LGBT participants head to Texas party conventions in Houston, FW

‘A’ GAYS  | Stonewall Democrats of Dallas is the statewide group’s chapter of the year.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

LGBT Democrats will be looking to elect one of their own to the Democratic National Committee and add marriage equality to the state party platform at this weekend’s convention in Houston.

Meanwhile, LGBT Republicans say a resolution to remove anti-gay language from the state GOP platform isn’t likely to go anywhere during the state party’s gathering in Fort Worth.

The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus holds its annual meeting at the state convention to elect new officers and present a number of awards.

The Dallas chapter will receive the statewide group’s Roberto J. Flores Club Achievement Award, named for the late partner of outgoing Texas Stonewall President Dan Graney. JC Dufresne, a straight ally from San

Antonio, will  be honored with the Buck Massey Legacy of Leadership Award, named for the late Buck Massey of Dallas. Outgoing Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie will receive the Lone Star Equality Advocate Award.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez said the LGBT caucus gives the various Stonewall chapters around the state the opportunity to share ideas. He said that even though the Dallas chapter is the largest in the state, he learns a lot from the other affiliates.

“We discuss what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it,” he said. “We need to make big changes happen in this state over the next few years to elect statewide officeholders soon.”
Neither Graney nor Vice President Erin Moore of Dallas are seeking re-election. Moore was previously president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Graney hit term limits. But Moore, also in her second term, was

originally elected to fill an unexpired term and could technically run again.

“It’s time to give other people the opportunity to serve,” Moore said.

Eli Olivarez Jr. is running for statewide president. He currently serves as president of Stonewall Democrats of the Rio Grande Valley.

Carol Cappa, Texas Stonewall’s current secretary and a member of Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats, is running for vice president.

Gay former state Rep. Glen Maxey is running for an open seat on the Democratic National Committee. The vacancy was created when lesbian former Houston Councilwoman Sue Lovell decided not to seek re-election to the DNC. A total of 10 seats from Texas will be filled at the convention.

“By tradition, it’s a diverse group,” Maxey said.

He said national chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz makes additional appointments. Lesbian Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez is among her appointees.

Maxey explained why he wants the position.

“I want to start rebuilding the party from the ground up,” he said. “We are at the cusp of being reliably blue.”

He said that money is sucked out of Texas to fund campaigns elsewhere. On the DNC, he would push for the national party to focus on the state.

“The national party needs to target us,” he said.

He said that once that focus gets candidates elected statewide and Texas becomes as reliably blue as California, “for the next generation, there will never be a Republican president.”

“That’s what Texas Democrats need to realize,” he said. “If we just get off our asses, we will win.”

Maxey has an opponent — Zephaniah Capo of Houston, a current member of the State Democratic Executive Committee. Capo, a teacher and union organizer, is also gay.

Maxey has the endorsement of Texas Stonewall.

“Glen has the depth and breadth,” Moore said. “He knows how to get things done and has the experience and knowledge.”

Moore is serving on the convention’s platform committee.

Equality Texas proposed six resolutions that were introduced at precinct and senatorial district meetings.

Of those, Moore said her push will be to get marriage equality and employment nondiscrimination into the platform.

Delegates to the national convention will also be chosen in Houston. Narvaez said he’s applied to be a delegate. Both Moore and her partner, Patti Fink, have been delegates to previous national conventions but neither applied for this convention.

“It would be an honor to be selected,” Narvaez said.

The Republican state convention is in Fort Worth at the convention center.

This is the first time the state Republican convention has been held in Fort Worth since 1998, when the Log Cabin Republicans were refused booth space, resulting in protests.

This year, Log Cabin did not apply for booth space, according to Dallas Log Cabin President Thomas Purdy. At least one Log Cabin Dallas board member will be a delegate in Fort Worth.

“He has been involved in past conventions and specifically debated the anti-gay plank there,” Purdy said.

At the previous convention, that board member presented a resolution to remove anti-gay language from the state’s Republican platform.

The current Texas GOP platform calls for the recriminalization of sodomy and making it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. It also opposes visitation rights for gay or lesbian parents, as well as gay adoption, and calls for dismissal from the armed forces for gays and lesbians.

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said he hasn’t heard whether a resolution to remove the language had passed at any senatorial district conventions — and he did not expect it to be introduced at this week’s convention.

Rob Schlein, president of the LGBT group Metroplex Republicans, is an alternate at this year’s convention. Schlein said he doesn’t anticipate the resolution to remove the language will be presented.

He said he was spending much of his time talking to people individually, looking for allies.

“I hope to find some speakers for our club,” Schlein said by phone from the convention floor on Thursday, June 7.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 8, 2012.