Conservative’s ‘voter guide’ offers some warnings for LGBT voters and their allies
TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
FORT WORTH — Fort Worth residents will head to the ballot box Saturday, May 14, to cast their ballots in elections that will decide who will replace Mike Moncrief as mayor and who will make up the City Council.
Those choices could have a significant impact on how the relationship between the city government and Cowtown’s LGBT community continues to develop in the years ahead.
District 9 Councilman Joel Burns — Fort Worth’s first and so far only openly gay councilmember — is running unopposed for his second full term on the council. And District 8 Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, considered the LGBT’s strongest non-gay ally on the council, is also unopposed in her re-election bid.
Also unopposed in District 3 incumbent W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman, who voted in favor of adding protections for transgenders to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
But other two other councilmembers who, over the last 18 months since the Rainbow Lounge raid, have voted in support of LGBT-positive efforts including an amendment adding protections based on gender identity and gender expression to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, face challengers this time around.
And in District 7, incumbent Carter Burdette — who voted against the trans protections — is not running for re-election, leaving a field of five candidates to fight for his seat. Those challengers include Jack Ernest, who called the transgender protection ordinance “damnable” at a candidate forum last month.
While no LGBT political organization in Tarrant County has issued endorsements in the council elections, conservative Christian activist the Rev. Richard Clough has issued a “voter guide” that polls the candidates on their views on 10 “precepts,” a list that includes questions on same-sex marriage and the trans protection ordinance.
The guide could serve as a warning as much for LGBT voters and their allies as for the right-wing conservatives Clough was apparently targeting.
Clough, an evangelist with Kenneth Copeland Ministries, issued the voters’ guide earlier this month under the name Texans for Faith and Family. Only nine of the total 22 candidates running for either mayor or City Council replied.
Candidates were asked to say whether they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with Clough’s “20 precepts,” statements that ran the gamut from legalizing casino gambling to support for Israel. Only four of the 10 specifically addressed issues actually pertinent to city governance.
The three precepts related to LGBT issues were “Marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman;” “City tax dollars should not be used to advertise with the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender) community” and “The city’s Transgender Ordinance is not a needed law.”
Of the five candidates running for mayor of Fort Worth, only two — Betsy Price (whose first name was misspelled “Besty” on Clough’s printed guide) and dark horse Nicholas Zebrun — replied to Clough.
Zebrun disagreed with all Clough’s precepts concerning defining marriage and spending money to promote the city to LGBT tourists and conventions, and he “strongly disagreed” that the trans protection ordinance is not needed.
Price, however, agreed that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, and “strongly agreed” that tax dollars should not be used to promote Fort Worth as a destination for LGBT tourists.
Price did not respond to the precept regarding the trans protection ordinance.
District 2 incumbent Sal Espino, who has supported LGBT-positive initiatives, did not reply to Clough’s precepts, while his challenger, Paul Rudisill indicated strong agreement across the board with all 10 precepts.
Another incumbent who supported LGBT-positive initiatives on the council is Frank Moss who is facing two challengers in his District 5 re-election bid.
Neither Moss nor challenger Charles Hibbler responded to Clough’s precepts, but the third candidate, Rickie Clark, indicated strong agreement for nine of the 10. She didn’t respond to the precept at “Sharia law should not be allowed to be practiced in the United States.”
In District 6, incumbent Jungus Jordan replied with “strong agreement” to all 10 precepts. His opponent, Tolli Thomas, did not respond to Clough’s voter guide.
Dennis Shingleton was the only District 7 candidate who did not respond to the voters guide. Ernest “strongly agreed” with all 10 precepts, while John
Perry agreed with the three anti-gay precepts and either agreed or “strongly agreed” with the remaining seven.
District 7 candidate Lee Henderson did not respond to the precept on defining marriage, and disagreed with the precepts on LGBT advertising and the transgender protection ordinance. The fourth candidate, Jonathan Horton, did not respond to the precepts on LGBT advertising or defining marriage, but did agree that the transgender protections ordinance is unnecessary.
District 4 incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Danny Scarth faces challenger Lupe Arriola in his re-election bid. Neither candidate responded to Clough’s voter guide precepts.