Happy to report some good news coming out of El Paso. After months of drama surrounding a decision to extend health benefits to same sex and unmarried domestic partners of city employees, there's finally a victory for the good guys.
In November we blogged about a potential recall election against the mayor and city council representatives who stood up for equal rights. At the time, we were awaiting a determination about whether the petitions rounded up by local evangelical groups for the recall were valid. (You may remember these groups as the ones who extolled the power of exorcism, especially its power to cure ailments like homosexuality.) Turns out that not only were the petitions not valid, but they're all being decertified and the groups may be liable for $250,000 in legal fees.
El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values and the Word of Life Church made a big mistake (aside from being homophobic) before trying to take down the mayor and city council members. They never registered as PACs before collecting the signatures and $3,000 for the recall election – both of which are distinctively PAC-y activities.
When the issue came before the court, the judge who originally considered the case, County Court-at-Law 3 Judge Javier Alvarez, decided that the “will of the people” involved in the petition drive should override nuisances like election law and precedent. But on Friday, the Texas 8th Court of Appeals did the right thing and overturned his ruling, deciding instead that the groups violated Texas election laws.
There may still be some bigots with a vengeance on the loose in El Paso, but at least until the next election, the domestic partners of city employees can share in their benefits, and the mayor and city council members still have their jobs.