ENTERING THE FRAY | Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the Red State Gathering, where he announced his run for president, on Saturday, Aug. 13 in Charleston, S.C. (Associated Press)

But Dallas Log Cabin president says group would back governor

JAMES BRIGHT | Contributing Writer

Gay Democratic leaders in Texas fear that if Rick Perry becomes president, it would be a “major step back” for LGBT equality.

But the president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans indicated that the gay GOP group would support Perry if he wins the party’s nomination.

Perry, who hasn’t been supportive of the LGBT community during his time as governor, ended weeks of speculation when he formally announced that he’s running for president on Aug. 13.

And for the most part, LGBT leaders in Perry’s home state weren’t receptive to the news.

“He will regress everything we have accomplished and take us many steps backwards instead of the many steps forward we’ve taken under [President Barack] Obama,” said Omar Narvaez, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

“He is a top-tier candidate in that party with its radical right evangelical emphasis,” said Dan Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus. “He loves little government and low taxes, so he plays right into their hands. God forbid if he were ever elected president. We would take a major step back for equal rights.”

Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans Dallas, said the group likely will back the GOP nominee whoever it is.

“Rick Perry has been less of a friend to the LGBT community than we’d like, but on the issues that affect us all I think he is better than what we have in the White House,” he said. “We are all looking for a robust economy and he is going to make our national economic policies a lot more conducive to hiring, and that’s where I am concerned.”

Dennis Coleman, executive director of the nonpartisan Equality Texas, said the group will look at all candidates from both parties, but is unlikely to back Perry.

“As an organization we would to be more supportive of the governor putting a bid in for president, but we know where he stands on marriage for same-sex couples,” Coleman said.

“I’m a little concerned that based on his record he may follow the same rhetoric as [candidate Michele] Bachmann that may lead him to want to repeal the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’

“People get frustrated because things don’t happen as quickly as they’d like, but more mature members of the community remember a time when they could be arrested for going to a club,” Coleman said. “The White House has to continue a dialogue with LGBT leaders and people like myself in the movement and publications like the Dallas Voice to hammer down what he has done, and what needs to be done for the LGBT movement.”