In the wake of Sunday’s deadly shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, The Dallas Morning News’ Robert Wilonsky notes that Mayor Mike Rawlings is one of three big-city mayors from Texas (along with Houston’s Annise Parker and San Antonio’s Julian Castro) who’ve declined to join Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition.
According to Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, the mayor supports Bloomberg’s coalition — which includes 700 mayors nationwide — but is again taking the position that he doesn’t sign “pledges.” If this sounds painfully familiar, it’s because it’s the same justification Rawlings gave when he refused to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry — while at the same time claiming to be a supporter of marriage equality. And in fact Blackmon says Rawlings said no to Mayors Against Illegal Guns before he turned down Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.
Of course, that was before the tragic shootings in Wisconsin and earlier in Aurora, Colo. Likewise, it was before more than 200 mayors, including six from Texas and all eight from cities larger than Dallas in the U.S., had signed the Freedom to Marry pledge. And it was before Rawlings understood the true outrage of the LGBT community, highlighted by a well-attended protest outside City Hall, a closed-door meeting with longtime gay couples at Resource Center Dallas and a petition that garnered 3,563 signatures.
So perhaps it’s time for Rawlings to reconsider his position on pledges. For one thing, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns isn’t technically even a pledge. It’s a coalition with a “statement of principles.” How does Rawlings differentiate between the two? Besides, this whole “I don’t sign pledges” argument just doesn’t seem very logical. Would Rawlings refuse to sign a pledge saying he won’t sign pledges? And is a stubborn refusal to sign pledges really worth the risk, as David Taffet mentioned earlier, of costing the city a major convention like Out & Equal Workplace Advocates?
To me, and undoubtedly to many other observers, Rawlings’ refusal to sign pledges comes off looking more like a refusal to take a stand on hot-button issues in a relatively conservative big city whose voters — especially if you consider its wealthiest political donors — may seem divided on them.
But even if Rawlings won’t sign pledges, how about showing up at one of the city’s four (count ‘em, four) LGBT Pride Month events, all of which the mayor conveniently missed? Or better yet, now that it’s too late for that, how about making phone calls to some of the city’s appointees on the board of Dallas Area Rapid Transit and asking them to support equality — in this case by offering domestic partner benefits?
After all, even Tom Leppert was willing to do that.