While Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings did not rule out the possibility of reversing his initial decision not to sign the pledge in support of gay marriage, after today’s two-hour meeting with LGBT leaders he described himself as “pledge phobic.”
“I think that America’s got too many pledges out there, and I think it’s simplistic and not substantive,” he said, according to Dallas Voice. “I’m a mayor that wants to be substantive. I do care about the civil rights of all of our citizens and will think about how we can make Dallas a better place for that. I’m not going to take a pledge never to sign a pledge, but I don’t like to sign pledges.”
Today’s meeting came after LGBT activists protested in front of City Hall yesterday to urge Rawlings to join more than 100 mayors from across the nation in signing a pledge in support of gay marriage. Rawlings has so far refused to sign the pledge, saying that while he does personally support gay marriage, he does not feel it is his place to get involved.
“If I felt that signing a letter about anything on a national level would make Dallas accomplish its goals better and faster, I’d do it. I don’t think that’s the case here,” said Rawlings, in Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, according to the Dallas Morning News.
But the refusal to sign the pledge was not the only problem the LGBT community had with Rawlings. They also took offense to the tone he used in dealing with the aftermath of not signing the pledge.
On Wednesday, Rawlings told WFAA that the pldge was an example of “getting off track” and that the issue of gay marriage was not “relevant to the lion’s share of the citizens of Dallas.”
Most recently, on Wednesday, Rawlings told WFAA-TV that the marriage pledge — signed by more than 100 mayors across the country, including from all eight cities larger than Dallas — was an example of “getting off track” and that the issue of marriage equality is not “relevant to the lion’s share of the citizens of Dallas.”
“Sadly, I think the more he talks about this in the press, the more he digs in as completely out of touch,” said Patti Fink, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance to Dallas Voice in response to the mayor’s comments. “He’s really pissing off our community. We really have a much deeper, more profound problem than this pledge. … This mayor is naïve. We’re not irrelevant, and we are a part of the lion’s share.”
In response to the complaints, Rawlings said today that all citizens should “feel a part” of the city.
“Obviously, the LGBT community feels at times that they’re disenfranchised. They don’t have the civil rights that the rest of us have, and so it was a wonderful learning experience for me, listing to personal stories, listening to policy issues, and listening to strategies of how we can make make sure this community feels better next year than it does today. The arc of history is working for the rights of this community, and we as citizens and as the City Council want to support that,” he said to the crowd of reporters gathered today outside of City Hall.
While he has not said if he will reverse his decision, he did admit that it was a mistake not to call Cece Cox, the director and CED of the Resource Center of Dallas, to discuss the issue before making a decision.
Whether or not it was a mistake, Rawlings chose to take ownership of his decision not to sign by saying, “If the city had the right to marry you, I would vote yes. But in this case I chose to step back from the symbolism — because that’s what it was — and not get into that fray.”