Anti-gay flier targeted Leland Burk on Election Day — did it make a difference?

Posted on 14 May 2013 at 3:45pm

Leland Burk049

A gay resident found this homemade flier — a grossly distorted, anti-gay conglomeration of the New Testament and the April 26 cover of Dallas Voice  — in a newspaper box belonging to the Preston Hollow News near Preston Road and Royal Lane on Sunday.

“I found it there this morning, and it clearly had been placed there yesterday, the day of the election, to scare all the straight white folks about the scary gay people on Election Day,” the gay Preston Hollow resident wrote Sunday afternoon. “I’m so mad now I can’t think straight.”

The openly gay candidate on the flier, Leland Burk, suffered a surprisingly lopsided defeat in the District 13 Dallas City Council race on Saturday. In the most expensive, highest-turnout race in the city, Burk fell to Jennifer Staubach Gates, the daughter of Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach. (Staubach Gates is accurately quoted in the flier as having told Dallas Voice during the campaign that, “Sexual orientation is not an issue in this race.”)

District 13 covers all of Preston Hollow, and it marked the first time an openly gay candidate ran for City Council in the wealthy, conservative area that includes the homes of President George W. Bush and many other prominent Republicans.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not so, we received an email from Richard Sheridan on Tuesday morning containing an image of the very same flier. Sheridan was one of the lesser-known candidates in the District 13 race, and while he doesn’t take credit for creating the flier, he did publicly gay-bait Burk earlier in the campaign. Sheridan wound up with a total of 28 votes, finishing last behind Staubach Gates (6,661 votes), Burk (3,584) and Jacob King (77).

We’ve tried contacting Burk to discuss Saturday’s result and ask him why he thinks he lost by such an unexpectedly large margin — and whether he thinks his sexual orientation was a factor. Thus far, he hasn’t called us back.

It’s quite possible that being an openly gay candidate hurt Burk in District 13, but given that he lost by so much, it’s doubtful it made the difference in the race. Still, that doesn’t excuse this type of hateful anti-gay campaigning, which is a reminder that we have a long way to go, even in parts of Dallas.

UPDATE: Sheridan also apparently called D Magazine and left a profanity-laced tirade related to Burk’s sexual orientation. It’s NSFW, but listen here.

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