Four Openly LGBT Candidates Running for Texas House, Including Two Openly Gay Republicans

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State Representative Mary E. Gonzalez being sworn in.

It has been several decades since Austin Democrat Glen Maxey became the first openly gay person to be elected to the Texas Legislature in 1991.

Since 2003, when Maxey left the Texas House, no out LGBT person had served in the Texas Legislature until State Representative Mary E. Gonzalez, (D-Clint), was elected last year.

Reported by the Dallas Voice, among the future elected Texas House legislatures, four openly LGBT candidates are running for office in these upcoming elections.

Mary E. Gonzalez, who is the only openly LGBT legislature currently in office, is seeking re-election in her hometown of Clint. The other three LGBT candidates are Celia Israel and Michael Cargill who are running for the seat left by State Representative Mark Strama, (D-Austin), and George Clayton who is running for the seat left by State Representative Stefani Carter, (R-Dallas).

If Wendy Davis were to decide to run for governor, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns is seen as a potential candidate to run for her Senate seat. If he decides to run and is elected, Burns would be Texas' first openly gay State Senator.

Read more about the candidates after the jump.State Rep. Mary Gonzalez has already launched her re-election campaign.

Gonzalez, who identifies as pansexual, was targeted for her orientation last year, but managed to win the primary without a runoff. As a freshman, she passed four bills to help reform education and infrastructure in her district. She also filed two LGBT-specific bills.

Gonzalez was named one of the top 10 members of the Texas House on LGBT issues by Equality Texas, and appeared in an anti-gay bullying Texas Legislature “It Gets Better” video along with 16 other prominent Democratic state legislatures, including Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, and Rafael Anchia.


Republican George Clayton lost his 2012 primary after being outed as gay.

Clayton, a former State Board of Education member, could be the first openly gay Republican elected to the Texas Legislature. He had problems being outed last year and is choosing not to embrace the “gay label.”

“I am out and have been for many years. However, I will not run as a 'gay candidate' or 'gay Republican,'” Clayton told Dallas Voice. “Labels promote inequality and should never be used by anyone.”

“Let me be clear,” he added. “I support equal standing under the law for all people including marriage, job opportunity, political freedom and the absolute right to live upon the public and private stage free of labels, categories or any highlighted aspect of a person's life or condition.”


Celia Israel, a long time political and community activist.

Celia Israel has filed to run in the special election in November to replace former State Rep. Mark Strama, (D-Austin). Her campaign will focus on equality, Medicaid expansion, healthcare and public education reform.

Israel applied for an endorsement of the Washington, D.C.-based Victory Fund — a political action committee that helps elect openly LGBT candidates — for the special election. Victory Fund endorsements will be announced in late August.


Republican Michael Cargill, who is running on a pro-life and gun-rights platform.

Michael Cargill is the only Republican who has filed to run in the special election to replace Strama. Cargill has been a business owner for 10 years and currently owns Central Texas Gun Works in Austin. If he doesn't win in November, Cargill plans to run again in the Republican Primary and seek the Victory Fund's endorsement.

Cargill was one of the chief voices lobbying for passage of the “guns in classrooms” bills, and apparently also believes guns should be allowed in bars.

Joel Burns — who has not stated any intentions of running to replace Davis if she were to decide to run for governor — previously ran for Davis' council seat in 2007 when Davis resigned to run for the Senate.

If Wendy Davis does ultimately decide to run for governor, Democrats will need a strong candidate to replace her. Burns gained national attention in 2010 because of his emotionally touching “It Gets Better” video, which now has almost 3 million views on YouTube. He went on to be interviewed by a lot of news and popular TV programs, such as the The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

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About Author

Omar Araiza

Staff writer Omar Araiza covers immigration, Latino voters, the U.S.-Mexico border, and LGBT issues. He is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Omar tweets from @AraizaTX.

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