors supporting an end to marriage discrimination. The announcement coincides with the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is scheduled to include Michael Bloomberg of New York, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Thomas Menino of Boston and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.

According to Freedom to Marry, the organization coordinating the effort, “more than 70 Republican, Democrat and Independent mayors from cities across the country have pledged to support gay and lesbian couples’ freedom to marry. By joining the group, mayors hope to expand public and political support for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.” The full list will be released during the press conference on Friday, but Jackie Yodashkin, a spokeswoman for Freedom to Marry, told the Dallas Voice that Parker was the only Texas mayor on the list.

It’s no big surprise that Parker would support the effort. She is the first out LGBT mayor of a major U.S. city and she and her partner Cathy Hubbard have been together for over 20 years so she knows first hand the hardships of marriage discrimination. What is surprising is that no other Texas Mayor has signed on. You’d think that, at the very least, Austin’s Mayor Lee Leffingwell would jump at the chance or that the mayor of some small, unheard-of city would have the bravery to do the right thing, but Parker is standing alone, a loud clarion in the silence that surrounds her.

So the next time The Advocate or Community Marketing tries to tell you that Houston isn’t the best LGBT city in Texas, remind them which city’s mayor had the guts to stand up for equality, and which ones didn’t.

—  admin

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings won’t sign pledge in support of same-sex marriage

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

Dallas’ Mike Rawlings won’t join more than 70 mayors from across the country who’ve signed a pledge in support of same-sex marriage during this week’s U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C.

“The mayor does not plan to publicly support any social issues but would rather focus on the policy issues that impact Dallas,” Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said in an email to Dallas Voice today. “Also know we have not signed onto other similar requests.”

Mayors who’ve signed the pledge sponsored by the group Freedom to Marry include Michael Bloomberg of New York, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Annise Parker of Houston, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Thomas Menino of Boston and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.

Jackie Yodashkin, a spokeswoman for Freedom to Marry, said the full list of mayors who’ve signed the pledge will be revealed during a press conference Friday morning to kick off the campaign, called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

However, Yodashkin told Dallas Voice today that Houston’s Parker is the only mayor from Texas who’s signed the pledge thus far. About 20 mayors from Texas pre-registered for the Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to the website.

During his campaign last year, Rawlings said he voted against Proposition 2, Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment that banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. When asked directly whether he supports marriage equality, Rawlings said: “I think it’s one of the most irrelevant issues for the world. I think we should get beyond it and let people do what they want to do. Some of my best friends have been married, and I’m pleased that they have been, and so I’m really happy for them. I’ve supported their marriage, but its’ not the mayor’s job to say, ‘We need to do this.’”

Read Freedom to Marry’s full press release about the campaign below.

—  John Wright

AMA adopts policy supporting same-sex marriage

The American Medical Association today adopted a new policy in support of same-sex marriage, saying that excluding sa,e-sex couples from legal marriage recognition is discriminatory and that the AMA supports relationship recognition as a means of addressing health disparities and that gay and lesbian couples and their families face.

H-65.973 Health Care Disparities in Same-Sex Partner Households, adopted today by the AMA, declares: “Our American Medical Association: (1) recognizes that denying civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes harmful stigma on gay and lesbian individuals and couples and their families; (2) recognizes that exclusion from civil marriage contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households; (3) will work to reduce health care disparities among members of same-sex households including minor children; and (4) will support measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to health care, health insurance, and survivor benefits, as afforded opposite-sex households.”

The new policy is just the latest in a list of policies adopted by the AMA intended to protect LGBT physicians and LGBT patients and their families. You can see the full list here.

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Executive Director Hector Vargas and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rhea Carey all issued statements applauding the AMA’s new policy.

The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists already support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

—  admin

PHOTOS: ‘Kiss and Tell’ at LUSH Cosmetics

I, your rambling transgentleman, spent my Saturday morning at the Galleria inside LUSH Cosmetics for their “Kiss and Tell” protest. And by protest, they mean having a bunch of people kiss at the same time in support of same-sex marriage.

The front half of the store was all decked out for the event, complete with a lip-prepping station and postcard table, where the couples can send postcards with a pre-written message to the federal government telling them to end discrimination against same-sex couples. They’re sending postcards until June 22, so make sure to get in and sign one!

The lip-prepping station included a castor sugar lip scrub in the flavor of your choice (which you lick off; I had the mint-flavored scrub and it was quite tasty) and a scented lip balm, one of which was bright red — naturally, I opted out of the tinted one.

In addition to the complimentary lip pampering, LUSH is selling their limited-edition Freedom Bubble Bars, which sort of look like giant, glittery, green Hershey’s kisses. They smell like lime and grapefruit and make your bath water shimmery and aromatic. The bars are $5.95, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Freedom to Marry’s Why Marriage Matters” campaign.

Sadly there weren’t too many people at the Galleria location for the event, but I got a few shots of couples taking part in the big smooch.

LUSH is selling their Freedom Foamer Bubble bar online and in stores for a limited time. Who doesn’t want green, sparkly, citrusy bath water?

If you missed out on the Kiss and Tell, never fear: You can send in your picture of you locking lips with your partner to LUSH on their website.  Just write a little ditty about why you support the campaign and you’re good to go.

More pics below.

—  admin

LUSH Cosmetics one-ups Old Navy with a gay kiss-in and a Freedom Foamer Bubble Bar

Should you happen to be over at NorthPark or the Galleria around, say, 11:38 a.m. this Saturday (and some rarely aren’t!), you may want to stop by LUSH Cosmetics. According to a press release, that’s when LUSH employees, customers and supporters will be staging a “Kiss and Tell” in support of marriage equality:

“The ‘Kiss and Tell’ will be taking place at LUSH stores across North America at exactly 11:38 a.m. to signify the number of protections, responsibilities and rights that are currently denied to same-sex couples and their families under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” the press release states. “LUSH, in partnership with Freedom to Marry, is calling on the U.S. federal government to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which would allow same-sex couples and their families access to the 1,138 civil rights that come with federal marriage recognition and ultimately their right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The release goes on to say that for two weeks starting this past Monday, LUSH stores are serving as “campaign centers” where people can get information about the rights denied to same-sex couples and sign petitions calling on the federal government to overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And you can even purchase a limited edition Freedom Foamer Bubble Bar ($5.95), with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Freedom to Marry’s campaign to end marriage discrimination. Which, by the way, is more than the 10 percent that went to the It Gets Better Project from the Old Navy gay Pride T-shirt you’ll undoubtedly be wearing when you lock lips with that stranger at LUSH.

Full press release below …

—  John Wright

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright