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Dallas Mayor Explains Refusal To Sign Pledge Supporting Gay Marriage

By Susy Solis, CBS 11 News
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After refusing to sign a pledge in support of a Constitutional law allowing same-sex marriage, Mayor Mike Rawlings met with 25 leaders in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community Saturday to explain why.

“I’m a bit pledge-phobic,” Rawlings told reporters after the closed door meeting at the Dallas Resource Center. “I think America has got too many pledges out there and I think it’s simplistic and not substantive.”

The national advocacy group Freedom to Marry asked mayors across the country to sign a pledge supporting gay marriage. More than 100 mayors have signed the pledge, six of whom reside over Texas cities.

The pledge sports the signatures of the mayors of Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Galveston, Castle Hills and Shavano Park.

But no mayor from North Texas has added his or her name to the list.

Rawlings’s refusal to sign the pledge prompted a demonstration in front of Dallas City Hall Friday night.

The mayor said he supports the rights of all Dallas residents as well as those in the LGBT community, but he maintained his stance Saturday afternoon.

“I’m a mayor that wants to be substantive,” he said. “I do care about the civil rights of all of our citizens.”

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price served as the grand marshal of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade in 2011, but also refused to sign the pledge. She said she believes gay marriage is a state issue and not a local one.

“I remain focused on the business of the city of Fort Worth,” Price said. “The issue of same sex marriage is one for the state, not local government.”

Dallas residents Louise Young and her partner Vivienne Armstrong were two of the 25 people invited to the closed door meeting with the mayor.

The couple wed in California in 2008 before the ban on gay marriage in that state. The long time gay activists hoped their 41-year love story would help change the mayor’s mind about the pledge.

“The thing behind the pledge is really more of an understanding in attitude,” Armstrong said. “I think as long as he continues to learn and grow, that’s what we hope for everyone.”

While signing the pledge may be a “simplistic” action for Rawlings, members of the LGBT community said it could resonate deeply throughout the city.

“Do I wish he would sign the pledge? I wish he would,” said Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of the Dallas Resource Center. “I think it would be an opportunity for leadership, even symbolic. Symbolism matters. It helps change hearts and minds.”

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