By Amy Price
As of press date, 114 mayors have signed the pledge to end age-old discrimination against same-sex couples. Although this is great progress for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community, Dallas’ mayor, Mike Rawlings, has refused to sign the pledge. He voices his support for the LGBTQ community but is not willing to do so in writing.
Brightly colored protest signs and synchronized chants were seen and heard outside Dallas City Hall Jan. 27. Behind the changing glow of the Omni Hotel and Resort’s neon lights, citizens and advocacy groups – including Occupy Dallas and GetEQUAL – gathered to voice their anger against Rawlings for his refusal to sign the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry pledge.
Freedom to Marry, a pro-same-sex marriage group, has been circulating a pledge around the country, calling for all mayors to sign and show their support for same-sex couples. According to www.freedomtomarry.org, the group was formed by the mayors of Houston, New York City, Boston, San Diego and Los Angeles. The members believe everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, has the right to marry. Freedom to Marry presented the pledge Jan. 1 at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington D.C.
GetEQUAL, a national LGBTQ advocacy organization, is one of the groups working to convince Rawlings to sign the pledge. Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL and El Centro College student, helped lead the Jan. 27 rally as well as the demonstration held Feb. 14.
Cates also played a leading role in passing the Dallas County Community College District’s transgender protection policy.
Cates said Rawlings continues to tell the LGBTQ community he supports gay marriage but signing this pledge is not relevant to the city of Dallas. “We are the largest city whose mayor hasn’t signed on,” Cates said.
A private meeting at the Resource Center of Dallas was held Jan. 28 with prominent LGBTQ leaders and Rawlings. According to an article published by The Voice, Rawlings still refused to sign the pledge after the meeting. Although he has not completely ruled out signing the pledge in the future, he said he is “pledge-phobic.”
If Rawlings is in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry, he should have no problem signing the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Pledge. It is not just a piece of paper floating around; it is proof of a commitment to working toward a better America.
Talk is cheap, and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert proved that. According to Cates, Leppert attended the Pride Parade and voiced his support for the LGBTQ community. When Leppert resigned he tweeted that marriage should be between a man and a woman. This is why some people are skeptical about Rawlings’ stance on the issue of gay marriage.
It is imperative that Rawlings constantly be pressured on this issue. Equality is not achieved overnight, but support from local community leaders helps put pressure on legislators and chips away at the discrimination this country is facing. GetEQUAL is encouraging everyone who agrees with the group’s cause to write letters to Rawlings and visit www.gete qual.org to sign the petition.