Francisco “Quico” Canseco

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart has a post up today in which he argues that the absence of LGBT issues from the presidential debates — which conclude tonight — is actually a good thing because it signals that gays no longer make an effective political wedge.

Unfortunately, that’s still not always the case in places like Texas — as evidenced by a recent attack mailer in a hard-fought congressional race.

The mailer from tea party freshman Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, accuses his opponent, Democratic state Rep. Pete Gallego, of saying “no to God,” supporting “abortions for underage girls” and wanting “marriage to be between man & man.” Canseco and Gallego face off Nov. 6 in District 23, Texas’ only swing congressional district, which stretches along the Mexican border from San Antonio to El Paso.

The charges brought by Canseco in the mailer are mostly false, according to reports in the Texas Tribune and the Huffington Post.

Gallego, a devout Catholic, did not attend the Democratic National Convention, which saw an effort to remove God from the party’s platform, but he says he supported the successful measure to restore the language. And although Gallego is pro-choice, he voted for a bill requiring minors to get parental consent before undergoing the procedure.

Gallego voted against Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but he says he did so only because it also outlawed civil unions. Gallego recorded the following note in the House Journal explaining his vote against the resolution placing the amendment on the ballot:

Pete Gallego

“I fully agree that the institution of marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. I supported the Defense of Marriage Act, which is current Texas law. If that were the issue before us today, I would vote the same way again. However, in its continuing zeal to protect the institution of marriage, the legislature now infringes on the contractual rights of both men and women. For example, common-law marriages between men and women are in essence civil unions — but the Chisum Amendment bans civil unions between men and women — and not solely between individuals of the same sex. This is an unnecessary and improper governmental intrusion into the rights of individuals.”

Canseco’s mailer cites a YouTube video in which Gallego allegedly says “I don’t really have an issue …” with same-sex marriage. But a review of the video in question, which we’ve posted below, seems to indicate that, if anything, it actually shows Gallego expressing his opposition to same-sex marriage. Gallego’s comments begin just before the 2-minute mark in the video. He initially says he believes marriage is a state issue that’s unlikely to come before Congress, but pressed about his personal view, he offers this response:

“On a fundamental level, I don’t really have an issue with who you live with or who you have a relationship with,” Gallego says in the video. “The idea that you would call it a marriage, you know, is — again, that’s the Catololicism, where the church has an issue with it. But fundamentally, I think people are people and they’re going to do what they want to do, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Not surprisingly, Canseco received the lowest possible score of zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, which rates members according to their support for LGBT equality.