Reflections on the Meaning of Courage, the Fight for Equality in Texas, and the Race or HD-50

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Last week I was proud to be endorsed by Victory Fund.  They were there from the very start for LGBT candidates like Tammy Baldwin, now US Senator, Annise Parker, Houston Mayor, not to mention Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns and State Representative Mary Gonzales.

Today, thankfully, gay and lesbian candidates are seen for the entirety of their passions and talents, not just for their sexual orientation.

But if you want to see how far we still have to go in Texas, all you have to do is drive up I-35 to Pflugerville, or down I-35 to San Antonio.

In San Antonio, City Councilman Diego Bernal introduced a non-discrimination ordinance for the city that included the LGBT community.  Forget having the right to marry who you love, in Texas you can still get fired for coming out to your boss.

The issue blew up when a recording of Republican Councilwoman Elisa Chan was released to the press, in which Chan calls homosexuals “disgusting,” states they shouldn't be allowed to raise children, and schemes a fear and smear campaign to defeat the ordinance. (Elisa Chan is now looking to use her homophobic notoriety to run to the right of Tea Party darling, State Senator Donna Campbell.)

Then the story takes a funny twist .  The San Antonio Current reported HD 50 candidate, Jade Chang Sheppard, called on Elisa Chan to return her $500 contribution.  HD 50 is not in San Antonio and Chang says she's a Democrat.  The move was the right thing to do, if you're a Democrat who gives money to Republicans, but it doesn't exactly make for a profile in courage.  (Chang has yet to call for a refund from George P. Bush's PAC, Hispanic Republicans of Texas, or from Republican State Rep. Angie Chen Button who voted for HB 2 while Wendy Davis valiantly filibustered to kill it.)

Drive up I-35 and you find Pflugerville, the target of Attorney General Greg Abbott's anti-gay crusade to overturn the school board's decision to offer domestic partner health benefits.

Pflugerville school board members stood for re-election even as local churches called for their defeat from the pulpit. Now, AISD is following suit.

Wherever you look in Texas, our values are under attack: women's health, equality, minority-voting rights, health care for the poor, and the list goes on. So voters have a right to ask candidates if they have the courage to stand on principle.

I believe my record backs up when I say I'll always stand on principle, come what may.


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