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Dallas City Council Keeps Ban Against Hiring Gay Police Officers

January 24, 1992

DALLAS (AP) _ The City Council voted early Thursday to keep a ban on hiring homosexuals to the police force as long as a state law against sodomy remains in effect.

Police Chief Bill Rathburn has said his department has to abide by the law, which makes sodomy a misdemeanor.

Gay rights activists said they were disappointed, but remained confident the decision would be overturned because a state judge has ruled the 112-year- old sodomy law unconstitutional.

″I was disappointed that they didn’t show the courage and leadership to remove the questions from the application and polygraph,″ said John Thomas, executive director of the Dallas Gay Alliance. ″But I think the law will be overturned.″

A state appeals court is expected to decide later this month whether to uphold the December 1990 ruling.

The council voted 10-5 to keep the police hiring ban in place as long as sodomy remains illegal. The decision was reached at 2 a.m. Thursday after council members listened to scores of gay rights activists and people who support the ban.

The decision calls for a 90-day review of the department’s application, which asks officer candidates to admit whether they have engaged in homosexual acts.

The vote was prompted by a lawsuit filed by Mica England, a 27-year-old lesbian who applied for a job with the police department.

″It just proves to me that our city council can’t stand on its own and make its own decision,″ she said.

Ms. England said she believes she will be permitted a place on the force when the sodomy law is formally struck down. Meanwhile, her lawsuit is scheduled to proceed Feb. 3.

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