Only one of six candidates for El Paso mayor is strongly backing an initiative to include LGBT protections in the city’s nondiscrimination policy and maintain domestic partner benefits.
Councilman Steve Ortega said he strongly supports Proposition 7, which will be voted on May 11.
“To me, this is the civil rights issue of our time,” Ortega told the El Paso Times. “It’s non-negotiable for me. A community that doesn’t fight against discrimination tolerates it, and I never want El Paso to be in that category.”
The council approved DP benefits in 2009 but voters later voted to end them. Ortega was a proponent when the council added them again in 2011.
Proposition 7 would add sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status to the city’s nondiscrimination policy. Its passage would allow the city to continue to offer health benefits to employees’ opposite- and same-sex partners. Reversing the benefits would require another voter-approved charter amendment.
Conservative businessman Robert Cormell told the Times that he would repeal domestic partner benefits if he is elected mayor.
“It’s a financial decision,” he said. “It’s not a gay issue. It’s an unmarried issue.”
The other candidates —Leo Gus Haddad, Oscar Leeser, Hector H. Lopez and Jaime O. Perez — wouldn’t commit to a stance on the nondiscrimination policy or DP benefits but said they support equality.