George Clayton says he’ll advocate for marriage equality in HD 102 race

George Clayton

George Clayton

Former State Board of Education member George Clayton plans to advocate for marriage equality if elected to represent North Texas’ House District 102, he announced Thursday.

Clayton, who announced earlier this year he’d be running as a Democrat instead of a Republican, was outed in a whisper campaign before losing his re-election bid to the State Board of Education last year.

While Clayton previously told Dallas Voice he didn’t want to be considered the “gay candidate,” his platform released Thursday lists gay marriage among his goals.

“I will introduce legislation that would prohibit all laws and ordinances, local or otherwise, that ban gay marriage,” Clayton said in a statement.  “It is time for Texas and Texans to move forward and depart from the fears and prejudices of the past and present. If this action cannot be done legislatively, then it will have to be accomplished in the courts. It is inevitable and those who oppose it might just as well prepare for it.”

State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, authored a marriage equality bill earlier this year. The bill would require two-thirds majority in each chamber in order to place the state’s constitutional marriage amendment back on the ballot for Texas voters to overturn.

Statewide advocacy group Equality Texas is launching a marriage project entitled Why Marriage Matters – Texas, which will focus on the importance of couples’ stories and how not having the freedom to marry has impacted them in the Lone Star State.

Clayton is the only Democrat in the HD 102 race. On the Republican side, state Rep. Stefani Carter, who was once considering a run for Railroad Commission, is facing three challengers, including former Dallas Councilwoman Linda Koop.  The district includes parts of North Dallas, Addison and Richardson.

Also listed among Clayton’s priorities would be the creation of a Texas Commission on Instruction and Curriculum and changes to the State Board of Education, including appointments by the governor, financial expertise and supervision on school funds and management.

—  Dallasvoice

16 lawmakers ask TX National Guard to process benefits for gay spouses

State Rep. Lon Burnam

State Rep. Lon Burnam

In a letter to Major General John F. Nichols, National Guard Adjutant General of Texas, 16 members of the Texas House of Representatives asked that he begin enrolling eligible spouses for benefits.

Texas is the only state that is refusing to take applications for federal benefits. Mississippi and Louisiana are not taking applications on state property but are taking them on National Guard bases.

The 16 legislators asked Nichols “if you have been advised by the office of the Governor not to offer these benefits to same-gender spouses, please send our offices a copy of that communication.”

The letter was written by Democratic Rep. Lon Burnam, who represents a district in Fort Worth. Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, is the only other North Texas legislator who signed it. Openly gay Rep. Mary Gonzalez of El Paso also is among the 16 signers.

Below is a copy of the letter:

—  David Taffet

Texas lawmaker files bill to legalize same-sex marriage

State Rep. Lon Burnam

Rep. Lon Burnam

Yes, you read the headline right.

As the Texas Legislature convened today for a second special session — and what is expected to be round 2 of an abortion fight — Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, quietly filed HB 20, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Texas if the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is first repealed.

Burnam announced his plan to file the bill last week in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

“The Supreme Court found today that the federal government acted to ‘impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages.’ I can assure you the Texas Legislature did the same. As such, it is time to renounce our homophobic state laws and usher in marriage equality in Texas,” Burnam said in a statement at the time.

—  John Wright

Warren Chisum: ‘I don’t think Texas has changed their mind’ on gay marriage

Warren Chisum

Warren Chisum, who authored Texas’ 2005 marriage amendment that prohibits same-sex marriage, still thinks voters support the measure.

Despite increased support for same-sex relationship recognition across the country and in Texas, conservative state leaders believe voters still agree with the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Five pieces of legislation have recently been filed by state lawmakers to repeal the state’s marriage amendment and to allow marriage equality or civil unions if the amendment is repealed.

But former state Rep. Warren Chisum, who authored the amendment, still believes that Texas voters support it.

“I know there’s a big push, seems like, around the United States, but you know, I don’t think Texas has changed their mind,” Chisum told the San Antonio Express-News. “We’ll be the oddball of all of them, I guess. If everybody else in the country switches, I still think the view of Texas is a little more conservative than the rest of the country.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry’s also said he agrees with voters who passed the amendment in 2005 and the definition of marriage in Texas should stay between a woman and a man.

State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, filed a bill Thursday to bring marriage equality to Texas and mandate the recognition of same-sex marriage performed in other states. The legislation would go into effect only if legislation to repeal the marriage amendment were first successful. The repeal legislation would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers and a majority of support from voters in November.

While lawmakers and LGBT advocates have admitted the process to repeal the amendment would be a challenge, nine lawmakers signed on as co-authors of Burnam’s bill yesterday — Reps. Mary Gonzalez, Ana Hernandez Luna, Donna Howard, Eddie Lucio III, Poncho Nevárez, Mark Strama, Chris Turner, Armando Walle and Gene Wu.

Burnam’s office said the bill was sent out to the Democratic Caucus last night, so more lawmakers are expected to sign on as co-author.

Equality Texas’ field organizer Daniel Williams released a special Valentine’s Day issue of the organization’s weekly legislative update, which highlights the need for five pieces of recently filed legislation for marriage equality, as well as a Friday edition. Equality Texas is calling on supporters of the legislation to contact their representatives to encourage them to sign on as co-author and support the bill.

Watch both legislative updates below.

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas, Tarrant County Stonewall Dems endorse in general election

Marc Veasey

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas members voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse state Rep. Marc Veasey for Congress and municipal court Judge Phyllis Lister Brown for district judge in the general election.

Stonewall had endorsed other candidates in the primary, but Veasey and Brown won their runoffs. Veasey is running for the new Congressional District 33 and Brown is seeking election to become judge of the 162nd civil district court.

At last week’s Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats meeting, the group voted on a slate endorsement of the Democratic ticket in Tarrant County with a special mention of Veasey, state Sen. Wendy Davis, Nicole Collier in House District 95, Lon Burnam in House District 90 and Chris Turner in House District 101.

Tarrant Stonewall doesn’t endorse in primaries, so President Felipe Guttierez said the special mention just highlights the group’s strategic plan to get those Tarrant County candidates elected.

—  Dallasvoice

Vasquez-Burnam race heats up

Vasquez-Burnam

Carlos Vasquez, left, and Lon Burnam

The race between state Rep. Lon Burnam and openly gay Fort Worth school board member Carlos Vasquez in House District 90 is heating up, according to the Star-Telegram.

According to the report, Vasquez called fellow school board members traitors after the board replaced its first Hispanic president with its first black president.

Burnam said that Vasquez “cannot behave well in public” and would not work well in the Legislature.

Vasquez accused Burnam of talking too much about environmental issues and not about the issues constituents care about. He also said that Burnam is targeting the district’s black community with robocalls.

The district was redrawn to be majority Hispanic.

The insults continued with Vasquez accusing Burnam of not campaigning hard enough for President Barack Obama in 2008. But Vasquez then revealed that he first supported Hillary Clinton while Burnam said he was always an Obama supporter.

Early voting began today and runs 12 days through May 25. Early voting locations are listed here on the Dallas County Elections website. Tarrant County locations are available here.

Primary day is May 29.

—  David Taffet

Gay FW school board member Carlos Vasquez to challenge Rep. Lon Burnam in 2012 primary

Carlos Vasquez, the openly gay Fort Worth school board member whom we profiled in a cover story last month, announced today on Facebook he plans to challenge State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, in next year’s Democratic Primary. Burnam is a staunch LGBT ally and one of the most liberal members of the House. Here’s Vasquez’s announcement:

After careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that many of the problems faced with public education are attributable to a broken State Government in Austin. With over four billion dollars cut in public education we need to refocus on what matters most, a strong public school system.

Today, I am announcing my candidacy for State Representative in District 90 in the Democratic Primary of 2012.

Please join me and invite your friends to my campaign kickoff on September 16, 2011 at Las Ranitas at the Grand Plaza 4200 South Freeway Suite 1715 from 5:30-8:30.

If Vasquez were to prevail in both the primary and general elections, he would become only the second openly LGBT legislator in Texas’ history.

—  John Wright

Immigrants are the new gays in a scenario that reminds Jesse Garcia of Nazi Germany

megamarcha_image

Dallas’ LGBT chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens will be among the groups participating in this Saturday’s Mega March for Immigration Reform in downtown Dallas. The previously scheduled march is expected to draw up to 100,000 people in the wake of Arizona’s recent decision to racially profile crack down on suspected illegal immigrants.

LULAC Council 4871-The Dallas Rainbow Council will discuss plans for the march at its regular monthly meeting tonight, which will also feature State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, executive director for the Dallas Peace Center; and Shawn Amoei, a student leader from the local Iranian-American community. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at hung*ding*er, 4000 Cedar Springs Rd., Suite E.

From a note on posted on LULAC 4871 President Jesse Garcia’s Facebook page this morning:

“Ten years ago, the hate toward different went after the gay. That feeling of seeing two men or two women sharing love was just too much to bear by those in the majority. State by state, laws against same-sex marriage were passed. They took away the right of consenting adults to share a home, a life. After devastating a community that only makes up 10 percent of the population and sending a nation of states backwards, the majority looked elsewhere to express their frustration that their numbers were not growing. Their rage inside had not subsided. Now the majority has gone after the immigrant. Even though immigrants come from every part of the world and in every color, the ‘browning’ of America was too much for the majority in power. Slowly, communities and states are now masking their racial hatred by coming up with their own immigration enforcement. …

“These scenarios have been played out before. Different characters in different times. One only needs to look at how Nazi Germany started to see parallels of where our society is going.”

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Garcia, who had this to say:

“In 2006, there were a lot of gay people who participated, so I’m hoping to replicate that. I just think it’s important that the gay community reach out to a fellow community that’s under attack, and that we need to realize it’s not just a Hispanic issue. Immigrants come from every part of the world.”

Garcia said marchers are being asked to wear white T-shirts in a show of solidarity. American flags are also encouraged. He suggested that people carry signs that say, “The LGBT community supports our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

After the jump, the full text of Garcia’s Facebook note, as well as a map of Saturday’s route and a photo from the 2006 march.

—  John Wright