Texans Garry Brown, Kristopher Sharp frontrunners in Victory Fund contest

Brown

Garry Brown

Two Texans are among 16 LGBT candidates running in Victory Fund’s Onward to Victory contest for those thinking about running for public office or interested in working on an LGBT candidate’s campaign.

The winner gets an all-expenses-paid spot at Victory Fund’s candidate and campaign training in Atlanta from May 30-June 2. The winner will be announced on May 20.

In third place, as of this writing, is Garry Brown.

Brown is running for Travis County commissioner. If elected, he would be the first LGBT county commissioner elected in Texas. He has worked as a congressional aide to Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett and currently serves as public relations director for Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez.

In first place is Kristopher Sharp.

Sharp was recently elected vice president of the University of Houston—Downtown student body despite homophobic attacks against him. He has no planned upcoming races but has plans to continue his political career.

To vote, go here.

—  David Taffet

1 gay candidate wins, 1 loses in city elections

Scott Sherman

Scott Sherman was re-elected to the Pearland City Council on Saturday, keeping the number of openly LGBT city council members in Texas at three.

Sherman, a 37-year-old attorney who specializes in commercial litigation, was elected to a second three-year term in an at-large seat representing the entire city. Pearland (pronounced “pear-land,” like the fruit) is a fast-growing suburb near the Gulf Coast south of Houston that has a population of more than 90,000.

In 2009, Sherman won the seat by just 30 votes in a runoff. This year, he was unopposed, which he called “an amazing thing” given the close race three years ago.

“I think for the last three years I’ve shown the residents that I’m a hard worker, that I’m looking out for them, and I’ve kind of proven myself on being responsive to all the residents, so it paid off,” Sherman said.

Last week we reported that Sherman was the only openly LGBT person running for a council seat in Texas this year. At the time we weren’t aware that Audrey “Tina” Cannon, who’s openly gay, was seeking the Place 5 council seat in Austin. Cannon was one of several candidates challenging incumbent Bill Spelman, who avoided a runoff by capturing 58 percent of the vote on Saturday. Cannon finished third, with 10 percent.

With Cannon’s defeat, Sherman remains one of only three out city council members in Texas, along with Fort Worth’s Joel Burns and Houston’s Mike Laster, according to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Sherman said he’s heard there was a whisper campaign against him during the runoff in 2009, but other than that his sexual orientation hasn’t been an issue.

“We have a very diverse city and I kind of credit our diversity to some of the reason why it’s never been an issue,” he said.

This year, Sherman was endorsed by the Victory Fund.

Asked why he chooses to run as an out candidate, Sherman said: “It’s important to me for kids out there who are not out to realize that you can do whatever you want and you shouldn’t be ashamed and you shouldn’t have to hide, and if you can be a community leader and you want to put yourself before the voters, then you should do that. And I think we lead by example.”

 

—  John Wright

Gay El Paso House candidate Mary Gonzalez to visit Dallas for LGBT fundraiser next week

Mary Gonzalez

Mary Gonzalez, an openly gay candidate for Texas House from El Paso, will be in Dallas on Thursday, May 3 for a fundraiser sponsored by the Texas Equity PAC, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and Annie’s List.

Of the four known openly LGBT candidates for Legislature in 2012, Gonzalez arguably has the best chance to become only the second out lawmaker in the state’s history and the first since Glen Maxey, who served from 1993 until 2001. Texas is one of only 18 states that lack an openly LGBT legislator, and according to the Victory Fund, no state has ever passed relationship recognition without one.

Gonzalez is one of three candidates in the May 29 Democratic Primary  in El Paso’s District 75 who are vying to replace Rep. Chente Quintillia, who isn’t seeking re-election.

“The oldest of eleven children, Mary Gonzalez is a natural born leader,” an invitation for next week’s fundraiser reads. “Before putting herself through college to eventually become a PhD candidate and Adjunct Professor, Mary spent her adolescent years advocating for underserved colonias in her hometown of El Paso. Now, Mary is putting her education and experience to work for the people of El Paso and is poised to become Texas’ only LGBT voice in the state legislature. Come meet this remarkable young woman and catch a rising star on her way to the Capitol!”

The fundraiser will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the home of Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman and his partner, Gregory Pynes. Other hosts include Cece Cox; Jack Evans and George Harris; Scott Green and Garrett Warren; Chris Luna and Kent Mecklenburg; Karl Meyer and Craig McCartney; Dr. Mark Parker and Eric Johnson; and Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld.

The suggested donation is $100, or become a host for $250.. For more information or to RSVP contact Chuck Smith at 512-474-5475 ext. 2 or chuck@texasequitypac.org; or Michael McCall at 202-567-3304 or michael.mccall@victoryfund.org.

—  John Wright

Houston welcomes the International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference

Duran, Forester and Kleinschmidt

Three mayors: Mark Kleinschmidt of Chapel Hill, NC, Blanca Ines Duran, of Chapinero in Bogata Columbia and Larry Forester of Signal Hill, CA.

At an opening reception at the Houston Zoo’s reptile house Houston’s first lady Kathy Hubbard welcomed the attendees of the 27th annual Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference. The conference brings together LGBT elected officials and political operatives from around the world to talk about not only LGBT equality, but the unique situations encountered by queer people in seeking and serving in public office.

“The last time this conference was in Houston we had about three hundred people in attendance,” said Hubbard. “This year we have over six hundred.” Surrounded by the Zoo’s collection of exotic reptiles, including a six foot white alligator, the attendees caught up with old friends and made new connections.

Wile continually looped footage of a Gila monster eating dead rats ran on the reptile house’s flat screen monitors three out mayors talked about their experiences. Blanca Ines Duran, mayor of Chapinero in Bogata Columbia laughed at the typo on her name tag. It said she was from Ontario Canada, her wife’s name tag had her from Bogata, TX. “Is there even a Bogata, TX” asked Duran.

Larry Forester, mayor of Signal Hill, CA since 1998, said that three of the five members of his city council were gay. “It was never planned that way,” said Forester, “it just kind of happened.” Forester said his city is about 20% LGBT and that probably has something to do with the makeup of his council. Like any good Mayor he then spent 20 minutes talking about how great it is to live Signal Hill. “We’re the highest point for miles around… on a clear day I can see to Catalina.”

Mayor of Chapel Hill, NC, Mark Kleinschmidt, joined in on the conversation, talking about how much he had learned at previous conferences and that he was excited to attend this year’s conference in Houston.

One day passes for both today and Saturday are still available at glli.org, passes are $99.

And yes, Mayor Duran, there is a Bogata, TX.

—  admin

Laster becomes first out gay man on Houston City Council

Mike Laster

Mike Laster

With 57% of precincts reporting Mike Laster is the presumptive victor in the Houston District J City Council race. Laster, an out gay candidate endorsed by the Victory Fund and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, has a commanding lead with 67% of the vote. His nearest opponent Criselda Romero trails with 22%.

Laster is the first out gay man to be elected to the Houston City Council.

From the Victory Fund website:

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Plan II Honors Program, Mike earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center. While at the Law Center, Mike distinguished himself as the National Vice Chair of the American Bar Association Law Student Division.

Today Mike is an attorney specializing in real estate with the firm of Williams, Birnberg & Andersen, L.L.P. in Houston, where he has practiced for the past thirteen years. From 1989 to 1995, Mike served as a Senior Assistant City Attorney in the Real Estate Division of the City Attorney’s Office, where he handled many aspects of a general real estate and development practice for the city.

—  admin

East coast victories for LGBT candidates

While we’re waiting here in Houston for the results of today’s municipal elections the Victory Fund reports of victories for LGBT candidates on the East coast where polls closed an hour earlier than Texas.

State Del. Adam Ebbin (D-District 30) was elected to Virginia’s state Senate today, making him the Commonwealth’s first openly gay senator.

“I am honored by the trust the voters have showed in me,”  Ebbin said in a statement. “During the campaign, I listened to the voters’ concerns and will work on behalf of the values we all share: improving our public schools, expanding our transit system and cleaning up Virginia’s environment. I will make sure their voices are heard…”

“Alex Morse, a 22-year-old graduate of Brown University, has just been elected mayor of Holyoke, Mass., a city of nearly 40,000 residents near Springfield…”

“Zach Adamson has won his race for city council in Indianapolis, giving the city its first openly LGBT city council member.”

“An incumbent on the Largo, Fla., City Commission who attacked her openly gay opponent over his sexual orientation has lost her reelection bid to him tonight. Michael Smith defeated Mary Gray Black, who has a history of anti-gay and anti-trans activism on the commission.”

—  admin

The Nooner: SLDN on Navy sex videos; more Super Bowl concerts; new Victory Fund seal

Your midday news roundup from Instant Tea:

• Victory Fund launches endorsement seal (right).

• Happy New Years from Dallas regarding DADT.

• More Super Bowl concerts announced, including Kid Rock and Duran Duran.

• President of Houston GLBT Political Caucus steps down after two years.

• Servicemembers Legal Defense Network responds to Navy sex video controversy.

—  John Wright

Your daily dose of Joel Burns

Ever since his “It Gets Better” speech, it seems not a day (or even an hour) goes by that we don’t hear something new about openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns. Today’s news comes from GayPolitics.com, which reports that Burns is the Victory Fund’s first endorsed candidate for 2011.

His powerful October speech about the suicides of young gay people, delivered in the chambers of the Fort Worth City Council, has been viewed nearly 2.5 million times on YouTube, prompting media outlets from across the country (and the world) to seek interviews to discuss the issue of anti-LGBT bullying.

Councilman Joel Burns has become a hero to LGBT youth who so desperately need role models — people who are successful and respected, but who are also open and honest about being gay.

Now Burns is also the first 2011 candidate to earn the Victory Fund’s endorsement. He’s running for re-election to represent District 9 on the Fort Worth City Council, and the Victory Fund is out to make sure he wins.

“Joel represents what the Victory Fund is all about — making sure LGBT voices are represented in government, and making sure we are heard,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.

—  John Wright

Kentucky’s 2nd-largest city elects gay mayor

Jim Gray

Our first big gay result from Election Night is in.

Lexington, Kentucky’s second-largest city, has elected an openly gay mayor:

From GayPolitics.com:

Vice-Mayor Jim Gray was victorious tonight in his second campaign for the city’s top job, beating incumbent Mayor Jim Newberry.

“This is a tremendous victory for Lexington, for Kentucky’s LGBT community and for fairness.  We are proud of Jim Gray and his fantastic campaign staff who fought hard for this win,” said Chuck Wolfe, Victory Fund’s president and CEO.

Gray is one of more than 1o0 candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund on the ballot today. To follow Victory-fund endorsed candidates throughout the night, go here.

—  John Wright

No openly LGBT legislative candidates

Glen Maxey
Glen Maxey

As Monday’s deadline came and went, no known openly LGBT candidates had filed to run for Texas Legislature in 2010. This means that despite electing the nation’s first out big-city mayor, Texas likely will remain one of 20 states with no openly LGBT state legislators. Glen Maxey, who served in the House from 1991 to 2003, was Texas’ first and only openly gay legislator. In 2007, there were two openly LGBT House candidates, John McClelland in Denton and Brian Thompson in Austin, both Democrats. Thompson lost in the primary to Dawnna Dukes, and McClelland lost in the general election to Myra Crownover. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which backs openly LGBT candidates nationwide, no significant pro-equality legislation has ever passed in a state that lacked an out legislator. But who knows, maybe Texas can become the first in 2011.

—  John Wright