What’s Brewing: Gov. Perry silent so far on LGBT issues; Pink Noise moves to Rational Radio

Gov. Rick Perry strikes an, umm, rather unfortunate pose on the campaign trail this week.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already jumped into first place in the Republican presidential race, according to the latest Rasmussen Results poll.  Of course, the poll was conducted before it was widely reported that Perry had accused Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke of being a traitor. Meanwhile, it’s worth nothing that, as far as we can tell, the rabidly anti-gay Perry hasn’t said a word about LGBT issues since entering the presidential race four days ago. And even fellow bigot Michele Bachmann is toning down her anti-gay rhetoric. That’s because it’s no longer terribly effective as a wedge issue, even in a Republican primary. Still, these candidates can’t hide from their records, and we fully expect Perry to sign that anti-gay marriage pledge from the National Organization for Marriage any day now.

2. Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Radio Show, which was previously a podcast done from our offices, is moving to Rational Radio beginning this week. The show will air from 4 to 5 p.m. each Friday. Follow Pink Noise on Facebook and Twitter, and tune in to RationalRadio.org to watch our first episode live. We’ll also post recordings of Pink Noise right here on Instant Tea.

3.Lady Gaga released the video for “You and I” — the latest single from Born This Way — on Tuesday. Watch it below.

—  John Wright

CHART: Rick Perry 1 of 5 presidential candidates who oppose LGBT community on every issue

The above chart from Ned Flaherty at Marriage Equality USA (click to enlarge) provides a snapshot of where each of the presidential candidates stands on LGBT issues. As you can see, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is one of five with No’s across the board. Openly gay Republican Fred Karger is the gay-friendliest of the bunch, followed by Barack Obama, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like it will be a choice between Obama and either Bachmann, Perry or Romney (and likely some combination of the three).

—  John Wright

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Moncrief endorses Price in FW

Betsy Price

Current Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief chose not to run for re-election this year after four terms, and he has kept very quiet throughout the 2011 campaign about who he believes should replace him as mayor of Cowtown — until today.

According to this report on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s PoliTex blog, Moncrief broke his silence to publicly endorse former Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price for mayor.

Moncrief, who said his wife Rosie is also backing Price, released a short statement that said, “Her [Price's] love of Fort Worth and her ideas about our community’s quality of life are both appealing and visionary. We wish her the best in this election.”

Price was the frontrunner in the May 14 general election, pulling in 43 percent of the vote out of five candidates. Runner-up Jim Lane, who spent 12 years on the Fort Worth City Council, won 26 percent to make it to the runoff against Price.

Both candidates have reached out to Fort Worth’s LGBT community, including participating in a June 1 forum on LGBT issues that was presented by the LGBT advocacy group Fairness Fort Worth and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. For complete coverage of that forum, go here.

And on an interesting side note, if you do click through to the Star-telegram’s post on Moncrief’s endorsement, take a minute to look at the small photos of each of the candidates included in the post. Yep, that’s the GLBT Chamber’s logo you see on the screen behind them! The photos were taken during the LGBT forum.

—  admin

Fort Worth LGBT mayoral forum is Wednesday

Fort Worth mayoral runoff candidates Jim Lane and Betsy Price will attend a forum Wednesday evening sponsored by Fairness Fort Worth and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce

Fairness Fort Worth and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce will host a forum for Fort Worth mayoral runoff candidates Jim Lane and Betsy Price on Wednesday at Four Day Weekend Theater, 312 Houston St. That’s on Houston at Third Street, next to The Reata in downtown Fort Worth.

Price and Lane both talked to Dallas Voice last week about where they stand on LGBT issues. But this forum gives the community a chance to hear more from the candidates not only on LGBT issues, but on other topics of interest, too. Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy and I will be moderating. Anybody who has a specific question they would like to see asked can email that question to FairnessFtWorth@aol.com.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for 30 minutes of meeting and greeting with the candidates, and the Q&A session starts at 6 p.m.

—  admin

WATCH: Seagoville student endures classroom beatdown — as teacher watches

As the Texas Legislature continues to stall in taking action on the numerous anti-bullying bills introduced this session, this story posted Monday on WFAA.com proves once again that our children really aren’t safe in school — sometimes even when there is a teacher standing right by them.

Michael Milczanowksi

WFAA.com reports that Seagoville High School sophomore Michael Milczanowksi was attacked and beaten up by a fellow student in his geometry class as the teacher, who isn’t identified, stands by and watches without even trying to intervene. At least not physically. Other students videotaped the attack as it happened, and you can watch that video below.

Dallas Independent School District officials have said the incident is being investigated, but the teacher’s union is supporting the teacher. Alliance/AFT representative Rena Honeo told WFAA: “Teachers have intervened in the past. They have been injured. They have not been able to return to work. They have been reprimanded for intervening. So there is a huge question mark as to what’s truly appropriate.”

Meanwhile Michael Milczanowksi has left Seagoville High. The report doesn’t say if he is going to school somewhere else. The report also doesn’t say why the student attacked Michael, who said he had felt threatened at school for some time, and it doesn’t mention bullying, either.

I am not saying this has anything to do with LGBT issues in any way, shape or form. But I think this is obviously about one student being bullied — physically bullied — and about a teacher standing by and letting it happen. If this isn’t proof enough for lawmakers that we need some kind of legislation to protect our children, then I don’t know what it would take.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Right-wing evangelist puts out ‘voters guide’ for Fort Worth city elections

Richard Clough

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A right-wing evangelist from Kenneth Copeland’s church has distributed a “voters guide” to Fort Worth city elections, the Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy reports. The Rev. Richard Clough, a failed political candidate operating under the name Texans for Faith and Family, sent questionnaires to city council candidates seeking their positions on so-called “precepts” about sharia law, abortion and, of course, LGBT issues. Nine of the 22 council candidates actually responded to the survey, with some indicating through their responses that they strongly oppose LGBT equality. So perhaps this is as much a voters guide for the LGBT community and its allies as it is for the fundies. View the candidates responses by going here.

2. East Dallas garden designer Robert Bellamy will host a second “Light A Fire” anti-bullying event benefiting Youth First Texas tonight, the Dallas Morning News reports. While the first “Light A Fire” event was geared toward teachers, this one will be geared toward parents. Speakers will include Dallas mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings, YFT director Sam Wilkes, Dotty Griffith from the American Civil Liberties Union, and Wendy Ringe of the Human Rights Campaign. Admission is free, but a $25 donation to Youth First Texas is suggested. The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave.

3. In its cover story this week, the Dallas Observer takes a look at the Latin American drag shows, or “travesty shows,” that have become popular at Taquerias around Dallas. Although the topic is hardly new, it’s a pretty good story with some really good photography. But we’re not sure some transgender advocates will appreciate the online headline for the article: “Tortillas and Trannies at Dallas Taquerias.”

—  John Wright

WATCH: Nhojj’s ‘Amazing Grace’ video taps into gay marriage — and it’s kinda awkward

Soul singer and OutMusic award winner Nhojj recently released his version of “Amazing Grace” along with a video that depicts a same-sex relationship and wedding. He released it for the Easter holiday (yeah, I’m late to this, sorry), and it’s interesting to take such a traditional hymn and use it in the context of LGBT issues. Smart. Nhojj has an impressive back catalog, and I think he’s important to putting out music with a specific gay perspective, but sometimes he traps himself into overkill which he did with this video.

Candles on the piano, goofy and cliche romantic exchanges, and the singer and actor who just don’t seem that into each other, take away from a beautifully constructed song. Nhojj’s voice is pretty close to heaven, but he missed the mark visually on the song. The funny thing is that the press release kept mentioning that the video was groundbreaking and inspiring because it depicted a same-sex wedding and an interracial couple. That might have been had the video been any good.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Fort Worth mayoral candidates discuss the issues — but not LGBT ones


WFAA Channel 8  over the weekend hosted a debate — well, they call it a debate but it is, to me, more of a question-and-answer session — with the five candidates campaigning to succeed eight-year Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, who is not running for re-election.

The debate, moderated by Channel 8′s Brad Watson and Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy, is a little over 20 minutes long and features the candidates answering questions on topics like the city’s budget, urban oil drilling and the city’s pension and benefits plans. Despite the fact that LGBT issues have played a very prominent part in Fort Worth city politics over the last 18 months, neither Watson nor Kennedy asked the candidates any LGBT-related issues.

Still, if you live in Fort Worth, then you most likely care what the candidates have to say on the issues they did discuss. So I am posting the video here. (I live in Fort Worth, by the way, and I do care about the issues.)

The candidates are former city council members Cathy Hirt and Jim Lane, former state Rep. Dan Barrett, current Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price and filmmaker Nicholas Zebrun.

—  admin

Decision in Dallas

2011 mayoral hopefuls reach out to LGBT voters like never before

JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

All three major candidates for Dallas mayor are actively courting the LGBT vote in 2011.

City Councilman Ron Natinsky, former Parks Board Chairman Mike Rawlings and former Police Chief David Kunkle each pledged their support for the community in recent interviews with Dallas Voice.

And all three sought endorsements from both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, although Natinsky pulled out of Stonewall’s candidate screening over questions about his eligibility for the group’s backing.

Openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley, who was defeated in a runoff for mayor by Tom Leppert in 2007, called the 2011 mayor’s race “a watershed moment for the community.”

“It’s unprecedented,” Oakley said. “I’m very proud of Dallas that we have matured to this point. The mayor down the road who doesn’t seek our support will rue the day that they snubbed this community.”

Four years ago, Leppert failed to respond to DGLA’s endorsement questionnaire, which Oakley says should have been a red flag. Leppert also refused to answer when asked whether he was “gay-friendly,” saying he didn’t know what the term meant.

But Leppert vowed during his runoff campaign against Oakley to be the mayor for all of Dallas, and for his first two years in office, he appeared to live up to the promise.

Then, when Leppert began weighing a run for U.S. Senate, he joined the virulently anti-gay First Baptist Church. And later, after stepping down as mayor to run for Senate, he came out against both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Leppert’s shift to the right on LGBT issues left many in the community feeling angry and betrayed.

All three major candidates in this year’s race insisted they’d never throw the LGBT community under the bus. But while they’re all going after the gay vote, their records and positions on LGBT issues vary.

Oakley said it’s impossible to guarantee that something like Leppert’s betrayal of the community never happens again, but he agreed that the episode underscores the importance of the mayor’s race.

“We need to be supporting candidates that truly have a history in this community, not just when they’re running,” he said.

 

Ron Natinsky

Oakley is one of three openly gay former Dallas city councilmen who’ve endorsed Natinsky for mayor.

And Natinsky touted the support of Oakley and former Councilmen Chris Luna and Craig Holcomb when asked why the LGBT community should vote for him.

“It’s a proven track record,” said Natinsky, a regular at meetings of the gay group Log Cabin Republicans. “I’ve taken part in LGBT events, and I’ve been in the parade and I’ve gone to Black Tie. It’s a proven element.

“It’s really easy for people to say, ‘Well, if you elect me, I’ll go do these things.’ It’s another when you’ve been doing it for a number of years.”

During his six years on the council, Natinsky never appointed an openly LGBT person to a city board or commission, but he said it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Natinsky said he approached members of the LGBT community who live in his district, but they declined to serve due to business and personal obligations. He said he wouldn’t hesitate to appoint openly LGBT people to boards and commissions as mayor.

In 2008, Natinsky voted against a budget amendment that would have restored $250,000 in funding for HIV/AIDS services. He said he opposed the amendment, which failed 9-6, because he didn’t believe the proposed funding source was reliable.

Natinsky, like the other two candidates for mayor, vowed to defend existing Dallas ordinances offering domestic partner benefits to city employees, and prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations.

He also said he would support the expansion of LGBT diversity training, currently conducted by the Dallas Police Department, to Dallas Fire-Rescue.

Natinsky also said he supports the concept of requiring city contractors to offer domestic partner benefits, but would first want to research the legality.

“If there’s not any negative repercussions, or some reason that we can’t do it from a legal perspective, it’s certainly something that we need to try to move forward on,” he said.

Natinsky said he supports an ongoing review by two council members — Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano — of the city’s handling of complaints under the nondiscrimination ordinance.

But he said he would be reluctant to create a council-appointed LGBT human relations commission due to its price tag.

Natinsky said while he’s “open” to the idea, the annual cost in staff time for a commission can be up to $250,000. He suggested that the same goals could be accomplished through regular meetings between the mayor and LGBT leaders.

“We have to be careful that we don’t put another layer of institutional bureaucracy in place,” Natinsky said. “If it comes down to whether we’re going to lay off a police officer or have another board, that’s kind of a tough decision to make.”

Natinsky pulled out of the Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement process at the last minute because it appeared he was ineligible for the group’s backing due to his Republican primary voting record.

He said he was somewhat disappointed that he wasn’t able to seek Stonewall’s endorsement, which he called a natural extension of his campaign. But he said he doesn’t believe his party affiliation will hurt him among LGBT voters, and he dismissed any comparisons to Leppert.

For one, he said he doesn’t have any political aspirations beyond the mayor’s office.

“He’s Tom and I’m Ron,” Natinsky said. “I’m the guy that’s running for mayor, and he’s not, so I think you need to go on my track record and my reputation.”

Natinsky is Jewish but said he is not affiliated with any congregation. Asked whether he supports same-sex marriage, Natinsky said: “This is not a city issue; it is handled at the state and federal level. I do have several longtime close friends, including Craig Holcomb and Hector Garcia, who are happily married. However, the mayor has no jurisdiction over these matters.”

 

David Kunkle

Like Natinsky, Kunkle pointed to his record of working with the community as one reason why LGBT voters should cast their ballots for him.

“I’m a known quantity,” Kunkle said. “I have a proven track record. I’m very comfortable in the LGBT community.

“I believe that one of the things that makes Dallas a special place is the fact that our LGBT community is so large and accommodating. And it helps bring people to this city probably from throughout the United States, but certainly from throughout the Southwest part of the United States, to be able to come to a community where there’s support and there are interesting, cool, things to do,” he said. “I’m the known candidate. We want to work hard to make sure there’s full inclusion.”

Kunkle, who received the endorsement of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said as police chief, he always took seriously the concerns of the LGBT community.

Kunkle said he rode in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade each year because he felt it was “an important thing to do symbolically.”

“I probably got more criticism for riding than anybody, maybe even the mayor, because of what I represented as the police chief,” Kunkle said.

During his tenure as chief, Kunkle was faced with requests from the community to convert the Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer assignment from part time to full time.

Kunkle was initially reluctant to make the change because he said he didn’t believe there was enough work for the officer to do, but he eventually agreed to the full-time assignment.

“I’ve always felt that … having a full time police officer in the community was important as long as there was enough work to keep the person busy,” he said.

Kunkle also frequently dealt with questions as chief about violent crime in an area near the Cedar Springs strip, which at one point ranked as high as No. 3 among the city’s worst hotspots.

But Kunkle said it’s been the very identification of those hotspots that helped lead to a 36 percent reduction in violent crime citywide over the last seven years. The Cedar Spring area has since fallen to No. 7 on the list.

“One reason crime reduction occurred is that we as a department got much better about targeting the highest crime areas,” he said.

Kunkle said he would appoint openly LGBT people to boards and commissions, and supports the expansion of diversity training.

Kunkle also said he would defend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and DP benefits program if they came under attack from the Legislature, council members or some other outside force.

He expressed support for the review by Hunt and Medrano of the city’s handling of nondiscrimination complaints, but he said he’s unsure about requiring DP benefits for contractors.

“I don’t know that the city of Dallas should require it, but I think the fact that the city suggests it would be the appropriate thing to do,” Kunkle said. “I’m not opposed to it, either. I just don’t know legally what would be the impact of doing it, the consequences. I think on its face it seems like a good idea.”

Unlike Natinsky or Rawlings, Kunkle said he firmly supports the formation of an LGBT human relations commission.

“I think the funding would be minimal,” he said. “I think the benefits could be great.”

Kunkle said he believes council-appointed commissions could also benefit other “groups that tend to be underrepresented or may be forgotten.”

He said an LGBT commission could help deal with issues like DP benefits for city contractors. A few years ago, the council signed a contract with Omni Hotels to operate the city-owned convention center hotel, but the company wasn’t asked whether it offers DP benefits until after the fact.

“I don’t know that I would have ever thought of it, but that’s one advantage of having a commission, so that those kinds of issues can have a mechanism to be brought up,” Kunkle said.

Kunkle had stepped down as police chief prior to the Police Department’s controversial raid of a gay bathhouse last October. But he said he would not have signed off on the vice unit’s operation at Club Dallas had he still been chief.

“I don’t think that meets the definition of public lewdness in my mind,” Kunkle said, adding that police have “better things to do.”

“If you have consenting adults engaged in activity, there’s nobody who’s going to walk into that environment who should be offended by what they see,” he said. “It’s not a public place.”

Asked about Leppert’s shift to the right, Kunkle said it’s an example of why he’s the best candidate.

“That’s the reason I think you guys should vote for me, because I’m not going to change,” he said. “I always have been consistent in what I believe in. I’m not going to change depending on which audience I’m in. I’m running as a nontraditional candidate, and it gives me some freedom to talk about and say what I really believe, without worrying about which of my financial supporters I’m going to offend.”

Kunkle said he is a member of a Methodist church but has not been active for the last several years. Asked whether he supports same-sex marriage, Kunkle said: “My beliefs and faith are one of tolerance and respect for people and the choices that they make. If I were confronted with and involved with that issue, that’s the side I would come out on.”

 

Mike Rawlings

Rawlings, the former CEO of Pizza Hut, acknowledged that he likely is the least known of the three major candidates to the LGBT community in Dallas. But Rawlings said his record in the private sector, as the city’s homeless czar and as chairman of the Convention and Visitors Bureau should make LGBT voters comfortable supporting him.

“I was the chairman of [the CVB] when we started our first GLBT marketing campaign, to market Dallas as a truly cosmopolitan city with all the diversity this town has and offers to other people, and I think being part of that dialogue is extremely important,” Rawlings said.

“While a lot of people don’t know me, my three-and-a-half decades here in Dallas and my business relationships, my teams that I’ve worked with over the years, can pretty much speak to how I’ve lived my life.

“I ran the largest advertising agency in the South, and we had a huge community of GLBT associates and team members.”

Rawlings said as homeless czar, he worked tirelessly on behalf of the city’s most marginalized population.

“This is not a man who doesn’t understand what it means to create dignity for individuals, so I would ask somebody to look at that track record, and say, ‘Is it consistent that this guy’s going to take a left-hand turn from the way he’s treated people his whole life?’”

Rawlings was CEO of Pizza Hut from 1997 until 2003. Pizza Hut is owned by Yum Brands, which scored a 65 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index in 2010.

According to HRC, Yum Foods added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy in 2004, and began offering DP benefits in 2006.

Joe Bosch, who was HR director at Pizza Hut when Rawlings was CEO, noted that the company is merely a division of Yum Brands. Bosch said although Yum Brands may not have enacted the two policies until after Rawlings left Pizza Hut, “He was definitely a champion of diversity.”

Rawlings’ assistant, Sandy Nelson, said the company where he currently serves as vice chairman, CIC Partners in Dallas, is too small with only 12 employees to have extensive LGBT-related employment policies.

Rawlings, whose high-profile LGBT supporters include Pam Gerber and Larry Pease, said he would be honored to participate in events such as the gay Pride parade and the Black Tie Dinner.

And he said he would not hesitate to appoint openly LGBT people to city boards and commissions. “I go for talent,” he said. “Diversity is not a politically correct term for me. Diversity is the way we’re going to be more competitive.”

Rawlings also said he would support expanding DPD diversity training to Fire-Rescue. He said he wasn’t familiar with the ongoing review of the city’s handling of discrimination complaints, but he added, “If people are being treated badly, we need to get to the bottom of it.”

Rawlings vowed to defend both the nondiscrimination ordinance and DP benefits if they came under attack. But he said he would not support establishing an LGBT commission, because he prefers human relationships and accountability over bureaucracy.

“When I was on the parks board, I really questioned, what are we doing here as a parks board? It didn’t set budget, it didn’t set policy, so I’m a believer in fewer versus more in that regard,” he said. “I’m a believer in getting the job done, as opposed to acting like the job’s getting done.”

Rawlings also said he would be reluctant to require contractors to offer DP benefits, because such an ordinance would amount to playing “the ethics police.”

“I would not be for it, probably, because we’ve got way too many hurdles everybody’s got to jump over to get money into this town,” he said.

Rawlings said he attends First Presbyterian Church and believes discrimination against LGBT people is “one of the worst parts” of Christianity.

He said he had an employee who was beaten to death in an anti-gay hate crime in the 1980s.

“One of our top creative people was killed over on Cedar Springs one night,” he said. “It changed my perspective on things a lot.”

Asked about same-sex marriage, Rawlings said he believes the issue is “divisive’ and shouldn’t be used as “a litmus test.”

“I think it’s one of the most irrelevant issues for the world,” he said. “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 it’s not the mayor’s job to say, ‘We need to do this.’”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright