State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, who has repeatedly emphasized his opposition to same-sex marriage since launching a campaign for attorney general, told a gay GOP group in 2008 that he isn’t a homophobe and that he has gay family members.
Branch addressed Log Cabin Republicans on July 28 at Mattito’s in Uptown Dallas. At the time, Branch was running for re-election to his House seat against Democratic challenger Emil Reichstadt. Branch represents part of Dallas traditional gay neighborhood, and he had come under fire for his anti-gay voting record from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, which backed Reichstadt.
According to a Dallas Voice article about the meeting, Branch told Log Cabin that the fact he may disagree with the LGBT community on certain issues didn’t make him a homophobe.
“I think when someone disagrees, that for me to call them a hetero-phobe would be a terrible thing, so I refuse to play,” Branch said.
Branch began with a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation that focused primarily on Texas’ economy and the challenges facing the state. Following the presentation, he answered a handful of questions that had been pre-selected by then-Log Cabin President Rob Schlein.
Asked whether he agreed with hateful anti-gay language in the Republican Party platform, Branch told the group he hadn’t read the document “all the way through.” He added that he believed the platform also called on Congress to secede from the United Nations and abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Branch said while he appreciated the sentiment behind those planks, he disagreed with them.
“The specific language you’re talking about, listen, as someone who’s in a law firm that allows for domestic partners — I have law partners that are gay — as someone who has family members, as someone who thinks there’s no room for hatefulness or derogatory speech, that we should be respectful of all individuals and that that’s the common currency of being a Texan, being respectful and to be tolerant and to give dignity to all individuals, I would say anything that has hateful speech in it I would be uncomfortable with, and as I said, I’m uncomfortable with a lot of things in it,” Branch said.
Branch was also asked about anti-bullying legislation. According to Equality Texas, Branch had voted in 2005 to table an amendment that would have funded a study of harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity. In 2007, he voted against an amendment that would have required school districts to report incidents of bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation/gender identity. Schlein asked Branch whether he would support the Dignity for All Act — which was the title of one of the LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying measures.
Branch said while he wasn’t familiar with the specific legislation, he was for “dignity for all.”
“We’re all Americans, we’re all Texans, and to me we should all treat each other with respect,” he said. “To me, you treat people the way you want to be treated. I think all humans have equal value. As someone who believes in a maker, I think that’s the way we were made and that’s the way we’re supposed to be treated. … Probably many of us in this room can remember being treated that way at one time or another in elementary school or in middle school. It’s a terrible thing. We’ve seen some horrible consequences where people have even taken their own life recently because of that. So again, I’m against bullying, and I seriously am for dignity for all.”