Yesterday morning, in a vote split along partisan lines, Dallas County narrowly approved domestic partner benefits for Dallas County employees. But the historic vote was accompanied by an odd incident that most every media outlet in town commented on: County Comissioner Maurine Dickey, as you can see in the Dallas Voice's video above, grew agitated when she believed an audience member was snapping photos of her.
Dickey covered her face with both hands for several moments, then looked up and addressed Judge Clay Jenkins. "Point of privilege here, this gentleman keeps standing up and taking pictures of me," she told him. "I don't know what this is about, but this the third time he's done it. It's been directly on me... I would just like to ask that he refrain from taking pictures of me."
"She," fellow commissioner John Wiley Price corrected, looking as close to embarrassed as we've ever seen him. The audience member was C.d. Kirven, an LGBT activist and core member of GetEQUAL Texas.
It's not clear why Dickey thought she had grounds for complaint; photography is permitted in open meetings. Additionally, a half-dozen or so TV cameras were filming her, as they do at every Commissioners Court meeting. (She is, incidentally, not the only elected or appointed official in Dallas who has demonstrated unfamiliarity with the rules governing photos during open meetings.) Dickey didn't return a phone message left at her office.
As we wrote when we profiled Kirven in our People Issue this year, she's the activist who refused to show Mayor Mike Rawlings a photo of her family during a tense meeting the mayor held with LGBT leaders, held after he repeatedly declined to sign a pledge supporting marriage equality.
"I'm not showing pictures of them to someone who can't appreciate my family's importance," she told Rawlings. Instead, she added, "I'm going to make it my goal and my partner's goal to get a candidate. We're gonna put people up against you and you're gonna lose."
(In other words, if Kirven is trying to make someone "uncomfortable," it's usually pretty easy to spot.)
Nonetheless, Kirven responded to Dickey's complaints by standing up and politely apologizing. She explained that she was actually taking pictures of the speaker at the time, her friend Derick Spillman.
"I think she has issues with my look," Kirven noted dryly, when we emailed her late yesterday for comment.
But Kirven also clearly understands a teachable moment when there's one yelling at her.
"I don't want Commissioner Dickey's strange behavior to take away from the huge win for Dallas LGBT families today," she added. "My community came together today and stood up for economic justice in a time when LGBT people are in desperate need of healthcare & jobs! My offer of arranging sensitivity training by the Resource Center for Commissioner Dickey is open-ended. Just give me a call!"