It's not often we get invitations to flood the mayor's office with phone calls -- we tend to do that all on our own -- but LGBT rights group GetEQUAL TX is planning a different sort of mass phone-in to Mayor Mike Rawlings's office tomorrow. According to this here Facebook invite, GetEQUAL -- last seen on Valentine's Day trying, in a symbolic sort of way, to get a marriage license for Hendrix Scott and Jennifer McCluskey -- is still very unimpressed with Mayor Mike's refusal to sign that pledge in support of marriage equality.
As the event invite puts it:
Despite weeks of outrage from the community, protests,countless emails, thousands of phone calls, petition signatures, faxes and even a meeting with members of the LGBT community, Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas continues to refuse to join the Mayors of almost every major U.S. city in signing a pledge in support of marriage equality.
Rather than throwing in the towel, GetEQUAL TX is just getting started!
Join us Friday, February 24th, 2012 as we invite Texans to give the Dallas Mayor's Office a little call. Our goal is to tie up the office phone lines from 9am-5pm with literally thousands of calls, sending a message to Mike Rawlings that this issue is not going away!
So far, 136 people have signed up to attend the event. Not quite "thousands," but who replies to Facebook invites, anyway?
We left a message for Daniel Cates, a central GetEQUAL organizer who also spoke at a previous protest outside City Hall, but haven't yet heard back. We also called Paula Blackmon, the mayor's chief of staff, to ask if the office has any specific plans to address the protest.
"Other than answering the phone?" Blackmon replied, rather stoically.
"We welcome anybody calling our office," she added. "We welcome any communication from any constituent and we'll do our best to answer it and to get back with them."
We asked if Rawlings has plans to meet with LGBT leaders again to discuss the issue. "Not as a big group," Blackmon said. "But we do have plans to meet with them to see where our office can -- or [Rawlings] as an individual person -- can help with changing laws or talking about issues. But I don't know what else we can do for Daniel or GetEQUAL, other than sign it. And I just ... I just don't know."
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In the meantime, the office has a couple of phone-answering interns and a form at the ready to take contact information from the callers. I told Blackmon I'd follow up tomorrow to see how many calls the office actually received.
"Try my cell phone," she said dryly. "The land line may be tied up."
Update, 4:33 p.m.: Just returned to the office to find this statement from Cates in the inbox.
Ms. Blackmon is attempting to trivialize this issue by implying that the only people raising concern are members of GetEQUAL TX. This is simply not true. The Mayor's position on the issue of this pledge is something that has put a major strain on his relationship with the greater Dallas LGBT Community. His not signing the pledge has been condemned by members of Equality Texas, Resource Center Dallas, the Dallas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, Dallas Lesbian/ Gay alliance, the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, other elected officials and literally thousands of members of our community. This is an issue of right and wrong -and right now, remaining neutral while thousands of people he claims to support suffer injustice at the hands of the law, is just wrong. The issue of inequality in marriage is one that puts an economic, familial and healthcare strain on more than 14,000 people who live, work and pay taxes in his city. That he is unwilling to take a stand and continues to straddle the fence speaks volumes. We will continue to pressure him on this issue and to see to it that he makes good on his promise to work on our behalf on other very important issues including employment non-discrimination.