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.
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"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."