Libertarian Senate candidate from Dallas backs marriage equality

John Jay Myers

John Jay Myers appears on the Nov. 6 ballot as a Libertarian in the U.S. Senate race in Texas. In a new ad that has begun airing on cable around the state, Myers says he favors marriage equality.

His YouTube page says that a $5 donation allows the ad to run once in one to two zip codes on cable TV. He already has money to air it 575 times.

His platform is “End the wars. End corporate welfare. Live as you see fit.”

“It’s certainly not the government’s business to tell you who you can marry,” Myers says in the last line of the 30-second spot.

Myers owns The Free Man Cajun Cafe & Lounge in Deep Ellum.

Democratic Senate candidate Paul Sadler also supports marriage equality. Republican Ted Cruz, the heavy favorite to win the race, opposes marriage and civil unions.

Watch the ad below.

—  David Taffet

Cruz declared winner in Republican Senate runoff

Ted Cruz, left, and David Dewhurst

Ted Cruz was declared the winner early in the evening in his race for the Republican nomination for Senator. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was expected to win until Cruz overtook him in the polls during the last week.

Cruz is the former Texas Solicitor General. He is expected to face Paul Sadler in the November election.

In other races, Tincy Miller won the Republican nomination for State Board of Education. She defeated incumbent George Clayton in the primary after he was outed last fall. Clayton plans a write-in candidacy.

For state railroad commissioner, Christi Craddick defeated Warren Chisum who made a name for himself in the legislature as one of the House’s most homophobic representatives.

—  David Taffet

RUNOFF ELECTION: Early voting puts Veasey, Cruz ahead

State Rep. Marc Veasey had an 8 percent lead on Domingo Garcia with early voting totals in Tuesday’s Democratic runoff.

Veasey earned 54 percent of the vote for the new Congressional District 33 that spans Tarrant and Dallas counties. Garcia earned 46 percent of the vote.

Garcia led in early voting totals in Dallas county with 71 percent to Veasey’s 29 percent. In Tarrant County, Veasey got 58 percent compared to Garcia’s 42 percent.

In the Republican Primary runoff, Ted Cruz was ahead of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst with 52 percent statewide compared to Dewhurst’s 48 percent.

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more runoff results.

—  Anna Waugh

Anti-gay Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s law firm has perfect score on gay rights

Ted Cruz

A spokeswoman for U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s law firm distanced the firm from his campaign on Tuesday when asked about the firm’s perfect score on gay rights and Cruz’s staunchly anti-gay political positions.

“Mr. Cruz’s campaign is separate from the firm as a company,” said Jen Costa, manager of public and media relations for Philadelphia-based Morgan, Lewis & Bockus LLP. “I have no comment on his campaign.”

The tea party-backed Cruz is a partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ Houston office, where he leads the firm’s U.S. Supreme Court and national appellate litigation practice, according to his campaign website.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockus received a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 Corporate Equality Index, which rates employers according to their LGBT-related policies and practices.

Costa added that “unfortunately no one is available to speak to our HRC ranking at this time.”

Cruz, who faces Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff for the GOP nomination July 31, repeatedly attacked former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert during the primary for marching in the city’s gay Pride Parade.

On his website, Cruz boasts that as Texas’ solicitor general he helped block a gay Beaumont couple from obtaining a divorce from their Vermont civil union. Cruz’s website also touts a letter he wrote in support of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act — as well as court briefs he filed defending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gays and military recruiters’ access to college campuses regardless of the anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“It’s a shame that when the law firm that he’s a partner at has demonstrated a commitment to LGBT equality, that he has chosen to go the route of archaic bigotry and homophobia,” said Paul Guequierre, a spokesman for HRC.

Despite his anti-gay positions, Cruz has also been criticized for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a gay donor, PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

—  John Wright

Tom Leppert attacks Ted Cruz for accepting $250K from gay Republican donor Peter Thiel

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, second from right, schmoozes with gay Republican leader Rob Schlein, far left, during a holiday party at Schlein's home in 2009. Also pictured are, from left, Schlein's mother Shirley, Leppert's wife Laura, and Schlein's partner David Keeton.

As you may recall, tea-bagging former solicitor general Ted Cruz has repeatedly attacked former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert for twice appearing in the city’s gay Pride parade. Cruz and Leppert are battling for second place and a spot in a runoff alongside Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

In the past, Leppert has defended his decision to appear at Pride by saying he was merely doing what Jesus would do — embracing all groups. But now it looks like Leppert has dropped the peaceful, Christ-like approach and is acting more like the pissed-off God from the Old Testament.

According to WFAA’s Brad Watson, in a segment recorded for Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics, Leppert returned Cruz’s anti-gay fire by slamming the former solicitor general for accepting a quarter-million dollars from gay Republican donor Peter Thiel while raising money for an aborted campaign for attorney general in 2009. Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, is also the top donor to the national gay conservative group GOProud.

From WFAA:

Cruz cited a 2003 Beaumont case of two gay men joined by civil union in another state who wanted a divorce that he worked on in the state attorney general’s office.

“I’m the only one here today that has a proven record of actually standing up fighting for traditional marriage,” he said.

But Leppert accused Cruz of hypocrisy and taking credit for decisions actually made by Attorney General Greg Abbott.

“Now that was a case that they weren’t in charge of, but then what they fail to tell you is, in an aborted run for attorney general, they received a quarter-of-a-million dollars from the gay activist who was leading the fight for gay marriage in California.”

Texas campaign finance records show Cruz took a total of $251,220 from magnate and gay activist Peter Thiel in 2009 while raising money for a run as state attorney general.

Cruz didn’t directly respond to the donation charge but did fire back, “Both Tom Leppert and David Dewhurst talk a good game, but both of them have raised taxes.”

While Leppert’s attempt to turn the anti-gay tables on Cruz is an interesting strategy, it could also be viewed as hypocritical. Let’s not forget that in  addition to appearing at Pride as mayor, Leppert hired an openly gay chief of staff and regularly schmoozed with gay Republicans himself. The above photo shows Leppert at a 2009 holiday party at the home of Rob Schlein, who then headed the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans and now heads the local GOProud affiliate.

However, both Cruz and Leppert know that in a statewide Texas GOP primary, anti-gay rhetoric stills plays well with voters. So it isn’t surprising that we’re seeing another round of it before early voting begins Monday, especially in the wake of President Barack Obama’s decision to come out in support of same-sex marriage.

Watch a video clip of the exchange between Leppert and Cruz below. The full Inside Texas Politics airs at 9 a.m. Sunday.

—  John Wright

Tom Leppert convinces evangelical leaders he’s sufficiently ex-gay-friendly to represent Texas

I was baffled when I saw this headline in the DMN last week, because the story was over a year late. I now suspect the newspaper was just doing its part to help Leppert distance himself from his past.

In November 2009, after then-Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert enthusiastically joined the virulently anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas, I opined here on Instant Tea that the move was purely politically motivated because Leppert was planning to run for U.S. Senate. After calling Leppert’s decision to join First Baptist “a slap in the face to not only the LGBT community, but also to Hindus, Muslims and Mormons,” I wrote that it would be “good riddance for Dallas if he steps down to run” for Senate.

Not surprisingly, Leppert’s office, including openly gay chief of staff Chris Heinbaugh, didn’t take kindly to my comments, and let’s just say I ended up being called on the carpet. But to this day, I stand by those statements, and in retrospect, it would certainly appear as though they were dead on.

When he did finally step down as mayor to run for Senate, Leppert promptly sent out his infamous anti-gay tweet, before coming out against both same-sex marriage and civil unions on his campaign website. During his Senate run, Leppert has been attacked by the other GOP candidates for appearing at gay Pride twice while mayor, but now it looks like he’s managed to win over some of the folks you’d expect to be most critical of his decision to participate in such an “orgy” of “drunken revelries,” in the words of Lela Pittinger.

The Dallas Morning News reports today that a group of evangelical pastors, led by none other than First Baptist’s Robert Jeffress, has formally endorsed the former mayor. The group includes others such as David Dykes of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Randel Everett of First Baptist Church of Midland, etc. (On a side note, we’re sure the DMN’s main headline on its Metro page last Friday quoting Ed Oakley as saying Leppert had “abandoned gays” didn’t hurt his cause among the pastors. At first I was baffled by this headline because it was over a full year late, but now I consider it to be nothing more than a ceremonial political ex-gay cleansing by the city fathers, if you will.)

As I wrote last month, it’s sad to think that on paper at least, Leppert may be the least anti-gay of the four major GOP candidates for Senate. But I don’t care, I’ll still be glad when he comes in third May 29 behind Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former solicitor general Ted Cruz. And in the highly unlikely event that Leppert were to decide to never again run for public office, it would indeed be good riddance.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Craig James suggests his opposition to civil unions is rooted in the Ten Commandments

James.Craig

Craig James

U.S. Senate hopeful Craig James suggested during a televised debate Friday night that his opposition to legal benefits for same-sex couples, including civil unions, is rooted in the Ten Commandments.

During a debate sponsored by the Belo Corp. in Dallas, moderator Sarah Forgany of KENS-TV Channel 5 in San Antonio asked James how much his personal faith would affect his ability to represent all Texans.

A clip was then played from a recent interview James did with the Texas Tribune, in which James doubled down on his previous statements that gay people will have to “answer to the lord” for their actions, that being gay is a choice, and that same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to any legal benefits, including civil unions. James previously made those statements during a forum at the Dallas Country Club in February, as part of a group attack against candidate Tom Leppert for appearing at gay Pride while mayor of Dallas.

This time, Forgany pointed to recent polls showing that 61 percent of Texans support civil unions for same-sex couples. “In this case, would your personal religious faith be in the way of supporting that issue?” Forgany said. Here’s James’ response:

James: “You know, I have said also, as I start every speech that I’ve done now for four months, my goal in life is that when I meet my maker, he says, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant, period.’ It’s not to become a United States senator. So whenever I make the decisions and the things that I just talked about there [in the clip], all of us are free to make decisions in this country, and all of us will be accountable to God for those, including me. I do support the marriage between a man and a woman, and my faith is my core, and anyone who doesn’t support their core and what they believe … This country was founded on the principles of Christianity, and I’m never gonna back away from that.”

Forgany: “So you’re saying that there are times when your personal religious faith will get in the way of that?”

James: “Never gets in the way. The moral fiber of this country is in trouble, and I will stand and honor the Ten Commandments, always will, and I’ll never be apologetic for that. I will always look and seek what the light put at my feet from the lord has provided for me, absolutely. In regard to being judgmental or discriminating, absolutely not. Everyone’s free to make their own decisions, and at the end of the day we all will be accountable to our lord and maker.”

None of the other candidates at the debate — Leppert, Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — was asked to weigh in. However, all four major candidates in the Republican primary have indicated in the past that they oppose both same-sex marriage and civil unions. The exchange with James begins at about the 11:45 mark in the video below:

—  John Wright

Leppert least anti-gay of GOP Senate hopefuls?

Tom Leppert at gay Pride in 2007

Last month we reported that GOP Senate hopeful Craig James, the former SMU football star, stated during an Eagle Forum debate at the Dallas Country Club that he believes being gay is a choice.

“I think it’s a choice, I do,” James said. “You have to make that choice, absolutely.” (Watch video of James’ comments here.)

Peggy Fikac at the San Antonio Express-News reports that James — who happens to be a member of Prestonwood Baptist Church, otherwise known as “Six Flags Over Jesus” — later repeated his claim that being gay is a choice during a candidate forum in Austin.

Fikac decided to follow up with James and other Texas Senate candidates to get more detail about their views on the issue.

She reports that former solicitor general Ted Cruz believes that “engaging in homosexual conduct is a choice,” while Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is “persuaded that the gay lifestyle is a choice.”

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who’s been under attack by the other GOP candidates for appearing at gay Pride as mayor, told Fikac: “I think it’s likely a combination of factors and these may differ by individual, but I’m not going to hold myself up as an expert.”

It’s pretty sad to think that Leppert, a member of the notoriously anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas who threw the community under the bus when he stepped down as mayor to run for Senate, is arguably emerging as the most progressive on LGBT issues among the major candidates in the GOP field. Of course, given that Leppert’s website states he opposes all forms of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, including civil unions, this isn’t saying very much at all.

—  John Wright

Ted Cruz’s local field director speaks to gay Republican group by her ‘own choice’

Ashley Sewell

Metroplex Republicans of Dallas got a lesson on social media and politics at their Monday night meeting courtesy of guest speaker and conservative blogger Ashley Sewell, who also happens to be the North Texas field director for anti-gay GOP Senate hopeful Ted Cruz’s campaign.

“This is my own time and my own choice,” Sewell told Dallas Voice of her appearance after the meeting, where she spoke to the audience about various social media platforms. “This was scheduled many, many months ago before I did anything for Ted.”

Metroplex Republicans was the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans chapter before it was dechartered by the national organization for various reasons last year.

Sewell said her position with Cruz’s campaign involves helping volunteers “get plugged into events and groups and make sure that they are contributing to the campaign in a way that they are excited about.”

A Jan. 12 posting on Sewell’s website mentioned that she would be working as “an independent contractor in his run for U.S. Senate as his DFW Field Director. Sounds snazzy, huh? Snazzy or not, it’s going to be a big job but I’m excited about it. I’ll help manage the events and meetings in north Texas, as well as the volunteers, all in an effort to get Ted’s message out to the voters.”

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Tom Leppert’s GOP Senate rivals again attack him for appearing at gay Pride in Dallas

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert walks alongside the city float at gay Pride in 2009.

Republican Senate hopeful Tom Leppert again came under fire today for his decision to appear in two gay Pride parades while mayor of Dallas.

Leppert was attacked by fellow candidates Ted Cruz, Craig James and Lela Pittenger during a debate luncheon hosted by the right-wing Eagle Forum at the Dallas Country Club.

The exchange featured some strong anti-gay language, with James saying he believes homosexuality is a choice and Pittenger comparing the Pride parade to an orgy. It began when the 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 during a recent candidate forum in Fort Worth.

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.”

—  John Wright