The four Republican candidates for Texas lieutenant governor spent plenty of time discussing social issues during a televised debate in Dallas last week.
They all said they oppose abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and disagreed with a judge’s decision to remove a pregnant Tarrant County woman from life support. They also advocated teaching creationism in schools and cracking down on illegal immigration.
Although LGBT issues were noticeably absent from the debate, they are featured prominently in a New York Times story this week highlighting just how far right the four GOP candidates are running.
The NYT notes that state Sen. Dan Patrick has criticized Mayor Annise Parker for having the gall to marry her partner of 23 years, and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has touted his authorship of the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Dewhurst, the incumbent who serves as president of the Senate, was a supporter of Staples’ marriage amendment.
“HJR 6 memorialized that marriage is between a man and a woman, something that I feel strongly about, the Senate feels strongly about,” Dewhurst said after the chamber voted to place the amendment on the ballot in 2005.
Dewhurst also famously condemned a gay-themed play at Tarleton State University in 2010, saying “no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the majority of Americans.”
When he ran for Senate last year, Dewhurst was asked whether he thinks people choose to be gay.
“I do know know,” Dewhurst responded. “I am persuaded that the gay lifestyle is a choice.”
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson’s views on LGBT issues are less clear. Patterson makes no mention of marriage on his campaign website, and he offered hope that he’s more reasonable on social issues when he backed medical marijuana during the debate. However, Patterson also signed a letter last year calling on the Boy Scouts of American to maintain its ban on gay members.
Whoever wins the GOP primary will face one of the strongest LGBT allies in the Texas Legislature, Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. In speaking against the marriage amendment in 2005, Van de Putte joked that she’d been encouraged by a constituent to add a “some-sex marriage” provision.
“All marriages have to have some sex. That ought to strengthen marriage,” she said.
— John Wright