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

Hinojosa.Ruben

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

Pro-LGBT challenger defeats anti-gay incumbent in TX congressional race

Congressman-elect Pete Gallego, D-Texas

In yet another victory for the LGBT community, State Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, knocked off tea party freshman Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco in the race for Congressional District 23 seat in West Texas.

District 23 is Texas’ only swing congressional district.

The Associated Press called the hotly contested race in favor of Gallego, the Democratic challenger, just before midnight, but apparently Canseco, the Republican incumbent, had yet to concede.

Last month, Canseco sent out a false, anti-gay campaign mailer attacking Gallego for allegedly saying “no to God,” supporting “abortions for underage girls” and wanting “marriage to be between man & man.” Canseco received the lowest possible score of zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.

The charges in the mailer were largely false. For example, Gallego voted against Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but says he did so only because it also outlawed civil unions.

In other Texas congressional races of note, Democratic state Rep. Marc Veasey — an LGBT ally also voted against the marriage amendment as a member of the Texas House — easily won the newly created District 33 seat, defeating Republican Chuck Bradley.

In Dallas, Democratic Congressman Eddie Bernice Johnson captured 79 percent of the vote as she cruised to re-election in District 30.

Overall, Republicans were projected to retain control of the U.S. House, but it was unclear whether they would lose or gain seats, according to CNN.

On the Senate side, anti-gay Republican Ted Cruz easily defeated Democrat Paul Sadler for seat held by retiring Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, but Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate overall.

—  John Wright

Texas GOP congressman smears opponent with false, anti-gay ad

 

Francisco “Quico” Canseco

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart has a post up today in which he argues that the absence of LGBT issues from the presidential debates — which conclude tonight — is actually a good thing because it signals that gays no longer make an effective political wedge.

Unfortunately, that’s still not always the case in places like Texas — as evidenced by a recent attack mailer in a hard-fought congressional race.

The mailer from tea party freshman Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, accuses his opponent, Democratic state Rep. Pete Gallego, of saying “no to God,” supporting “abortions for underage girls” and wanting “marriage to be between man & man.” Canseco and Gallego face off Nov. 6 in District 23, Texas’ only swing congressional district, which stretches along the Mexican border from San Antonio to El Paso.

The charges brought by Canseco in the mailer are mostly false, according to reports in the Texas Tribune and the Huffington Post.

—  John Wright

Texas House committees and pro-LGBT bills

DANIEL WILLIAMS  |  Legislative Queery

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has finally announced the committee assignments for the 82nd Texas House. As I predicted last month the partisan breakdown of the committee chairs roughly reflects the distribution of party control in the House with 11 Democratic chairs and 25 Republicans (not including the four select and joint committee chairs, all Republicans).

House committees that queer Texans will want to watch very carefully:

Public Education — Will get the anti-bullying bills. Chairman Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, scheduled the hearing for HB 1323 (last session’s anti-bullying bill) very late last session, but he did schedule a hearing and the committee eventually voted to send the bill to the floor for a vote of the whole House. Unfortunately, time ran out last session (more info on HB 1323 is here). Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, whose HB 224 is expected to be the water bearer for anti-bullying bills, is on the committee this session.

Public Health – Will get HB 405, which would allow same-sex parents to get accurate birth certificates for their children. Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst, R-Austin, was visibly moved by testimony last session on this bill. Let’s hope that causes her to schedule it for an early hearing.

Criminal Jurisprudence – Will get HB 604, the repeal of Texas’s unconstitutional sodomy law and HB 172, the study of the effectiveness of the Texas Hate Crimes Act. Chairman Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, has a solid record of voting in the best interest of queer Texans, but repealing the unconstitutional sodomy law, however common-sense, is going to be a hard sell. Plus, with virulent homophobes Wayne Christian, Bill Zedler and Will Hartnett on the committee, it seems unlikely that common sense will beat out bigotry. The Hate Crimes study has a better chance. It made it out of committee last session, but it’s hard to predict what will happen this session.

Insurance – Will get HB 208 prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Chairman John Smithee, R-Amarillo, hasn’t let this bill through in past sessions, and I’d be shocked if he lets it through this session. Smithee takes every chance he can get to hurt queer Texans. He’s not likely to pass this chance up, either.

State Affairs – Will get HB 665, which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. This bill, or a version of it, has been filed every session for over a decade, and it never gets a hearing. While new Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, is an immense improvement over old Chairman Burt Solomons, it’s unlikely that this bill will go anywhere.

Now that we have committees, bills are going to start moving left and right. The 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature is finally getting going!

—  admin