Leland Burk says he does not believe his sexual orientation was a major factor in his surprisingly lopsided defeat at the hands of Jennifer Staubach Gates in the District 13 Dallas City Council race on Saturday.
In an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice on Tuesday afternoon, Burk acknowledged that District 13 is the city’s most conservative district and that some people may have voted against him because he’s gay. But he said he thinks those people are in the “vast minority.”
Burk said he believes the deciding factor in the race was simply Staubach Gates’ middle name and her status as the daughter of Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach.
“I just don’t think it approached in any way a significant number,” Burk said of possible anti-gay votes. “I think at the end of the day, I was running against Captain America, Roger Staubach, and there was absolutely no margin for error. … It was an uphill battle from the get-go.”
Burk said he has “absolutely” no regrets about running as an openly gay candidate. He said he didn’t run because he’s gay, but rather because of his experience and background, and noted that Houston has a lesbian mayor.
“I think we’re way past that, I really do,” Burk said. “I have a lot of friends in [District] 13, and I’ve lived there my entire life, and I think that my business background plays very well in District 13. I just think I was up against a name that no one could have overcome, and I think that’s the bottom line.”
Burk said he plans to remain heavily involved because he loves the city. He was relatively unknown in the LGBT community prior to the race, but he recently joined the Human Rights Campaign’s DFW Federal Club.
“There is of course more awareness now in the community, and I intend to use that for whatever positive impact I can have in the community,’ he said.
Which is a good thing, because even if it’s true that most people in Preston Hollow are now willing to vote for a gay candidate for City Council, the simple fact remains that most Republicans in Texas still don’t think we should be able to marry the person we love or have protections against being fired from our jobs.