Measure calls for marriage equality, statewide employment protections, but only 5 council members have signed memo to place it on agenda


COUNTING VOTES  | Seven members of the Dallas City Council (with green check marks) have said they support resolutions backing marriage equality and a ban on anti-LGBT job discrimination. Eight members (with blue question marks) either said they’re undecided or did not respond. One member, Vonciel Hill, is expected to vote against the measure based on previous statements. (Graphic by Michael Stephens/Dallas Voice)

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

Almost four months after Scott Griggs announced a pro-LGBT resolution, it remains unclear whether the support exists on the Dallas City Council to pass the measure — or even bring it before the body.

Griggs said he’s been circulating drafts of the resolution he authored that would state the council’s support of marriage equality and a statewide ban on anti-LGBT job discrimination.

He sent council members a final draft of his resolution this week and began circulating a memorandum to add it to the council agenda. Griggs originally planned two separate resolutions, but said he decided combining them would be easier.

Council members who told Dallas Voice they supported the concept of the measure previously were Angela Hunt, Pauline Medrano, Delia Jasso, Monica Alonzo, Jerry Allen and Dwaine Caraway. However, as of Friday afternoon, only Hunt, Jasso, Medrano and Alonzo had signed Griggs’ memo — with Jasso listed as a co-author of the resolution.

Other council members didn’t respond this week to inquiries about whether they would support the measure.

Mayor Mike Rawlings told Dallas Voice on Monday, April 8, he hadn’t “seen anything so it’s hypothetical at this point” for him to voice an opinion of whether he’d support the resolution. In response to questions about whether he’d support the measure, Rawlings also rhetorically asked what openly gay candidate Leland Burk, who’s running for City Council in conservative District 13, thought of the resolution.

In response to a question about supporting the resolution on a Dallas Voice candidate questionnaire, Burk wrote, “While I personally support both marriage equality and bans on any type of discrimination, I believe the Dallas City Council needs to concentrate its time and energy on governing and moving our city forward.”

After Griggs sent the mayor’s office a copy of his final draft on Tuesday, Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said Thursday that the mayor “plans to visit with his council colleagues on how they would like for him to proceed.” Blackmon added that the mayor’s office hadn’t received a memo with the five signatures needed to place the item on the council’s agenda.

Griggs said he wants to have at least eight signatures on the memo to ensure the resolution’s passage before bringing it before the council in a couple of weeks.

“I don’t want this to fail,” he said.

Griggs said he worked with Equality Texas on the resolution, which includes mentions of pro-equality bills filed in the Texas Legislature this session, as well as the two same-sex marriage cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said it’d been difficult to finish the draft and speak to council members because of the winter break during the holidays and another break in spring. But he still thinks the support exists to pass the resolution, adding that he’s open to editing the draft to get to eight votes.

“I think we’re going to be able to do this. There’s been a big shift not only in the city and state but in the country on marriage equality,” Griggs said.

“I’m committed, the city of Dallas is committed, to marriage equality and what an important institution marriage is for everyone.”

Meanwhile, in Denton, local activists are trying to get the Denton City Council to support a resolution for marriage equality.

Tyler Carlton, a member of the Denton County Democratic Party, helped plan Denton’s marriage equality rally on March 25 before the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the two marriage cases.

He said 243 people attended the rally, so he decided to have a rally before the City Council meeting Tuesday, April 16, to build momentum and attendance when he presents a citizen’s report before the council in support of a resolution. More than 200 people have signed Carlton’s print and online petition in support of the resolution.

“If we have 243 people come to rally for marriage equality at the Supreme Court, then we could get that number to rally for the City Council resolution,” Carlton said.

The Denton rally is 5:30 p.m. April 16 at the Courthouse Square, 110 W. Hickory St. and participants will march to City Hall for the 6:30 p.m. council meeting.


Full text of resolution by Scott Griggs

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court has held more than a dozen times that marriage is a key right of the American people and in the 1967 landmark case Loving v. Virginia wrote, “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival”; and

WHEREAS, the Texas Constitutional Bill of Rights in Article I, Section 3 states “all free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set or men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or privileges, but in consideration of public services”;

WHEREAS, the Texas Constitutional Marriage Amendment appears as Article I, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution Bill of Rights and undermines Article I, Section 3 of the Bill of Rights by denying equal rights to a specific group of Texans; and

WHEREAS, recent polls show that allowing same-sex couples to marry is now supported by a majority of Americans and in 2010 a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed that 63% of Texans now support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples, either marriage or civil unions, thereby demonstrating a major shift in public opinion on this subject among Americans, and Texans in particular, since the Texas Constitution Marriage Amendment was adopted in 2005; and

WHEREAS, the Dallas Morning News editorial board recently publicly stated, “We urge the Supreme Court to affirm the right of gay couples to marry based upon the fundamental American ideal of equality before the law”; and

WHEREAS, State Representatives Villarreal and Marquez have introduced HB 238 relating to the prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; and

WHEREAS, State Representative Johnson has introduced HB 1146 relating to the prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; and

WHEREAS, State Senator Van de Putte has introduced SB 237 relating to the prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; and

WHEREAS, the matters of Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor are currently before the Supreme Court of the United States of America, oral arguments having been presented; and

WHEREAS, the City of Dallas (hereinafter “the City”) proudly embraces the diversity of all its residents; and

WHEREAS, the City has adopted a series of non-discrimination ordinances in the areas of housing, public accommodation, and employment, grounded in a policy that is established upon a recognition of the inalienable rights of each individual to obtain housing, to obtain goods and services in a public accommodation, and to work to earn wages and obtain a share of the wealth of this City through gainful employment, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, student status, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or age; and

WHEREAS, the City recognizes that the denial of such rights through considerations based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, student status, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or age, is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the City and constitutes an unjust denial or deprivation of such inalienable rights which is within the power and the proper responsibility of the government to prevent; and

WHEREAS, further to these ends, on May 8, 2002, the City of Dallas passed Ordinance No. 24927 (the “Ordinance”), to enact a non-discrimination ordinance that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations and employment based on sexual orientation, the Ordinance amending Chapter 15B of, and adding Chapter 46 to, the Dallas City Code “to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in City of Dallas contracts; to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations; to provide a complaint, investigation, conciliation, and enforcement process; to provide exceptions; to define terms; and to provide a criminal penalty of not less than $200 or more than $500”; and

WHEREAS, marriage provides legal and economic protections including access to health care, parenting rights, property rights, and other protections which are vital to the safety and security of every family; and

WHEREAS, marriage is a powerful and important affirmation of love and commitment and a source of social support and recognition; and

WHEREAS, all couples in loving and committed relationships should be given the opportunity to create stronger and more successful families through civil marriage; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF DALLAS, that we support marriage and workplace equality in Dallas and beyond.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 12, 2013.