Not a good night for incumbents in Dallas County or Texas

John Carona

State Sen. John Carona

Challengers did unusually well against incumbents in both the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday.

Several members of the Texas House and Senate will not be returning.

Sen. John Carona, whose district includes parts of Oak Lawn, lost his bid for re-election to tea party favorite Don Huffhines. Carona, a moderate Republican, has served in the Legislature since 1990.

Staunch LGBT ally Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth lost his bid for re-election to Ramon Romero who has no connection to the Democratic Party and has mostly donated to Republicans, according to the Burnt Orange Report. Burnam has the endorsement of all Democratic groups, including Hispanic groups.

Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, an Irving Republican, lost her bid for re-election to tea party favorite Rodney Anderson. During redistricting, Harper-Brown and Anderson were drawn into the same district. Anderson decided to sit out the last election.

Arlington Republican Diane Patrick lost her bid for re-election to Tony Tinderholt. Patrick was the author of the final anti-bullying bill that passed the Legislature in 2011. Among Tinderholt’s complaints against Patrick is a bill she authored that would have required kindergarten children to have a dental exam before entering first grade. He’s running on a platform of securing the border, gun rights and fighting Obamacare and abortion and an almost cartoonish picture on his homepage shows him with his buxom blond wife, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, in a tight red sweater.

Matt Rinaldi beat Carrollton Rep. Bennett Ratliff. Rinaldi is endorsed by Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shakelford, Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Values President Joanathan Saenz.

In other races, former Dallas City Councilwoman Linda Koop edged out Rep. Stefani Carter. Koop didn’t receive 50 percent of the vote, so they will face off in a runoff.

State District Judge Lena Levario is one of a number of incumbent Democratic judges who lost their primary races on Tuesday. Levario held District Attorney Craig Watkins in contempt of court last March. He was later acquitted, but his prosecutor, Tammy Kemp, challenged Levario, raised twice as much money and won the primary.

Other local judges were defeated for r-eelection by Watkins prosecutors. The list of defeated incumbents includes Lori Chrisman Hockett, Andy Chatham, Carlos Cortez, Marty Lowy, Larry Mitchell, Bill Mazur, Michael E. Miller and Chris Wilmoth.

In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, incumbent David Dewhurst received only 28 percent of the vote. Sen Dan Patrick polled 43 percent. They face each other in a runoff.

Metroplex Republicans President Rob Schlein lost his bid for re-election as Republican Precinct Chair 2069. Former Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez lost his race for re-election as Democratic Precinct Chair 2062.

—  David Taffet

LGBT advocates to DART board: ‘You all should be ashamed’

Omar Narvaez addresses the DART Board of Directors  on April 24. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Omar Narvaez addresses the DART Board of Directors on April 24. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

A small crowd turned out Tuesday to protest DART’s delay in offering domestic partner benefits, but the two speakers were passionate enough to get the LGBT community’s outrage across.

DART’s Board of Directors began receiving information about benefits last July and finally decided to table discussion in March until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in two marriage equality cases in July. LGBT advocates spoke at the board meeting earlier this month and vowed to be back until the board implements the benefits.

Omar Narvaez spoke on behalf of Lambda Legal, listing the agencies that already offer DP benefits and explaining how the agency has failed employees by postponing a vote for months before hiding behind a U.S. Supreme Court decision. He added that there was no legal risk in Texas because “too many other governmental agencies already get it and have for decades.”

“Marriage equality? What does that have to do with domestic partner benefits? They are employee benefits. Nothing more,” he said. “You are not defining relationship status by offering domestic partner benefits.

“You all should be ashamed that DFW Airport and Parkland get it and got it faster than you all are able to get it. It is time to bring this up, make it happen, we’re talking about paper clip money when it comes to the budget. When it comes to the employees of this organization, you are spitting in their faces.”

—  Anna Waugh

EQTX pushes for Dallas County commissioners to approve DP benefits

Equality Texas is calling on Dallas County citizens and employees to tell members of the Commissioners Court to approve offering domestic partner benefits to county employees.

The statewide LGBT advocacy group created an action letter that people can sign online and send to commissioners.

Equality Texas Interim Executive Director Chuck Smith said offering DP benefits has become a standard practice.

“It’s what people in the real world, real businesses in the real world, do in order to attract and retain good employees to where it’s not a big step,” he said. “It’s not going out on a limb for municipalities and counties to start doing this.”

Dallas County would become the third county to approve the benefits after Travis and El Paso counties.

County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Elba Garcia are working on a plan to offer the benefits despite the lack of support from a regional government partner agency. A Commissioners Court vote is expected in the next few months.

—  Anna Waugh

LGBT advocates take their fight to have mayor sign marriage pledge to the Dallas City Council

LGBT advocates who attended today's council meeting gather in the Flag Room afterward. They are, from left, Daniel Cates, Patti Fink, Dennis Coleman, Cece Cox, Omar Narvaez and Rafael McDonnell. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

It’s becoming clear that Dallas’ LGBT community doesn’t plan to let Mayor Mike Rawlings off the hook over his refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Five LGBT advocates spoke during public comments at the start of today’s regular City Council meeting, calling on Rawlings to sign the pledge — and asking the City Council to formally back pro-equality state and federal legislation.

“I’m here to ask Mayor Rawlings to do something, and I’m here to ask you as council people to support him in signing the pledge for marriage equality,” said Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, the first of the speakers. ”This is a matter of standing for justice. Pure and simple, that’s what it’s about. ”

Cox noted that Rawlings has argued that marriage equality doesn’t fall within the mayor’s duties.

“When one stands up for justice, it requires courage,” Cox said. “It requires going outside the regular rules and the regular lines, and that’s what I’m here to ask for today.”

—  John Wright

Gay Dems fear Perry would be ‘major step back’

ENTERING THE FRAY | Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the Red State Gathering, where he announced his run for president, on Saturday, Aug. 13 in Charleston, S.C. (Associated Press)

But Dallas Log Cabin president says group would back governor

JAMES BRIGHT | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Gay Democratic leaders in Texas fear that if Rick Perry becomes president, it would be a “major step back” for LGBT equality.

But the president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans indicated that the gay GOP group would support Perry if he wins the party’s nomination.

Perry, who hasn’t been supportive of the LGBT community during his time as governor, ended weeks of speculation when he formally announced that he’s running for president on Aug. 13.

And for the most part, LGBT leaders in Perry’s home state weren’t receptive to the news.

“He will regress everything we have accomplished and take us many steps backwards instead of the many steps forward we’ve taken under [President Barack] Obama,” said Omar Narvaez, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

“He is a top-tier candidate in that party with its radical right evangelical emphasis,” said Dan Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus. “He loves little government and low taxes, so he plays right into their hands. God forbid if he were ever elected president. We would take a major step back for equal rights.”

Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans Dallas, said the group likely will back the GOP nominee whoever it is.

“Rick Perry has been less of a friend to the LGBT community than we’d like, but on the issues that affect us all I think he is better than what we have in the White House,” he said. “We are all looking for a robust economy and he is going to make our national economic policies a lot more conducive to hiring, and that’s where I am concerned.”

Dennis Coleman, executive director of the nonpartisan Equality Texas, said the group will look at all candidates from both parties, but is unlikely to back Perry.

“As an organization we would to be more supportive of the governor putting a bid in for president, but we know where he stands on marriage for same-sex couples,” Coleman said.

“I’m a little concerned that based on his record he may follow the same rhetoric as [candidate Michele] Bachmann that may lead him to want to repeal the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’

“People get frustrated because things don’t happen as quickly as they’d like, but more mature members of the community remember a time when they could be arrested for going to a club,” Coleman said. “The White House has to continue a dialogue with LGBT leaders and people like myself in the movement and publications like the Dallas Voice to hammer down what he has done, and what needs to be done for the LGBT movement.”

—  John Wright

Mayor Rawlings joins 5 other council members at 1st-ever LGBT Pride Month Reception

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during Monday’s LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall.

About 50 people attended Dallas’ first-ever official LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall on Monday afternoon.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was among six council members who appeared at the event, organized by Councilwoman Delia Jasso and her LGBT task force.

Standing before a Pride flag draped from the wall of the Flag Room on the sixth floor, Rawlings spoke briefly at the start of the reception and drew cheers when he pledged to have “open doors” to the community.

“I met many of you during the campaign,” Rawlings said. “Some of you were supporting me, others were not. But I’ll tell you this: I knew that this was a fabulous community that I wanted to partner with when I became mayor. Thank you for what you have done for this city.”

Prior to the reception, Rawlings told Instant Tea he has no hard feelings about the fact that both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance endorsed his opponents in the election — with DGLA even issuing a rare warning against him.

“Not at all,” Rawlings said. “We must all have a spirit of understanding. I don’t have anything like that [hard feelings].”

Rawlings didn’t specifically mention the LGBT community during his inauguration address at the Meyerson Symphony Center earlier in the day. But at the Pride reception, he told attendees that the community fits with the major themes he outlined in the speech: becoming a city of diversity, opportunity and excellence.

“As far as I’m concerned, you are right on with my plan, and I want to be right on with yours, and so we will continue to talk, and I am just pleased that we are here to honor gay and lesbian Pride Month in the city of Dallas,” Rawlings said.

—  John Wright

Travis Gasper, Omar Narvaez address commissioners

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—  John Wright

Plenty of politics on tap tonight

It’s doubtful the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls will talk much about LGBT issues during tonight’s showdown in Denton, unless Rick Perry decides he wants to brag about how anti-gay he is. And while Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein is hosting a watch party for the debate at his home, there will also be some alternatives for those on the other side of the aisle.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will kick off its 2010 endorsement screening process from 6 to 9 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas. With an unprecedented number of candidates seeking the group’s backing, the screenings will continue from 6-9 p.m. Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Political director Omar Narvaez said Stonewall isn’t releasing a schedule of when specific candidates will appear before the group.

Also tonight, Democratic candidates for county judge and district clerk will square off at a forum hosted by Preston Hollow Democrats, which is led by Stonewall member Roger Grape. Openly gay County Judge Jim Foster is facing challengers Larry Duncan and Clay Jenkins in the March 2 primary, while openly gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons faces challenger Johnny Gomez. The forum is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at PoPoLos, 5959 Royal Lane.

—  John Wright