Six of the 11 Democratic candidates for the U.S. Congressional District 33 seat are shown at the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas forum Tuesday, March 27. From left, state Rep. Marc Veasey, former Dallas Councilman Steve Salazar, Dallas activist Jason Roberts, former state Rep. Domingo Garcia, Dallas attorney Chrysta Castaneda and Hispanic activist Carlos Quintanilla. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Six of the 11 Democratic candidates for the new U.S. Congressional District 33 voiced support for the LGBT community at a forum Tuesday night sponsored by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

The forum attracted an attendance of about 100, with dozens of people coming and going throughout and standing in the back of the Vixin Lounge at Sue Ellen’s to hear the candidates.

The district begins in southeast Fort Worth area that includes the Rainbow Lounge and cuts through Arlington and Irving before ending in North Oak Cliff.

State Rep. Marc Veasey, former state Rep. Domingo Garciaand former Dallas Councilman Steve Salazar were the three frontrunners in attendance at the forum.

Three lesser-known candidates in the race also participated: local business owner and activist Jason Roberts, Dallas attorney Chrysta Castaneda and Hispanic activist Carlos Quintanilla.

All six candidates said they support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, in addition to passing an LGBT-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Student Non-Discrimination Act.

Veasey, who represents state House District 95, which encompasses much of District 33, said he pushed for two additional congressional seats in North Texas to represent minorities while on the redistricting committee. He has also authored a bill calling for a  study of Texas’ James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The bill, which he said was intended to find out why the hate crime law is not used more often in prosecution, was left pending in committee in 2011.

Garcia focused on personal stories of accomplishment and motivation in the gay community, such as growing up next door to a gay couple that couldn’t share benefits when one became ill and had to rely on the other to take care of him. He also spearheaded the Dallas Police Department’s hiring of gays in lesbians in the early ’90s and was a strong proponent of the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy being inclusive of sexual orientation.

Salazar spoke about tackling discrimination himself growing up and his efforts to fight all discrimination on all levels as a councilman and in his own life.

Quintanilla highlighted his activism in the Hispanic community for equal housing and preventing deportation, vying to continue that effort for LGBT rights if elected.

Long-shot candidate Roberts, who founded the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, responded to many of the questions with the idea that LGBT rights should be a non-issue at this point in America’s history, touting his own progressive upbringing with his ordained parents performing same-sex ceremonies out of principle despite them not being legally recognized.

Dallas attorney Castaneda was the only woman at the forum.  She focused on her interest in women’s health issues and said repealing DOMA should be the first priority of the first District 33 representative. The other woman in the race, Fort Worth Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, was not at the forum because of an event conflict.

The race for District 33 has 11 Democratic and three Republican candidates. A more in-depth article analyzing the candidates will appear in the April 6 edition of Dallas Voice.