Rawlings ‘personally’ supports marriage

Dallas mayor won’t sign pledge but says gay couples should have the right to wed

Rawlings.Mike

Mike Rawlings

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Although he declined to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage this week, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings declared Thursday, Jan. 19 that he personally supports the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed.

Rawlings has elected not to join a group of more than 75 mayors from across the country who’ve signed a pledge circulated by the group Freedom to Marry in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting this week in Washington, D.C.

Under fire from the LGBT community for not signing the pledge, Rawlings explained that since becoming mayor last year, it has been his policy to avoid partisan political issues or social debates that don’t directly impact city government.

“This one obviously was very difficult for me, because I personally believe in the rights of the gay community to marry,” Rawlings said Thursday in an exclusive interview by phone from Washington, where he was still attending the conference. “I think this [same-sex marriage] is way overdue and we need to get on with it, but that’s my personal belief, and when I start to speak on behalf of the city of Dallas … I’ve got to be thoughtful about how I use that office and what I want to impact, and that’s why I decided to stay away from endorsing and signing letters like that.”

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, responded that if Rawlings really supports marriage equality, he should sign the pledge, which was set to be formally released at a press conference Friday morning, Jan. 20.

“I think he’s doing the same thing that a lot of politicians do, and that’s saying what he needs to say to get the LGBT vote,” Cates said.

After Dallas Voice reported on its website Wednesday night that Rawlings didn’t plan to sign the pledge, Cates launched a Facebook page and an online petition encouraging people to contact the mayor by phone, email and fax, and ask him to change his mind.

Cates said he may also organize a marriage demonstration outside City Hall in February — but was still hoping Rawlings would reverse course and sign the pledge on Friday.

“If he supports us, we need him to put his money where his mouth is,” Cates said. “Otherwise what he’s proving to me, personally, is that he supports us when it’s going to get him votes or money.”

Rawlings.Pride

SIGN OF SUPPORT | Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings throws beads while riding on the city float in the 2011 gay Pride parade. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

During his campaign last year, Rawlings said during a candidate forum that he voted against Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning both marriage and civil unions. But before Thursday, the closest Rawlings had come to publicly endorsing same-sex marriage was in an interview with Dallas Voice during his campaign, when he said he felt the issue was “irrelevant” and “we should get beyond it and let people do what they want to do.”

Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, said Thursday afternoon that 50 to 60 people had contacted the mayor’s office about the marriage pledge, with the vast majority saying he should sign it.

“People are communicating with us,” said Blackmon, who compared the public response to outcry over the city’s handling of the Occupy Dallas protests.

Rawlings said in addition to the LGBT community, he was getting pushback from his son and daughter, who he said were raised to reflect his personal beliefs about marriage equality.

“I’m catching a lot of grief in my family right now, just so you know, so I respect how people are feeling about this issue, and I understand it,” he said.

Other mayors who’ve signed the pledge 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 would be revealed during Friday’s press conference to kick off the campaign, called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

However, Yodashkin told Dallas Voice that as of Thursday, Houston’s Parker and Austin’s Lee Leffingwell were the only ones from Texas who’d signed the pledge. About 20 mayors from Texas, including Fort Worth’s Betsy Price, pre-registered for the Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to the website.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

PwC’s LGBT employees coming to Dallas for summit

Out Professional Employee Network to discuss best practices and personal branding at two-day summit in Dallas

Arruda.William

William Arruda

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Human Rights Campaign sponsor PricewaterhouseCoopers is holding a two-day diversity summit for members of its LGBT resource group at the Joule Hotel in Downtown Dallas beginning Friday, Nov. 11, in conjunction with Black Tie Dinner set for Saturday night.

The company is headquartered in London, with offices worldwide, including Dallas.

Mark Niehaus, partner chair for the National GLBT Partner Advisory Board, explained that the resource group holds “periodic gatherings of our GLBT members from throughout the country,” and that this year, “We decided to connect it to a national event” (the Black Tie Dinner).

Jennifer Allyn, a managing director in the PwC office of diversity, said that normally a business meeting wouldn’t be held into Saturday. But, she said, the Black Tie Dinner was a good reason for people to stay through the weekend. She said the meeting will include people who are out, visible and successful.

“The group includes some of our highest-performing GLBT professionals,” she said.

Also among the speakers is personal branding expert William Arruda.

He begins the event on Friday morning by discussing how diversity can be what differentiates a person and how to use that to accelerate a career path.

“How do you put yourself out there?” Allyn said, explaining what Arruda will discuss. “Are you being thoughtful about your reputation?”

She said Arruda will discuss managing one’s reputation to succeed at the highest levels.

When he worked for KPMG, Arruda was closeted and spent about 20 percent of his time covering up who he was, she explained. But at PwC, it’s important to be out at work, especially in jobs dealing with clients and building trust.

“Integrity is important,” Allyn said. “When you’re hiding, you come off guarded. To build relationships, you have to build trust.”

She said that building trust is difficult with someone who is closeted because it becomes apparent that person is always hiding something.

In a business environment, people are always coming out. Members of PwC’s Out Professional Employee Network (OPEN) will share best practices.

“A lot of our focus is based on how we fit in the organization,” Niehaus said.

He said the group focuses on strengths and leveraging those individual personal traits.

“What makes you different is what’s important,” he said. “It connects you with clients and makes you succeed. We don’t want to lose what’s unique about each individual.”

The meeting will focus on other issues relating to personal branding and career development as well.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese will speak along with Point Foundation President Jorge Valencia.

While Solmonese will discuss political initiatives, Allyn said the group is especially anxious to hear from Valencia because “PwC has a big commitment to education.”

Other speakers include New York State Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David, who was involved in the fight to pass same-sex marriage in New York, and LGBT retention and advancement consultant Jennifer Brown, who will discuss career development tailored to an LGBT professionals.

“One of our initiatives is energizing allies,” Allyn said.

In conjunction with that, OPEN published I Am Open. The book complied interviews with 18 gay and straight people at PwC who have built strong working relationships with each other.

In a professional setting, the book suggests inclusive language such as asking if someone is in a relationship rather than if they’re married or invite team members to bring a guest rather than something more specific.

PwC is the first of the Big 4 accounting firms to have an LGBT Partner Advisory Board made up of openly gay partners and managing directors in the company. Many of those partners, including Niehaus, will be at the conference in Dallas.

“We want everyone to leave inspired,” Allyn said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay man allegedly assaulted by Tea Party activist for waving Bill White sign near poll in Houston

This came across early Friday morning from the Houston GLBT Political Caucus:

—  John Wright

DOJ responds to DADT ruling; Gibbs says filing doesn’t diminish Obama’s commitment to repeal

Lawyers with the Justice Department on Thursday night, Sept. 23,  asked U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips not to grant an immediate injunction ordering that the military stop enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law/policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The filing came 14 days after Judge Phillips ruled that DADT is unconstitutional and should be immediately ended. ( You can read ABC News’ report here.)

The filing Thursday by DOJ lawyers asked for a “reasonable” amount of time to consider an injunction.

The fact that the government continues to defend the policy, despite President Barack Obama’s clearly and repeatedly stated opposition to DADT and his pledge to end it left Log Cabin Republicans, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit in question, more than a little angry.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans

LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper issued this statement Friday morning, Sept. 24: “We are deeply disappointed with the administration’s decision. Yet again, the Obama administration has failed to live up to its campaign promise to repeal this unconstitutional law for the servicemembers of this country.”

In the same press release that included Cooper’s statement, Dan Woods, the attorney with White and Case who is representing Log Cabin in the trial, had this to say: “The Justice Department’s objections fail to recognize the implications of the government’s defeat at trial. It is as if the South announced that it won the Civil War. The objections also fail to mention that the court has previously denied the government’s requests for a stay on three prior occasions and nothing has changed to suggest that a stay is now appropriate; if anything, the Senate vote this week shows that the court was correct in denying the prior requests for a stay. But what is most troubling is that the government’s request for a stay ignores the harm that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ causes to current and potential members of our Armed Forces. That is the saddest, most disappointing and, in light of the president’s position, most hypocritical part of the objections.”

The Senate vote to which Woods referred was the one on Tuesday, Sept. 21, in which every Senate Republican and three Senate Democrats voted against the motion for cloture, which would have ended a Republican filibuster and forced a final vote on the Department of Defense funding bill that included an amendment repealing DADT. That bill had already passed the House. One of the Democrats who voted against the motion was Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had made the motion. He voted against it in a procedural maneuver so that he would be able to bring it up again later.

Moderate Republicans in the Senate who might otherwise have voted with the Democrats on that motion voted against it because Reid had also included an amendment dealing with immigration — the Dream Act — and had refused to allow Republicans to offer any amendments to the DOD spending measure.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday defended the DOJ’s filing, saying that it was the department’s job to defend “acts of Congress” when they are challenged. But Gates insisted the filing “in no way diminished the president’s commitment to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT — indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.”

Gates added: “The president was disappointed this week when a majority of the Senate was willing to proceed with the National Defense Authorization Act, but political posturing created a 60 vote threshold. The president spoke out against DADT in his first State of the Union address, and the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have both testified in support of repeal. And the Department of Defense continues to work on a plan on how to implement repeal. This president, along with his administration, will continue to work will continue to work with the Senate leadership to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT as outlined in the NDAA this fall.”

UPDATE: Also Friday, a group of 69 progressive members of the House sent a letter to Obama asking that him not to appeal Phillips’ decision. Thursday’s filing was not technically an appeal, but experts say it was a strong indication that the DOJ does plan to appeal. For more on the letter, go here.

—  admin

WATCH: A new message from Lady Gaga to the U.S. Senate on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

The video was apparently recorded Thursday night and posted early Friday morning on Lady Gaga’s official YouTube channel. Looks like she may have sent out this Tweet while recording the video:

Gaga addresses her 7 ½-minute video message to her fellow Americans, to the Senate and specifically to Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. She notes that 14,000 servicemembers have been discharged under DADT since it was passed in 1993.

“In short, not only is the law unconstitutional, but it’s not even being properly or fairly enforced by the government,” Gaga says. “Our fight is a continuum of the ever-present equal rights movement. Every day we fight to abolish laws that harbor hatred and discriminate against all people, laws that infringe on our civil liberties.

“I am here to be a voice for my generation, not the generation of the senators who are voting, but for the youth of this country, the generation that is affected by this law and whose children will be affected,” Gaga says. “We are not asking you to agree with or approve the moral implications of homosexuality. We’re asking you to do your job, to protect the Constitution. As Majority Leader Harry Reid said, anyone who is willing to fight for this country should have the same civil opportunity to do so as anyone else. It’s my belief that no one person is more valuable than another.”

Gaga goes on to talk about some of the veterans discharged under DADT she’s met through the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“The most shocking discovery for me was to hear them all say how much they miss serving and protecting our nation, how they joined the Armed Forces because they believe in America,” Gaga says. “Senators, when you’re sending your men and women into war, when you’re sending our wives, husbands, sons and daughters into combat, will you honor their service? Will you support repealing this law on Tuesday and pledge to them that no American’s life is more valuable than another?”

At the end of the video Gaga calls the Capitol Switchboard and asks for the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York. After a dozen or so rings, she gets a busy signal. Then she tries Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, whose voice mailbox is full.

“I will not stop calling until I reach them and I can leave them this message,” Gaga says. “I am a constituent of the senator. My name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, also known as Lady Gaga. I’m calling to ask the senator to vote with Sens. Harry Reid and Carl Levin to repeal ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ and oppose John McCain’s shameless filibuster. We need to do this for our gay and lesbian soldiers and finally repeal ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’

“Try calling after 9 a.m. tomorrow morning,” Gaga says. “I’ll be on the phone, too. Thank you. God bless.”

The number for the Capitol switchb0ard is 202-224-3121.

—  John Wright