SREC member wants to oust Speaker Joe Straus because he’s Jewish, doesn’t hate gays enough

Speaker Joe Straus

We’ve already told you about the anti-gay forces that have undoubtedly been working behind the scenes in the race for speaker of the Texas House, but now it looks like they may be starting to emerge publicly. The Texas Observer posted a story Friday in which John Cook, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, explained his opposition to Speaker Joe Straus. Cook’s biggest problem with Straus, apparently, is that he’s Jewish: “I got into politics to put Christian conservatives into office,” Cook says. But Cook also accuses Straus of being pro-choice and pro-gay rights:

His opposition to Straus, he said, was rooted largely in his belief that the current Speaker is both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. “He’s a pro choice person basically,” Cook said. (Earlier in his career, Straus did vote against banning gay couples from serving as foster parents and against a ban on late-term abortions, but Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life, has been one of his biggest supporters.) Cook called the Republicans who worked with Democrats to elect Straus “turncoat RINOs.” (Republicans in Name Only.)

As the legislative session draws closer, it’ll be interesting to see whether the so-called tea party folks who oppose Straus start to escalate their attacks based on his 2005 vote against the gay foster parenting ban. Particularly since Straus has said he voted against the ban because it would have cost the state a lot of money and gone against his libertarian principles. From a January 2009 interview in which Texas Monthly asked Straus about the vote:

STRAUS: …  I’m not supportive of adoption by homosexual couples, but the whole issue of government with a fiscal note attached and government employees investigating people’s private lives caused me a great deal of heartburn. I remember looking at the expenditure of taxpayer money for that and it was a lot. And it required what? Going into people’s homes? Watching the way people dress or the way they talk? I have some pretty strong libertarian leanings, and sometimes that causes a conflict. What gave me confidence to hit the button I hit was that I was very certain that Barry Goldwater would have done the same thing.

—  John Wright

A platform of ideas — bad ideas

Even conservative LGBTs shouldn’t drink the Texas GOP Kool-Aid

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

The Texas Republican Party just had their state convention here in Dallas, and it is worth noting that they passed a new platform as well. For LGBT citizens it is a very important document.

The GOP of Texas passed a platform that is more parody that politics. The vehement rhetoric contained in this document should send a clear message to the folks claiming to be LGBT Republicans that they are not listened to and not wanted in the GOP.

I am speaking of the Log Cabin crowd and the even stranger GOProud group. I ask point blank: How can you support a party who writes this into their platform?

“Homosexuality — Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should ‘family’ be redefined to include homosexual ‘couples.’

“We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

“Texas Sodomy Statutes — We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”

For all the talk of changing the GOP from the inside that the Log Cabin Republicans use as their excuse for supporting that party, I fail to see how they have had any effect. This latest platform seems even worse than before. A giant step backwards — but I guess that is no surprise for the GOP.

As far as ENDA, well the Texas GOP made it pretty clear they don’t want any of them new-fangled equal rights laws: “ENDA — We oppose this act through which the federal government would coerce religious business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs and principles by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior.”

How about hate crimes? Well, the Texas Republicans have something to say about that as well and they wrap it in a paragraph cynically entitled “Equality of All Citizens”: “We urge immediate repeal of the Hate Crimes Law. Until the Hate Crimes Law is totally repealed, we urge the Legislature to immediately remove the education curriculum mandate and the sexual orientation category in said Law.”

Now lest you think this platform is damaging only to LGBT Texans, take heart. Anyone who works for a living is fair game as well. These two single-sentence planks made me shiver: “Workers’ Compensation — We urge the Legislature to resist making Workers’ Compensation mandatory for all Texas employers.”

And: “Minimum Wage — We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.”

Needless to say there are extensive planks about immigration and border security, and they include this little nugget, “The repeal of the birthright citizenship”: “Birthright Citizenship — We call on the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of these United States to clarify Section 1 of the 14th amendment to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States: with no exceptions.”

This platform has something for everyone, or should I say against everyone. The politically astute will note that most of these changes seem to be a bow to the “tea baggers” and are simply appeasements that were never intended to be written into law. I suppose those professing to be LGBT Republicans would take this approach to reading this hate-filled document, but I think it is far more serious than that.

Writing off the party platform as inconsequential might work if you live with the cognitive dissonance that some people do. But the platform is the basis of decisions that will be made by legislators who are elected and it will be held up as a litmus test for any GOP candidate during an election.

So what is this all about? Well it’s about waking up and looking at the reality of the GOP in Texas.

The party has swung so far right it looks more like a fringe group than the mainstream. It’s time LGBT voters stopped deceiving themselves and realize the Republican Party has anything but your best interests at heart.

You can be fiscally conservative and still not drink this Kool Aid.

In fairness, I am a Democrat, and though the Democratic leadership has been disappointing in its movement forward on all LGBT issues, at least there has been some movement. Yes it’s not as fast as I would like, and yes, I criticize both my party and my president. But at least they do not believe I am somehow tearing at the moral fabric of the country by my mere existence.

So to my LGBT Republican brothers and sisters, I have to paraphrase a question from everyone’s favorite moose hunter, Sarah Palin: “How’s that whole change from the inside thing going for you?”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice