Hundreds march in support of Dallas equality resolution (photos, video)

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GetEQUAL TX and Hope for Peace and Justice rallied at City Hall on Saturday to demand an equality resolution be placed on the Dallas City Council’s agenda. Love is Stronger was the theme for the protest.

More than 100 people gathered at 6 p.m. on City Hall Plaza. Several people, including straight allies, spoke before the group marched across Downtown to Razzle Dazzle Dallas, which took place at Main Street Garden and opened at 7 p.m.

Before leaving City Hall Plaza, GetEQUAL TX regional coordinator Daniel Cates drew a line with chalk on the ground and compared it to William Travis drawing a line in the sand at the Alamo.

Cates said Mayor Mike Rawlings had gone too far in calling the equality resolution a waste of time and asked everyone to cross the line with him.

The march headed from City Hall west to Griffin Street, then north to Main Street, before traveling the final four blocks to Main Street Garden.

Along the route, people in cars honked and waved. People in restaurants ran out to take pictures and some along the route joined the march.

No protesters or detractors made themselves known along the route. One group of 10 street preachers reading from the Bible on Main at Akard Street stood silently as the procession passed.

Inside the park, the rally continued on the main stage. Several speakers, including Midway Hills Christian Church Senior minister the Rev. Arthur Stewart and Congregation Beth El Binah Rabbi Steve Fisch, addressed the crowd.

More photos and video below.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Dallas mayor says he’s not absent even though he’s in Brazil, blocks LGBT equality resolution

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Mayor Mike Rawlings

Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, an LGBT ally who is acting mayor because Mike Rawlings is traveling overseas, sent a request to the city secretary Friday afternoon to place an LGBT equality resolution on the council’s June 12 agenda.

As you can see from the memo below, the city secretary then forwarded Medrano’s request to Rawlings and City Manager Mary Suhm. However, the LGBT equality resolution doesn’t appear on the June 12 agenda that was posted to the city’s website later Friday, apparently because Rawlings — who opposes the resolution — has convinced the city attorney to take the position that Medrano doesn’t have the authority to place it on the agenda.

Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Rawlings, said early Saturday that questions about why the resolution doesn’t appear on the agenda should be directed to the city manager and the city secretary.

“They manage the agenda,” Blackmon said.

Pressed about whether she had any knowledge of what transpired Friday afternoon, Blackmon gave an identical response.

Agenda items must be posted 72 hours before the 9 a.m. Wednesday council meeting, which means the effective deadline is normally 5 p.m. Friday because the city secretary’s office is closed on weekends. However, the resolution could still theoretically be added to the agenda Saturday.

What this boils down to is a complicated legal question. Only the mayor and city manager can place items on the agenda. However, the mayor pro tem assumes the mayor’s duties if he’s absent.

According to Chapter 3, Section 11 of the city charter, “The city council shall elect one of its members as mayor pro tem, who shall perform the duties of mayor in the case of the absence or inability of the mayor to perform the duties of office, who shall, during that time, be vested with all the powers belonging to the mayor. The council shall also elect one of its members as deputy mayor pro tem to act in the absence of both the mayor and the mayor pro tem and to exercise the powers of the mayor during that time. (Amend. of 11-8-05, Prop. No. 13)”

Rawlings is apparently taking the position that even though he is in Brazil, he is not absent. The city charter does not define “absence.” It’s sad that Rawlings is going to these lengths to avoid having to vote on the LGBT equality resolution, and this maneuver should only add fuel to the fire beneath tonight’s march and rally at City Hall.

Medrano couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

More to come …

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—  John Wright

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

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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

WATCH: LGBT protesters ‘shame’ Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

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The good news is, Mayor Mike Rawlings is no longer afraid to show up at an event where he knows there will be LGBT protesters. The bad news is, LGBT protesters are still forced to gather outside places where Rawlings is scheduled to show up.

Although Rawlings tried to look diplomatic by greeting the protesters in front of the TV news cameras, activists like Cd Kirven of GetEQUAL weren’t having it, and they ultimately chanted, “Shame, shame, shame!” as Rawlings walked back to his vehicle.

Watch the report from WFAA-TV’s Jonathan Betz below.

—  John Wright

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