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

Mayor Rawlings doesn’t sign pledges, but he does attend receptions

Rawlings.MikeDallas’ Mike Rawlings made a brief appearance during a reception for a coalition of pro-marriage equality mayors during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C. last week, according to The Washington Blade.

It was during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in the capital one year ago that Rawlings declined to join the group, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, prompting a huge outcry from the LGBT community back home that reverberates to this day.

A year later, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry has grown to nearly 300 members from across the U.S., the Blade reports. But it still doesn’t include Rawlings, who maintains that he personally supports marriage equality but has not formally joined the group because he doesn’t “sign pledges.” Dallas is the largest city in the U.S. whose mayor has not joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

This morning I asked Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, about his appearance at the reception last week.

“He stopped by the reception,” Blackmon confirmed in a text message, parroting my question.

“As was stated last year MOD [the mayor of Dallas] does not sign pledges,” Blackmon added in response to further prodding. “Doesn’t mean he is not a supporter of issues.”

I noted that Rawlings didn’t attend the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry event at last year’s U.S. Conference of Mayors. Has something changed?

“Did they have a reception?” Blackmon wrote. “Thought it was only a press conference. And I think he left the conference a day early.”

Sensing that I wasn’t making any progress, I shifted gears and asked Blackmon about a recent meeting between Rawlings and Councilman Scott Griggs to discuss Griggs’ plan to introduce council resolutions backing marriage equality and a statewide ban on anti-LGBT employment discrimination. Griggs has described his meeting with the mayor as “positive,” so I asked Blackmon if that meant Rawlings committed to supporting the resolutions.

“Have not talked about,” Blackmon said, adding that she would try to ask the mayor about it later today. We’ll keep you posted.

On a side note, while it’s obviously disappointing that Rawlings won’t join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, it’s also alarming that not one mayor out of hundreds from the DFW Metroplex has joined the group. While Mayors for the Freedom to Marry has close to 300 members, only six are from Texas, but none are from North Texas.

Surely we can muster one lousy signature, right? Ask your mayor to join the group by downloading the statement and asking them to sign it.

—  John Wright

Rawlings gets 108 more calls on marriage pledge, which activist says will haunt Dallas mayor

GetEQUAL organizer Daniel Cates says Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' decision not to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage places a permanent strain on his relationship with the LGBT community.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ office received 108 phone calls Friday from people urging him to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage, according to Chief of Staff Paula Blackmon.

The calls were part of a Statewide Day of Action organized by GetEQUAL.

“It was steady all day,’ Blackmon said.

Asked whether the calls had convinced Rawlings to change his mind and sign the pledge, Blackmon said, “Not to my knowledge.”

She added that, as Rawlings has previously stated, the mayor plans to meet with LGBT leaders in the near future to further discuss what other things he can do to support equality. Rawlings claims he’s personally in favor of same-sex marriage but doesn’t want to get involved in divisive social issues.

Daniel Cates of GetEQUAL, who organized Friday’s Day of Action, said he’s proud of the number of calls it generated.

“I think it’s probably a lot more calls then they usually get on any issue,” Cates said. “I think 108 calls is respectable. Each one of those calls I think represents thousands of people who didn’t call in, and if they’re smart, they [in the mayor's office] realize that.”

Cates said he believes Rawlings is proving that he isn’t listening to what people have to say about the marriage pledge.

The LGBT community can no longer trust the mayor, who shouldn’t be considered an ally, Cates said. Asked whether he agrees with other activists who’ve suggested the marriage pledge has become like kicking a dead horse, Cates suggested he’s ready to move on but won’t drop it completely — partly because that’s what Rawlings has hoped for the whole time.

“The fact is we do have bigger fish to fry,” he acknowledged. “We do have more important things to worry about, and if Rawlings isn’t going to join us, then that’s fine. But he needs to know that we are going to continue to remind him about this. It’s always going to be there haunting him. This is going to be a permanent strain on his relations with the LGBT community.”

—  John Wright

See! Not ALL the gays think Mayor Rawlings should have signed that marriage pledge

I thought we'd run out of different photos of Mike Rawlings to use until I found this one I took of his family praying at his election night watch party. Was it wrong for me not to have my head bowed?

Over on the main page, as seems to be the case more often than not these days, you’ll find my latest story about Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage. (At this point I think the only thing I haven’t asked Rawlings is whether the fact that he’s “pledge-phobic” means he’s also scared of the Pledge of Allegiance. But hey, there’s always next week!)

Anyhow, just because I take pleasure in beating some topics until they’re as dead as hammers, I also wanted to share an email with you that Rawlings apparently wanted to share with me today. Rawlings’ chief of staff, whose name you’ll undoubtedly recognize by now as Paula Blackmon, forwarded to me one of the more than 2,000 emails that have been sent to the mayor’s office about this issue in the last two weeks. “Hello John…the mayor wanted me to share this EM with you…call me if you have any questions…thx,” Blackmon wrote. So, without further ado, here goes:

Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 10:57 AM
To: Blackmon, Paula
Subject: Gay Marriage Equality

I was unable to locate the email address for the Mayor, and  I would appreciate your forwarding my message to him.  I am a recently retired primary care physician, who is also gay and in a long term relation.  I thank the mayor for his personal support of marriage equality. However, the office of mayor in Dallas is non-partisan, and I think “hot-button” social issues are best avoided.  Marriage equality in Texas will be achieved through the legislative process, not locally.  I would be very upset if he as mayor were vocally supporting people on the other side of this issue such as Mr. Jeffress of First Baptist, Dallas.  Our country is afflicted by division at all levels, and I think Mayor Rawlings made the right call on this one.  Robert W. Henderson, M.D.

—  John Wright

UPDATED: Rawlings won’t attend neighborhood meeting due to threat of LGBT protest

Daniel Cates

The fallout continues over Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, confirmed today that the mayor may cancel a neighborhood meeting scheduled for Kiest Park on Tuesday night, after LGBT activists threatened to stage a demonstration at the event.

Last week, Rawlings angered many in the LGBT community when he said that although he “personally” supports same-sex marriage, he won’t sign the pledge because his policy is to avoid social issues that don’t directly impact city government.

Dallas is the largest city in the nation whose mayor hasn’t signed the pledge unveiled by the national group Freedom to Marry during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C.

“It doesn’t need to be a demonstration, it needs to be conversation,” Blackmon said. “He’s willing and he’s open to sit down and talk about it, but he doesn’t want it to be done in an atmosphere that’s not constructive.”

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, said Blackmon contacted him this morning and offered a meeting with Rawlings if the group called off the demonstration.

Cates said he’s interested in meeting with the mayor, but when he refused to cancel the demonstration, Blackmon rescinded her offer.

“Preconditions are not acceptable,” Cates said. “We’ll meet him at Starbucks at midnight if that’s what it takes, but we’re not going to cancel a demonstration in order to have a meeting. [The LGBT] community is pretty outraged by this, and I think they have a right to express that. We’ll call off the demonstration if he signs the pledge.”

Blackmon said when it became clear that Cates wouldn’t settle for anything less than Rawlings signing the pledge, she decided it would be better to pursue a meeting with other LGBT leaders. “The mayor is not going to sign the pledge,” she said.

Blackmon added that it was still “up in the air” whether the mayor would cancel the Kiest Park meeting.

Cates, who’s also launched an online petition calling for Rawlings to sign the pledge, said if and when the Kiest Park neighborhood meeting is canceled, he’ll call off the demonstration. However, he said GetEQUAL will look for other opportunities to demonstrate, possibly outside City Hall.

“We are determined to escalate this if they continue to refuse to cooperate,” Cates said.

UPDATE: Blackmon confirmed this afternoon that Mayor Rawlings will not attend the Kiest Park community meeting.

She said residents who plan to attend the “Meet the Mayor” meeting want to talk about things like potholes and loose dogs, and it would be unfair to subject them to an LGBT demonstration.

“He just does not want to put them through that, so he plans to meet with them on a more individual basis,” Blackmon said.

She added that City Councilwoman Delia Jasso and Councilman Scott Griggs still plan to attend the Kiest Park meeting. She also said the mayor is reaching out to other LGBT community leaders to set up a meeting with them. However, she said it’s doubtful that the meeting with LGBT community leaders will be open to the media.

—  John Wright

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings won’t sign pledge in support of same-sex marriage

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

Dallas’ Mike Rawlings won’t join more than 70 mayors from across the country who’ve signed a pledge in support of same-sex marriage during this week’s U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C.

“The mayor does not plan to publicly support any social issues but would rather focus on the policy issues that impact Dallas,” Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said in an email to Dallas Voice today. “Also know we have not signed onto other similar requests.”

Mayors who’ve signed the pledge sponsored by the group Freedom to Marry 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 will be revealed during a press conference Friday morning to kick off the campaign, called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

However, Yodashkin told Dallas Voice today that Houston’s Parker is the only mayor from Texas who’s signed the pledge thus far. About 20 mayors from Texas pre-registered for the Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to the website.

During his campaign last year, Rawlings said he voted against Proposition 2, Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment that banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. When asked directly whether he supports marriage equality, Rawlings said: “I think it’s one of the most irrelevant issues for the world. 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 its’ not the mayor’s job to say, ‘We need to do this.’”

Read Freedom to Marry’s full press release about the campaign below.

—  John Wright