Mayor Rawlings, Councilwoman Jasso are equally to blame for the death of an LGBT equality resolution
The unceremonious death of an LGBT equality resolution this week had all the signs of a dirty backroom deal between Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Councilwoman Delia Jasso.
We may not be able to prove it, but here’s roughly what we do know:
For the last six months, Rawlings has repeatedly indicated that he doesn’t think the equality resolution is something the council should consider, while at the same time refusing to say how he would vote if it did move forward.
Then, sometime late last week, Rawlings tipped off The Dallas Morning News that he planned to vote in favor of the resolution, even though he continues to think it’s a “misuse” of the council’s time.
Rawlings’ leak to The DMN was so last-minute before the long Memorial Day weekend that the newspaper couldn’t even muster a story, so the news took the form of a column published this Tuesday.
Then, less than 24 hours later, we got word from the city secretary that Jasso had withdrawn her support for the resolution, meaning it no longer had the five council member signatures needed to force Rawlings to place it on the agenda.
The timing of these two major developments is simply too much of a coincidence for us to believe they weren’t related.
Think about it: Rawlings got to go on record as saying he would vote for the resolution, but he also got his wish that it didn’t go before the council as scheduled on June 12. If there’s anything we know about this mayor when it comes to LGBT issues, it’s that he likes to have it both ways, and this deal allowed him to make Jasso the scapegoat.
But what did she get out of it?
Well, who knows, it could have been anything from help paying off campaign debt to a job or appointment with the city after she leaves the council at the end of next month.
She also got a chance to exact some revenge against Councilman Scott Griggs, the author of the LGBT equality resolution who trounced her in the May 11 election.
Again, I don’t have definitive proof that this is how it went down, but I’d almost be willing to bet on it.
Here’s the kicker, though: Even if my conspiracy theory isn’t true, Jasso and Rawlings are both still equally to blame for the death of the LGBT equality resolution.
Regardless of whether she made a deal with Rawlings, Jasso perpetrated one of the epic betrayals of the LGBT community in the history of Dallas politics.
Even if it was just because she’s an incredibly sore loser, Jasso threw us under the bus so hard that it merits the coining of a new hashtag: “getting #Jassoed.” She may have been mad at Griggs, but if someone is willing to stab the LGBT community in the back over sour grapes, they never supported us in the first place.
Jasso launched an LGBT Task Force after taking office in 2009, but it’s pretty clear now that she doesn’t genuinely support equality, and that the Task Force was merely a political tool designed to help keep her in office in a heavily gay Oak Cliff district.
The most disturbing part is that, in exchange for the “crumb” of having a Task Force, so many LGBT leaders allowed themselves to be so thoroughly tricked into believing that Jasso’s support was real. And this was despite some major red flags, including her failure to get behind comprehensive transgender health benefits and her refusal to put her title on a weakly worded letter to state legislators that merely asked them to “study” the issue of marriage equality.
As for Rawlings, if he truly supported us, he would put the resolution on the council agenda despite that fact that he is no longer required to do so under the city charter. But unfortunately, and it’s time for us to just face facts here, our mayor simply doesn’t support LGBT equality very strongly at all.
The irony is that Rawlings is the quintessential CEO mayor, and yet unlike even his right-wing predecessor Tom Leppert, he is too dense to realize that LGBT equality is good for economic development.
It’s possible Rawlings is just pandering to his many well-heeled, socially conservative supporters, but it also seems increasingly likely that the mayor has some sort of personal hang-up when it comes to LGBT issues.
In any case, just like Jasso, he seems more than willing to kick our civil rights around like a football. And by refusing to place the resolution on the agenda, he has effectively kicked it to the new council that takes office next month.
Which is somewhat hypocritical, because Rawlings says he thinks the resolution is a “misuse” of council time, but if the new council is to take it up, it will consume far more time than if he were simply to get it over with by placing it on the agenda in June.
Knowing Griggs, he will continue to push the resolution after the new council takes office.
But even if it never goes anywhere, the resolution has already taught us a lot about Jasso and Rawlings.
John Wright is senior editor of Dallas Voice. Email him at Editor@DallasVoice.com or follow him on Twitter @JohnIsWright.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 31, 2013.