Gay GOP leader calls attacks on Leppert over gay Pride ‘repugnant’

Tom Leppert at gay Pride in 2007

Senate rivals rip former mayor for appearing in Dallas parade

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Editor

One local gay Republican leader called attacks against GOP Senate hopeful Tom Leppert for appearing at gay Pride while Dallas mayor “reprehensible” and “repugnant.”

And another said the attacks have actually prompted him to support Leppert over tea party favorite Ted Cruz — despite the former mayor’s perceived betrayal of the LGBT community when he stepped down to run for Senate last year.

Cruz, the former Texas solicitor general, along with  ex-pro football player Craig James and longshot candidate Lela Pittenger, ripped into Leppert for twice appearing at gay Pride during a debate luncheon hosted by the right-wing Eagle Forum at the Dallas Country Club on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

The exchange featured some virulently anti-gay language, with James saying he believes homosexuality is a choice that goes against the Bible and Pittenger comparing the Pride parade to a drunken orgy.

“There was much that was said at the senatorial debate about gays and lesbians that was reprehensible and, at times, repugnant,” Thomas Purdy, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, said in a statement Thursday. “In an instance such as this, it would be easy to throw in the towel, but it really is a testament as to why Log Cabin Republicans must exist: to ensure the Party of Abraham Lincoln remains so and does not become the Party of Anita Bryant.”

Former Log Cabin President Rob Schlein, who now heads the gay GOP group Metroplex Republicans of Dallas, said Cruz’s attacks against Leppert for appearing at Pride — which began last month at a forum in Fort Worth —  have prompted him to support the former mayor.

“In terms of a personal favorite, even though I was very disappointed with his tweet six months ago, I would probably look beyond that and choose Tom  Leppert,” Schlein said. “I eliminated Ted Cruz when he came out and attacked Leppert. That was enough to dissuade me from supporting his campaign.  … All else being equal, then I will support the candidate that doesn’t attack the gay community. ”

Leppert appeared at gay Pride in 2007 and 2009 as Dallas mayor. He also employed an openly gay chief of staff — Chris Heinbaugh — and repeatedly expressed support for the community.

But when Leppert stepped down to run for Senate, he sent out an anti-gay message on Twitter, and came out against both same-sex marriage and civil unions on his campaign website.

But Leppert’s position on those issues appears similar to the other candidates in the GOP race.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, whom polls show is the frontrunner, didn’t attend Wednesday’s debate. But Dewhurst has been touting his support for Texas’ 2005 marriage amendment, which enshrined a ban on both same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state’s Constitution.

Earlier this month, Dewhurst told a Houston radio station that marriage has been between a man and a woman “from the origins of the Bible, and this is a Christian nation, this is a Christian state, and that’s what we were reflecting.”

Cruz, meanwhile, has played up his role several years ago, when he worked for Attorney General Greg Abbott, in blocking a gay couple from obtaining a dissolution of their Vermont civil union in a Beaumont court.

And James said during Wednesday’s debate that same-sex couples shouldn’t receive any federal benefits from civil unions.

The fireworks began when debate moderator John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, noted that Cruz had attacked Leppert for appearing at gay Pride last month.

Goodman then asked Cruz, “Do you have something against gay people?”

“I have something against gay marriage,” Cruz responded. “I don’t support gay marriage. I think there is an onslaught right now in this country to tear down traditional marriage, and I don’t think it’s right.”

Goodman asked Cruz whether he was suggesting that Leppert supports same-sex marriage.

“When the mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride, that’s a statement, and it’s not a statement I agree with,” Cruz said.

Leppert then responded by referring to himself in the third person: “The mayor is against gay marriage. He believes that marriage should be defined as one man and one woman.

“My job as mayor was to represent everybody in this city,” Leppert said. “I visited with groups that didn’t agree with what I said. I talked to groups that I didn’t agree with what they said, but it was my obligation to represent everybody. I engaged everybody, and I will continue to do that.”

When Cruz attacked Leppert for appearing at gay Pride last month, Leppert responded by comparing himself to Jesus. This time, although he took a similar approach, he stopped short of invoking the lord’s name.

“I will tell you my role as a Christian is to reach out and touch everybody,” Leppert said. “I wish I could have made stands only when I was in a courtroom, but I didn’t. I was criticized time and time again for showing my faith and being open with it, and standing pro-life. In fact, The Dallas Morning News criticized me for taking a position of pro-life. It was the right thing to do, I will continue to do it. But I did it when I put my neck on the line as a leader standing up for what exactly was right. I was pro-life unabashedly, and I said it.

“I am against gay marriage,” Leppert said. “I believe marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. It is very clear. But I had a responsibility to represent everybody, and everybody understood exactly where my faith was, and if there’s any question you can see pastors like Robert Jeffress and David Dykes and those folks, who don’t understand me from the business standpoint, but they sure understand who I am, and they have stood unabashedly and endorsed me for this office.”

Goodman then noted that gay couples are denied more than 1,000 rights because the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. Goodman asked the candidates whether, in lieu of legalizing same-sex marriage, the federal government should merely grant gay couples those benefits by recognizing civil unions or other partnerships.

That’s when James, the former SMU football star, chimed in.

“I think right now this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is gonna be hard to stop, if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades,” James said. “I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade. And I hear what you’re saying, Tom, but leaders, our kids out there and people need to see examples. Now, I’m a guy that believes in a man and a woman being the greatest governance occurring in a home at night between a husband and a wife, Adam and Eve and what the Bible says. And the backbone, and I know you’re a Christian, I’m not doubting that, Tom, but man you’ve got to stand up, if you are chosen as our senator, and be a leader, and not do things like that. We need examples for our kids.”

Goodman then asked James and the other candidates whether they think being gay is a choice.

“I think it’s a choice, I do,” James responded. “You have to make that choice, absolutely.… Same-sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, then that’s them, and God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions, but in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions. It should not occur. We have to stay strong on this. This is important, man. I tell you what, we have a fiscal issue in this county, but we also have a moral issue in this country, and as Christians we better stand up.”

Pittenger, a longshot candidate, was next to weigh in.

“I think what you see on the stage pretty much explains why we have so many denominations in the church,” Pittenger said. “Everyone kind of has a different perspective on what they think Christ would have done and how he would have acted. Now, I respect what Tom was saying, that he felt like he was to engage the entire community. I personally disagree with his approach, just because if there was a Republican club that was openly homosexual, and they wanted to talk issues, any number of issues, I’m happy to go visit with them about the issues. But I’m not going to walk down the street with them celebrating what I believe to be a sin. But I respect Tom’s approach. Christ reached people in many different ways. The Pharisees hated him because he ate dinner with sinners. And Jesus said, ‘The doctor doesn’t come for the well, he comes for the sick.’ And we just have to, each one of us has to stand before God, and make sure our heart is right with God about how we engage those who are living in sinful ways. Now while he ate dinner with them, I don’t believe he marched along with them as they were going down to have an orgy or have any sort of drunken revelries. But they came in his space, and he engaged with them there. This is about different perspectives on how we engage people we believe are lost, and you just have to decide which one’s better.”

Finally, Leppert was given an opportunity to respond to James and Pittenger.

“I’ve addressed the issue,” Leppert said, and the debate moved on to the topic of illegal immigration.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Goodbye LCR; hello again Metroplex Repubs

Gay GOP group’s officers offer a reasoned response to the breakup with Log Cabin Republicans and the myths surrounding it

There are times in life when we must evaluate our relationships with others to determine mutual benefit. And so it goes for political affiliations.

Schlein.Rob

Rob Schlein

Log Cabin Republicans Dallas pondered for years whether the association with LCR was a good “marriage” for many reasons. We did not undertake this evaluation lightly or in haste.

A couple of weeks ago, we were once again at a crossroads in evaluating that relationship. We were prepared to ask the Log Cabin national board for a hearing so that we could air our grievances and long-held concerns because a clear majority of our local board wanted a resolution that would keep us under the LCR-umbrella.

Instead, they pre-empted us by abruptly “de-certifying” our group, and “re-certifying” one with leadership of their choosing. Rather than wait two months for elections (we’ve been pushing for new leaders to come forward for years) they hand-selected their new president.

Merit or not, other Log Cabin Chapters should be, and are, very alarmed at what has happened with the lack of due process.

Last week, Log Cabin Republicans headquarters issued press releases — before we received our legal notice — that resulted in media articles that were factually untrue. ”Lie” might be too strong a word to write for a political organization, but “if the shoe fits” … .

There was no due process, and no formal warnings or notifications to the members of the chapter leadership.  There was no probation period … absolutely nothing!

From Chapter of the Year in 2008 to Chapter Death Sentence in 2011, you might ask, “What happened?”

We suspect that inviting leaders from another nationally known gay conservative organization to speak to a gay Republican group was,

OefteringRudy

Rudy Oeftering

in their view, an LCR National “emergency.” If true, it would reveal a near childish jealousy.

Was it the rumor we heard about the executive director’s displeasure with the Dallas Voice op-ed stating that Gov. Rick Perry is a better choice than President Obama? Was it Rob Schlein’s interview with Michael Signorile where he made a less than artful statement regarding minority politics vs. the common good?

Or perhaps it was the failed scheme of the inexperienced LCR executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, to pin blame on the local chapter for failures with a major donor that were clearly his responsibility.

Maybe the action was to deflect attention from LCR National’s embarrassing failures and list of “no-show” speakers at the national convention held in Dallas this past spring.

We may never know the answer to these questions, since our de-chartering is yet another example of the national office’s continued bumbling. Remember: No warning, no communication, no policy, no due process — absolutely nothing!

One of our most senior board members from the de-chartered local chapter wrote an email a few days ago to all of the national Log Cabin directors. It included this sentence: “I have in front of me one of the most incomprehensible pieces of fiction I’ve ever read in the form of a letter from the National LCR attorney laying out the reasoning for our de-chartering.”  He concluded, “The actions of the board were completely out of proportion to the problem at hand and were driven by personality conflicts, continued confusion in the national office, false accusations and half-truths.”

Their silence in response has been deafening.

In some ways, the actions of Log Cabin National, while immensely hurtful, made our decisions easy. We have always been one of the largest chapters in the LCR network. At over 30 years old, we started as Metroplex Republicans, and then chose to affiliate with Log Cabin in 1995.

As in marriage, sometimes the parties need to separate. And so it is now. We have come full circle, returning to our Metroplex Republicans roots. But in dropping the association with Log Cabin, we will have opportunity to reach further into the Dallas County party to affect positive change.

While a new Log Cabin chapter was technically chartered, it appears that even to the shell leadership, what comes next is hazy. Some feel the Log Cabin label is important, and may transition their membership to the infant chapter. Many are already suggesting reconciliation.

What is certain is that all are welcome to enjoy the continuity and quality of programming we have had in place for many years, formerly as Log Cabin and now as Metroplex Republicans.

Our years of experience have taught us what it takes in organization, dedication and quality programs for any volunteer organization to succeed. We have everything we need to grow and prosper.

We see the events of last week as an opportunity to reach more Republicans in Dallas. We intend to include Republicans of all varieties and will reach out to all non-traditional Republican allies. We believe correctly defined conservative principals benefit all and oppose the “gimme mine” politics of political sub-grouping at the expense of liberty and freedom.

Our next functions include a Preview Social for the Grand Ol’ Party on Oct. 22, the regular monthly meeting on Oct. 24, and the Grand Ol’ Party on Nov. 5.   Please visit our website, MetroplexRepublicans.com, for details and to sign up on our email list.

Robert Schlein is president and Rudy Oeftering is vice president of Metroplex Republicans, formerly known as the “original” Log Cabin Dallas Chapter.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Why I will vote Republican in 2012

If LGBTs really want to win equality, we must back the candidates that will help our pocketbooks, even if they take anti-LGBT positions

Robert Schlein
Special Contributor

I always give a five-minute speech at our monthly Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas meetings, and I was recently reviewing some of my remarks from July, 2008, when I asked the question, “What political price would my critics pay to resolve all of their gay civil rights issues? Would they accept any political doctrine, if it was bundled with promises of improvement in gay civil liberties?”

I said to our group that I didn’t want an America that looks like Europe: one that can’t generate enough jobs for its younger workforce, whose immigration policies have created many social ills and whose government-controlled socialized medicine results in less availability of care for all, and with the best care for only those who can afford to travel to another country.

America answered that question in 2008 — and unfortunately got it wrong. While the LGBT community finally secured some victories, what we got in exchange was bigger government, bigger debt and a much-worsened economy.

ObamaCare is an impending disaster that threatens our quality and availability of health care. The economy is stagnating because Obama and his administration seem to know little about capitalism or how to inspire confidence among those with cash to invest.

So again I ponder my question from 2008, because we Republicans will likely have a GOP candidate for president that saber-rattles his or her threat for a federal marriage amendment, or the reinstatement of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to placate the social conservatives.

Let’s be realistic, we Republicans need SoCons to win elections.

However, despite this pressure, our next Republican president will more than likely follow through instead on fiscal efforts to repeal ObamaCare, neuter the EPA’s hard work to shut down power plants that will severely hamper our economy (many in Texas), allow us to explore for oil domestically, steer us to a more balanced budget and get rid of the Dodd-Frank Banking bill that has caused cash-for-title loan stores to spring up like Texas ragweed.

For those who are upset at Rick Perry’s decision to sign the National Organization of Marriage’s pledge to move forward on an amendment to the Constitution, I say I’m willing to pay that price — a danger, in my view, that is as exaggerated as the reported threat of Hurricane Irene — in exchange for fiscal conservatism that is more likely to win the day and return us to prosperity.

After all, the process for amending the Constitution of the United States is so burdensome and so difficult, it seems to me the pledge to NOM is as empty as most men’s promises to stay monogamous until “death do us part.”

That said, I don’t believe that Rick Perry is our party’s best hope to beat Obama.

In the swing states that really matter — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania — Mitt Romney, who has never been a great friend of Log Cabin’s, polls better. He’s one of them, and his dad was a very, very popular Michigan governor.

And if Jon Huntsman can organize some support he would be a brilliant choice, too.

But, we don’t get to decide in isolation who our nominee will be. By the time the candidates reach Texas, we will likely have our winner.

And, if that winner is Rick Perry, he can count on my vote and my vocal support.

We say in Log Cabin that “inclusion wins,” and we appreciate and welcome those with ideas that differ from our own.

All we can do is to try to elect people that can win who are most compatible with our views, and try to exert influence on those who differ, who do win.

For the LGBT community, economic power is the most liberating one. Paying your debts down, burning up your mortgage and having, pardon my language, some “screw  you” money in the bank — that stands the best chance to obtain the equality we seek.

For if it weren’t for a handful of very wealthy billionaires in New York who were with us, their Republican senate majority leader would have never passed gay marriage in that state.

Let me be clear on this: It wasn’t just Log Cabin. It wasn’t just the Human Rights Campaign.  It was former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlmen, PayPal founder Peter Thiel and their very rich allies that really got this done!

Because, at the end of the day, money is power. And we need to vote on the party that will best give us a chance to prosper, to accumulate wealth and, hence, all the power we need to accomplish our goals.

Obama has shown that he does not stand with those who seek economic prosperity and to accumulate wealth, and for this reason I will vote Republican —  even if Rick Perry is our nominee. And I hope you will, too.

Rob Schlein is president of the LGBT Republican group Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Dan Woods, Alex Nicholson to speak at Log Cabin Republicans National Convention in Dallas

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob SchleinROB SCHLEIN | President, Log Cabin Republicans Dallas

Log Cabin Republicans are celebrating many accomplishments this year, but none so much as the defeat of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” From our victorious ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States to securing dozens of GOP votes in Congress to repeal the policy, our members can be proud of the role Log Cabin is playing to end the ban on open service.

Join us in Dallas April 28-May 1 for an insider perspective on how it happened, and where we go from here.

The Log Cabin Republicans National Convention & Liberty Education Forum Symposium are known for bringing together an impressive slate of speakers — and 2011 promises to continue that proud legacy.

Dan Woods is a partner at White & Case and the lead attorney in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States. He will be speaking about the trial verdict which turned the tide in the fight to end DADT, and the ongoing fight at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. For his work on our case, Woods has been named 2010 Attorney of the Year by The Recorder, and is the recipient of the 2011 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award.

Alex Nicholson served as Log Cabin Republicans named plaintiff in the suit against DADT, and his testimony was critical to our success. Alex is also the executive director of Servicemembers United, one of the core advocacy groups whose tireless efforts won votes in Congress for repeal and whose work continues as we look ahead to implementation and life after the ban. Alex is a past winner of Log Cabin’s “Uncommon Courage” award and is always a favored speaker at our events.

Last but not least, Log Cabin Republicans own executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, will join the panel with his perspective both as Log Cabin’s lead lobbyist for legislative repeal, but also providing insight as a currently serving captain in the Army Reserve. Little known fact: Clarke was actually in uniform when Judge Virginia Phillips’ injunction against DADT went into effect. Join us in Dallas to hear the reactions of his fellow servicemembers to the verdict!

That’s just a small taste of what we have in store. Between now and April 28, Log Cabin Republicans national headquarters will be releasing more information about the 2011 Log Cabin Republicans National Convention & Liberty Education Forum Symposium — but don’t wait! The 2010 National Dinner sold out early, and you want to secure your place at what promises to be headline news in the fight for a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party.

*Important Note: a special student rate of $200 has been added to the registration page. Contact cberle@logcabin.org for any questions regarding eligibility.

Act now for Log Cabin Republicans special Convention rate of $149/night at the famed Hilton Anatole in Dallas. To take advantage of this rate, call 1-800-HILTONS and mention Log Cabin Republicans. For any questions, contact cberle@logcabin.org. See you in Dallas!

—  admin

Full text of Rob Schlein’s letter to Tom Leppert

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob Schlein

Earlier we told you that Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, read aloud a letter he’d written to former Mayor Tom Leppert during the group’s monthly meeting on Monday night. Schlein was kind enough to send over the full text of his letter this afternoon, and we’ve posted it after the jump.

—  John Wright

Does it matter who sent Leppert’s anti-gay tweet when his website says he opposes civil unions?

Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, from left, his mother Shirley Schlein, Laura Leppert, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and LCR Treasurer David Keeton are shown during the group’s Christmas Party at Schlein’s home in 2009.

An anti-gay message sent last week from the Twitter account of former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert wasn’t written by Leppert himself but by “an overzealous campaign worker,” according to Rob Schlein, president of  the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans.

Speaking at Log Cabin’s regularly monthly meeting on Monday night, Schlein said Leppert called him just before the meeting to apologize for “the tone of the tweet.” According to Schlein, Leppert said he wasn’t the author of the tweet and agreed to meet privately with Schlein later this week to discuss the issue further.

The tweet, sent on the same day that Leppert announced his resignation as mayor to run for U.S. Senate, criticized President Barack Obama for his decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The tweet said, “We need leaders in Washington to stand for the principle of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Many in the LGBT community have said they feel betrayed by Lepppert because he was supportive of the LGBT community as mayor, including hiring an openly gay chief of staff and appearing in two gay Pride parades.

Leppert’s Senate campaign spokesman has failed to return multiple phone calls from Instant Tea seeking comment.

Schlein spent several minutes at the start of Monday’s meeting reading a sternly worded, heartfelt letter he wrote to Leppert about the tweet. However, the guest speaker at the meeting, Leppert political consultant Carol Reed, declined to comment on the issue. Reed said she’s advising Leppert on his Senate campaign but is neither his chief consultant nor his spokesperson.

“I’ll let him speak for himself,” Reed told Log Cabin members. “I have nothing to add.”

In his letter, Schlein slammed Leppert for being the only candidate in the race for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat who’s tried to use gay rights as a wedge issue. He also said Leppert is the only candidate who’s posted social issues on his campaign website. In the Issues section of his website, Leppert states that he opposes both same-sex marriage and “government-sanctioned” civil unions.

Schlein said he’s supported Leppert on many key issues — including the convention center hotel and the Trinity River toll road. And he said Leppert attended numerous Log Cabin events as mayor, including the group’s annual dinner and holiday parties at the home of Schlein and his partner.

“With all due respect, nobody likes a flip-flopper or a political panderer,” Schlein said as he read his letter to Leppert aloud. “You’ve left many friends in your wake. This is truly a sad day.”

Below are screen grabs from the Issues section of Tom Leppert’s Senate campaign website:

 

—  John Wright

What will Carol Reed say about Tom Leppert’s gays-under-bus-throwing tweet at Log Cabin?

Then-Mayor Tom Leppert at gay Pride in 2009.

Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republcians, sends along word that political consultant Carol Reed, who’s currently working on Tom Leppert’s Senate campaign, will speak at the group’s regular monthly meeting tonight.

“Many of us have questions about Mayor Leppert’s tactic to lurch rightward in his efforts to run for Senate,” Schlein wrote atop an invite sent out over the weekend. “This has upset many Log Cabin’ers as well as others in the general LGBT community. Carol will answer your questions about his decision, and many others. This should be an interesting meeting!”

Undoubtedly Schlein is referring to the anti-gay message sent from Leppert’s twitter account last week, in which he threw the LGBT community under his Senate campaign bus. Leppert’s campaign hasn’t responded to our messages seeking comment about the tweet, so perhaps Reed will try to make it all better tonight.

The Log Cabin meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Mattito’s, 3011 Routh St.

—  John Wright

A good sign for Texas’ LGBT community

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob Schlein

Joe Straus’ re-election as speaker of the House proves that social conservatives no longer can control the Republican political agenda

ROB SCHLEIN  |  Special Contributor

Unless you’re “wired in” to the inside baseball of Texas politics, you may not know there was a cantankerous fight for the position of Texas House speaker.

House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, showed himself to be a moderate on social issues last session. Yet, after a momentous midterm election where a slight Republican majority turned into a Republican supermajority in the House, calls for a “true conservative” to be elected speaker started to ring louder and louder among social conservative activists who regularly attend GOP party functions.

Many of these people are the same individuals that helped create the Republican Party of Texas platform that we all know too well includes the language on “homosexuals” revealed and discussed right here in Dallas Voice every election season.

State representatives who had already pledged to support Straus were being lobbied hard to reverse their support, via a war of words on Facebook, by those who changed their profile pictures with logos that declared “Oust Straus,” with statewide e-mail campaigns, and large, organized visits to field offices.

Precinct chairs in Harris, Denton and Dallas counties — perhaps others — convened during the holidays to pass resolutions demanding the election of a “conservative speaker,” implying that Joe Straus wasn’t conservative enough because of his social views.

Activists made threats to “primary,” which means to find someone to run in the next election season primary, against any Republican representatives that didn’t go along with their desire for change in leadership. Their bullying was amplified when hundreds of them descended on Austin on Jan. 10 to observe a caucus gathering of Republican representatives.

The caucus was demanded by the activists as a strategy to replace Straus by forcing a unified Republican vote, because last session Straus took over from Tom Craddick as speaker when Straus garnered the votes of all Democrats and just a handful of Republicans.

What the activists didn’t know was that the caucus would vote solidly for Straus, and after 70 votes were cast (representing more than two-thirds of the caucus present), voting was suspended and the choice was clearly made.
The social conservatives didn’t like the outcome and contradicted themselves about the process, first calling for an open ballot so they could see who voted for whom, and then complaining later that it should have been done in secret because the outcome might have differed.

The social conservatives were perplexed when their chosen candidate, Rep. Ken Paxton of McKinney, dropped from the race after assurances he would stay in, and after the other candidate, Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa, switched his support from Paxton to Straus.

On Jan. 11, when the formal selection of a House Speaker was concluded, calls for a recorded vote were made and approved, and more than 130 representatives voted for Joe Straus for speaker, with 15 “No” votes or abstentions — handing the social conservatives a serious defeat.

So, what does this mean for the LGBT community?

It means that there is a continual and growing disconnect between the hard-line social conservatives who are a part of the Republican Party of Texas, the average Republican voter and the actual Republican legislators who govern our state. This is good news for the LGBT community, which often fears possible legislation that could be put forward by the extreme elements of our party.

The selection of Joe Straus as speaker means that Republicans will focus most of their time and energy on balancing a state budget that is some $24 billion short over the next two years due to the slowdown of our economy, and will spend considerable effort reviewing programs that automatically sunset every session.

I would be quite surprised if the legislature spends much time on any social items.

Log Cabin Republican members spent considerable time getting to know their local state representatives. We offered direct support and encouragement for their initial pledges to Joe Straus, and were in continual contact by e-mail and very open in our Facebook rebuttals, asking them to stay loyal to their pledges.

Now our direct interaction with Republican elected officials is paying dividends in less anti-gay rhetoric in campaigns and no anti-gay legislation being proposed in this session that we are aware of.

The election of Joe Straus as speaker means that the impact of the Republican Party of Texas platform on legislation continues to be muted. Social conservative activists always complain that the legislators “never govern by the platform.”

So, when you ask gay Republicans about the platform, or if you point to the passages in the platform about “homosexuality,” understand that the re-election of Joe Straus confirms what we have been saying for some time now: The platform isn’t used as a legislative vehicle and only expresses the opinions of a small minority of people in the party who are loud, but not in the majority among everyday Republicans.

What matters to most Republican voters and legislators are the true principles of conservatism, meaning government stays out of our pockets and our bedrooms!

Rob Schlein is president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Monday morning open thread: Who deserves the most credit for repeal of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’?

That’s right, now that DADT is almost history, it’s time to fight over debate who deserves the most credit for its repeal. Barack Obama? Harry Reid? Joe Lieberman? Nancy Pelosi? The Human Rights Campaign? GetEQUAL? Servicemembers Legal Defense Network? Dan Choi? Lady Gaga?

Here at Instant Tea we were convinced that our own reporting was responsible for Saturday’s successful Senate vote, but then we received the below e-mail from Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, and we began to have second thoughts. So, what do you think?



—  John Wright

Texas senators go quiet on DADT repeal

Dallas Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, left, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Dave Guy-Gainer, a local board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, reported Monday night:

“Well I tried again to meet with Senator Hutchison or her staff. The Dallas number rang busy all day Friday. So, I tried their fax and it went thru. I proposed an establish communications’ meeting with myself and four other, major Dallas leaders. It’s Monday nite and I didn’t hear squat back. Guess she isn’t interested in representing us at all.”

Dallas Voice also contacted the offices of both Hutchison and Sen. John Cornyn on Monday to find out where they stand on the standalone measure to repeal DADT. But as of this morning, we had received no response — not even from Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin, who normally at least acknowledges our existence. After all, dealing with the media is part of McLaughlin’s taxpayer-funded job.

We also never heard back from McLaughlin about why Cornyn missed last week’s failed cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Act, to which DADT repeal was attached. (Hutchison voted against closure, joining the Republican filibuster that blocked the bill.)

This morning we contacted Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, to find out whether he’d had any contact with the two senators’ offices about DADT repeal.

Schlein said he has not but is pretty sure they will vote against it.

“I am going to say that I wouldn’t suspect that they would support it, just because that’s been their history,” Schlein said. “I really don’t know, but it won’t surprise me if they both vote against it. You’ve got to remember that part of the senators’ job is to vote their constituency. I know the polls show the majority of the nation supports repeal, but I’m sure that in Texas, the numbers are a little bit different.”

Schlein added that their votes aren’t really that important, because there’s enough Republican support to pass DADT repeal in the Senate. He again blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, for failing to pass DADT repeal sooner.

“The more interesting question is, will Reid put the bill on the floor without sabotaging it?” Schlein said. “If the process is right, if Reid doesn’t play any more games and he doesn’t attach any unrelated amendments like the DREAM Act, I think it will pass.”

If you’d like to try to contact the senators yourself, Hutchison is at 202-224-5922 and Cornyn is at 202-224-2934.

—  John Wright