Craig James: Supporting marriage equality = Supporting Satan

Craig James

Craig James

Former New England Patriots running back and current Family Research Council employee Craig James spoke out against marriage equality this week — again — declaring that supporting marriage equality is equal to practicing Satanism, according to The Huffington Post.

Commenting after his former team — the Super Bowl Champs, by the way — and Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays joined 376 businesses and companies in calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down bans on same-sex marriage.

During an FRC radio program on Monday, March 9, James declared, “If I were a current player in that locker room and my livelihood depended on me being quiet or losing it because of my belief system, I worry, I wonder. So, that’s Satan working on us.”

Yep. He said that. You can listen to it here at Right Wing Watch. And by the way, James is a Texan — one more reason that Texans who favor equality and fairness need to speak up and drown out the voices of hate that have been allowed to rule here in the Lone Star State for too long.

James was a football star at Stratford High School in Houston in the late 1970s, and in the early 1980s, he and fellow running back and future NFL star Eric Dickerson teamed up as “The Pony Express” to lead Southern Methodist University’s Mustangs to numerous victories. James’ star there was later somewhat tarnished when he admitted that he had received “insignificant gifts” as part of the scandal surrounding under-the-table payments to SMU players from the mid-1970s to 1986.

After a year in the USFL with the Washington Federals, James joined the Patriots as a running back. When injuries forced him to retire from football after the ’88 season, James started a career in radio and broadcasting, starting as an SMU game analyst before moving on to KDFW-TV and then ESPN.

James left ESPN in 2011 to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat in the U.S. Senate when she decided not to run again. During the race, James was fired from Fox Sports Southwest because of anti-gay views he expressed in his campaign. Among other anti-gay comments, James said that being gay is a choice and that gay people will have to “”answer to the Lord for their actions,” according to the Houston Chronicle. He also chastised his opponent Tom Leppert, who had resigned as mayor of Dallas to run for the Senate, because Leppert had appeared in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ LGBT Pride parade.

Public Policy Polling conducted polls that indicated Craig was becoming less and less popular the more people learned about him, and he eventually placed a distant fourth in the Republican Primary that year, with just 4 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz, another well-known anti-gay Texan (well, sort-of Texan), won and continues to oppose the godless LGBT hordes in Washington, most recently with a proposed constitutional amendment that would keep federal courts from prohibiting states from banning same-sex marriage.

James joined Family Research Council in 2014.


—  Tammye Nash

Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James goes to work for hate group


Former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James

Former SMU football player and candidate for U.S. Senate Craig James has taken a job with Family Research Council, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He will become assistant to the hate group’s President Tony Perkins.

In his Senate campaign, James was best known for his attacks on fellow candidate former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who rode on a float with the Dallas City Council in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. Leppert participated in Pride until he decided to run for the Senate seat.

Leppert came in third in his Senate bid, ahead of James, who came in fourth. Sen. Ted Cruz won the election.

At a campaign debate at Dallas Country Club attended by Dallas Voice, James made this homophobic comment:

“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.”

After the campaign, Fox Sports hired James, but fired him a week later for comments made during the campaign.

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here,” Fox told Dallas Morning News at the time.

James is currently suing Fox for religious discrimination based on preserving his right to discriminate.

—  David Taffet

AUDIO: Tom Leppert records robocall backing Bobby Abtahi


Bobby Abtahi, left, and Philip Kingston


Some District 14 residents received a robocall from anti-gay former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert last week in support of City Council candidate Bobby Abtahi, who faces Philip Kingston in a runoff June 15.

But the Abtahi campaign is denying that it played any role in recording the Leppert robocall or even knew about it.

“We did not record that,” Abtahi campaign manager Kurt Watkins said.

Watkins said the call was done on Leppert’s own initiative and Leppert has not endorsed Abtahi despite the robocall.

The call highlights Abtahi’s work as a community prosecutor for the city while Leppert was mayor.

“I personally worked with Bobby,” Leppert says in the robocall. “And I saw his role as a city prosecutor the work he did protecting our communities. He made a big difference.”

—  David Taffet

ABC lists Irving-based Gold’s Gym alongside Chick-fil-A for political views

The recent Chick-fil-A controversy has sparked responses from both sides but also a closer evaluation of other companies’ views – and political contributions.

ABC News highlighted several companies that have given to anti-gay organizations and political foundations.

Gold’s Gym International CEO and President Robert Rowling donated more than $1 million to American Crossroads, an organization started by GOP political strategists including Karl Rove and a super PAC backing Mitt Romney.

Gold’s is a subsidiary of private Texas-based TRT Holdings, which also owns Omni Hotels. Omni is one of the few major hotel chains that doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits to its employees throughout the U.S.

Omni’s Dallas convention center hotel offered DP benefits after the issue was raised by Dallas Voice and Mayor Tom Leppert convinced the company to do so, even though it hadn’t been considered as part of the operating agreement between the city and the hotel.

Direct-sells company Amway is also under pressure from the gay community after LGBT activist Fred Karger obtained the company’s president’s tax records revealing that he’d donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund. Karger called for a boycott of Amway last Thursday.

—  Dallasvoice

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


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

Feedback • 03.02.12

Column on gay Catholics misguided

While I am not a member of Dignity, I am a gay Roman Catholic and felt Phyllis Guest’s article titled “Efforts to resurrect local gay Catholic group are misguided” was both unnecessary, and showed a lack of a broader understanding of the diversity of the LGBT community. I take this article as a blatant attempt to promote anti-Catholic bigotry in the name of gay rights. Hate for whatever reason is unacceptable. While I respect Guest’s right to her personal opinion, that opinion in my opinion is misguided and unhelpful.

LGBT people of faith have shown that change is indeed possible. For us Catholics who are LGBT we understand the tension that exists between our Catholic leadership and gay rights/marriage equality. We understand our journey will be a difficult one at times putting our own comfort on the line for moving the envelop of change within the church. Using Guest’s opinion as a guiding example would she say the same of Catholic women should they also throw out the baby with the water in terms of their faith?

I think Guest needs to educate herself about the Catholic faith, and more to the point the history and vision of Dignity. Apparently she seems to think that evolution played no part in those other churches who openly welcome LGBT people. I think Guest does a disservice to our community when she promotes division over unity. GLBT Catholics are as an important part of this community as any other group, and we owe none an apology for practicing our faith.

I would encourage any Catholics who are LGBT in Dallas and want to restart a Dignity chapter there to do so. While I belong to another national Catholic LGBT organization you should know you are not alone and, in my opinion you not only have our support, but the support of gay Catholics in Dallas. Especially during this season of Lent, I encourage you on your faith journey.

Joe Murray

Executive Director 
Rainbow Sash Movement


Attacks on Leppert are reprehensible

Not only are the attacks on Tom Leppert reprehensible and repugnant, the whole holier-than-thou attitudes of Cruz, James and Pittenger are disgusting. I could name several sins I’m sure that these men and woman have committed that would disqualifies them from their finger-pointing.

Personally I believe Thomas Purdy is a little late in his thinking that the Log Cabin Republicans will “…ensure the Party of Abraham Lincoln remains so and does not become the Party of Anita Bryant. …” The Republican Party is already worse than Anita Bryant’s “Party” ever thought of being. Also, Rob Schlein’s statement that he’s changing support from Cruz to Tom Leppert because of the attack on Leppert is assinine. Leppert has demonstrated he’s as big a hypocrite as the others. How any gay person truly interested in preserving the rights of “the community” can support a Republican candidate for anything is definitely open to question.  I seriously doubt there would be any candidate of the Republican Party at this point who would be willing to step up for LGBT causes. Frankly, gay Republicans have their heads in the sand and I don’t understand it.

Daniel Prado


Guest article borders on hate speech

It’s disturbing to find that the Dallas Voice would publish something like Phyllis Guest’s attack on Jim Davis’ attempt to rebuild Dignity Dallas, and the Roman Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality.

All Mr. Davis seems to be doing is trying to build a community for like-minded people to be a part of.

As to the church, why single them out? It would be one thing if its views were unique among mainline Christian denominations. Unfortunately for the most part they are all the same. And though there are movements to make positive changes toward homosexuality in some, to the best of my knowledge no major church has been able to totally accomplish this goal.

She says she has nothing against the Roman Catholic Church. I’d suggest you couldn’t prove that from reading her column.

Attack speech like this boarders on hate speech, and I hope this is the last time I see anything like this appearing in the Voice.

Frank M. Stich

—  David Taffet

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.”

—  Dallasvoice