Angela Hunt reacts to Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement of gay challenger James Nowlin

Posted on 25 Mar 2011 at 12:30pm
Councilwoman Angela Hunt, above right, says former Mayor Tom Leppert, below left, has “no moral compass.” Hunt and Leppert are shown at gay Pride in 2009.

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, one of the staunchest LGBT allies on the Dallas City Council, said this week she’s “disappointed” that Stonewall Democrats recently endorsed her challenger in the District 14 race.

However, Hunt vowed to continue advocating for the LGBT community — and to continue working with Stonewall Democrats.

Stonewall Democrats voted last week to endorse openly gay candidate James Nowlin, a member of the group’s board who’s running against Hunt.

“It was a fair process,” Hunt said Thursday of Stonewall’s endorsement screening last weekend. “I am disappointed. I’m very proud of my consistent 100 percent voting record on LGBT issues and I’m unwavering in that, and I’ll continue to fight and advocate on behalf of the LGBT community. … I’m proud to keep working with Stonewall Democrats on important citywide issues.”

When pressed about whether she feels betrayed or was hurt by the endorsement, Hunt said: “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but look, I’ve had a positive, strong relationship with Stonewall Democrats, as well as the larger LGBT community, since I’ve been in office and since before I’ve been in office, and that won’t change. It hasn’t changed, and it won’t change.”

Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez said the group’s debate of the endorsement was “intense” and the vote to back Nowlin was extremely close, although he declined to release the final tally.

Narvaez said some Hunt supporters argued that endorsing Nowlin would be tantamount to turning the group’s back on the incumbent despite her support for the community. However, Narvaez said he thinks Hunt’s indecision about running for mayor allowed Nowlin to build early support among Stonewall Democrats.

Ultimately, Narvaez said he believes the endorsement was decided by a few members of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats who felt Hunt didn’t sign on to their Light Up Oak Lawn campaign until she knew she had a gay challenger.

Asked whether there’s any truth to that allegation, Hunt said: “I’ll say this, I think anyone who knows my work in neighborhoods knows that I am responsive and I work in partnership with neighborhood leaders across the district to address issues as quickly as possible.”

Hunt has also been criticized in the comments of this blog in recent days for the fact that the city of Dallas has never prosecuted a complaint of discrimination based on sexual orientation under its 2002 ordinance. Hunt noted that she’s actually the one who, along with Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, launched an investigation into the city’s handling of the complaints in response to a recent letter from Resource Center Dallas.

Hunt said she and Medrano plan to meet with representatives from Resource Center to go over complaints that have been filed under the ordinance one by one.

“I agree that it is important to ensure that our nondiscrimination ordinance is actually being enforced,” she said. “If there’s no teeth to it and if the city isn’t actually following through on enforcement, then the city is failing the LGBT residents in Dallas. I agree that it’s a very important issue that has to be taken seriously and that’s why Pauline and I immediately got involved to make sure we had an investigation to address this.”

Hunt said she directed city staff to post a link to information about the ordinance on the main page of the city’s website. She said she also supports establishing a city GLBT relations commission.

Hunt said she’s attended every Pride parade and Black Tie Dinner since she’s been in office. But she called those things “a little superficial” compared to other things — such as speaking at rallies in support of same-sex marriage. She also took the opportunity to slam Mayor Tom Leppert for his recent shift to the right on LGBT issues, calling it “pandering in its lowest form” and saying Leppert has “no moral compass.”

Despite the Stonewall endorsement, Hunt said she still has her share of supporters in the LGBT community, many of whom have contacted her in the last few days. And she said she’s confident about her chances for re-election.

“I really have been humbled by the outpouring of support I’ve received,” she said. “I’m proud to be an advocate for equality.”

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