Pastor threatens recall drive if DP benefits restored in El Paso; council to vote today

Pastor Tom Brown of Word of Life Church was the driving force behind a ballot measure to repeal DP benefits in El Paso.

The pastor behind a ballot initiative to repeal domestic partner benefits in El Paso is threatening to launch recall petitions against city councilmembers who vote in favor of an ordinance to restore them.

The council is slated to vote on the ordinance this morning that would restore benefits taken away under a ballot initiative approved by voters in November. Mayor John Cook introduced the ordinance last week after a federal judge upheld the ballot initiative.

The El Paso Times reports that today’s vote on the ordinance is expected to be close. Pastor Tom Brown, who spearheaded the ballot initiative, is threatening recall elections against Cook and any council member who votes in favor of the ordinance. From the EPT:

The initiative was intended by its authors just to end benefits for 19 unmarried partners of employees. But it also cost more than 100 others — including members of the City Council — benefits because of the way it was worded.

Brown said the mayor is now trying to override the will of the voters.

“We’re doing it because the mayor is trying to overturn the democratic process,” Brown said on Monday. “This is the first ordinance the people of El Paso have ever passed. If (what Cook is trying to do) works, it will be the end of direct democracy in El Paso.”

Cook said he proposed the ordinance as a matter of principle, not because it’s popular.

“I’m not going to change my position because of threats,” the mayor said.

City Rep. Susie Byrd, who supports Cook’s ordinance, was even more blunt.

“I don’t think public policy should be shaped by bullies or bigots,” she said.

—  John Wright