A central Texas campaign manager for Williamson County Democratic Chair Karen Carter has been accused of making anti-gay comments about Carter’s primary opponent, Braden Frame.
In a Feb. 12 recording sent to Dallas Voice, Carter’s campaign manager Terry Cook is heard saying “he has no staying power. With anything. He can’t stay with his wife, he can’t stay with his sexual preferences. He can’t stay.”
The sender wrote that Cook is talking about Frame.
“I was recently made aware of a homophobic statement made by Terry Cook, the campaign manager for Williamson County Chair candidate Karen Carter,” the e-mail to Dallas Voice reads.” As a member of the queer community, I was disgusted to hear this and wanted to make sure the LGBTQ+ community knows that the current County Chair has staff who are homophobic. Terry, Karen’s campaign manager, is also a Precinct Chair and engaged in the county party leadership.”
Cook said the comments were taken out of context during a political planning meeting for another candidate and were not anti-gay. She said back in 2008 when Frame came onto the county’s political scene, there were rumors that he was gay.
“It was all about perceived inconsistencies with Braden’s life,” Cook said, adding that Carter has been a consistent leader in the county’s Democratic Party. “And I shouldn’t have said that. That is my mistake.”
Cook said she doesn’t remember how Frame came up in the conversation last week, adding that the comments were wrong.
“I am so sorry I made those comments,” she said. “It was so out of place.”
Cook said people have accused Carter of saying anti-gay things about openly gay Congressional District 31 candidate Louie Minor. But she said Carter told Minor in private that he should be out, but he should focus his campaign on the issues, not have his sexual orientation be the campaign’s centerpiece. If elected, Minor would be the first openly gay congressman from Texas.
All of Williamson County is located in CD 31, in which Minor hopes to replace Republican incumbent John Carter.
Frame said he didn’t know what the comments referred to. He said he identifies as straight, and while he divorced in 2012, he remarried last year.
“That’s straight up homophobia bullying. That’s disgusting,” he said. “One: I’m straight and have been straight my entire life,” Frame added. “Two: There’s people everyday who struggle with understating their orientation, and I don’t think that her saying that is OK at all. That’s the kind of bullying that doesn’t have any place in politics or life at all.
“Even if I had chosen to identify as bisexual or gay in the past, it’s no one’s bloody business,” Frame added. “I’m not offended that someone might think I was gay. I don’t care. That’s fine. … But you don’t say it as a negative thing.”
Frame said he’s a supporter of LGBT issues, which he lists on his campaign website.
“It’s time we reach out to young people, the LGBT community, and minority groups to build our party and grow diversity,” his website states.
Carter’s website doesn’t mention the LGBT community.
Jose Orta, former executive director of Informe-SIDA, an HIV project of the Austin Latino Lesbian Gay Organization (ALLGO), said the lack of LGBT issues on Carter’s website was “an oversight,” adding that she was a strong supporter of the community and HIV awareness.
Click here to listen to the recording.