CHART: Primary voting histories of Dallas City Council candidates

20130604-123005.jpg

We mentioned on Monday that District 14 Dallas City Council candidate Philip Kingston now says he’s a Democrat, even though he has voted in five of the last six Republican primaries. We also posted an Oath of Affiliation Kingston signed to become eligible for Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement, which he did not receive anyway. A copy of the oath was distributed to Stonewall members who attended the group’s endorsement screenings. On the opposite side of the sheet of paper containing Kingston’s oath was a chart showing the primary voting histories of all Dallas City Council candidates. Although candidates’ voting histories regularly come up at Stonewall endorsement screenings, this marked the first time they had been put on paper for all to see, and some Kingston supporters said they felt the move was designed to target him. In any case, we thought we’d go ahead and share the chart, above.

It’s interesting to note that, based on the chart, party affiliation doesn’t seem to necessarily correlate with support or lack thereof for the LGBT community. For example, the most anti-gay member of the council, Vonciel Hill, has voted in every Democratic primary since 1992. And so has Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who will go down in infamy for her betrayal of the LGBT community last week. On the flip side, Councilman Jerry Allen has an exclusively Republican voting history, including the last four primaries, yet he was among the eight council members who said they would support an LGBT equality resolution. Sandy Greyson, who also said she would support the resolution, has voted in two Democratic primaries and two Republican primaries. Others who supported the resolution are solid Democrats — such as Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt, Monica Alonzo and Dwaine Caraway. But other solid Democrats did not support the resolution, including Hill, Carolyn Davis and Tennell Atkins.

Is it possible that party affiliation only matters on LGBT issues when candidates are running for partisan offices and Republicans are forced to pander to right-wing voters who dominate Republican primaries? Also, and this is a little off the subject, but is there any chance Mayor Mike Rawlings is gearing up to run as a Republican in Texas House District 108 if Greg Abbott runs for governor and state Rep. Dan Branch runs for attorney general? It would certainly help explain his lack of support for LGBT issues as mayor.

—  John Wright

Houston Mayor Annise Parker to kick off re-election campaign Thursday

Mayor-Annise-Parker-300px

Mayor Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker kicks off her third and final run for mayor on Thursday.

In 2009, Parker became the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a top 10 U.S. city. Houston limits its mayor and council members to three two-year terms.

The campaign kickoff will be at the Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar St., Houston at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Last weekend, Parker was in Austin addressing Stonewall Democrats at its annual Texas conference. She told Dallas Voice her opponent, lawyer Benjamin Hall III, has indicated he’ll spend as much of $3 million of his own money on the race.

“I fully expect to be re-elected, but I’m going to have to work for it,” Parker said.

Since Parker took office, Houston has earned the title America’s Coolest City to live (Forbes 2012) and others, including:

• Leading the nation in job creation (Houston Chronicle 2013)
• Best city in America to advance a career (Monster.com 2013)
• Number one city where a paycheck stretches the furthest (Forbes 2012)
• Best city in America for personal safety (Mercer Human Resources)
• Leads America in women-owned business revenue (American Express Open 2012)
• Leads America in diversity (Rice Kinder Institute 2012)

To attend the campaign kickoff, RSVP here.

—  David Taffet

Stonewall Dems gather in Austin to talk pro-equality strategy in Texas

Former Congressman Barney Frank addresses the crowd during the Equality Forward Summit in Austin on April 6. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

AUSTIN — Texas Stonewall Democrats met in Austin this weekend for the first Equality Forward Summit to discuss how to gain support for pro-equality measures and ultimately turn Texas blue.

The event was the first collaborative effort between the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus and drew about 150 people for the weekend’s workshops.

About 250 people, many standing, packed a room at the Hilton Austin Airport hotel after a day of workshops on Saturday to hear former Congressman Barney Frank speak about his time in office and the change he expects in the future.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker introduced Frank, during which she said she still considers herself an activist and has since learned of a gay agenda.

“I don’t know of any gay agenda, but I have been doing this long enough that we do have a gay agenda,” Parker said. “Our gay agenda is the ability to have jobs that we love, to support the families that we care about and to pay taxes.”

She said No. 2 on the gay agenda was serving openly in the military, which has been accomplished, No. 3 is feeling safe in schools and being free from bullying, and No. 4 is the freedom to marry.

Parker said all of the items on the list will gain support from Texas votes but it is Stonewall and the state party’s job to get that message out.

“But just as we as Democrats have a message that will resonate in Texas, the GLBT community has that same agenda that will resonate across Texas,” she said. “And when we openly advocate for that agenda, I’m standing here as proof that being who we are, being open and honest, we can win at the ballot box.”

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas City Council candidates to screen for Stonewall Democrats on Saturday

Stonewall

Twelve candidates or their surrogates from six Dallas City Council races will appear at Resource Center Dallas on Saturday as they vie for endorsements from Stonewall Democrats.

Everyone is invited to attend the candidate screening sessions, but only those who have been members of Stonewall Democrats for more than 30 days may vote on the endorsement recommendations, which will be ratified at the group’s next general meeting on March 19.

Opening remarks and instructions begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and candidates will appear by district. Oak Cliff-area races will be covered in the morning, with Oak Lawn-area races in the afternoon.

Stonewall political chair Jeff Strater is organizing the screenings. He said each candidate will be given three minutes to make a statement and then members can ask questions for seven minutes.

Under Stonewall’s bylaws, the organization may endorse only Democrats, even though the races are nonpartisan.

Of the seven people running in District 14, five have predominantly Republican voting histories, according to Strater. Phillip Kingston signed a pledge affiliating with the Democratic Party to qualify for the Stonewall endorsement. Bobby Abtahi’s most recent voting is in Democratic primaries, which qualifies him without signing a pledge, Strater said. Only Jim Rogers has a record of voting exclusively in Democratic primaries.

The full schedule for Saturday’s screenings is below.

—  David Taffet

Marc Veasey visits Stonewall Dems; Barney Frank to keynote state summit

Barney Frank

Rep. Barney Frank

Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey will be one of three featured speakers at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ monthly meeting on Tuesday night. Veasey, of course, represents the newly created District 33 that stretches from South Fort Worth to North Oak Cliff.

Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who represents North Oak Cliff and is up for re-election in May, and Equality Texas field organizer Daniel Williams will also speak. Williams will talk about pending legislation in the current session and the upcoming March 11 Lobby Day.

Stonewall Democrats also announced more details about their statewide Equality Forward Summit April 5-7 in Austin. This is the third biennial statewide meeting the organization has held.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker will attend and introduce keynote speaker Barney Frank, the openly gay former U.S. congressman from Massachusetts. In 1998, Frank founded National Stonewall Democrats, which is currently on hiatus. Frank retired from Congress at the end of 2012.

Other speakers at the summit will include Jamie Citron, director of the Obama campaign’s LGBT Leadership Council and LGBT Vote; State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, the first LGBT member of the Texas Legislature since Glen Maxey; Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith; and Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.

Locally, on March 9, Dallas Stonewall’s Endorsement Committee will hold its candidate screening for municipal elections at Resource Center Dallas. Jeff Strater chairs the committee. In order to vote at the screening meeting, members must be current dues payers at least 30 days in advance of the vote.

Stonewall monthly meeting Ojeda’s Restaurant, 4617 Maple Ave. Feb. 19 at 6 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Faced with $30K shortfall, National Stonewall Democrats goes ‘on hiatus’

Jerame Davis

National Stonewall Democrats is officially “on hiatus,” Executive Director Jerame Davis said in an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice on Monday.

The organization suspended operations on Jan. 1 but plans a relaunch for 2014.

“A lot of decisions are being made,” Davis told the Voice. “It’s likely our office will be closed for most of this year.”

Davis continues to work as an unpaid volunteer and will use the current office in Washington, D.C., at least through the end of the month.

Local and state chapters will continue to operate normally. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez said his group’s regular monthly meeting is Jan 15. He described the Stonewall as very grassroots, operating from the bottom up, and said locally nothing will change.

In an email to members in early December, Davis warned the organization was facing a $30,000 deficit and might be forced to close if the money was not raised.

Davis became executive director of National Stonewall Democrats in December 2011 and inherited the organization’s debt.

“We’ve never raised enough money out of dues alone to keep the organization going,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Record number of Texas voters back legal recognition for gay couples

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll this week showed nearly 70 percent of Texans support legal recognition for same-sex couples – the highest percentage since polls began asking the questions in 2009.

The Tribune’s poll showed 36 percent support same-sex marriage and 33 percent support civil unions, for a total of 69 percent in favor of relationship recognition. Although with 25 percent against marriage or civil unions, the data could be interrupted as 58 percent against same-sex marriage.

Still, the findings in support of relationship recognition are 6 points higher than the second-highest result in February 2010, when a Tribune poll found 63 percent of Texans supported relationship recognition, with 28 percent in favor of marriage and 35 percent supporting civil unions.

The new poll is also 9 points higher than a Tribune poll from this February, which showed 31 percent supporting marriage and 29 percent favoring unions, totaling 60 percent in favor.

Erin Moore, who serves as co-chair of National Stonewall Democrats Leadership Council and was a member of the national Platform Committee, said polls are not a good basis for argument, but help get conversations started.

“I think it’s a great gauge of attitude, but I don’t think we should use it as ammunition for a basis for any sort of argument,” she said.

Moore said she questions the new poll because the percentage for marriage equality and civil unions were equal, as it has been in past years. She said she worries if people are against relationship recognition but choose civil unions to not appear bigoted.

“I wonder how much of that is support and how much of that is let me pick the non-bigoted answer but still not say I’m in favor of marriage,” she said.

As for the 9-point jump in support from February and the highest percentage in favor of marriage equality, Moore said that high a jump is a “significant shift” and that President Barack Obama’s public support for same-sex marriage and local efforts have helped the movement.

“What I attribute it to is that we’re continuing to do our work and get out into communities and to let people know that separate but equal doesn’t work in that we are full-fledged citizens who deserve rights that everybody else has, and that word is getting out,” she said.

In May 2011, a Tribune poll found 61 percent of Texans supported gay relationships with the support split between 30 percent backing  marriage and 31 percent favoring civil unions.

A Texas Lyceum poll in October 2010 found that Texans supported gay relationships by 52 percent. More than half at 28 percent supported marriage equality and 24 percent supported civil unions.

An Equality Texas poll released in December 2010 asked Texans 12 questions related to LGBT equality. The survey didn’t give an either/or option, but rather asked each question separately, resulting in 43 percent supporting gay marriage and 63 percent favoring civil unions.

In 2009, a Texas Politics Poll found 61 percent of people supported relationship recognition, with 29 percent for marriage equality and 32 percent for civil unions. A Texas Lyceum poll the same year found 57 percent in support, with 25 percent for marriage and 32 percent for civil unions.

—  Anna Waugh

Stonewall hosts debate watch party; Carona visits Metroplex Republicans

This evening, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas celebrates its 16th anniversary with a reception and presidential debate watch party at the Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. in Oak Cliff.

Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said he expects this to be the largest of the watch parties. Tonight is the third and final presidential debate. The topic is foreign policy and the debate takes place in the swing state of Florida.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. The debate that will be projected on the big screen beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is free. Sponsorships are $16 and will be displayed at the event. To add your name to the sponsorship list email Omar@stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org.

Narvaez said he expects a number of candidates and elected officials to join the group for the party.

Meanwhile, Metroplex Republicans Dallas will host a watch party following its regular monthly meeting at Mattito’s, 3011 Routh St. in Uptown. The guest speaker for the meeting is State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas.

“Senator Carona will update us on next sessions’ agenda items and afterwards we can watch the debate on Mattito’s television,” Metroplex Republicans said in an email.

—  David Taffet

State Rep.-elect Mary Gonzalez visits Stonewall Dems in Dallas, Fort Worth

Mary Gonzalez speaks at the Round-Up on Monday night.

State Rep.-elect Mary Gonzalez was the keynote speaker at a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas fundraiser Monday night at the Round-Up Saloon. She will appear at a fundraiser for Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats tonight at a private residence in Fort Worth.

Gonzalez won her El Paso primary election and faces no opposition in November. She will be the youngest member of the Legislature and the first LGBT woman to serve. Gonzalez made national news a second time when she came out as pansexual in an interview with Dallas Voice.

On Monday night, she said she hopes to develop a warm working relationship with Stonewall Democrats.

Although she hasn’t yet entered the House, it seems Gonzalez may already have her sites set on the Senate. She pointed out that only six women serve in the 31-member state Senate.

While she hopes to break down stereotypes among her colleagues once she enters the House, Gonzalez said she ran to help people in her district. Large areas of her far West Texas district are without electricity, running water and plumbing. She said she hopes to represent the area better than her predecessors, one of whom was indicted on drug trafficking charges.

The evening was a fundraiser for County Commission District 1 candidate Theresa Daniel and Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Commissioner Elba Garcia attended, although she is not up for reelection. Several other candidates including Judge Don Adams also attended. Former state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt was there to greet the newest queer member of the Legislature.

Gonzalez is scheduled to appear tonight at Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats with Hon. Tonya Parker and former Rep. Glen Maxey.

More photos from Monday’s event below.

—  David Taffet

LGBT delegates and issues remain prominent at Democratic convention

Marriage equality and other LGBT issues are part of the Democratic platform that passed Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Same-sex relationships were also included in the keynote speeches delivered Tuesday evening.

Wednesday’s issue of USA Today featured a picture of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez, Felix Gaytan and former Stonewall Dallas Vice President Jay Narey at the LGBT Caucus meeting as they listened to Wisconsin Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin. If elected in November, Congresswoman Baldwin will become the first openly gay U.S. senator.

Narvaez said he met first lady Michelle Obama today. He thanked her for supporting the LGBT community and the DREAMers (undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children).

“She looked me straight in the eyes and said she is committed to work until we get equality for both LGBT and ALL the DREAMers,” Narvaez wrote. “She gave me a hug. All I could say in her ear during the hug was ‘thank you.’”

Obama referenced same-sex marriage twice in her speech Tuesday night, and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro referenced it once.

President Obama “wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love,” Michelle Obama said.

Comparing President Obama to his opponent, Castro said, “Mitt Romney says no when it comes to letting people love who they love and marry who they want to marry.”

—  David Taffet