Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011 Page: 18 of 68
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FINISHING TOUCHES | Workers hang a sign outside the Owner's Box, a sports bar on the ground
floor of the convention center hotel, on Wednesday. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)
From Page 6
The question of whether Omni Hotels would
offer DP benefits at the facility was first raised
in a Dallas Voice article in April 2009 — two
months after the city had signed a 15-year op-
erating agreement with the company for the
$500 million hotel.
The article appeared days before the vote on
a referendum aimed at barring the city from
building and owning the hotel. Mayor Tom
Leppert, a major supporter of the hotel, as-
sured the newspaper that he would convince
the company to: offer DP benefits, even though
it had not been considered as part of the oper-
The referendum was defeated, and six weeks
later, both Leppert's office and the North Texas
GLBT Chamber of Commerce announced that
Omni had agreed to offer DP benefits — al-
though the company wouldn't confirm it at the
"Until you [Dallas Voice] raised the issue, it
wasn't on people's radar," said Chris Hein-
baugh, who's openly gay and was Leppert's
chief of staff. "A light bulb went off. It was a
Significant step for the city.**'
It reportedly marked the first time the city
has prompted a contractor to offer DP benefits.
Heinbaugh, who now works for the AT&T
View more photos from inside the convention center hotel
Performing Arts Center, declined to discuss in
detail the negotiations that led to Omni's com-
mitment to offer DP benefits. Leppert is run-
ning for U.S. Senate as a Republican and has
come out against both same-sex marriage and
Aspokesman for Leppert's campaign didn't
respond to a request for comment.
In addition to agreeing to offer DP benefits,
Omni Hotels joined the North Texas GLBT
Chamber in 2009. Tony Vedda, president and
CEO of the chamber, said this week the com-
pany remains a silver level corporate member,,
which means an annual contribution of $5J)00
to the organization.
"I certainly assumed that they were going to
stick to their word [on DP benefits]," Vedda
said. "It would be devastating if we Were told
one thing and something else occurred."
Vedda said the chamber would also like to
see Omni offer DP benefits at its publicly
owned convention center hotel in Fort Worth.
Fort Worth began offering domestic partner
benefits to municipal employees last year. ■
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011, newspaper, October 7, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239188/m1/18/?rotate=90: accessed January 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.