3 of 11 House Dems who opppose marriage equality are from Texas


U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, for the first time publicly expressed support for marriage equality, according to the Hill.

Three of the 11 House Democrats who oppose marriage equality hail from Texas, according to The Hill.

They are Henry Cuellar of San Antonio, Gene Green of Houston and Pete Gallego of Alpine.

With the U.S. Supreme Court taking up two marriage equality cases last week, The Hill contacted all 20 Democrats in the House who either oppose marriage equality or haven’t taken a position.

Gallego is a freshman who defeated Republican Francisco “Quico” Canseco in Texas’ only swing congressional district last year. During that race, Canseco sent out a mailer falsely accusing Gallego of supporting marriage equality.

Contacted by the Hill, Gallego’s staff confirmed that he opposes marriage equality. Gallego has said he supports civil unions.

According to the Hill, “Green said the choice should be left to the individual states but didn’t address DOMA, which he’d voted to uphold, or say whether he personally supported gay marriage.”

Cuellar’s office did not respond to the Hill’s inquiries. Neither did the office of freshman Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who is among nine additional Democrats in the House who have not indicated their position on marriage.

On the bright side, Texas Democratic Rep. Ruben Hinojosa for the first time publicly indicated that he supports marriage equality, according to the Hill.

As for Cuellar, Green and Gallego, it would appear as though they are running out of time to get on the right side of history.

—  John Wright

Majority of House Democrats from Texas decline to sign brief opposing Defense of Marriage Act

Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was among four Democrats from Texas who signed the brief opposing DOMA. Five House Democrats from Texas declined to sign the brief.

With friends like these, who need enemies?

The Texas Democratic Party may have recently added marriage equality to its platform, but obviously that doesn’t mean all or even most Democratic elected officials in the Lone Star State support the plank — or have the guts to stand up for it.

In fact, a majority of U.S. House Democrats from Texas have declined to sign a court brief opposing the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

Five of the nine House Democrats from Texas — the most from any state — are among 60 from across the country who declined to sign the friend-of-the-court brief filed Tuesday before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (BuzzFeed has a list of all 60 representatives who declined to sign the brief.)

The Washington Blade reports that 132 House Democrats signed the brief, which urges the federal appeals court to strike down as unconstitutional the the 1996 law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage. The brief was filed in Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, in which federal employee Karen Golinski is seeking benefits for her partner.

Shelbi Day, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, which represents Golinski, told the Blade that the brief filed by House Democrats “sends a powerful message” and “underscores just how problematic and unconstitutional DOMA is.”

“As the brief points out, DOMA is not the rational result of impartial lawmaking but rather was enacted in haste with no legitimate government purpose,” Day said. “We welcome this brief and applaud the members of Congress who have signed it.”

The four Democrats from Texas who signed the brief opposing DOMA are Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Charlie Gonzalez, Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson.

The five U.S. House members from Texas who declined to sign the brief are Reps. Henry Cuellar, Al Green, Gene Green, Rubén Hinojosa and  Silvestre Reyes. (To his credit Al Green is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.)

In case you’re wondering, contact info for these five — and the rest of Texas’ congressional delegation — can be found here.

Read the full brief here.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Texas Democrats Gene Green, Henry Cuellar support anti-gay amendment

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Rep. Gene Green

1. Two Democratic congressman from Texas were among those who voted in favor of an anti-gay amendment on the House floor Thursday. The amendment to a Defense appropriations bill, which passed 248-175, reaffirms the Defense of Marriage Act by prohibiting the Pentagon from spending funds in violation of DOMA. The Human Rights Campaign says the amendment is “unnecessary” and called on the Senate “to reject the House’s return to using LGBT Americans as a wedge issue.” All but five Republicans voted in favor of the amendment by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., while all but 19 Democrats voted against it. Two of those 19 Democrats were Rep. Gene Green (Houston, Baytown) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (San Antonio, Laredo, Seguin).

2. In other DOMA-related news, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold the first-ever hearing on legislation that would repeal the 15-year-old anti-gay law “in the coming weeks,” according to an aide for committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, one of the sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act. Another sponsor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said this in response to news that the bill will get a hearing: “If Democrats and Republicans can come together to do what’s right in New York, I know we can do the same in Congress to do what’s right for all of America. Now is the time to act on the federal level.”

3. Here’s another reason why Texas Gov. Rick Perry needs to hurry up and enter the GOP presidential race: Candidates have only until Aug. 1 to sign an anti-gay Iowa group’s pledge called, “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family.” Candidates must sign the pledge to earn an endorsement from the group in the key primary state. Among other things, the pledge says that homosexuality is a choice, that homosexuality is akin to polygamy, and that homosexuality represents a public health risk. Thus far, the only candidate’s who’s signed the pledge — which also calls for banning all forms of pornography — is Michele Bachmann, but we’re pretty sure Perry can’t wait to join her.

—  John Wright

5 of the 12 House Democrats from Texas have failed to sign on as co-sponsors of ENDA

Cuellar, Green, Ortiz, Rodriguez voted in favor of 2007 bill

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, currently has 202 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The bill needs 216 votes to pass the House.

Five House Democrats who are uncommitted on ENDA — and haven’t signed on as co-sponsors — are from Texas. Four of those five voted in favor of ENDA in 2007, when the bill didn’t include gender identity.

HRC this week unveiled Countdown 2010, a grassroots initiative aimed at urging congressional action on both ENDA and  repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” And HRC listed Texas as one of the states where it will be focusing its efforts on ENDA.

This is a likely indication that HRC believes these five Democrats need to hear from their constituents about supporting a fully inclusive ENDA — and that they need to hear from them soon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised a vote on ENDA by the end of the year.

With that, here are phone numbers for the Washington offices of the five House Democrats from Texas who haven’t signed on as ENDA co-sponsors. If you live in one of their districts, you may want to give them a call. You may also want to contact them via the Countdown 2010 website. All except for Chet Edwards voted in favor of ENDA in 2007.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (Laredo, Mission, Rio Grande City, San Antonio, Seguin): 202-225-1640

Rep. Chet Edwards (Waco, Bryan, Cleburne): 202-225-6105

Rep. Gene Green (Houston, Baytown): 202-225-1688

Rep. Solomon Ortiz (Corpus Christi, Brownsville): 202-225-7742

Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (San Antonio, Eagle Pass, Fort Stockton, Del Rio): 202-225-4511

—  John Wright