Tea Party Leader: Republican Party in Florida being taken over by gay ‘thugs’

tea29n-3-web

Danita Kilcullen

The co-founder of a Florida Tea Party group compared Log Cabin Republicans to gay “thugs” and complained they have taken control of the local party in Broward County and are pushing a progressive platform.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that Danita Kilcullen wrote the slur in an email early in November as she expressed her displeasure at nondiscrimination legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was up for debate in Congress.

She denounced the bill that would force her to “hire someone with orange hair, body/neck/face covered with tattoos, multiple piercings, or a man in a dress … or for that matter, a demonstrative effeminate male or purposeful butch-looking female,” she wrote, according to an email obtained by the Sun-Sentinel.

Her scathing attack added, “The Log Cabins are the same lobbyist organization that has all but taken over BREC (Broward Republican Executive Committee) … Keep in mind, this is a thug organization with only their own ‘special interests’ in play.”

The message was denounced by Broward County Republican Chair Tom Truex, who complained about the Tea Party splintering the conservative movement with their aggression.

Kilcullen has been active in the local Tea Party effort since its founding in 2009, but has previously courted controversy, when she was arrested in 2011 for allegedly kicking a police officer with a 3-inch stiletto high heel.

The tea partier told the the Broward/Palm Beach New Times the run-in with the law came because she was fighting “injustice” and trying to use the bathroom at the Embassy Suites hotel in Boca Raton.

Police say she appeared intoxicated when she began screaming obscenities at security protecting a private function at the hotel. After a scuffle, police say she resisted arrest and kicked a police officer twice in the chest with her spiky heel.

She pleaded guilty to trespassing and a lesser charge of misdemeanor resisting arrest in October 2011 and was sentenced to 20 hours of community service. Then in 2013, she was accused of racism when she responded to a tweet by R&B singer Toni Braxton after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for Trayvon Martin’s murder.

“I too am embarrassed to be an American when our government and society fail to empower and protect all people,” Braxton tweeted in reaction.

Kilcullen took to her personal Facebook account in a message aimed at Braxton, “Yo, girl, you can’t take America’s justice system? Go be an African!!”

 

—  Steve Ramos

WATCH: Gohmert says gays are hurting evolution, which he doesn’t believe in

Louie Gohmert

Rep. Louie Gohmert

Congressman Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, spoke at a Kaufman County Tea Party rally on July 2.

He spoke about the war against religion and how President Barack Obama made it clear he was going after Christianity.

“For someone who believes in evolution, you believe that throughout the history of the universe, and particularly Earth, that people have come together and borne offspring from different species that has evolved and given us stronger and better species. How does the mating of two males evolve the species upward?” Gohmert said.

Since Gohmert apparently doesn’t believe in evolution, two men “mating” really shouldn’t bother him at all.

But Gohmert is also concerned with having his free speech rights taken away by hate crime legislation. He said he no longer has the right to “openly believe homosexuality is wrong without encroaching on the possibility of a hate crime. We’re not haters as Christians. We’re lovers.”

Actually, the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act that Gohmert opposes has been used only once to prosecute a hate crime committed against a gay man. Four people arrested in Kentucky were charged under the law after beating a gay man.

Poor Louie. Four people beating the crap out of a gay man is apparently part of his definition of Christian love and free speech rights.

Gohmert is known for his staunch opposition to LGBT equality and for his off-the-wall statements. He opposes employment nondiscrimination as part of Obama’s war on religion and opposed the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” because of “bunk crawling.”

Watch the video after the jump:

—  David Taffet

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

Tea party group makes surprising endorsement

The tea party is certainly not one unified political organization. And as a group the tea party has not backed any one particular GOP presidential candidate. While many supported Michele Bachmann, there’s been no consensus. But most tea party support has gone to Republicans and most tea party candidates have run as Republicans.

President Barack Obama

But one Tea Party endorsement is surprising. A group has formed called Tea Party for Obama.

Huh?

Well, they explain.

“We manned up and realized that the problem is that the recession began during the previous administration,” they wrote.

They wrote that they’re tired of being called nut jobs and racists and looked at all the candidates and found no one to support on the Republican side. So they looked at Barack Obama’s record.

Reducing the size of government and the amount people pay in taxes are two main tea party demands.

Just a few weeks ago, the president proposed combining agencies to reduce the size of government and make it easier to do business with the government.

And taxes?

“Last time we checked, Obama forced GOP in Congress to approve tax cuts for payroll,” they wrote.

Here’s Tea Party for Obama’s list of the president’s accomplishments:

• Reduced government size
• Largest tax cut ever
• Provided health care for everyone
• Protected Medicare
• Saved country from the worst recession ever
• Saved the U.S. auto industry
• Took out Osama bin Laden

So is this an actual tea party group or is this a group of Democrats co-opting the tea party name for attention? The website doesn’t give a clue because no names or other information is included.

—  David Taffet

You can vote in the Tea Party’s straw poll this weekend, but it will cost you

There’s still time to register for the Saddle Up Texas Straw Poll, a three-day Tea-Party-sponsored event at Minute Maid Park here in Houston. The poll’s organizers say it’s designed to give Texas greater weight in the presidential primary process. From their website, saddleuptexaspoll.com:

Despite Texas’ apparent political clout as holder of the second largest delegation to the Electoral College and the second largest population in the United States, its position in the primary election, which is governed by political parties, is significantly and detrimentally out of balance to its general election influence…

Citizens from every corner of Texas have come together to bring Texas’ influence forward as an integral part of the national primary election process through a grassroots organized presidential straw poll, called the Saddle Up Texas Straw Poll, which is designed to give Texans an appropriate voice in the Primary.

To participate all you have to do is make your way to Minute Maid Park, prove your identity using a state issued photo identification (of course), and shell out $45 for the tickets. Obviously this isn’t a real election, just a straw poll, so pesky things like the twenty-fourth amendment and the Voting Rights Act don’t apply, but it occurs to me that charging almost half a c-note for the honor of participating in a poll is a pretty good way of insuring that the poll results only reflect a particular segment of the population. Whatever the results of the poll (to be announced Sunday) let’s hope that anyone repeating them includes the addendum that the poll reflects only the opinions of Texans able to 1. travel to Houston for three days and 2. willing to shell out $45 for the honor of voting in a meaningless poll.

—  admin

LGBT Person of the Year: Equality Texas’ Dennis Coleman

In his first year as ED of the state’s LGBT lobby organization, Coleman led the way in getting anti-bullying bills passed. Now he’s setting his sights on marriage equality

DV-Cover-12-23-11-A-FLAT

CAPITOL GAINS | Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman said two anti-bullying bills passed this year represent the first successful pro-equality legislation the state has seen since 2001.

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

Shortly after he took over as executive director of Equality Texas in July 2010, Dennis Coleman was faced with a tough decision.

Thanks to the economic recession and several months without an ED, the organization could barely pay its bills and was surviving from fundraiser to fundraiser.

In a move he now says should have come sooner, Coleman was forced to lay off three people — or half of Equality Texas’ staff.

“The unfortunate thing was that I had to come in as a new person and make that very hard decision,” Coleman said recently. “In order for the organization to breathe, it was going to have to happen, because there had been so much cutting already done, that there was nowhere to go except to the payroll. And it was not even an option of making the recommendation of reduced salaries. It had to be a complete cut of those positions. Those cuts were in our field and our political department, which was a very hard decision considering we were heading into the session.”

Those who were let go included Randall Terrell, the group’s chief lobbyist, and with the biennial Legislature set to convene in January, Coleman acknowledged that board members and donors were nervous.

Riding a Tea Party wave, Republicans had seized a supermajority in the Texas House in November elections, and there were fears that anti-gay legislation from past years could be revived.

But Coleman said in retrospect, the layoffs brought together Equality Texas’ board members and remaining staff in an unexpected way. Volunteer board members were motivated to not only raise money like never before — but also to roll up their sleeves and help with the day-to-day work of the organization, especially lobbying.

Still, no one harbored any illusions about passing pro-LGBT legislation in 2011. Coleman said with right-wing lawmakers apparently preoccupied by immigration and women’s rights, he was just hoping for an “opportunity to get my feet wet.”

“Little did we know what really awaited us, and I think once again credit goes to the staff that’s there right now, as well as the board members, how we were able to adjust and take advantage of the opportunities that were opening up before us,” he said.

Dennis-Coleman-and-Shuck-Smith

STEPS TO EQUALITY | Coleman, shown with Deputy Director Chuck Smith, said the group is now looking at ways to begin chipping away at Texas' 2005 marriage amendment.

Those opportunities took the form of anti-bullying legislation, which Equality Texas had backed repeatedly in previous sessions to no avail. But this time, in the wake of a series of highly publicized teen suicides across the nation, even conservative lawmakers wanted to get something done.

Under Coleman’s leadership, Equality Texas was able to seize upon the momentum, forging a coalition alongside groups including the Texas Freedom Network and the Anti-Defamation League.

Equality Texas also brought in advocates like gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, by then a celebrity for his “It Gets Better” speech, and reached out to the parents of suicide victims — including gay 13-year-old Asher Brown of Houston.

Six months later, the result was passage of what Coleman called the first two pro-equality bills to become law in Texas since 2001, when Gov. Rick Perry signed hate crimes legislation.

While the anti-bullying bills don’t include specific protections for LGBT youth, Coleman said they would not have passed if they did.

“The final version is not the ideal policy, but at the same time, we were not excluded,” Coleman said. “I know that’s a difficult thing to try to explain to a community that not just feels but knows it’s targeted because of who they are. But it was important for us to get something passed to protect children. … That was one of the things that we had promised to the families, that we would get something passed.”

Meanwhile, Equality Texas also managed to fight off anti-gay legislation — including efforts to eliminate funding for LGBT resource centers on college campuses, and ban transgender marriage.

And today, as the group prepares to enter 2012, its finances are looking up. Coleman said the recently approved budget for next year includes funds to reinstate two positions that were eliminated in 2010.

For his role in turning around Equality Texas — the statewide LGBT equality group in the nation’s second-largest state — Coleman is Dallas Voice’s LGBT Person of the Year.

‘It’s been a great year’

Jeanne Rubin, an Equality Texas board member from Frisco, said it was only her first or second meeting in early 2010 when former Executive Director Paul Scott announced he was stepping down.

“It’s been a great year,” Rubin said this week. “We really have come full circle, and Dennis really had to hit the ground running. If we were going to get anything done, it had to be a nonpartisan effort, so we had to go out of our comfort circle. I think maybe partially because Dennis was new, he was really able to do that and forge those relationships with legislators.”

Anne Wynn, an Austin attorney who chairs the group’s board, was one of those who drew on her own lobbying experience to help out after the layoffs. During the session, Wynn, Coleman and Deputy Director Chuck Smith became “the three musketeers of Equality Texas,” she said.

“Since he got here, we have righted the ship, and he’s done a good job of helping us do that,” Wynn said of Coleman. “He’d never spent any time at the Capitol. I didn’t have any idea that we’d be able to pass not one but two anti-bullying bills. Dennis did a great job of meeting the legislators and their key staff people, and establishing relationships with them, so that we could help get those bills through the committees, and then back on the floors and eventually passed. For a person that was a complete novice about the legislative process, he really did a great job.”

Although Coleman was relatively new to the State Capitol, he had plenty of experience in the LGBT equality movement. Prior to joining Equality Texas, Coleman spent seven years as executive director of the South Central Region of Lambda Legal, based in Dallas.

Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal who worked closely with Coleman, recalled him as “very jocular.”

“He laughs, he smiles a lot, and I think that’s one of the things people like about him. He brings kind of a fun-ness to the job,” Upton said. “He’d walk into a room and talk to anybody. That really was his strength.”

Upton also noted that Coleman is one of the few local activists he’s met who’s originally from here.

Coleman, now 48, said he grew up in an upper middle class household in the heart of South Dallas. His parents were members of the Methodist church at Malcolm X and Martin Luther King boulevards, just west of Fair Park, and Coleman graduated from Bishop Dunn High School.

After studying communications at the University of Texas, Coleman first became an activist when he volunteered for the speaker’s bureau at Resource Center Dallas, educating people about HIV/AIDS in local churches.

From there he got involved with the Black Tie Dinner and served on the board of the LGBT fundraiser for four years. He then joined the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign, which he eventually co-chaired.

“Like a lot of people, I started really on the ground,” Coleman said.

In 2003, Coleman left a career in sales and marketing at Sprint to join Lambda Legal.

He said he was happy there and had no intention of leaving, until being approached last year about the Equality Texas position.

His only reservation was the prospect of a permanent move to Austin, which wouldn’t have worked for him and his partner, fellow activist Gregory Pynes.

Coleman met Pynes when they were both volunteering for HRC. They’ve been together nine years and share a home off Garland Road near the Dallas Arboretum.

But Coleman was open to commuting from Dallas and living part-time in Austin — so he took the job.

From bullying to marriage equality

Since then, Coleman said he’s logged more than 30,000 miles on his car, driving back and forth from Big D to the capital — which he said makes a good time for conference calls.

When the Legislature isn’t in session, his focus is fundraising and education, and he’s traveling throughout the state, meaning he doesn’t need to be based in Austin.
Equality Texas recently completed its strategic plan for 2012, which focuses heavily on civic engagement, Coleman said.

The group is scrapping its State of the State conference — previously held in Austin in off legislative years — and replacing it with a series of 12 regional equality projects throughout Texas.

“We want to, instead of saying come to us, we want to go to you,” Coleman said. “We want to work with you in your own community.”

Utilizing college interns, a project called “Real Texas, Real Lives” will document the experiences of LGBT people and their allies.

The aim is to build political power and create more advocates like David and Amy Truong, Asher’s Brown’s parents.

“Here was this family who had never been to Austin, never lobbied before, never spoke publicly before, but saw this thing through,” Coleman said. “Sometimes Amy would beat me to some of the meetings I had set up. I wish everyone could experience that and see that if we just got people to do phone calls, what a difference that can make, or show up to hearings, what a difference that can really make.”

Coleman said Equality Texas’ relationships with the families of bullying victims likely was the group’s biggest contribution to the passage of the anti-bullying bills.

“No other group in the coalition had those relationships,” he said. “When it was time for the hearings, we had Montana Lance’s family, we had Jon Carmichael’s family, and we were working with them. No other organization was working with them, and when the session was about to end and there was not any traction, Equality Texas was the organization that at that moment could call those families and say, ‘Hey, we need you here in Austin to go with us, because we need this to move, and it can move with you.’”

In addition to passage of the anti-bullying bills, Coleman said committee hearings were held on 10 other pro-LGBT measures. And at most of those hearings, the group was able to call witnesses.

Coleman recalled one hearing on an employment nondiscrimination bill, in front of a committee made up of all Republicans.

“The conversation was not around sexual orientation, it was really around gender identity and expression,” he said. “We didn’t talk about gay. We talked about transitioning in the workplace. What an eye opener to me.”

He added that he believes the threat of anti-gay legislation in Texas is nearing its end.

“You’re going to have your Wayne Christians,” he said, referring to the author of the failed effort to de-fund LGBT resource centers. “But people are slowly moving away from using gay people as punching bags.”

Coleman said he now knows what it takes to get a bill passed, and with a large number of incumbents retiring, Equality Texas is re-energizing its PAC and focusing on voter registration.

One of the keys for the group will be the ability to hire staff to help out with development and field operations.

“Right now there are three of us trying to do the job I wouldn’t even say of six but of 10,” Coleman said. “In a state of this size, we need people on the ground. … I’m in the very cautious growth stage, but I know that we need to have people that can implement the field programs, as well as someone to help raise money. Right now I’m the sole fundraiser for the organization, and so we need someone who can definitely help us with our monthly donors, our capital club members, while I concentrate on engaging corporations with our work.”

In the 2013 session, Coleman said, Equality Texas’ two legislative priorities will be employment nondiscrimination and relationship recognition.

Armed with results from its 2010 Equality Poll showing broad support for relationship recognition, Coleman said the group’s strategy will include incremental gains, but with the ultimate goal of marriage equality.

He said legal experts are already looking at how to chip away at the 2005 constitutional amendment, which banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

“It is definitely a multi-year strategy, but I think that as our poll indicates, we have over 63 percent of voting Texans who would support civil unions, and we have almost 45 percent that would support marriage. That’s double what it was in 2005,” Coleman said.

“We’re talking to our colleagues in New York. We’re talking to our colleagues in California. We’re talking to folks at Freedom to Marry, about what does it look like here in Texas, and what have you seen? We’re going to be engaging our friends at Lambda Legal, who won Iowa. What does that look like and what should our steps be?”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s Brewing: Rick Perry’s first big flip-flop; Michele Bachmann says she doesn’t judge gays

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Hours after plunging into the Republican presidential primary, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made his first big flip-flop. The Texas Tribune reports that Perry is backtracking from one of the few socially progressive moves he’s made as governor — an executive order in 2007 mandating the HPV vaccine for girls entering sixth grade. Until now, Perry has consistently defended the controversial executive order, which was overturned by the Legislature. But now that he’s running for president, his position has changed. “I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt-out, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry,” Perry told a gathering in New Hampshire on Saturday. “But here’s what I learned: When you get too far out in front of the parade, they will let you know, and that’s exactly what our Legislature did, and I saluted it and I said, ‘Roger that, I hear you loud and clear.’ And they didn’t want to do it and we don’t, so enough said.”

2. Perry’s chief rival for tea party and evangelical support, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, told CNN on Sunday that she would reinstate “don’t ask don’t tell.” But Bachmann mostly dodged questions about her virulently anti-gay record during NBC’s Meet the Press, declaring that, “I don’t judge [gays].” Watch the clip from Meet the Press below.

3. Indiana State Rep. Phillip Hinkle, the anti-gay Republican accused of hiring an 18-year-old male prostitute on Craigslist, faces growing pressure to resign.

—  John Wright

S. Texas pastor forms Hispanic tea party over Republican support for same-sex marriage in NY

Armando Vera

A pastor in South Texas has launched what is said to be the first-ever Hispanic tea party chapter, ValleyCentral.com reports. Pastor Armando Vera, based in Pharr in the Rio Grande Valley, says the chapter is needed in part because some Republicans have gotten away from the party’s principles. As an example, he cites the fact that “a congressman in New York” voted in favor of same-sex marriage:

Vera said Hispanics are naturally conservative and he intends to reach out and inform them about the harm he said liberal policies have on our nation.

“The first goal of our group is to return to basics,” Vera said. “And in this nation and God is the base. Another topic we want to focus on is family values.”

Vera, who was born in Mexico but became a naturalized citizen of the United States, feels that some Republicans are too politically-motivated when it comes to voting.

“Every Republican has principles, but when it comes to politics, in more than one occasion these principles and values seem to be lost,” Vera said. “For example, a congressman in New York voted for gay marriage, and that is wrong in my eyes.”

Vera presumably is referring not to “a congressman,” but to the four members of the New York State Senate who voted in favor of marriage equality.

ValleyCentral.com has a poll up with the story asking people whether it’s necessary to form a Hispanic tea party. So far, 51 percent say no. Hopefully that’s because they realize that if it were up to the tea party, they’d be in Mexico.

—  John Wright

Tom Leppert now in minority of Republicans who will only tolerate ‘homosexuals’ if they’re single

Tom Leppert fraternizes with the queers in Dallas.

A poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling shows that a majority of Republicans nationwide — 51 percent — now support either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples. As Public Policy Polling notes in a blog post about the results, the percentage of Republicans who support same-sex relationship recognition is higher than the percentage — 45 percent — who approve of DOMA-loving House Speaker John Boehner’s job performance. Unfortunately, in the region identified as the South, which presumably includes Texas, 55 percent of Republicans still oppose any form of relationship recognition. And among self-identified Tea Party voters, 57 percent oppose relationship recognition. Which probably explains two-timin’ Tom Leppert’s decision to come out against both marriage and civil unions on his Senate campaign website. Speaking of that, here’s our latest idea for a Leppert campaign slogan: “I may have had a gay chief of staff as Dallas mayor, but by God he was single!” If that leads to follow-up questions, Leppert can simply say it was before he gained the courage to be open and honest about his tea-bagging.

—  John Wright