Dallas finance committee approves ‘comprehensive’ LGBT resolution

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Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, center, speaks during the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee meeting Tuesday. Burns joined Dallas Assistant City Attorney John Rogers, Dallas interim Assistant City Manager Theresa O’Donnell and HRC’s Cathryn Oakley to encourage the committee to pass a resolution in support of LGBT policy changes in Dallas. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Dallas councilmembers voted Tuesday to send a resolution to the full City Council to address inequalities in city employment, healthcare and lobbying efforts.

In a 4-1 vote at the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, councilmembers voiced support for the “Comprehensive Statement of Support” resolution, which guides city staff and the city’s LGBT Task Force to research areas for improved LGBT equality and report back to the committee quarterly on the progress. Items will then be addressed on an individual basis and voted on.

Members who voted in favor of it were Committee Chair Jerry Allen, who originally pushed for a broad statement of support, Vice Chair Jennifer Gates, Philip Kingston and Tennell Atkins. Sheffie Kadane voted against it because he said he didn’t like that it focused solely on the LGBT community.

O’Donnell said a resolution wasn’t originally expected to go before the committee Tuesday, but members of the city’s LGBT Task Force encouraged a resolution so research about policy changes could begin.

—  Dallasvoice

HRC corrects Irving, Dallas scores on Municipal Equality Index

Texas-graphicThe Human Rights Campaign has adjusted two scores in North Texas after errors were discovered in the cities of Irving and Dallas regarding their LGBT-inclusive policies.

Last week, Dallas Voice pointed out that Irving received credit in the nondiscrimination law section for protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the county’s government policy, but Dallas County has that protection of county employees only; it’s not countywide.

Cathryn Oakley, the main author on the MEI, followed up with Dallas Voice on Monday to say the credit for the county policy for employees, which was also awarded to Dallas, was an error, bringing Irving’s score to 10, not 16. Dallas’ score won’t change for that section because the max points for that section was 18, which the city received for its citywide nondiscrimination ordinance.

But Dallas also received points for a contractor equal benefits ordinance. While the city of Dallas has a contractor nondiscrimination ordinance, it doesn’t mention anything about those contractors offering benefits to its employees. Losing those points lowered Dallas’ score to an 81.

Last year, Arlington was awarded points for protecting city employees against discrimination regarding sexual orientation, but those points were removed this year. While Arlington listed sexual orientation on its website under diversity, the protection is not city policy.

The MEI, now in its second year, ranks cities on their policies and practices that are LGBT-inclusive, showing how protected city employees and citizens are and how much their city leadership values equality.

HRC researches cities and then sends that info to officials for input and changes. Oakley said she was in touch with officials from Dallas, but wasn’t sure if contact was made with Irving.

 

—  Dallasvoice

Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio top Texas cities on HRC’s Municipal Index

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This year’s Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index released Tuesday ranked 16 Texas cities, compared to seven last year.

Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio saw a score increase, while Arlington saw a 5-point decrease. Fort Worth, which ranked higher than Dallas last year, is again ahead of Dallas in the report. Dallas, however, saw a 9-point increase.

San Antonio received a score of 86, jumping from a 48 last year, despite the controversy this summer over a nondiscrimination ordinance.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said Grand Prairie’s score of 21 impressed him. He said the city’s leaders quietly adopted a nondiscrimination policy for city employees in 2008 and later implemented Dallas Independent School District’s LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy in 2011.

“It shows that the quest for equality isn’t just a city of Dallas or a county or quasi-governmental issue,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that’s available to be done throughout the area.”

The report ranked 291 cities this year, compared to 137 cities last year, on a scale of 0 to 100, which reflects their commitment to LGBT equality.

For more on the 2013 MEI, see Friday’s paper.

Below is a list of Texas cities included in the report from highest to lowest score.

—  Dallasvoice

San Antonio mayor appoints LGBT liaison in response to city’s MEI score

Adam Greenup

After reviewing San Antonio’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s new Municipal Equality Index, Mayor Julian Castro took action in appointing a mayoral LGBT liaison to keep him informed about LGBT issues.

San Antonio scored a 48 out of 100, compared to Austin’s 91 score and Dallas’ 76.

“We weren’t last in Texas, but our score showed room for improvement,” Castro told the San Antonio Express-News.

Castro appointed Adam Greenup last week. He currently serves as senior policy adviser to Castro and will continue in that role in addition to his new duties as LGBT liaison.

Greenup has worked with the LGBT community during his time as chief of staff for Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros.

“My life experiences have provided me a good foundation to connect with members of the LGBT community and groups that feel like they are underrepresented in the community,” he said. “I am a familiar face a lot of members of the community feel comfortable going to.”

HRC reports on its blog that Greenup hasn’t wasted any time getting to know people in his new role as LGBT liaison for the mayor, attending a local HRC Steering Committee after his appointment.

“The local San Antonio LGBT community and HRC are thrilled that Mayor Castro took this important step,” HRC regional field director Karin Quimby writes.

While Dallas officials have pledged to increase the city’s score by 10 percent this year, no specific initiatives have been announced yet.

—  Dallasvoice