WATCH: Craig James suggests his opposition to civil unions is rooted in the Ten Commandments

James.Craig

Craig James

U.S. Senate hopeful Craig James suggested during a televised debate Friday night that his opposition to legal benefits for same-sex couples, including civil unions, is rooted in the Ten Commandments.

During a debate sponsored by the Belo Corp. in Dallas, moderator Sarah Forgany of KENS-TV Channel 5 in San Antonio asked James how much his personal faith would affect his ability to represent all Texans.

A clip was then played from a recent interview James did with the Texas Tribune, in which James doubled down on his previous statements that gay people will have to “answer to the lord” for their actions, that being gay is a choice, and that same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to any legal benefits, including civil unions. James previously made those statements during a forum at the Dallas Country Club in February, as part of a group attack against candidate Tom Leppert for appearing at gay Pride while mayor of Dallas.

This time, Forgany pointed to recent polls showing that 61 percent of Texans support civil unions for same-sex couples. “In this case, would your personal religious faith be in the way of supporting that issue?” Forgany said. Here’s James’ response:

James: “You know, I have said also, as I start every speech that I’ve done now for four months, my goal in life is that when I meet my maker, he says, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant, period.’ It’s not to become a United States senator. So whenever I make the decisions and the things that I just talked about there [in the clip], all of us are free to make decisions in this country, and all of us will be accountable to God for those, including me. I do support the marriage between a man and a woman, and my faith is my core, and anyone who doesn’t support their core and what they believe … This country was founded on the principles of Christianity, and I’m never gonna back away from that.”

Forgany: “So you’re saying that there are times when your personal religious faith will get in the way of that?”

James: “Never gets in the way. The moral fiber of this country is in trouble, and I will stand and honor the Ten Commandments, always will, and I’ll never be apologetic for that. I will always look and seek what the light put at my feet from the lord has provided for me, absolutely. In regard to being judgmental or discriminating, absolutely not. Everyone’s free to make their own decisions, and at the end of the day we all will be accountable to our lord and maker.”

None of the other candidates at the debate — Leppert, Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — was asked to weigh in. However, all four major candidates in the Republican primary have indicated in the past that they oppose both same-sex marriage and civil unions. The exchange with James begins at about the 11:45 mark in the video below:

—  John Wright

Leppert least anti-gay of GOP Senate hopefuls?

Tom Leppert at gay Pride in 2007

Last month we reported that GOP Senate hopeful Craig James, the former SMU football star, stated during an Eagle Forum debate at the Dallas Country Club that he believes being gay is a choice.

“I think it’s a choice, I do,” James said. “You have to make that choice, absolutely.” (Watch video of James’ comments here.)

Peggy Fikac at the San Antonio Express-News reports that James — who happens to be a member of Prestonwood Baptist Church, otherwise known as “Six Flags Over Jesus” — later repeated his claim that being gay is a choice during a candidate forum in Austin.

Fikac decided to follow up with James and other Texas Senate candidates to get more detail about their views on the issue.

She reports that former solicitor general Ted Cruz believes that “engaging in homosexual conduct is a choice,” while Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is “persuaded that the gay lifestyle is a choice.”

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who’s been under attack by the other GOP candidates for appearing at gay Pride as mayor, told Fikac: “I think it’s likely a combination of factors and these may differ by individual, but I’m not going to hold myself up as an expert.”

It’s pretty sad to think that Leppert, a member of the notoriously anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas who threw the community under the bus when he stepped down as mayor to run for Senate, is arguably emerging as the most progressive on LGBT issues among the major candidates in the GOP field. Of course, given that Leppert’s website states he opposes all forms of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, including civil unions, this isn’t saying very much at all.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Tom Leppert’s GOP Senate rivals again attack him for appearing at gay Pride in Dallas

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert walks alongside the city float at gay Pride in 2009.

Republican Senate hopeful Tom Leppert again came under fire today for his decision to appear in two gay Pride parades while mayor of Dallas.

Leppert was attacked by fellow candidates Ted Cruz, Craig James and Lela Pittenger during a debate luncheon hosted by the right-wing Eagle Forum at the Dallas Country Club.

The exchange featured some strong anti-gay language, with James saying he believes homosexuality is a choice and Pittenger comparing the Pride parade to an orgy. It began when the debate moderator, John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, noted that Cruz had attacked Leppert for appearing at gay Pride during a recent candidate forum in Fort Worth.

Goodman then asked Cruz, “Do you have something against gay people?”

“I have something against gay marriage,” Cruz responded. “I don’t support gay marriage. I think there is an onslaught right now in this country to tear down traditional marriage, and I don’t think it’s right.”

—  John Wright

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

NOONER: Price to seek re-election; Dewhurst to run for Senate; Perry 3rd in GOP presidential poll

Your lunchtime quickie from Instant Tea:

• Despite FBI investigation, John Wiley Price says he’ll seek re-election in 2012 to an eighth consecutive term on the Dallas County Commissioners Court.

• Temperature at DFW Airport dips into 70s for first time in two weeks.

• Texas Gov. Rick Perry finishes third behind Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann in GOP presidential primary poll.

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst formally announces that he’s running for U.S. Senate, joining race that includes former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. (Watch video below.)

Participants sought for research project examining impact of violence on LGBT people of color in Texas.

—  John Wright

Dewhurst is neither dear nor a friend

Lieutenant governor’s email touts disastrous budget cuts as a success, says he’s preparing to share some ‘exciting news’

PHYLLIS GUEST | Contributing Columnist

As the Special Session of the Texas Legislature ended, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst posted a “Dear Friend” letter online.

The Internet being what it is, the letter also went to those who do not think him dear and do not consider him a friend.

In it, he touts what he considers the accomplishments of “[w]e conservatives.” These include cutting state spending by nearly $15 billion, balancing the budget without raising taxes, preserving Rainy Day funds for future budget balancing, enacting a strong voter ID law, passing legislation to reduce frivolous lawsuits, and protecting the unborn.

Let’s look at a few of the people and services that got the axe:

• School teachers

• School librarians

• Public library services

• Nursing home care

• Stipends for college

• Access to contraceptives

• Access to low-cost health care

• Food, etc., for prisoners

The list goes on and on. But the list is sad, while the letter is funny — assuming you enjoy black humor.

The first funny thing is that Dewhurst reminds readers five times of his position on the political spectrum. In addition to noting what “[w]e conservatives” did to make the 82nd Legislature “one of the most successful in Texas history,” he mentions his conservative record, his conservative values, the Lege’s conservative victories, and the wonders of conservative change.

Also funny is his claim to having reduced current state spending by almost $15 billion. Does he think we have forgotten that he and Gov. Rick Perry never mentioned, during the last re-election campaign, our state’s shabby fiscal condition? Only later did we learn that our state was $25 billion in the hole. That’s give or take a few billion, according to State Comptroller Susan Coombs.

Even funnier is his pride in the passage of the voter ID law “to protect the integrity of our elections.” Remind us how many unqualified individuals have dashed to the polls, desperate to vote? How distressing it was to wait for hours, in pouring rain or blazing sun, to get to a voting machine? Apparently it is true that a handful of ineligible people have voted, and some have been cited for technical violations. However, far more Texans turned out for the Dallas Mavericks parade than for the Dallas mayoral runoff. Go Mavs!

Funnier still is that he boasts of providing “pregnant women the opportunity to see a sonogram of their unborn child.” Does he believe no such opportunity had existed before? To his mind, and that of his colleagues, have clinics and clinicians across the state refused pregnant women access to ultrasound technology available even in (gasp!) Africa and Asia? As to his companion boast of “requiring a 24-hour waiting period” before a woman can get an abortion? Only a stupid straight or a closeted queen could deem that the state’s business.

Finally, Dewhurst probably thinks clamping down low-cost health care is a real knee-slapper. The June 29 Dallas Morning News reported that the new state budget cuts funds to Parkland’s family planning clinics by more than half, or about $5 million. Statewide, $63 million was cut from family planning programs. So the Lege is punishing not only an organization that refers women for abortion services — Planned Parenthood — but all low-income women. Men, too, of course. And the unwanted children who will be born as a result.

The 82nd Legislature on which Dewhurst was “proud to report” tore a $467 million hole in the state’s already frayed social safety net, lopping off chunks of the Medicaid program that would have helped, according to the DMN, poor children, pregnant women, nursing home residents, and the disabled.

But here’s the best part of the Dewhurst letter. After assuring readers that he and his wife, Tricia, had prayed over his future, he reports — in bold face type — “we will have exciting news to share with you about what we will do next.”

Be still, my heart.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist and member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Contact her via editor@dallasvoice.com.

—  John Wright

SA homophobes put new twist on played-out protests of Terrence McNally’s ‘Corpus Christi’

You’ve gotta hand it to the Alamo City. First they brought us Dan Ramos, and now this.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that a group of so-called religious leaders has banded together to denounce a scheduled production of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi at the San Pedro Playhouse, which happens to receive a small amount of funding from the city.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, McNally’s “gay Jesus” play has sparked controversy in various places across the country, including in 2010 at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, when a scheduled production prompted Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to intervene.

But to their credit, these San Antonio homophobes aren’t just repeating tired old criticisms of the play about blasphemy, etc. That’s right, even though it’s total bullshit, at least they’ve come up with a new reason for opposing Corpus Christi: The group, which plans a news conference at City Hall this afternoon, claims that in addition to portraying “such a profane and disrespectful depiction of Jesus Christ,” the play is “insensitive” to the gay community because it contains a “crude portrayal of homosexual men.” Here’s an excerpt from the group’s letter:

“It would be easy, but inaccurate, to dispose of our concerns as a homophobic response to the depiction of Jesus as a homosexual leading a band of homosexual apostles. While many may find this characterization troubling, we feel that the crude portrayal of homosexual men in this play is, at best, an exaggerated caricature that is insensitive also to our gay and lesbian community.”

—  John Wright

Rolling power outages and the Super Bowl

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, mandated rolling power outages to reduce demand during peak periods, at least that was the story. These lovely folks gave no warning, they just started cutting power.

Now comes word that critical services did not get cut — hospitals and emergency services, and the stadium in Arlington. Say what? Yup, DART riders got stranded as power to critical signaling devices was cut, hotel guests were stuck in dark elevators and stairwells, disabled people were stuck in their homes in the dark, but Jerry Frigging Jones and his stadium had all the power they needed. God forbid football gets delayed!

So what the hell does the Super Bowl have that that you and I don’t? Apparently cutting power would be a security risk. That is the lame story anyway.

So finally Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gave us the real answer. Cold weather knocked out about 50 of the 550 power plants in Texas and there also was an increase in demand.

“Lack of adequate winterization and preparation appear to be a major cause of the outages,” he said in a statement. “This is unusually cold weather for Texas, but we obviously need to ensure that we are adequately prepared. That’s why we will continue to work with state agencies and energy providers to find out where problems occurred and how to prevent them in the future.”

So it comes down the the magic Genni of deregulation. Companies bent on squeezing every penny from their investments didn’t have a plan in place for cold weather. Lovely! Instead of buying power from other grids, they just force their problem on the state’s citizens. Meanwhile practice in the stadium goes on as planned.

We can all sleep more soundly, albeit more chilly with the power out, that football will still be played on Sunday. Thank God!

—  admin

Top 10: Perry, Dewhurst were tied to cancellation of gay-themed play at Tarleton

Otte-John
John Otte

No. 7:

View all of the Top 10

A Tarleton State University student’s choice to present a play with gay content for his theater directing class stirred controversy in the local community.

Tarleton State is in Stephenville, 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

John Jordan Otte, a junior, was assigned to choose a play meaningful to him to direct for his theater class. He selected Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi.

A 45-minute excerpt from the play was scheduled to be performed on March 27 along with selections from three other plays directed by other students in his class in a theater that held just 95 people. The public was never invited to attend.

Corpus Christi has a modern Texas setting and depicts a gay man whose life parallels that of Jesus. The character, named Joshua, performs a same-sex wedding.

When the community heard about the play, they flooded the school with complaints. Alumni threatened to withhold donations. Otte was denounced from local pulpits.

At first, Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio defended freedom of speech on his campus.

One of the actors in the play was given the choice by his parents of withdrawing from the play or getting out of the house. Otte took in his 18-year-old actor.

As the performance day approached, the time was changed from afternoon to 8 a.m. for security reasons, with only friends and family allowed to watch.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst entered the controversy, issuing a statement condemning the play and use of state money.

State money, however, was not being used. Otte paid for performance rights for the play out of his own pocket.

After a final run-through, the professor canceled the production and a grade was given based on that rehearsal.

He cited safety and security reasons. Though not confirmed, several people called Dallas Voice and claimed pressure was put on the professor and on the president of the school by the governor’s office.

Rachel Dudley, a student reporter at Tarleton State, connected Gov. Rick Perry to the controversy when she obtained a copy of note from Steven Hotze, who heads a group of clergy in Houston that had been one of Mayor Annise Parker’s biggest detractors.

“We also owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Perry for his behind the scenes work to stop the play at Tarleton State. Ray Sullivan, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, was notified of the play on Thursday and after discussing it with the Governor, the necessary steps were taken to ensure that its performance was canceled,” said the note from Hotze.

In response, Cathedral of Hope brought a national touring company of Corpus Christi to Dallas. QCinema, which started a live performance group, promises a production in Fort Worth next year.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Lt. governor candidates low key on LGBT issues

Dewhurst lists fiscal responsibility as a top issue; Chavez-Thompson says she is focusing on education

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

ON THE ISSUES | Although the candidates for Texas lieutenant governor have been relatively quiet on LGBT issues, a few key statements give an indication on where they stand. Republican incumbent David Dewhurst, left, chimed in to help cancel a student production of the gay-themed play “Corpus Christi” last spring. Linda Chavez-Thompson, the Democratic challenger, Tweeted her support for equality when a judge overturned California’s Proposition 8.

LGBT issues are not playing a big role in the race for Texas lieutenant governor between Republican incumbent David Dewhurst and Democratic challenger Linda Chavez-Thompson.

Neither candidate addresses LGBT issues on their website. But while neither campaign returned phone calls from Dallas Voice seeking comment for this story, a Tweet and a recent incident give an indication of their positions.

Dewhurst played a role in last spring’s controversy over the production of the play “Corpus Christi” at Tartleton State University in Stephenville.

“No one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans,” Dewhurst said in a written statement.

In later praising the university for canceling the performance, he claimed he was “a strong defender of free speech.”

Chavez-Thompson has taken a more LGBT-friendly stance.

After the Proposition 8 decision was handed down in California, she Tweeted her reaction to the ruling: “So glad to hear Prop 8 was overturned today. It was discrimination at its worst. I will keep fighting for equality for all Texans.”

Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darling Ewing said she believes Chavez-Thompson would be an ally to the LGBT community.

“Linda comes from an immigrant family, a poor family,” said Ewing. “On equality, she’ll be right on the issues.”

Dewhurst has been lieutenant governor since 2003 and is running for a third term. He was first elected to statewide office in 1998 as commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas.

On his website, Dewhurst prominently displays a “Petition to Repeal Obamacare” directly under his “Take Action” call for volunteers for his campaign.

Under a pull down list of issues, health care is first. While he claims that an overwhelming majority of people oppose the “2,000-plus page, $1.2 trillion, health care overhaul” and estimates the new law will add $27 billion in costs to taxpayers, he proposes no solution to the lack of health coverage by Texans.

“He isn’t in favor of health care,” Ewing said. “He’s only interested in not paying for it.”

Dewhurst’s other top issues are fiscal responsibility, border security and property rights. He believes the federal government has not stopped the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants into Texas, and he says Texas has stepped in to enhance border security. He does not, however, propose an Arizona-type immigration law for the state.

Chavez-Thompson lists jobs and education as her top issues.

“The state has dropped the ball on education,” Ewing said. “It’s all about saving a buck. They’ve made college education a luxury. The cost of a college education today is ridiculous.”

Chavez-Thompson also addresses the health care debate on her website, saying, “Today, rising health care costs has forced too many Texas families to go without insurance.”

Chavez-Thompson spent most of her career working her way up through union ranks. When she was chosen to serve as the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, she was the first woman and the first person of color to hold that position.

President Bill Clinton appointed Chavez-Thompson to serve on his Race Advisory Board and on the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Today, she is vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“I think what she brings us is a workingman’s perspective,” Ewing said. “Because of her union history, she brings bargaining skills that would bring groups together.”

Local Republicans did not return calls or offered no comment for this article.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens