Mayor Mike Rawlings on Why He Didn't Join Mayors in Signing Same-Sex Marriage Pledge

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Photo by Mark Graham
The Dallas Voice ran a piece last night in which Mayor Mike Rawlings's chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, explains why he's not joining more than 70 other mayors in supporting same-sex marriage at a press conference tomorrow to be held during the U.S. Conference of Mayors in D.C. Todd Gillman followed up with a piece on the same subject about an hour ago, in which Rawlings explains why he's not signing the pledge. The reaction to both is more or less the same -- one of disappointment. "Have enough courage to take a stand," writes one News reader; several Voice commenters suggest writing the mayor's office, demanding he sign the pledge.

I asked Blackmon this morning just to see if she's received calls, one way or the other, following the posting of the Voice's piece last night. (Yes, she says: Calls, tweets, Facebook messages -- you name it.) At which point Rawlings called from D.C. to explain why he's keeping his distance from something that's only "symbolic" in nature.

"There's no substance behind it, and what I want to do is focus on substantive issues for the citizens of Dallas -- things that would ensure that gays are not discriminated against at the city and get the benefits that are due them," he tells Unfair Park. "Things that are substantive I want to focus on, and things that are political or social issues out of the mayor's purview, I choose to pass on.

"This is a question of political capital, and I choose to spend 100 percent of my political capital on the citizens and not try to fight fights that are important for some but are not the things the citizens elected me to do."

Rawlings says the pledge -- which has been signed by the likes of New York's Michael Bloomberg, Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, Houston's Annise Parker of Houston and L.A.'s Antonio Villaraigosa -- was sent to him through Blackmon, who got it from staff at U.S. Conference of Mayors. Rawlings says it was his decision alone not to sign it.

"I am not judging how they want to use their mayor's role," Rawlings says of those who have signed the document and are expected at tomorrow's press conference. "I just decided early on I wasn't going to get into partisan politics or social issues -- guns, choice, marriage. Those are things we all care deeply about in one way shape or form, but that's as a person, not as mayor. I did not sign a letter that Bloomberg put out that dealt with some gun things. I want to be consistent."
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Bee Cee
Bee Cee

NO SPECIAL RIGHTS! Being gay is a social way of being. You are not born this way lady gugu. You decide to be this way for whatever reason. I'm sick of all you fags thinking you deserve more than everyone else. You got to have your life be normal but its not normal and it never will be normal. You want to have children and you got that, even if it is a crime that the straight world allows it. I say NO to adoption for gays. NO to marraige for gays. NO to SPECIAL RIGHTS FOR GAYS! IF its not on the books right now fags then I consider it SPECIAL RIGHTS!!! I AM GAY!

Bee Cee
Bee Cee

I am gay and I do not want Dallas Mayor Rawlings to sign the pledge. It will only bloat all the gay propaganda out there now. Sorry fags but this is a request for SPECIAL RIGHTS. It is an attempt to make a social decision have weight but truth is it has no substance. You built your gay church signed Piazza up for the head and from what I can tell Piazza was screwing everyone he could get his hands on. I'm not with you on this fags.

nimbusthegreat
nimbusthegreat

>>I have several friends who are gay.<<

i'd be curious what their take is on your arguments.  perhaps you can invite them over to your house and ask them about their struggles with discrimination, bigotry, and exclusion in our society.  then you could explain to them why they shouldn't have the same opportunities and federally protected benefits that married heterosexuals have.  

furrpiece
furrpiece

Three of my gay friends, two of which are a "couple", agree with me about same-sex marriage.  IThe couple thinks it is a ridiculous idea, and insulting that straight marriage is necessary for a commited gay couple to be happy and satisfied.)  The other ones with whom it's been discussed disagree in various ways.  Some I've never discussed it with.

I think most of us who are honest can agree about discrimination, bigotry, and exclusion about homosexuality.  However, that's been a two-way street in many instances.  (When AIDS became popular knowledge, the exclusion was certainly understandable.)  But, those things have nothing to do with same-sex marriage being legal; they're mutually exclusive and a completely different issue and level of discourse.

Unless one is a federal employee, the only federal benefit I know of for married people is a death benefit from Social Security, and the amount is laughable.  Married people pay more taxes than single people, and in "community property states", they pay LOTS more taxes in many cases.

nimbusthegreat
nimbusthegreat

>>...two of which are a "couple", agree with me about same-sex marriage. <<

and, i too, felt that way at one time.  then i had a friend whose boyfriend had to leave the country because his visa was not renewed.  if they were married it wouldn't be an issue.  i've also had friends who have a domestic partnership and one of them was able to get health insurance for the other.  two years later they were audited by the irs and the one receiving the benefit had it added to his gross income and he then owed taxes and penalties.  i could go on and on here but i just don't have the time to argue.

furrpiece
furrpiece

I appreciate your taking the time to recount the stories of your friends. In the INS/ICE case, I can see why it happened, but think the immigration law(s) needs to be 'adjusted' rather than creating same-sex marriages. 

I couldn't agree more in the case with the IRS.  I don't know that it's a prop for same-sex marriage, but I'm all for changing the tax code. 

nimbusthegreat
nimbusthegreat

>>(When AIDS became popular knowledge, the exclusion was certainly understandable.)<<

seriously?  are you really advocating the poor treatment that aids patients receive?

>>Unless one is a federal employee, the only federal benefit I know of for married people is a death benefit from Social Security, and the amount is laughable.<<

think again:http://www.nolo.com/legal-ency...

furrpiece
furrpiece

I never said I supported, and wouldn't even suggest, poor treatment of AIDS patients.  However, most of intelligent America was in a panic for years when AIDS was first discovered.  That includes gays and straights.  There was exclusion, and it was perfectly understandable.  It also happened in both the gay and straight communities, although more so in the straight community.  (It took years before science discovered AIDS was unlikely to be spread except by direct contact.  I'll leave it there, but you know what I mean.)

I looked at nolo.  Without getting into the high weeds, I agree about some retirement benefits from SS; forgot about those.  I disagree with many, include a "benefit" from filing jointly.  Most married couples pay MORE on the same income than singles.  It's called a "marriage penalty", but it's very real.  I pay it every year.

Some of the other benefits are debatable in differences between being married or not.  But, I'd have to say I don't have a problem with the government extending benefits to married people not available to others.  Our society encourages marriages, the same way we encourage having children and caring for them.

Paul S
Paul S

So much for "World Class"

Come-on-dallas
Come-on-dallas

Mayor Rawlings seems a decent guy, but he is making a somewhat cynical and certainly faulty decision not to sign onto the U.S. conference of Mayors' effort to push for same-sex marriage.

Why is the decision somewhat cynical?  Because he knows he can make this "stand on principle" to please his more socially conservative backers and colleagues (both Republican and Democrat) and the likelihood is fairly high that this will blow over in time with the gay community.  I hope I am wrong about that, but recent history shows we don't hold our leaders feet to the fire very well any more in this country.  The Bush/Cheney era proved elected leadership can pretty much do whatever the hell it wants.  Obama has bailed out on many promises and it seems most liberals are still going to support him, especially now that he is back in campaign promise mode.

Rawlings may or may not have future political goals, so there is also the chance he is making this decision because he is not overly concerned with the negative reaction of the gay community, and he simply doesn't want to ruffle feathers of people he has to deal with over the next couple of years to get the "economic" things done.  But really, how much political capital would he have had to spend here to do the right thing?

I simply do not buy the faulty argument that supporting this pro gay-marriage initiative is somehow outside the scope of what a mayor should do to enrich and empower his city and represent its citizens, particularly in an increasingly progressive Dallas.  It seems flat out blind to me to say that "economic" decisions about the city are somehow divorced from "social" decisions about the city.  Social studies 101 says otherwise these days.  Ask any gay couple if the "social" and the "economic" are different.  Please.

It also seems hypocritical for the Mayor to be all for using the bully pulpit to push for better education in Dallas (an area outside his direct control) but then turn around and say that using the bully pulpit to push for civil rights reform is pointless because it is a "national issue" not under his control.

At bottom, this seems an illogical and, dare I say, bashful decision.  I hope the Mayor changes his mind and decides to get on the right side of history.

furrpiece
furrpiece

I hope you're not suggesting homosexuals marrying has any relationship to "civil rights".  No such civil right exists.

It's also peculiar that you suggest Mayor Rawlings is NOT on the right side of history.  To the contrary, many many thousands of years of history clearly demonstrate marriage is for  guys and gals to each other; not people of the same gender.

I expect future history in Texas, for quite some time, will reject the concept of homosexuals marrying.  Those laws may change in some very liberal states, but Texas is likely not one of them in my lifetime or yours.

Like many Texans, I see nothing wrong with strengthening civil unions between parties of any gender.  In fact, I think it's good for our social fabric.

But, the institution of marriage is making a comeback, albeit slowly.  We desperately need more children in this country, and diminishing the importance of producing children in a marriage hurts - not helps.  

Come-on-dallas
Come-on-dallas

Yes, I do think that diminishing the bond between homosexuals by not allowing them to be part of the mainstream marriage institution is a civil rights issue and I think it damages our social fabric to have a subtly divisive "civil union" category to put gay marriage in when what we are talking about is a marriage.  It's semantic silliness, designed to bring comfort to the weak minds of homophobic prudes who can't see the difference between their own lives and the lives of others as acceptable.  Plenty of married men and women do not have children.  Plenty of unmarried male/female couples produce kids.  The fallacy of your thinking comes from the suggestion you make that the government can encourage a return to the 1950s by "protecting" the marriage institution from its "enemies" among the liberals and gays.  Pretty sure I read this morning that arch conservative Newt Gingrich wanted an open marriage and told his wife so.  Let it go.  You are not going to go to hell if you let your gay neighbors get married.  And if you want to go on thinking they will go to hell, well fine, then let that hate warm your heart on cold evenings.

furrpiece
furrpiece

Just a couple of points or so....First, same-sex marriage is not a "civil right" in this country.  Some may wish or think it so, but it's not.  Qualifications for marriage are defined by the state, a custom dating back thousands of years - not to the 1950s.  Marriage has been primarily for the practical purposes of producing an heir, carrying on a family name, family property and legitimacy of heirs, etc.  It's great if there is love; but, it's not been one of the  requirements.  Being of the opposite sex has, however.

You're more than welcome to find my thinking fallacious; again, that doesn't make it so.  It is not fallacy to look at the natural biology of marriage, and figure out where babies come from - or don't.  There is also nothing "homophobic" about disagreeing about homosexuals marrying.  Retreating to that tired, old, depleted and meaningless substitute for logical disagreement speaks for itself, these days. Because someone disagree doesn't make them flawed - except, perhaps in the mind of a confused beholder. 

I don't propose making a requirement of marriage having children.  That's also another worn out excuse.  But, I do prefer that couples who *produce* children be married - for the sake of the children and for other benefits, including social cohesion. 

I also agree with many of those who find it arrogant and incredibly ego-centric to say that many many thousands of years of marriage - relatively successful in the grand scheme of things, all got it wrong; but one part of one generation wanting to change that is the only one that has it right.  History isn't on that side, either.

Finally, we are all fortunate - most of all me, that I don't decide who goes to hell and who doesn't.  In fact, it's all I can do to keep me out of there, so I don't get very hung up about who should take my place. I have several friends who are gay.  What an ignorant notion it is to think I would want them to go to hell.

 I prefer warming my heart with good friends and family, and - of course - our fine Texas weather.  But, I'll confess Mexican food in generous abundance can do the trick.

 

Guest
Guest

I do enjoy the many comments here talking about how there are so many more important things that the mayor should be doing than spending three seconds to affix his signature to a document.

And meanwhile, instead of actually doing all those important things, he'll be speaking to some Elks Club or posing for photos with a hard hat and a golden shovel or writing an op-ed about how people from Dallas are so gosh-darn positive (and also sticking his nose into education, which is not the mayor's purview, by talking about improving DISD in his op-ed) or signing proclamations, etc.

furrpiece
furrpiece

Perhaps you haven't carefully read most of the comments, and the Mayor's own response.  He has a certain limited amount of "political capital", and he doesn't want to waste it on symbolic issues as opposed to substantive issues.  Same-sex marriage in Texas is certainly symbolic; it's not going to happen.  But, in the City of Dallas, it's actually not even appropriate for a municipality.  Marriage is a state legal issue; not a municipal option issue.  (Not to mention that the vast majority of voters in Dallas, and even more so in Texas, oppose same-sex marriage.)

The Mayor of Dallas has a number of "ceremonial" obligations, including ribbon cuttings and speaking to groups.  They come with the job.  But, doing those doesn't mean he considers them more important than all other things. Being the Mayor of Dallas redefines "multi-tasking".

The last Texas poll I saw indicated a huge percentage of Latinos were against same-sex marriage.  Because they are the fastest growing demographic group in Texas, it looks homosexual marriages are off the table for quite some time.  

Guest
Guest

First of all, a lot of people here mention that he should focus on jobs and other important things. But most of his job isn't going to be focused on anything substantive, so signing a pledge that most people wouldn't have even noticed is hardly taking focus away from more substantive issues.

And he's spending all sorts of time responding to his not signing (likely more than he would have had he signed it), AND he's publicly saying he supports the efforts of gay people to marry and says we need to be inclusive to be a "world class city" (dammit! something else we have to do? I thought we were going to get there with the hotel), so he's expending just as much (if not more) political capital in his responses than if he had just signed the stupid pledge that most people would've ignored.

If he didn't want to draw attention to this issue, he'd have been better off just signing like everybody else. It's his not signing that's drawn attention to him locally.

(Look at the Austin American-Statesman. Their entire coverage of the pledge was a tiny AP story that didn't even mention that the mayor of Austin signed the pledge. Not signing is a bigger story).

furrpiece
furrpiece

The vast majority of voters and citizens in Dallas are dead-set against same-sex marriage.  That's one reason for the At-Large Mayor to decline to join a symbolic bandwagon going nowhere.

But, there's another more important reason.

Requirements for marriage amount to a state matter; not a municipal matter.  State laws govern matters of marriage.  So, it doesn't matter how many mayors sign some petition. 

People can write their legislators and state senators if they feel strongly about the laws concerning marriage being changed, or staying the way they are.  But, state surveys indicate an even larger number of Texans who oppose same-sex marriage.

I think there IS interest in Texas for laws to be strengthened that give couples of any gender the ability to join in a committed and legal relationship with most of the benefits of a marriage.  But, Texas is a very traditional state, and the growing Latino population believes very strongly in both family values and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.

Johnnyindallas
Johnnyindallas

I totally agree with Rawlings on this. These are issues the schould be decided on the state or national level. Same-Sex marriage, gun control, abortion, war in Iraq, and Afghanistan are not issues that Mayors have control over. I am an independent and could care less about what the Mayor feels about those issues. If he takes a stand on same sex marriage, then he would have to take a stand on whether we should be allowed to have a gun in the city or whether marijuana should be allowed. My city council person is Angela Hunt and I know is a democrat and is Liberal. What matters to me is how she listens to us concerns with crime and pot holes developement. She is good whether she believes in the war or not. When you vote for criminal court judge for Dallas County do I care how they feel about rising taxes to pay the National debt.

LaceyB
LaceyB

I guess the only lubricant Rawlings wants to admit to liking is oil. What a missing-out lame-o!

DSC
DSC

There is a petition circulating on change.org already asking the mayor to "SIGN the PLEDGE!" Please sign it if you believe equality IS a public policy issue that is important to Dallas and the (literally) thousands and thousands of citizens who form same gender families.:https://www.change.org/petitio...

RC
RC

I find it interesting that for a man who comes from the world of advertising( they deal with perception you know) that he doesn't jump onto this and sign up given the need to bring more home ownership( tax base) to the city. He knows exactly why he did not sign this. The old white guys at Dallas Citizens Council don't think that we are worth it. No politics? If you run for office, its politics.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

So, and why are Gay people making a big deal about this? He needs to focus on trying to bring jobs and come up with plans to make me spend my taxes then this!

Jason
Jason

I don't think I can add anything to what Montemalone has already said, except to say that I've seen you post around Unfairpark and would have expected a more thought out response than this from you. You start your comment with "so", then ask why gay people would make a "big deal" about what we feel is an equal right to marry under the law.  Not an equal right to be married at baptist church but an equal right to simply marry the person we love, and a just as equal right to raise the divorce rate, just like the straights do.

Mayor Rawlings is an accomplished businessman and knows how to ride the line so as to not offend people. This is exactly what I expect out of him.  I didn't vote for him.  So, to me, he didn't let me down.  Like Montemalone said, this is nothing more than a symbolic gesture.  It's a pledge.  But, I don't see why you don't understand why some gay people might be making a big deal out of it.  

Being a mayor is complex.  In fact, I think it might go beyond the one thing you listed - bringing jobs to Dallas.  I mean, Mayor Bloomberg signed the pledge.  Do you know that by percentage, Dallas has more gays than NYC?  Did you know that NYC's unemployment rate is higher than Dallas'?  Now, if you're saying that Mayor Rawlings can't multitask like Mayor Bloomberg, then I'm with you.  But, again, to boil this down to some BS about not understanding why teh gays might be upset that he didn't sign the pledge, that's just not an intelligent statement.  You could have something like, "I (do/don't - circle one) think gays should have a right to marry so I (agree/disagree), and think Mayor Rawlings needs to focus on fixing how the city of Dallas operates."  I could have been down with that.  But you just marginalized how gay people think about themselves with such a flippant fucking comment you made.  At least give us the courtesy of letting us know where you stand on it before marginalizing us.  If you don't believe in it, we can keep it moving but don't act like you don't understand why some people (even some straights back gay marriage!) might be upset with Mayor Rawlings and his decision.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Johnny Said it right- This issue should be a state issue, and should be up to the states. We all see what Dallas needs to fix right now. I think he should just look at other things we need to deal with, and I say that with the "Governor" and President in my dream world. Like I said, Many Gay people here in this city and I know would not give a crap about the budget, redistricting, jobs, and issues that we know that were important. Look, I make to times to come out to meetings, eventhough I have a DISD Focus, the City is important to me well, because I voted for theses people as well and we make to make them accountable.

Tracy Clinton
Tracy Clinton

I don't find the LGBT community to much different than the broader public at large, as far as engagement or disengagement. People are people. I'm also not sure that CIVIL RIGHTS is a "single issue".

Again, you're criticizing a cliched strawman version of the LGBT community and justify it with ill-prepared rationalizations. I'm not even gay and you annoy me slightly.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Agian, until Gays and Hispaincs are active and willing to vote, I stand by my opinion. Just because your Mexican, Gay, or whatever, really donesn't mean I'm going to vote for you. There are many people who do that in the City and that it, they support them because there something. It should be Are the the right person for the job? Do you have a college degree? What are you going to do for the office? Etc. Now, some Gay people I know care about our system, but other can give a crap about it. They need to be there for other issues as well, not just for Gay Rights, but for other issues as well. Many of them may not have kids in Public Schools, but they still pay taxes for them right? Single Issue Voters are not good, and that how some people are, but you have to do your research.

Tracy Clinton
Tracy Clinton

I don't know why you bothered to comment on this other than to bash the LGBT community and justify it with ill-prepared rationalizations.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Maybe we should focus on exporting all the illegal Mexicans. Would that be a better use of our energies? It's funny how people outside a particular group can so easily dismiss the concerns of that group if they don't directly affect the person doing the dismissing.Equality is something about which everyone should be concerned. Codified discrimination has existed as long as people have, but slowly, we have made progress. Besides, politicians don't create jobs. Millionaires and Billionaires do, and they're not gonna make any until we finally repeal all their taxes.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Look, I don't care what he does it's nothing we need to worry about, there are other issues out there. I just wish I see the same reactions when something goes on at Ross,  Marilla, or at Elm (Wherever the County Commissioners Meet)

Montemalone
Montemalone

He wasn't asked to be Grand Marshall of the pride parade, just to sign on, with 70 other mayors.You think New York, L.A., Chicago, San Diego, and every other city doesn't have pressing issues to deal with? It's a symbolic gesture. He chose the coward's way out.

cp
cp

Gee, isn't this why the DGLA didn't endorse him? 

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

 Because sometimes, mayors just have to focus on important things like useless bridges as opposed to human rights and stuff.

smy2k
smy2k

I don't think the bridge is useless, but the gay community was very important to him when he was campaigning. At least we have the right to vote, pay taxes and go to straight weddings.

cp
cp

IIRC the gay community didn't really endorse him. 

smy2k
smy2k

I know, but he spent a lot of time courting us.

Guest
Guest

Once a chicken-shit, always a chicken-shit.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Since when is equality a political issue?I thought it was a human issue.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

This is a rhetorical question, right?

Nestor
Nestor

Son, it's obvious from your comment that you're new to this planet. So which one? The big blue-green gassy one? Somewhere else?

Whatever. Just remember, around these parts "serving people" isn't foodie talk, and never drink your beer warm, no matter how fancy their accent might be.

Oh, yeah, and never play poker with a guy named "Doc".

Jason
Jason

Son, I just don't understand what your comment is supposed to mean.  Thanks for the advice, Nestor.  You're a Good Counselor.

Jason
Jason

Okay.  Cool, bro.  Like cp said, you must be new to this blog.  More importantly, I want to know if there will be nekkid tickle fights at this pajama party?  Nice job with all of the assumptions you're making about the three of us.  You're real smart, you must have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, right?  I guess not smart enough, though, to see the Iliad lit I was layin' down for ya inspired by your name.

Nestor
Nestor

Jason, I'll spell it out for you and cp. There just ain't no way to get to equality except by going through politics. That's how humans do these things, at least the grownups. 'Course, I 'spose you and cp and Monte can try just twirling in the radiance of your humanitarianism like a bunch of gurgling, big-eyed tweens at a pajama party, or even better, you can blog-comment about it. Real hard. Yep, that'll do it.

cp
cp

Son, it's obvious from your comment that you're new to this blog. 

cockadoodledoooo
cockadoodledoooo

He doesn't have any say in the public schools, either, but that doesn't stop him from giving his .02 from the pulpit...so why is this one stopping him??? Maybe, like Leppert he has political ambitions beyond Dallas?

Harvey
Harvey

Consistent...and fair. Leave the social issues to the proper forum. The mayor has a city to direct, and a political figure showing a neutral face on hot topic issues is a breath of fresh air to me.  Like it or not, all people have opinions. The mayor is choosing to be objective.  As much as the GOP says they want government to butt out, they're sure willing to shove government in my face for their agendas. The democrats are populated by scores of people shouting their different agendas.  Show me the straight and narrow path between the rabble, and on the path of reason, and I'll join your parade.

Guest
Guest

I was under the impression that about 90% of the mayor's job was getting involved in things that are strictly symbolic in nature.

(Also, I'm going to go ahead and say that guns are within the mayor's purview as part of a council that ostensibly oversees the police department and its budget).

rawlins.gilliland
rawlins.gilliland

Rawlings knows who elected him in North & Southern Dallas.  To the former, he was the anointed son, in the other the party boy cash man playing Trick or Treat games with go-betweens later  spreading the go$pel at church functions.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

" "I just decided early on I wasn't going to get into partisan politics or social issues -- guns, choice, marriage. Those are things we all care deeply about in one way shape or form, but that's as a person, not as mayor."  Ya know, I agree with that.   Now, is that the real reason he didn't sign? Who knows. But the statement makes sense.

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