Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he’ll vote yes on marriage equality resolution

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Mike Rawlings

Even though he believes it’s a “misuse” of the council’s time, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings plans to vote in favor of a resolution supporting marriage equality and LGBT employment protections, according to Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd.

Rawlings, who claims he personally supports marriage equality, sparked outrage in the LGBT community when he declined to sign a pledge from Mayors for the Freedom to Marry in January 2012.

Since Councilman Scott Griggs announced his pro-LGBT resolution in December 2012, Rawlings has repeatedly declined to say how he would vote on the issue.

Earlier this month, when Griggs placed the resolution on the agenda and said he had the votes needed to pass it even without the mayor’s support, Rawlings again drew the ire of the LGBT community by stating that he thought the resolution was a “misuse” of the council’s time — but he still refused to say how he would vote. The resolution is now on the council’s agenda for June 12.

Rawlings told The DMN’s Floyd he still doesn’t believe marriage equality is a city issue — and he still doesn’t plan to sign the pledge, which he’s now calling “a Grover Norquist thing.” (WTF?)

It’s also interesting that Rawlings shared his decision with the Morning News and not the Voice, which has been asking his office about the issue for six months. Bitter much, Mike?

That’s OK, we’ll still take your vote, but don’t think for a second this gets you off the hook for your lack of support for the LGBT community over the last two years. If Rawlings plans to run for re-election in 2015 and expects to win the LGBT vote, he’s got a long way to go.

—  John Wright

Rawlings sets LGBT equality resolution for June 12 but won’t say how he’ll vote

Daniel Cates says Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, confirmed today that Rawlings plans to place an LGBT equality resolution on the City Council agenda on June 12 — which just so happens to be right in the middle of National LGBT Pride Month.

As we reported last week, Rawlings is required to place the resolution on the agenda on or before June 12. He has chosen the latest possible date. The resolution would express the council’s support for marriage equality and LGBT employment protections.

Rawlings, who claims he personally supports marriage equality, made national news when he said he believes the resolution is a “misuse” of the council’s time because the city doesn’t have jurisdiction over marriage. Rawlings also said last week he hadn’t made up him mind how he’ll vote on the resolution.

Councilman Scott Griggs, author of the resolution, counters that it won’t take much time at all and would send a powerful message to officials in Austin and Washington, D.C. — not to mention Dallas’ LGBT residents.

Blackmon said today that Rawlings will wait until after Municipal Elections on Saturday before commenting further on the resolution.

Griggs says he has the eight votes needed to pass the resolution — with or without Rawlings’ support.

Those who’ve indicated they’ll vote for the resolution are Griggs, Delia Jasso, Angela Hunt, Pauline Medrano, Monica Alonzo, Jerry Allen, Dwaine Caraway and
Sandy Greyson.

Those who haven’t publicly said how they’ll vote are Rawlings, Sheffie Kadane, Ann Margolin, Linda Koop, Tennell Atkins, Carolyn Davis and Vonciel Hill.

To email council members, go here. For phone listings, go here. To find out which district you live in, go here.

—  John Wright

Georgia governor is too homophobic to use the word ‘homophobia’

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Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is taking a page right out of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ For-You-But-Against-You book.

That’s right, Dallas may have the mayor who supports marriage equality yet somehow doesn’t, but Georgia can now rightfully stake its claim to the governor who’s too homophobic to use the word “homophobia.”

The Georgia Voice reports that Deal has issued a proclamation requested by organizers of the International Day Against Homophobia — but only after sanitizing it into “Mistreatment Awareness Day.”

This has prompted activists to launch a Change.org petition calling for Deal to call IDAHO by its name:

In Georgia, well-known activist Betty Couvertier has been the IDAHO organizer for the last four years. For the second year in a row, Governor Nathan Deal’s office has issued a proclamation per Betty’s request to recognize the annual Atlanta and Georgia-wide events. Herein lies the problem – the Governor’s office refuses to officially address a day against homophobia, instead issuing the vague recognition of “Mistreatment Awareness Day,” as they did last year.

By sanitizing the word “homophobia,” Governor Deal’s office has quite literally engaged in it, by refusing to address the specific concerns of Georgia’s LGBTQ citizens. The Georgia House of Representatives recognizes the importance of this event by issuing a correct proclamation, as should the Office of the Governor.

Please join us in petitioning Governor Deal’s office to immediatley reissue a proclamation for “International Day Against Homophobia” as it was originally requested. To issue a proclamation as anything else, is to do disservice to the very purpose of IDAHO events, and feed the homophobia worldwide organizers seek to advocate against.

The petition also calls for Deal to “mail the official proclamation in an appropriate certificate envelope, to ensure it does not arrive a second time folded and tattered, signifying diminished value by the Governor’s office.”

Sign it by going here.

And by the way, if anyone wants to start petition on Rawlings, we’ll be glad to post it as well.

—  John Wright

The hypocrisy of Mayor Rawlings

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The above image — from the front of today’s Dallas Morning News Metro section — highlights the hypocrisy of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ argument that marriage equality isn’t a city issue.

Public education, of course, isn’t technically a city issue, either. The school district is run by an elected school board, which appoints a superintendent. Neither the mayor nor the City Council has any jurisdiction over the school district. But as you can see from the headline, Rawlings isn’t shy about wading into public eduction issues. I’m not saying he’s wrong for that. I’m saying it’s hypocritical for him to turn around and argue that a resolution expressing support for the basic civil rights of tens of thousands of Dallas residents is a “misuse” of the council’s time.

—  John Wright

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings suggests LGBT civil rights are a waste of time

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that he thinks a proposed City Council resolution backing marriage equality and LGBT employment protections is “a misuse of City Council time.”

As we reported Tuesday, Councilman Scott Griggs, who authored the resolution, says he believes it has the eight votes needed to pass. Griggs filed the resolution last Friday, and Rawlings now has until June 12 to place it on the council agenda.

Later Tuesday, Rawlings’ chief of staff told the Morning News that the mayor hadn’t read the resolution, even though he received a copy of it three weeks ago. Then, on Wednesday, Rawlings told The DMN’s Rudy Bush that while he personally supports marriage equality, he doesn’t think the council should debate political issues over which it has no power:

“I don’t want to be talking about late-term abortions, or gun control, or GITMO,” he said.

To do so is “a misuse of City Council time.”

Well, personally I’d argue that the city should be involved in gun control. Besides, Rawlings has not been shy about getting involved in other issues the city doesn’t control, including public education.

Furthermore, although the city doesn’t have direct control over marriage equality or employment discrimination outside its limits, the council can certainly exert some influence.

Dallas has had an ordinance banning anti-LGBT employment discrimination since 2002, so it would only be logical for the council to give its blessing to a statewide law — especially when enforcement of the city’s ban has been inhibited by the lack of a state or federal statute. In fact, Rawlings reportedly agreed last year to travel to Austin and lobby in favor of statewide LGBT employment protections. But now he’s getting cold feet about a council resolution?

The “misuse of City Council time” excuse is similar to one Rawlings used last year when he refused to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality. At the time, he said he wanted to focus on “substantive” things, not “symbolic” ones like the pledge.

But symbols do matter, and any expert will tell you that the U.S. Supreme Court, which is about to decide two key marriage equality cases, is influenced by public opinion.

And those 300-plus mayors from across the U.S. who did sign the marriage pledge? Turns out they ended up filing a friend-of-the-court brief in one of the marriage equality cases. Now, what could possibly be more substantive than that?

—  John Wright

Scott Griggs files marriage equality resolution, says it has votes to pass

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Scott Griggs

Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs says he has the eight votes needed to pass a resolution in support of marriage equality and statewide LGBT employment protections.

Griggs has said he didn’t want to place the item on the agenda until he was sure it had the eight votes needed to pass. He told me Friday that in addition to the seven council members who’ve previously indicated support for the resolution, Sandy Greyson is now a yes. Greyson couldn’t immediately be reached to confirm her position. The other seven supporters are Griggs and co-author Delia Jasso, along with Angela Hunt, Pauline Medrano, Monica Alonzo, Jerry Allen and Dwaine Caraway.

It remains unclear whether Mayor Mike Rawlings will vote in favor of the resolution.

The only definite “no” vote is Vonciel Hill, who has made her anti-gay positions clear. Another likely “no” is Sheffie Kadane, who attends First Baptist Church of Dallas. Linda Koop, Ann Margolin, Carolyn Davis and Tennell Atkins are question marks.

Griggs filed a memo Friday with the five signatures needed to place the resolution on the agenda, and Rawlings now has 30 days plus one meeting to do so. The latest the mayor could place the item on the agenda is June 12.

Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, confirmed Monday she had received Griggs’ memo.

“Yes I received the signed memo this morning and will have to check with attorney/city secretary/city manager on timing,” Blackmon wrote in an email.

Asked whether the mayor would vote for the resolution, Blackmon said Tuesday: “I do not know. We take one agenda item at a time.”

Blackmon reportedly told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that Rawlings was traveling and had not seen the resolution. However, Griggs copied Dallas Voice on a draft of the resolution he sent to both Blackmon and Rawlings on April 9. (Click here to see a screen grab of the email.)

The City Secretary’s Office sent over the below copy of the memo and resolution.

—  John Wright

Delia Jasso to recognize employees featured in city’s ‘It Gets Better’ video

Councilwoman Delia Jasso addresses an audience of  about 80 people at the LGBT Pride month kick-off Wednesday in the Flag Room at City Hall. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Councilwoman Delia Jasso at Dallas City Hall

Councilwoman Delia Jasso will recognize Dallas city employees who participated in the city’s “It Gets Better” video released in January at the council briefing tomorrow.

The video includes 13 LGBT city employees who told their coming out and bullying experiences. They talk about challenges they faced, hoping to inspire others who are struggling with their identity. Also featured are Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Manager Mary Suhm.

The video is part of the It Gets Better Project, whose mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that their situations will get better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.

At tomorrow’s council briefing, Councilwoman Delia Jasso will recognize the city employees who participated, as well as Ed Oakley, Gregg Kilhoffer and Caven Enterprises, who funded the video’s production.

The meeting takes place at Dallas City Hall, Council Briefing Room – 6ES, 1500 Marilla St. tomorrow at 9 a.m.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings defends visit to anti-gay First Baptist Church

Dallas-mayor elect Mike Rawlings and his family were led in a prayer by the Rev. Steven C. Nash of Mount Tabor Baptist Church following his victory speech on Saturday. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and his family bow their heads in prayer at his Election Night victory party in 2011. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he chose to attend a service at the anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas on Sunday because he believes in tolerance.

Rawlings joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry and others at the service to dedicate First Baptist’s new $130 million facility downtown. Robert Jeffress, First Baptist’s senior pastor, is well known for his extreme anti-gay views and has called homosexuality “unnatural,” “filthy,” “perverse” and “abnormal.”

Rawlings, whose support for the LGBT community has been tepid since he took office in 2011, told Instant Tea on Monday afternoon that he does not agree with Jeffress’ teachings about homosexuality.

“I’ve prided myself on really being a tolerant person of people who don’t live the same way that I live, or think the same way I think, and that’s one of the factors of me being there yesterday,” Rawlings said. “We’re in a different place. I’m a Christ-driven human being but do not read Christian dogma the same way they do. … I think we’ve got to reach out and have dialogue with people we’re not in the same place with, and that’s one of the reasons I was there.”

Rawlings added that his wife grew up going to First Baptist and said the church is an important part of the city. Unlike Gov. Perry, Rawlings did not speak at the service. The mayor, who is a member of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, said he sat next to City Councilman Sheffie Kadane, who is a member of First Baptist.

Rawlings acknowledged that although he believes in tolerance, he probably wouldn’t meet with Kim Jong-un or Adolf Hitler. However, he said he would attend a service at a mosque even though Islam is misogynistic.

“Tolerance should be our No. 1 focus on this, and we should tolerate people that have different points of view than we have,” Rawlings said. “And if we don’t do that, we are speaking, I think, in a hypocritical fashion.”

Asked whether we should tolerate intolerance, Rawlings said: “I’m not here as mayor to judge people. I’m here to bring the city together, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

—  John Wright

Gov. Perry, Mayor Rawlings visit anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, greets pastor Robert Jeffress as he exits the stage at First Baptist Church of Dallas on Sunday. (Via WFAA-TV)

The bigoted views of Robert Jeffress may be too extreme for the likes of evangelical NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who canceled a scheduled appearance at Jeffress’ First Baptist Church of Dallas last month.

But Jeffress’ views, as it turns out, are not too extreme for Texas Gov. Rick Perry — and they’re not even too extreme for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Both Perry and Rawlings attended a dedication of First Baptist’s $130 million expansion project on Sunday, with Perry delivering a speech that amounted to a sermon in which he appeared to reference homosexuality while using coded language.

“I do believe it is right, under the purview of Scripture, for the church to judge certain behaviors,” Perry said. “But that is totally different from judging fellow sinners. … We must love all.

“We cannot condemn certain lifestyles while turning a blind eye to sins that, in God’s eye, are just as grievous,” he added. “We must love all… welcome all … and be a model for Christ.”

WFAA says Perry’s comments “reflect a shift from previously-stated beliefs,” referring to his anti-gay record, but I wouldn’t go that far. If anything, it was an attempt by Perry to put some space between himself and the extremism of Jeffress — who has called homosexuality “unnatural,” “filthy,” “perverse” and “abnormal” — as he prepares to run for president again in 2016. Unfortunately for Perry, it’s more than a little hypocritical to stand at a place like First Baptist — led by one of the most hateful anti-gay preachers in the world — and talk about God’s love.

As for Rawlings, we’ve reached out to his chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, for a comment on his decision to attend the event. Blackmon did not immediately respond, but we’ll update if she does.

Let’s just hope Rawlings isn’t going down the same road as his predecessor, Tom Leppert, who became a member of First Baptist in an effort to pander to conservative Republican Primary voters as he prepared to run for U.S. Senate. How’d that work out for you, Tom?

Watch Perry’s remarks at First Baptist below.

—  John Wright

Mayor Rawlings’ office on the Boy Scouts: ‘Their model is out of date’

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Mayor Mike Rawlings

This morning I caught up with Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, and asked whether the mayor has a position on the Boy Scouts of America’s proposal to lift its national ban on gay Scouts and leaders. The BSA’s National Executive Board, which is meeting in Irving this week, is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to lift the ban and instead leave it up to local Scout troops whether to allow gays.

Blackmon said she recently discussed the issue with Rawlings and was speaking based on her conversation with him. She stopped short of saying the Scouts should lift the gay ban but indicated repeatedly that the mayor believes the BSA needs to take a hard look at its current policy.

“We never like to tell people how to run their organization,” Blackmon said, adding that the mayor did have some insight for the Scouts.

“When you see a dropoff in your customers or people participating in your program, then obviously your model of doing things is not what the market allows, it’s not what people want,” she said. “With that being said, they need to take a hard look at their policy, and they need to be pretty honest.

“He’s never going to be the one to say, ‘Such and such needs to do this, or such and such needs to do that,’” Blackmon said. “They need to take a very hard look at that policy.

“I hope it doesn’t take the mayor telling them to change. I think 1.4 million signatures is a pretty loud statement,” Blackmon said, referring to the petitions that were dropped off at BSA headquarters on Monday.

“To deny somebody an Eagle Scout award because of their sexual orientation, that does more harm … That doesn’t fit with their mission — to create strong leaders in the community,” she said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s going to take the mayor saying, ‘Lift this ban.’ I think [it's] the mayor saying, ‘You need to think really hard and look where you want to go and what you want to look like and where you are.’ … Their model is out of date.”

—  John Wright