July DART meeting

LGBT advocates at the DART board meeting.

Four LGBT advocates spoke at a DART board meeting on Tuesday evening to encourage the agency to offer domestic partner benefits, but discussion of the topic was delayed until August. And a new DART board member refused to say whether she supported DP benefits.

Amanda Moreno Cross was nominated for the DART board by Councilwomen Monica Alonzo, Pauline Medrano and Delia Jasso. After the meeting, Cross said it was her first meeting and declined to comment on whether she supports equal benefits for the transit authority’s employees.

Transgender activist Pam Curry addressed the board wearing a sign that read: “I was born gay. Were you born hateful?”

“Once again, you have put off DP benefits,” she told the board. “Even our federal employees and military get benefits.”

She noted that the board voted to approve additional dental benefits for the agency’s straight employees just before public comments began.

Representing Rainbow LULAC, Elias Cantu listed other governmental bodies in Texas that offer partner benefits.

“The no reason why we can’t do what’s right and approve partner benefits,” he told the board. “Do what’s right for your employees.”

Mike Lo Vuolo works for the Communications Workers of America. He said unions took up the fight for equality but many companies adopted benefits for same-sex partners to remain competitive.

“It’s not equal employment opportunity if everyone is not offered the same benefits,” he said.

Rabbi Steve Fisch of Congregation Beth El Binah offered the board a religious argument.

“As a liberal religious leader, I believe not only in physical evolution, but also strongly accept the theory of moral evolution,” he said.

He asked the board to grant benefits to all employees regardless of their sexual orientation, calling it the moral thing to do.

The DART board has been debating domestic partner benefits for almost a year. The issue will be discussed at the Aug. 27 administrative committee meeting. Resource Center Dallas spokesman Rafael McDonnell, who has attended all of the DART meetings where the topic has been discussed, said if there is much delay beyond that date, employees will miss a period in which they can sign up for benefits for next year.

In March, DART delayed consideration of partner benefits until after the Supreme Court ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act. After the ruling, DART board Chair Jerry Christian said he would be absent from the July meeting and requested another delay.