"State Democratic Executive Committee members
are good and honorable people who contribute their time and money to the
party. However, if the party does not stand for something as important
as marriage equality, then fear rules and the party is diminished as a
Did Texas Democrats throw the LGBT
community under the bus?
By Dan Graney, QSanAntonio.com, March 3, 2012
The Texas Democratic Party has an image problem with many of its LGBT
constituents. For the second time in four months, the State Democratic
Executive Committee (SDEC) voted not to include a marriage equality referendum
on the 2012 Democratic primary ballot.
This issue first came to light last November when a group of progressive
SDEC members, both gay and straight, organized an effort to get the SDEC
to include referenda on the primary ballot. Proponents argued that a marriage
equality referendum would boost voter turnout, especially among young
people and other Democratic “base” voters, in a presidential
election year when President Obama faces no opposition for reelection.
Resolutions to include referenda on marriage equality, abolishing the
death penalty, legalizing marijuana, the DREAM Act, and affordable college
tuition were drafted by SDEC members and presented to the SDEC Resolutions
Committee for consideration at last November’s meeting. The committee
voted in favor of including affordable college tuition, the DREAM Act,
and legalized casino gambling on the ballot, but voted down the resolutions
on marriage equality, the death penalty, and legalizing marijuana.
The proposed marriage equality referendum is worded as follows: “Same-sex
couples should be granted equal access to civil marriage and all its benefits
and all federal and state laws denying such access should be repealed.”
Since there were sufficient votes within the committee to present a minority
report before the entire SDEC, the three resolutions were brought up again
in general session. During debate, opponents argued that including such
referenda on the ballot would give Republicans fodder for attacking Democrats,
negatively impact Democratic candidates on the ballot, and set back progress
on LGBT rights if the marriage equality measure ended up failing at the
All three resolutions were defeated on the floor of the SDEC general session.
The marriage equality resolution, which was defeated by a vote of 33–21,
garnered more votes than the other two resolutions.
Fast forward to February 11, 2012. Garry Brown, an SDEC member from Austin,
decided to bring back the marriage equality resolution for reconsideration
in the general session. State chairman Boyd Richie ruled Brown’s
motion out of order “because this was already voted on at the last
SDEC meeting and was defeated.” Brown appealed Chairman Richie’s
ruling, but that appeal lost by a vote of 16–40.
By rejecting the marriage equality referendum, the SDEC acted contrary
to its own party platform and resolutions. The 2010 Texas Democratic Party
platform explicitly calls for the “repeal of discriminatory laws
and policies against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
community.” Moreover, delegates to the 2010 State Democratic Convention
in Corpus Christi voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling
for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, as President Obama
The SDEC clearly stands on the wrong side of history on this issue. Both
national and state polling data show increasing support for civil marriage
for same-gender couples among all demographic groups, with a clear majority
of younger voters supporting civil marriage. Washington State recently
became the seventh state to approve same-sex marriage, and New Jersey
and Maryland are on a trajectory to do the same. Over 100 mayors from
major cities all across the country (including the mayors of Austin, Houston,
and San Antonio) have signed a pledge advocating for marriage equality.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled California’s Proposition
8 unconstitutional, and the issue of marriage equality will likely come
before the U.S. Supreme Court in the next year or two.
Many LGBT Democrats feel a sense of betrayal by their own party. In contrast
to the Republican Party, which openly promotes homophobia and bigotry,
the Democratic Party has been viewed as the home of those devoted to securing
fair and equal treatment for all people, regardless of sexual orientation
and gender identity or expression. In 2000, delegates to the Texas Democratic
Convention voted to recognize the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus (TSDC)
as the official LGBT Caucus of the State Democratic Party by giving them
two seats on the SDEC. Yet, many party officials and candidates cannot
bring themselves to embrace full equality for LGBT people. It was particularly
disheartening to see a majority of SDEC members from Dallas and Houston
vote against the marriage equality resolution. These same people attend
LGBT events in those cities and have privately voiced their support for
SDEC members are good and honorable people who contribute their time and
money to the party. However, if the party does not stand for something
as important as marriage equality, then fear rules and the party is diminished
as a result. We would do well to remember the words of Bayard Rustin,
the openly gay African-American man who fought for civil rights alongside
Dr. Martin Luther King (and whose 100th birthday we commemorate this year):
“To be afraid is to act as if the truth were not true.”
Dan Graney lives in San Antonio and is president of the Texas Stonewall
Democratic Caucus. He married his partner of 36 years in Vermont in 2009.
His spouse, Roberto J. Flores, died in 2010. Flores was the first openly
gay chairperson of the Bexar County Democratic Party.
This article was first published in OutSmart Houston
and is reprinted here with permission.
Party officials again say "no" to marriage equality
QSanAntonio.com, February 18, 2012
At its February 11 meeting in Austin, the State Democratic Executive Committee
voted against a marriage equality referendum on the Democratic Primary
ballot. This is the second time the SDEC said "no" to marriage
equality in the past four months.
will not vote on marriage equality in March primary
By Dan Graney, QSanAntonio.com, November 21, 2011
Members of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) of the Texas
Democratic Party voted to include referenda on the 2012 Democratic Primary
ballot, but a measure advocating for marriage equality was not one of
them. A vote to include the marriage equality referendum was defeated
by a vote of 33-22 at the SDEC's general meeting in Austin on November