Greg Abbott's 1997 Ruling Affirmed Texas GOP Means to Ban Log Cabin Republicans in 2014

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The Log Cabin Republicans (the GOP group formed to “advance the interests of the gay and lesbian community within the Republican Party”) denied the Texas Democratic Party's invitation to booth at Democrats convention after the group was barred from staging a table at their own GOP convention.

But, it turns out that the means to which the GOP was able to ban their own group was the legal opinion of then Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott.

Abbott, now the state's Attorney General, and Republican candidate for governor opined that the “contract claims of the Log Cabin Republicans do not warrant the relief granted by the district court.” The relief, in the form of a temporary injunction allowing Log Cabin Republicans the right to booth, was granted by retiring Travis County District Judge John Dietz, a Democrat.

Abbott however argued that the court was, “tentatively of the opinion that state action is required for there to have been a violation of the constitutional rights asserted by the Log Cabin Republicans and that such action was not present under the facts of this case;”

See more below the jump…Log Cabin Republicans of Texas held a press conference and Chairman Jeffrey Davis released a statement that included:

“the party has denied our several attempts to host a booth in the convention exhibit hall, citing archaic language in the party platform to support their actions. We deserve to occupy a booth just like anyone else, and it's time that the Texas GOP's hypocritical policies and procedures are replaced by new ones that match the general opinion of Texan Republican voters.”

That “general opinion” is certainly reflective of Texas voters more broadly as outlined in a 2013 report by Equality Texas.

Log Cabin Republicans National Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo added:

“It's simply unconscionable that more than a dozen years since Log Cabin Republicans took the fight for gay equality against the homophobic fringe of the Party, the Texas State GOP still doesn't get it….At a time when Democrats are working overtime to turn Texas from red to purple and then a vibrant blue, now is not the time for the politics of subtraction and division in the GOP; it is time for addition and multiplication. The Texas State GOP and its leadership ignore that advice at their peril.”

Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri responded to the controversy:

“The booth was denied not because they were gay Republicans. The booth was denied because of the association with the promotion for gay marriage, which is not supported in the current party platform.””The booth was denied not because they were gay Republicans. The booth was denied because of the association with the promotion for gay marriage, which is not supported in the current party platform.”

Indeed they do ignore at the own peril. To that point the Texas Democratic Party wasted no time in inviting the Log Cabin Republicans to join the Democratic convention, even sending out an invitation that supporters could sign on to.

Will Hailer the Party's Executive Director sent the following message to the Log Cabin GOP:

“Today, the Texas Democratic Party officially invites the Log Cabin Republicans to sign up for a booth at our Texas Democratic State Convention in Dallas and share their ideas about the future of our state. We celebrate the diversity of our party, that is what our state convention is all about.

The Texas Democratic Party has always been proud to be the party of inclusion, the party of all people. It is a shame that in 2014, the Republican Party of Texas continues to exclude and hold prejudice against Texans.”

It also reminded them of each party's platform positions on the issue. You can see that the GOP Chairman's technical clarification is out of touch with the fact that his party's platform distinctly opposes homosexual individuals based on who they and not just their position on gay marriage:

The 2012 Republican Party of Texas Platform states:

We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.”

The Texas Democratic Party was the first southern political party to include marriage equality in their platform.

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform states:

Texas Democrats support the full inclusion of all families in the life of our state, with equal respect, responsibility, and protection under law, including the freedom to marry. Government has no business putting barriers in the path of people seeking to care for their family members, particularly in challenging economic times. We support the Respect for Marriage Act. We support the repeal of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Texas Defense of Marriage Act and the Texas Constitutional Marriage Amendment and oppose other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to loving same sex couples.”

You can see the the original court decision here.

In related news today: Gay Couple Asked Not To Return To East Texas Restaurant. Headlines like these are why Equality Texas has said, “Texas needs a public accommodations non-discrimination act.” But, is also why we need a new Governor and an Attorney General that doesn't hide behind the law to defend outdated and discriminatory practices.

You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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