Runoff wrap-up: Jenkins wins easily, Villarreal stuns Cortes, Gonzalez tops Chavez in El Paso

Will Naomi Gonzalez, shown flashing the victory sign last night, become the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas.
Will Naomi Gonzalez, shown flashing the victory sign last night, become the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas? (El Paso Times)

Attorney Clay Jenkins handily defeated former City Councilman Larry Duncan in the race for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County judge last night. Duncan was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, but Jenkins also had his share of LGBT backers. Jenkins will face Republican Wade Emmert in November as they vie to succeed openly gay incumbent Jim Foster.

The surprise of the night locally came in the Dallas County Precinct 5 constable race, where Beth Villarreal knocked off embattled incumbent Jaime Cortes. Precinct 5, which covers the city’s most heavily LGBT neighborhoods, once was represented by openly gay Constable Mike Dupree. Villarreal has a gay son and has enjoyed strong support in the LGBT community, partly due to allegations of gay-baiting against Cortes when he challenged Dupree in previous election cycles.

In El Paso, challenger Naomi Gonzalez defeated incumbent State Rep. Norma Chavez. Chavez, in an apparent act of desperation, publicly called Gonzalez a lesbian during the campaign and said she should come out. If Gonzalez does now come out, she would be the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas, one of 20 states that lack one. There is no Republican in the race.

And in Gainesville, Fla., openly gay City Commissioner Craig Lowe faces a recount before he can be declared mayor-elect, after he edged out his opponent by just 35 votes on Tuesday. Lowe, who endured vicious anti-gay attacks during the campaign, would become one of about 30 out mayors nationwide.

—  John Wright

Gainesville, Fla., appears to have narrowly elected a gay mayor, but there will be a recount

Gainesville, Fla., home to my alma mater the University of Florida, has apparently elected an openly gay mayor. Craig Lowe, who endured vicious anti-gay attacks during the race, edged out Don Marsh in a runoff today by just 35 votes, The Gainesville Sun reports. There will be an automatic recount, since Lowe won by less than 0.5 percent.

—  John Wright

Bill White's response to the gay marriage question leads to, well, more questions

Scott Braddock, host of KRLD’s “Behind the Headlines,” asked Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White yesterday whether it’s true that he voted against Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. White responded affirmatively and said he did so “out of protest.” Here’s a transcript of the audio, which you can listen to here:

“I think we ought to have traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but frankly it was against the state statutes anyway and I think of it more as a wedge issue. I think politicians ought to spend a little bit more time thinking about staying married themselves then on who marries who. … I’ve never gotten up in the middle of the night, you know, just hoping the people in Austin would pass a law to prevent my wife from going off and marrying another woman.”

When I posed a similar question to White three months ago, he answered as follows:

“Same-sex marriage is precluded by the Texas Constitution. I believe Texas state government has more pressing issues than support or repeal of state constitutional amendments on this subject. My personal position has been the same as was expressed by President Obama in the last campaign. … I did vote against the state constitutional amendment in protest of wedge issue politics.”

There’s only one problem with White’s responses, aside from the fact that he doesn’t support marriage equality. Find out what it is after the jump.

—  John Wright

Radnofsky slams Abbott over gay divorce

Barbara Ann Radnofsky
Barbara Ann Radnofsky

In my story for today’s Voice about the gay divorce case out of Austin, I mentioned that Democratic AG candidate Barbara Ann Radnofsky has said she believes our constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage could actually invalidate ALL marriages in Texas, due to the way it’s worded. Radnofsky blames incumbent Republican Greg Abbott for not catching the error.

Now, Radnofsky has penned a piece for The HuffPo in which she explains why she believes Abbott’s arguments against same-sex DIVORCE are based on a misinterpretation of state law. Radnofsky holds that while the constitutional amendment applies to marriage, divorce is governed by the Family Code. Here’s a snippet:

The Texas AG is mis-using his office for a partisan, political wedge-issue gain. And, he is mis-stating the law of Texas.

1. Divorce is not the same issue as gay marriage, which is governed by Texas statute, regardless of the Constitutional issues concerning non-recognition of gay marriage. Gay people can be married in certain states. Texas divorce law is controlled by the Texas Family Code Section 1.103.

“The law of this state applies to persons married elsewhere who are domiciled in this state.” Texas Family Code Section 1.103. So, the law of Texas clearly applies Texas law to “persons married elsewhere.” Gay people are persons. Texas law would apply to any Texas domiciliaries seeking a divorce. The language is clear. This Texas law doesn’t apply to “marriages;” rather it applies to “persons.”

—  John Wright

Stonewall backs 59 candidates in primary

Phyllis Guest, from left, Erin Moore and Ron Ausemus are sworn in as three of Stonewall's officers for 2010 during last night's meeting at Ojeda's.
Phyllis Guest, from left, Erin Moore and Ron Ausemus are sworn in as three of Stonewall’s officers for 2010 during last night’s meeting at Ojeda’s.

I’ll have more on Bill White’s keynote speech to Stonewall Democrats last night in Friday’s Voice, but for now I wanted to share a full list of the group’s 59 endorsements in the March 2 primary. The list was ratified almost unanimously by Stonewall’s general membership last night, after being recommended by an endorsement committee that met last weekend.  Out of 150 people who attended the standing-room-only meeting last night at Ojeda’s, only two voted against the slate, with an additional two abstaining. I’ve posted a full list of Stonewall’s endorsed candidates after the jump.

—  John Wright

No openly LGBT legislative candidates

Glen Maxey
Glen Maxey

As Monday’s deadline came and went, no known openly LGBT candidates had filed to run for Texas Legislature in 2010. This means that despite electing the nation’s first out big-city mayor, Texas likely will remain one of 20 states with no openly LGBT state legislators. Glen Maxey, who served in the House from 1991 to 2003, was Texas’ first and only openly gay legislator. In 2007, there were two openly LGBT House candidates, John McClelland in Denton and Brian Thompson in Austin, both Democrats. Thompson lost in the primary to Dawnna Dukes, and McClelland lost in the general election to Myra Crownover. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which backs openly LGBT candidates nationwide, no significant pro-equality legislation has ever passed in a state that lacked an out legislator. But who knows, maybe Texas can become the first in 2011.

—  John Wright

Dems to celebrate as filing period closes; GOP chair says, 'We'll have our party in November'

The filing period for 2010 elections ends at 6 p.m. today. We’ll have more on candidates who filed to run in Friday’s Voice, but for now I wanted to mention that the Dallas County Democratic Party will host a celebration for its candidates tonight. The event will be at 6:30 p.m. at the House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. A donation of $10 is suggested. Parking is available under Woodall Rogers just behind the House of Blues, or you can valet park for $15.

In case you’re wondering, the Dallas County Republican Party won’t be hosting an event tonight to mark the end of the filing period. When I called over to GOP headquarters a few moments ago, Chairman Jonathan Neerman answered the phone. “We’re actually working up here, so we don’t have time for parties tonight,” Neerman told me, adding that the GOP will be recruiting candidates right up until the deadline. “We’ll have our party in November.”

For an updated list of Democrats who’ve filed, go here. For Republicans, go here.

—  John Wright

Stonewall holiday party is tonight

Stonewall

The candidate filing period is officially under way for March primaries, and I expect to see a good number of Democratic candidates who’ll be on next year’s ballot at the Round-Up Saloon tonight. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, one of the largest Democratic groups in the county, is gearing up for a big election year in 2010, but first the group will wrap up 2009 with its Annual Holiday Party.

In addition to plenty of candidates, the party will feature food, drag performances and a holiday basket auction. Stonewall will also announce the winners of its annual awards. The nominees for Member of the Year are Travis Gasper, Bill Fry and Tina Yoo. The nominees for Group of the Year are Rockwall County Young Democrats, Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats and Equality Texas. The nominees for Democrat of the Year are Tena Callahan, Roberto Alonso and Ernie White. And the nominees for the Pink Pump Award are Lynn Cherry, Elizabeth Crowder and Larry Duncan.

Also, Stonewall has adopted the Legacy Counseling Center and encourages poeple to bring one of the following items to donate: paper towels, Scrubbing Bubbles, diaper wipes, light bulbs, Gatorade/Kool-Aid, toilet paper, granulated sugar packets, non-dairy creamer packets, 9-ounce plastic cups, trash bags of all sizes, copy paper, stamps, liquid paper, latex gloves, personal snack packs, soft drinks and adult non-pull-up diapers.

The party is from 7 to 9 at the Round-Up, 3912 Cedar Springs Road.

—  John Wright