Veasey defeats Garcia in District 33

Marc Veasey

Amid endless cheers and applause, State Rep. Marc Veasey addressed hundreds of North Texas supporters at Victory Arts Center as the first congressman of District 33.

Veasey beat former state Rep. Domingo Garcia with 53 percent of the vote for the district that spans Tarrant and Dallas counties.

“I’m honored that you’ve trusted me and I promise you that I will be your voice in Washington,” Veasey said. “I promise you that I will be your voice and we will stand together.”

Gay Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns was among Veasey’s supporters present Tuesday night.

He told Instant Tea that Veasey’s strong record on LGBT issues would be consistent in Washington.

Garcia spoke to supporters at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff. Several hundred people gathered there hoping he would become the first Hispanic congressman from North Texas.

Veasey is expected to easily win the general election in November.

More coverage of the runoffs in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

- with reports from Fort Worth by Anna Waugh

—  David Taffet

RUNOFF ELECTION: Early voting puts Veasey, Cruz ahead

State Rep. Marc Veasey had an 8 percent lead on Domingo Garcia with early voting totals in Tuesday’s Democratic runoff.

Veasey earned 54 percent of the vote for the new Congressional District 33 that spans Tarrant and Dallas counties. Garcia earned 46 percent of the vote.

Garcia led in early voting totals in Dallas county with 71 percent to Veasey’s 29 percent. In Tarrant County, Veasey got 58 percent compared to Garcia’s 42 percent.

In the Republican Primary runoff, Ted Cruz was ahead of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst with 52 percent statewide compared to Dewhurst’s 48 percent.

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more runoff results.

—  Dallasvoice

CORRECTION: Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed Domingo Garcia in runoff for CD 33

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsed former state Rep. Domingo Garcia in the Democratic Primary for Congressional District 33 and in the July 31 runoff against state Rep. Marc Veasey. A story in Friday’s print edition said otherwise, and we regret the error.

Early voting begins Monday, July 23, and runs until Friday, July 27, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. For a list of early voting locations and times, go to DalCoElections.org or TarrantCounty.com/evote.

Read our full story about the runoff in CD 33 here.

—  Dallasvoice

Garcia to Stonewall Dems: ‘Help me make history’

Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia spoke to an energized crowd at the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting Tuesday night about the importance of voting early to help him make history.

SDD endorsed Garcia in the race for the new Congressional District 33. He faces state Rep. Marc Veasey in the July 31 runoff. Veasey spoke last week at the Tarrant County Stonewall meeting. Garcia, who has picked up some Tarrant County support, did not attend that meeting but didn’t have to remind the Dallas Stonewall group about his LGBT support.

While serving on the Dallas City Council from 1991-95, Garcia was a strong proponent of the Dallas police lifting a ban on hiring gays and lesbians and supported adding sexual orientation to the city’s policy protecting employees against discrimination. When he went on to serve in the Texas House in 1996 until 2002, he voted for an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes bill in 2001.

Garcia thanked the group Tuesday night amid loud applause and cheers and said the group’s endorsement helped him survive the 11-candidate primary. Calling it a “turnout election,” Garcia said it was vital for voters to vote in the runoff July 31 and early-vote beginning Monday.

“This is crucial,” he said. “If Dallas can turn out more voters, then we really have a shot at winning District 33.”

Garcia is vying to become the first Hispanic elected to Congress in North Texas, something he mentioned Tuesday as he reminded the audience to help him make history.

“I want you to help me make history as we elect the first Democrat Congressman in District 33,” he said. “That victory won’t happen unless we get out our vote.”

Read more about the runoff for District 33 in Friday’s edition of Dallas Voice.

—  Dallasvoice

Veasey touts vote against marriage amendment, says LGBT community is “galvanized” behind him

State Rep. Marc Veasey addresses the crowd at a Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats meeting July 9. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

With 13 days left until early voting for the runoff begins, it’s crunch time for both state Rep. Marc Veasey and former state Rep. Domingo Garcia to gain voters in the other’s county.

Both Veasey and Garcia were scheduled to speak at the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats meeting Monday night, but Garcia was unable to attend at the last minute.

Instead, Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Choco Meza spoke briefly on his behalf.

Meza, who lives in San Antonio but was in the area visiting family, said she wanted to come speak on Garcia’s behalf because she’s known him most of her adult life. She said she wouldn’t give up time with her family to speak to strangers “if I didn’t believe so strongly like I do about Domingo.”

She reminded the audience that Garcia was “in the forefront in any legislation regarding LGBT issues when he served in the Legislature” from 1996 to 2002, where he voted for a hate crimes bill that includess sexual orientation in 2001.

State Rep. Marc Veasey then spoke to the large crowd of about 50 people amid cheers and applause. A large majority of the audience was sporting Veasey campaign stickers.

Veasey was the top vote-getter in the primary, winning Tarrant County and coming in second in Dallas County.

Veasey said he couldn’t have come so far without the help from supporters in Tarrant County and the LGBT supporters from the county.

“It’s because of you and your belief in me and you being willing to stand up for my record, and that’s why we ran such a good strong campaign the first round,” he said.

Highlighting that he won a precinct in Dallas with the most LGBT families, he said he was gaining momentum among Dallas County voters to secure a win on July 31.

“The LGBT community has really galvanized behind me and I’m really proud of that,” he said. “I want to know that not just because of that but because it’s the right thing to do, that when I go to Congress that you can always count on me to be a strong advocate on the issues that are important to your families and to your community.”

In closing, he reminded the audience of his freshman year in the state House in 2005, when he voted against an amendment to the Texas Constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions when others representatives walked out of the vote or voted with Republicans.

“I’ll never forget that day,” he said. “I saw people that quite frankly that shouldn’t have done it, but I saw people walk off the House floor because they didn’t want to take that vote.

“I never skip votes and I can promise you that when those votes that are important to the LGBT community come onto the United States House floor, that I will be there fighting for you.”

A debate between Veasey and Garcia will air tonight on KERA at 10 p.m. with encores played at 7:30 p.m. Friday and noon Sunday. It will also play on KERA 90.1 FM at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Watch the debate below.

Watch The Texas Debates: Congressional District 33 on PBS. See more from KERA Specials.

—  Dallasvoice

Veasey, Garcia at Tarrant County Stonewall tonight

Marc Veasey, left, and Domingo Garcia

Democratic hopefuls for the new Congressional District 33, Marc Veasey and Domingo Garcia, are both slated to speak at Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats’ monthly meting tonight.

Veasey, along with Shane Hardin for House District 93 and Gary Grassia for House District 97, were advertised as guest speakers for the meeting, but the group’s, President Felipe Guttierez, said Garcia confirmed that he would also be in attendance.

Veasey and Garcia are headed to the runoff for the Democratic nomination July 31 after finishing first and second, respectively, among 11 candidates in the primary. State Rep. Veasey captured 37 percent overall to former state Rep. Garcia’s 25 percent.

Both took their own counties with Dallas County going to Garcia with 44 percent compared to Veasey’s 17 percent. In Tarrant County, Veasey captured 49 percent of the vote and Garcia received 14 percent.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. tonight at Tommy’s Hamburgers, 5228 Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth.

—  Dallasvoice

Congressional District 33 candidates back ENDA, DOMA repeal at Stonewall Democrats forum

Six of the 11 Democratic candidates for the U.S. Congressional District 33 seat are shown at the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas forum Tuesday, March 27. From left, state Rep. Marc Veasey, former Dallas Councilman Steve Salazar, Dallas activist Jason Roberts, former state Rep. Domingo Garcia, Dallas attorney Chrysta Castaneda and Hispanic activist Carlos Quintanilla. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Six of the 11 Democratic candidates for the new U.S. Congressional District 33 voiced support for the LGBT community at a forum Tuesday night sponsored by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

The forum attracted an attendance of about 100, with dozens of people coming and going throughout and standing in the back of the Vixin Lounge at Sue Ellen’s to hear the candidates.

The district begins in southeast Fort Worth area that includes the Rainbow Lounge and cuts through Arlington and Irving before ending in North Oak Cliff.

State Rep. Marc Veasey, former state Rep. Domingo Garciaand former Dallas Councilman Steve Salazar were the three frontrunners in attendance at the forum.

Three lesser-known candidates in the race also participated: local business owner and activist Jason Roberts, Dallas attorney Chrysta Castaneda and Hispanic activist Carlos Quintanilla.

All six candidates said they support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, in addition to passing an LGBT-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Student Non-Discrimination Act.

—  Dallasvoice

LEGE UPDATE: Highlights from the Texas House debate on Wayne Christian’s anti-gay amendment

Rep. Wayne Christian

Allies fight off effort to ban LGBT resource centers

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO OF THE DEBATE

Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, lost his fight to ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities on Thursday night.

Christian had previously been successful in attaching an amendment to the House version of the state budget that would have required schools with LGBT resource centers to equally  fund “family and traditional values centers.” But the amendment was absent from the Senate version of the bill and is not in the final version of the budget adopted two weeks ago.

Then, on Thursday the House took up the controversial “fiscal matters” bill that, among other things, provides funding for public education in Texas. Christian took this opportunity to offer an amendment to completely ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities.

When Christian passed his amendment to the budget back in April, it sailed through with no House members speaking in opposition, and only one, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, asking questions. In contrast, his new amendment met with vocal opposition, as well as a threat to derail the entire fiscal matters bill if the discriminatory language was attached.

Christian began by saying that his original amendment passed with no opposition in the House (in fact, 24 members voted against it), that his new amendment was supported by the Young Conservatives of Texas and that the Texas A&M Student Senate had passed a resolution in support, although he didn’t mention that the resolution was vetoed by the Student Body President Jacob Robinson.

—  admin

State reps pass redistricting map

Rep. Marc Veasey

Legislators believe congressional and legislative districts will be decided in the courts

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Although plans for new congressional and state house and senate districts are not complete, minority groups are already criticizing the plans.

Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston sent a letter to the Justice Department this week about the plan passed by the Texas House of Representatives for the state House. That plan has not yet passed the state Senate.

“Republicans cracked and packed communities of color into districts in order to dilute their voting rights,” Coleman said in a statement. “Close to 90 percent of the population growth in Texas was non-Anglo, yet this map reduces the number of districts where communities of color can elect their candidate of choice.”

Chuck Smith at Equality Texas said that his organization has not been keeping a close eye on redistricting because they have to work with whoever gets elected. He said his organization’s assumption was that whatever this legislature passed, it would be challenged in court.

Every redistricting plan passed by the Texas Legislature since 1980 has been challenged in court. After the 2000 census, Speaker of the House Tom DeLay intervened; those maps were redrawn several times and not settled until the 2006 election.

Rep. Roberto Alonzo

The office of Rep. Roberto Alonzo agreed with Equality Texas. Alonzo serves on the House Redistricting Committee.

Alonzo’s legislative aide, Cole Howard, said, “It looks like both sides sat back and determined the courts can decide the districts,” Howard said.

He called the map retrogressive and said it does not account for growth of minority communities.

Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth who serves on the redistricting committee, said there were a number of different scenarios that could happen. He said that if the Senate does not pass the House map or if the governor vetoes the map, it would be drawn by the Legislative Redistricting Board.

That group is made up of five Republicans appointed by the governor.

“The strategy is to pack districts,” Veasey said.

But he said that the plans are not legal. Republicans are attacking Fort Worth’s urban core especially in Senate redistricting, he said.

“They’re going after Wendy Davis,” Veasey said.

He said that the plan for the Senate is to divide Davis’ district into as many as five pieces that would be assigned to suburban or rural districts.

“That would leave Fort Worth out in the cold,” he said. In a similar move in Dallas, he said state Sen. Royce West could be the only voice in Dallas.

He said he expects congressional seats to be left to the courts.

“No one has seen any plans yet,” he said.

Several maps have been drawn, but nothing discussed by the committee.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson already serves a packed district that includes most of the city’s heavily LGBT neighborhoods as well as most minority communities. Districts are supposed to be evenly divided in population but her district is one of the largest in the state. One of the four new congressional districts would have to be carved from her district.

In one plan, Johnson retains much of her district south of I-30. Oak Lawn would fall into a new district created to attempt to swing that new seat to a Republican candidate.

Veasey said that if House members do draw the map, they will attempt to carve a Republican seat from Johnson’s district, but he said he wasn’t sure how that would be possible or if it would even be legal.

Republican Rep. Pete Sessions’ current district was created to carve up former Democratic Rep. Martin Frost’s former district.

The tactic worked and Frost lost re-election after 13 terms in office.

In most plans, Sessions’ new district would become more safely Republican, taking the Oak Cliff portion of the area away from him.

“Our delegation should look more like Houston’s,” Veasey said.

Houston has more diverse representation in Congress. He said Dallas has the fastest growing Hispanic population in the country and the second-fastest growing African-American population.

In the plan passed by the House for the state House of Representatives, adjustments to the map would not seriously impact the chances of any incumbents in Dallas. State Rep. Rafael Anchia’s district would push further into Oak Lawn taking away some of Rep. Dan Branch’s district. Branch’s area would become more safely Republican.

Seats in North Dallas that recently swung from Democrat to Republican would also become more safely Republican by pushing out further into the suburbs.

In Fort Worth, Rep. Lon Burnham’s district would push into Veasey’s, whose district would be packed with even more minority residents. Veasey said both he and Burnham would be safe. Both have been strong LGBT community allies.

But Veasey said he didn’t think that part of the plan would be legal.

Under current Texas House rules, May 12 is the last day to pass bills, although the rules may change before this Thursday’s deadline.

The legislature adjourns on May 30. By that date, the Senate must pass its redistricting plan and reconcile their plan with the House.

However, according to the Texas Legislative Council, a nonpartisan organization that provides technical and legal support to the legislature for redistricting, a planned schedule doesn’t expect the Legislature to finish its work by the end of the session.

From May 31 through Aug. 27, the Legislative Redistricting Board will meet if the House and Senate fail to agree on a plan.

Once their work is done, the governor would call a special session of the Legislature to adopt the plan.

Since Jan. 2, 2012 is the last day for candidates to file for the November 2012 elections, all challenges must be settled by the end of December.

The Justice Department must also approve redistricting in Texas. This will be the first time since 1961 that Democrats controlled the Justice Department during redistricting.

—  John Wright

Equality Texas: Austin murders were hate crime

Jose Alfonso Aviles

When a man fatally shot his daughter’s girlfriend and the girlfriend’s mother in Austin on Monday, there’s no doubt it was an anti-gay hate crime, according to Equality Texas.

“Two women have been murdered because one of them was a lesbian,” the statewide LGBT advocacy group said in a statement about the murders today. “Equality Texas can emphatically state that these homicides were a hate crime.”

As we reported Tuesday night, 45-year-old Jose Alfonso Aviles is charged with capital murder for fatally shooting 24-year-old Norma Hurtado and her mother, 57-year-old Maria Hurtado, on Monday night. According to authorities, Aviles committed the murders because he was angry that his daughter was in a lesbian relationship with Norma Hurtado.

Although the incident appears to have been an anti-gay hate crime, Equality Texas says it can’t be prosecuted as one. That’s because under Texas’ hate crimes statute, there is no penalty enhancement available to prosecutors since the charges are already capital felonies. From the group’s statement:

Regardless of how this case is prosecuted, it is imperative that we acknowledge that these murders were a bias-motivated hate crime. It is important to acknowledge that the City of Austin and Travis County, in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League, convened a Hate Crimes Task Force in December, 2010.  Equality Texas is a working member of this Task Force, which seeks to create a forum that fosters open dialogue about hate and discrimination and strengthens the bonds of our community through prevention, response and restoration.

Regardless of how this case is prosecuted, it is important that we acknowledge pending legislation that would seek to address the barriers to prosecution of hate crimes under the Texas James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act. HB 172 by State Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth would require the Texas Attorney General to conduct a study to examine the success of our Hate Crimes Act and identify barriers to the effective use of, and prosecution under, the Act.  HB 172 is pending in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.

Norma Hurtado

Also, the Austin American-Statesman has a follow-up today that provides more details about the murders, including an answer to one of our biggest questions: How old was the suspect’s daughter? According to the Statesman, she had just turned 18. Note that the age of consent in Texas is 17. From the Statesman:

The daughter told police that she and Norma Hurtado had been involved in a lesbian relationship, which her father did not approve of, and that there had been disturbances between Aviles and Norma Hurtado, according to an arrest affidavit. An online records search for those incidents turned up a report of a sexual assault in September and a family disturbance in October; however, police did not release details of the incidents.

The American-Statesman is not identifying the daughter.

The affidavit said a witness told police that the daughter’s parents would send threatening text messages to Norma Hurtado. In one message, Aviles threatened to kill Hurtado and her mother, the document says.

“She stated that (the girlfriend’s) parents have sent text messages threatening Norma because of this relationship,” the witness, a friend of Norma Hurtado’s, told police. About a month ago, the witness “saw a text message from (Aviles) to Norma in which (he) threatened to kill both Norma and her mother,” police said.

Watch the Statesman’s footage of the police press conference about the case below below:

—  John Wright