Candidate hopes to become state’s only out gay legislator

Posted on 24 Jan 2008 at 10:21pm
By John Wright – Staff Writer

Incumbent opponent backed by Houston homebuilder who gave $100,000 to PAC that promoted amendment banning gay marriage



Brian Thompson, a 27-year-old Austin lawyer, claims that his opponent, State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, is not as supportive of LGBT issues as some people might think.

AUSTIN Most openly gay political candidates tend to somewhat downplay their sexual orientation, but not Brian Thompson.

“With your help, on March 4, I will become the only openly gay member of the Texas Legislature,” Thompson wrote in a recent campaign mailer.

The mailer goes on to talk about how Thompson’s opponent in the Democratic primary for Northeast Travis County’s House District 46, incumbent Dawnna Dukes, has the financial backing of Houston homebuilder Bob Perry.

Perry, one of the biggest Republican donors in the country, gave $100,000 in 2006 to Texans for Marriage, the political action committee that supported the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Thompson, a 27-year-old Austin attorney, said Perry’s contributions to Duke’s campaign are directly tied to the incumbent support for controversial Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick. There are no Republicans seeking the District 46 seat.

“We’re talking about an extremely conservative Republican donor who has now, not surprisingly, backed a Democrat who is supporting Tom Craddick. It’s not hard to see what’s going on here,” Thompson told Dallas Voice this week. “I don’t think there’s any community that has more to lose with Tom Craddick being speaker again than the GLBT community. Another two years of Craddick in the speaker’s seat would be a disaster for the GLBT community.”

Dukes did not respond to a request for an interview from Dallas Voice in time for this edition.

A seven-term member of the House, Dukes has generally been sympathetic to LGBT legislative causes, which is not surprising given that she represents inner city East Austin. However, Thompson said Dukes has never carried any pro-LGBT legislation.

“As good as it is to have advocates, we need people who understand what it means to be discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Thompson said.

This week, Thompson was endorsed by the Washington, D.C.-based Victory Fund, which backs openly gay candidates nationwide. According to the Victory Fund, there currently are openly gay legislators in 31 of the 50 states.

If elected, Thompson could become only the second openly gay person to serve in the Texas Legislature.

Glen Maxey, a six-term state openly gay representative from Houston, served from 1991 until 2003. Maxey declined comment for this story because he is now running for Travis County tax collector/assessor on the same ballot as Thompson and Dukes.

The other openly gay candidate for Texas Legislature this year is John McClelland of Denton County.

McClelland is unopposed in the Democratic primary but must beat incumbent Republican Rep. Myra Crownover to win historically conservative District 64.
E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 25, 2008

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