In case you hadn’t noticed, Texas is now down to just 3 openly gay city council members

A Victory Fund spokesman called Chris Hightower’s defeat in Arlington ‘heartbreaking.’

As we mentioned in our big election roundup from Saturday night, three gay city council candidates lost runoffs in Texas — Randi Shade in Austin, Elena Guajardo in San Antonio, and Chris Hightower in Arlington.

Shade was the only incumbent of the three, and her departure from office will leave Texas, the second-largest state in the nation, with just three openly LGBT city council members — Joel Burns in Fort Worth, Sue Lovell in Houston, and Scott Sherman in Pearland.

Openly gay Kemp City Councilman Jerry Hazelip didn’t seek re-election this year. And the two gay council candidates in Dallas, James Nowlin and Casie Pierce, lost their races May 14.

Of course, Texas still has plenty of LGBT appointed and elected officials (view the full list here), including high-profile ones like Mayor Annise Parker in Houston and Sheriff Lupe Valdez in Dallas — but nevertheless the lack of gay council members is cause for concern, according to Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Dison said the Victory Fund, which endorsed both Hightower and Shade, doesn’t keep a running total of the number of gay city council members in each state. But he noted that Texas is one of the few big states that lack an out legislator, and city councils are often a stepping stone to higher office.

“Chris Hightower’s loss was heartbreaking, both because he came so close and because he was subject to some pretty awful anti-gay politicking,” Dison told Instant Tea today. “My understanding is Shade’s loss had nothing to do with her sexual orientation.

“Municipal offices like those are very important because that’s often where future state legislators get their start, and Texas really needs an openly LGBT voice in the Capitol.

“We hope our progress is constant, but sometimes the challenges seem to bunch up and we’ve got to redouble our efforts,” Dison said. “We’ve seen a lot of success in Texas and I think we’ll continue to see good people decide to run from both parties.”

Really? Both parties? A gay Republican candidate in Texas? Now that would be something.

—  John Wright