Gay political group’s leader pleased to hear that elected officials, candidates not put off by recent events
Candidates are already wooing Stonewall Democrats of Dallas for support in anticipation of the March 4, 2008, Democratic Party Primary.
Two candidates vying for a nomination by the party and one local official who will be on the ballot for an unexpired term in March spoke to the group at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 17.
The candidates were Dallas lawyer Emil Reichstadt, who wants to oppose incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on the Nov. 4, 2008, ballot, Dr. Brad Vincent, an openly gay candidate for U.S. Congress, and Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes, who the Dallas County Commissioners Court recently appointed to fill gay former Constable Mike Dupree’s unexpired term after he resigned to avoid a criminal trial.
Jesse Garcia, president of the gay political group, said he expected turnout for the meeting to be slow because of the time of year and the two recent scandals involving gay Democrats that had rocked the group. In addition to the Dupree scandal, the Dallas Police Department posted the name and photograph of longtime prominent political activist Shannon Bailey on its Web site in connection with a public lewdness arrest.
The group’s members also were dismayed by the loss in the City Council election of gay mayoral candidate Ed Oakley and District 3 council seat candidate Joseph Hernandez, he said.
The event drew about 70 people, at least 20 more than he was expecting to come, Garcia said.
“I was surprised after all that had gone down in June,” Garcia said. “This was promising.”
Garcia said that all of the speakers were warmly received, but the star of the night was Cortes.
“When Jaime took the stage, everybody clapped,” Garcia said. “Everyone is happy. They welcomed him, and people were very excited that he was there. This is good that he is reaching out to the community.”
Cortes, who is married and straight, told the group he wants to serve the LGBT community, Garcia said. Precinct 5 includes Oak Lawn and areas in Oak Cliff and East Dallas that is home to a large gay and lesbian population. The new constable denied having ever used gay-baiting strategies in his two unsuccessful campaigns against Dupree in the Democratic Party primaries in 2002 and 2006.
“He stayed afterwards to answer questions on a one-to-one basis,” Garcia said.
Garcia said several straight Democratic office holders, including Judges Lorraine Raggio and Carl Ginsberg and Carlos Cortez, attended the meeting in a show of support for the group. Cortez spoke encouragingly to the group at the end of the meeting, he said.
“He stood up and said, “‘You’ve had a rough month, but we’re here. We believe in you guys, and we’re here to stand with you,’” Garcia said. “It was the last comment after everyone had spoken, and it was just so nice to hear that.”
Raggio and Ginsberg joined the group at the meeting, Garcia said. Cortez already was a member, he said.
Garcia said other straight political candidates have been in touch with him about scheduling appearances before the group.
Garcia said that the group’s members are looking forward to the Young Democrats of America convention in Dallas this weekend that features former North Carolina Sen. and presidential candidate John Edwards as keynote speaker.
Gay Texan David Hardt is running for president of the national youth group, Garcia noted. If he wins it will be first time for a gay candidate to win and the first time for a Texan to hold the position in two decades, he said.
“He is the leading candidate,” Garcia said.
Hardt has been active in Dallas politics and LGBT issues for many years, Garcia said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 13, 2007