Gone are the days when elected leaders could skate by on mere lip service or attending a few pride receptions. Today's LGBT community just isn't drinking the Kool-Aid, and even down to the city level, we are not content with "supportive" leaders; we want to see them actively "supporting."
Such is evidenced recent events in Dallas, where Mayor Mike Rawlings has spent the last few days in an unsuccessful effort to appease his city's LGBT population after refusing to sign a FreedomToMarry.org pledge promising support for full marriage equality. Rawlings instead took up a position opposed to the mayors of more than 80 major U.S. cities.
Upon taking office, I made a conscious decision to focus on issues that create a healthy, viable city and not on those that are partisan and social in nature. I was asked to pledge my support to "Mayors for the Freedom to Marry" in an effort to pressure state and federal entities to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. I decided not to sign onto that letter because that is inconsistent with my view of the duties of the office of the mayor.
To be a world class city, we must be inclusive towards all citizens, including the LGBT community. Personally, I support the LGBT movement and its efforts for equal rights that they deserve.
This explanation seems to have only added fuel to the fire for many LGBT activists , generating hundreds of calls, emails, and faxes to City Hall, as well as a protest planned for the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 24 at a mayoral community event, demanding that Mayor Rawlings put his money where his mouth is by signing the pledge.
"I am concerned that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is not supporting marriage equality alongside other big-city mayors," said Cece Cox, Executive Director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, in a statement released Friday. "Legally recognized marriage is a civil rights [sic], an economic and a legal issue that directly affects the members of the LGBT community where he serves as mayor and who call Dallas home."
While Dallas is the ninth largest city in the United States and the third largest city in the state of Texas, it has more same-sex couples than any other big city in the state. With mayors from the top eight U.S. cities partnering with the Freedom to Marry campaign, Dallas is now the largest U.S. city whose mayor has not signed the pledge.
Nationally, LGBT voters have become disillusioned with politicians who cannot produce substantive proof of their commitment to equality measures and have finally begun demanding clear commitments from city-level politicians to the the presidency, where Obama's prolonged evolution on same-sex marriage may cost him a great deal of the LGBT vote.
With the outcome still uncertain, one thing has become very clear: saying you support this community is no longer the same thing as showing you support this community.
Click here to sign the Change.org petition urging Mayor Rawlings to sign the FreedomToMarry.org pledge.