Gay Realtor calls out Texas PAC for backing anti-gay candidates

Bob.McCranie

Bob McCranie

The Texas Association of Realtors and its funding arm, the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee, have long endorsed and funded anti-LGBT candidates. But one Realtor is hoping to change that in the coming years, if not sooner.

Bob McCranie, owner of Plano-based Texas Pride Realty, has grown tired of the Texas organizations endorsing and funding anti-gay candidates, including the four at the top of the ticket this year who oppose marriage equality: Greg Abbott for governor, David Dewhurst for lieutenant governor, Glenn Hegar for Texas comptroller of public accounts and George P. Bush for Texas land commissioner.

McCranie isn’t on the endorsement board but has donated to the PAC in the past. He said marriage equality is a Realtor issue because marriage involves property rights, but when he’s brought up his objections to the endorsements in the past, he’s told  Texas is a red state so not many candidates support LGBT equality. The endorsement board even has openly gay members.

“What I’m told is ‘You won’t change Texas’ Texas is a very red meat state,’ but I want my associations of realtors on the local, state and national level to let their candidates know that this is an important topic for us,” he said. “I want them to be aware that they are standing beside candidates that are adamantly homophobic who ring the fire alarm of homophobia to get their voters out. And we just blindly endorse them.”

The endorsement for attorney general hasn’t been announced yet, likely pending the runoff between state Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, and state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

Branch, who represents Oak Lawn, co-authored Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and he filed a brief in a gay divorce case before the Texas Supreme Court last year defending the state’s amendment and requesting the court to overturn a lesbian couple’s divorce.

Paxton, along with anti-gay state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, filed a bill last year to put the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the state Constitution. The act, which the Legislature passed in 1999, prohibits local or state agencies form allowing people to express their religious beliefs, including discriminating against LGBT people. The recent bill never made it to the floor for a vote.

Campbell, who filed an anti-transgender marriage bill last year, also was endorsed. But out state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, was also endorsed this cycle.

McCranie said the recent bill by Paxton and Campbell goes against the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, which requires that everyone be treated equally. And he hopes the Texas PAC doesn’t endorse Paxton or anymore anti-gay candidates in the future.

“These laws break the code of ethics,” he said. “Why are we endorsing candidates who support this? No matter what the party is.”

The Realtors Political Action Committee funded Mississippi legislators who authored the state’s Religious Liberty Bill, which RPAC-endorsed Gov. Phil Bryant later signed. RPAC is the National Association of Realtors’ PAC.

NAR President Steve Brown, who’s openly gay, recently called McCranie to discuss his concerns and gave him a statement on religious freedom bills.

“Attempts to authorize and encourage discrimination in housing or real estate services under any banner are ethically wrong and wholly inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics,” the statement reads in part. “It’s unquestioned that where the Code of Ethics and the law conflict, the Code must give way to the law. But we will continue to tell the public, and legislators should be on notice, that the Code’s duties, which often set a higher bar than law or regulation, do and will continue to prohibit discrimination in providing real estate services despite what the law may permit.”

The statement pleased McCranie, who said he’d continue to advocate for more inclusive candidates in the future and encourage others in the real estate industry to do the same.

“My perspective is LGBT Realtors and real estate professionals are hounded all the time to donate to the industry PAC,” McCranie said. “And the industry PAC doesn’t seem to consider LGBT property rights and discrimination to be an issue, and so I’m really trying to raise the conversation in the industry about this.”

—  Steve Ramos

Not a good night for incumbents in Dallas County or Texas

John Carona

State Sen. John Carona

Challengers did unusually well against incumbents in both the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday.

Several members of the Texas House and Senate will not be returning.

Sen. John Carona, whose district includes parts of Oak Lawn, lost his bid for re-election to tea party favorite Don Huffhines. Carona, a moderate Republican, has served in the Legislature since 1990.

Staunch LGBT ally Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth lost his bid for re-election to Ramon Romero who has no connection to the Democratic Party and has mostly donated to Republicans, according to the Burnt Orange Report. Burnam has the endorsement of all Democratic groups, including Hispanic groups.

Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, an Irving Republican, lost her bid for re-election to tea party favorite Rodney Anderson. During redistricting, Harper-Brown and Anderson were drawn into the same district. Anderson decided to sit out the last election.

Arlington Republican Diane Patrick lost her bid for re-election to Tony Tinderholt. Patrick was the author of the final anti-bullying bill that passed the Legislature in 2011. Among Tinderholt’s complaints against Patrick is a bill she authored that would have required kindergarten children to have a dental exam before entering first grade. He’s running on a platform of securing the border, gun rights and fighting Obamacare and abortion and an almost cartoonish picture on his homepage shows him with his buxom blond wife, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, in a tight red sweater.

Matt Rinaldi beat Carrollton Rep. Bennett Ratliff. Rinaldi is endorsed by Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shakelford, Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Values President Joanathan Saenz.

In other races, former Dallas City Councilwoman Linda Koop edged out Rep. Stefani Carter. Koop didn’t receive 50 percent of the vote, so they will face off in a runoff.

State District Judge Lena Levario is one of a number of incumbent Democratic judges who lost their primary races on Tuesday. Levario held District Attorney Craig Watkins in contempt of court last March. He was later acquitted, but his prosecutor, Tammy Kemp, challenged Levario, raised twice as much money and won the primary.

Other local judges were defeated for r-eelection by Watkins prosecutors. The list of defeated incumbents includes Lori Chrisman Hockett, Andy Chatham, Carlos Cortez, Marty Lowy, Larry Mitchell, Bill Mazur, Michael E. Miller and Chris Wilmoth.

In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, incumbent David Dewhurst received only 28 percent of the vote. Sen Dan Patrick polled 43 percent. They face each other in a runoff.

Metroplex Republicans President Rob Schlein lost his bid for re-election as Republican Precinct Chair 2069. Former Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez lost his race for re-election as Democratic Precinct Chair 2062.

—  David Taffet

LGBT candidates, allies win big in Texas primary

Texasprimary

Out JP candidate Sara Martinez and former City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, surrounded by supporters, both made it into runoffs in Dallas County. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Openly LGBT candidates and the community’s allies swept the Texas Democratic primary Tuesday, winning the party’s nomination while others made it into runoffs.

In Dallas County, out justice of the peace precinct 5, place 1 candidate Sara Martinez led in the crowded race after early voting. She secured a place in the runoff alongside Melissa Bellan. Other out candidate John McCall came in fourth in the race.

Out candidate Susan Lopez-Craig came in third in the precinct 5 constable’s race. Incumbent Beth Villarreal and Michael Orozco will face off in a runoff.

In the race for county treasurer, former Dallas Councilwoman and LGBT ally Pauline Medrano and Bennie Elnora Brown came out on top to make it into the runoff.

Queer state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, easily won re-election, defeating her only Democratic challenger, Rey Sepulveda. Gonzalez previously told Dallas Voice she expected a challenger based on her outspokenness on women’s and LGBT rights. She’s one of five openly gay state House candidates, but the only one with a contested primary. With no Republican challenger in November, she’ll serve another term.

—  Anna Waugh

Perry, Dewhurst, Abbott mum on Supreme Court marriage rulings

Perry.Rick_

Perhaps it’s because they were too distracted by the fallout over state Sen. Wendy Davis’ historic filibuster.

Or perhaps they realize LGBT issues are losing their effectiveness as a political wedge, even in solidly red states like Texas. (Note this Associated Press story from yesterday.)

Or perhaps it’s a little of both.

But whatever the reason, statewide GOP leaders in Texas have been surprisingly mum about the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision this week striking down a key section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott are all Republicans and strong supporters of Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which also prohibits civil unions, domestic partnerships and anything “identical or similar to marriage.” But none of the three has issued any kind of official statement responding to the high court’s decisions, which will inevitably pave the way for Texas’ marriage ban to be struck down.

In fact, Republican Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who’s running for lieutenant governor in 2014, is the only statewide official who’s issued a statement. Staples also happens to have co-authored Texas’ marriage amendment when he was a state senator in 2005.

“I’m very disturbed by today’s SCOTUS rulings on marriage,” Staples wrote on Twitter. “But I remain even more committed to fighting for our conservative values.”

—  John Wright

Anti-gay TX officials mum on SCOTUS’ decision to take up marriage cases

Perry.Rick

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who championed Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, doesn’t seem overly concerned about the Supreme Court’s decision to take a case that has the potential to strike down the amendment.

Elected officials in Texas have been silent thus far about the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement today that it will take up two same-sex marriage cases — one challenging California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the other challenging the Defense of Marriage Act’s prohibition on federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

If the high court were to issue a broad ruling declaring California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional, it could have implications for Texas’ amendment banning same-sex marriage. But strangely, as far as we can tell, the biggest supporters of the amendment — who include Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Attorney General Greg Abbott — haven’t said a word about today’s announcement, not even on Twitter.

—  John Wright

Cruz declared winner in Republican Senate runoff

Ted Cruz, left, and David Dewhurst

Ted Cruz was declared the winner early in the evening in his race for the Republican nomination for Senator. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was expected to win until Cruz overtook him in the polls during the last week.

Cruz is the former Texas Solicitor General. He is expected to face Paul Sadler in the November election.

In other races, Tincy Miller won the Republican nomination for State Board of Education. She defeated incumbent George Clayton in the primary after he was outed last fall. Clayton plans a write-in candidacy.

For state railroad commissioner, Christi Craddick defeated Warren Chisum who made a name for himself in the legislature as one of the House’s most homophobic representatives.

—  David Taffet

RUNOFF ELECTION: Early voting puts Veasey, Cruz ahead

State Rep. Marc Veasey had an 8 percent lead on Domingo Garcia with early voting totals in Tuesday’s Democratic runoff.

Veasey earned 54 percent of the vote for the new Congressional District 33 that spans Tarrant and Dallas counties. Garcia earned 46 percent of the vote.

Garcia led in early voting totals in Dallas county with 71 percent to Veasey’s 29 percent. In Tarrant County, Veasey got 58 percent compared to Garcia’s 42 percent.

In the Republican Primary runoff, Ted Cruz was ahead of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst with 52 percent statewide compared to Dewhurst’s 48 percent.

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more runoff results.

—  Anna Waugh

Anti-gay Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s law firm has perfect score on gay rights

Ted Cruz

A spokeswoman for U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s law firm distanced the firm from his campaign on Tuesday when asked about the firm’s perfect score on gay rights and Cruz’s staunchly anti-gay political positions.

“Mr. Cruz’s campaign is separate from the firm as a company,” said Jen Costa, manager of public and media relations for Philadelphia-based Morgan, Lewis & Bockus LLP. “I have no comment on his campaign.”

The tea party-backed Cruz is a partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ Houston office, where he leads the firm’s U.S. Supreme Court and national appellate litigation practice, according to his campaign website.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockus received a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 Corporate Equality Index, which rates employers according to their LGBT-related policies and practices.

Costa added that “unfortunately no one is available to speak to our HRC ranking at this time.”

Cruz, who faces Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff for the GOP nomination July 31, repeatedly attacked former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert during the primary for marching in the city’s gay Pride Parade.

On his website, Cruz boasts that as Texas’ solicitor general he helped block a gay Beaumont couple from obtaining a divorce from their Vermont civil union. Cruz’s website also touts a letter he wrote in support of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act — as well as court briefs he filed defending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gays and military recruiters’ access to college campuses regardless of the anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“It’s a shame that when the law firm that he’s a partner at has demonstrated a commitment to LGBT equality, that he has chosen to go the route of archaic bigotry and homophobia,” said Paul Guequierre, a spokesman for HRC.

Despite his anti-gay positions, Cruz has also been criticized for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a gay donor, PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

—  John Wright

Houston senator calls gay attack by Dallas Sen. John Carona ‘vicious,’ defends his marriage

Dan Patrick

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, clarified Thursday that he and his wife are not having marital problems after rumors spread that he is gay.

Emails leaked earlier this week revealed that Patrick had emailed state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, about rumors he believed Carona was spreading.

In a response sent to multiple senators, Carona denied the rumors, writing that though he “heard rumors regarding [Patrick’s] marital status and sexual preferences for a while now,” he did not share rumors that Patrick was “separated, divorced, or gay.

Patrick’s response demanded an apology.

He told the Texas Tribune that his marriage of 37 years is not breaking up and confirmed notions that he and Carona were at odds over replacing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.

John Carona

“I love my wife and she loves me,” Patrick said, adding later that is mistake was thinking the emails would be kept private. “If I made a mistake in this, it was believing that emails between senators, which are almost always private, would have stayed private.”

He said he did not call Carona after the gay allegation because he didn’t want a confrontation, saying “his response was an admission of guilt” because he was not shy about sharing his comments.

“Suddenly he repeats them and he adds another vile comment. Vicious,” Patrick said of the gay reference.

Admitting that he and Carona have “competing visions,” Patrick said he wants conservative Republicans senators to have more of a say in Dewhurst’s replacement, denying that he wants the position. Carona has been called a possible favorite for the position.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

State Sen. John Carona suggests colleague, likely opponent in lieutenant governor’s race is gay

John Carona

State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, has allegedly spread word throughout the Texas Senate that fellow Republican Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston is having marital problems.

Leaked emails published by political news website the Quorum Report reveal that Patrick was upset that Carona had allegedly told fellow senators that he and his wife Jan were separated and possibly divorcing, along with “a few other negative comments about me in an obvious attempt by him to discredit me,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

Carona’s emailed response to state senators mentions that while he “heard rumors regarding [Patrick’s] marital status and sexual preferences for a while now,” he did not share rumors that Patrick was “separated, divorced, or gay.

Dan Patrick

Patrick then responded to the gay remark by writing that Carona needed to apologize to his family for his initial comments and “owes me an apology for his latest smear, another fabrication by Senator Carona.”

The motive behind the emails could be the ambitions of both men to serve as lieutenant governor following the possible election of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to the U.S. Senate. Both Carona and Patrick are likely candidates for the election in 2014, with Carona the leading contender to be Dewhurst’s interim replacement.

Carona could not immediately be reached for comment.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The accusation from Patrick, in part, in an e-mail to fellow senators:

I was in Dallas last week and learned that Senator Carona has told people outside the Senate that Jan and I are separated and may get divorced. He added in a few other negative comments about me in an obvious attempt by him to discredit me for some reason. … There is no excuse or justification for his actions. He could have easily checked the story out to see if it was true. He didn’t care if it was true.

The response from Carona, in part, also in an e-mail to fellow senators:

The email which you blasted to our colleagues and then provided to the media is false and you would have known that had you called or emailed before sending it. …Though I have heard rumors regarding your marital status and sexual preferences for a while now, at no time have I told anyone that you are either separated, divorced, or gay.

 

—  Anna Waugh