Archive for the ‘David Dewhurst’ Category

Dewhurst to ‘Brief’ Pastors on Voter ID Law

March 20, 2012

We told you earlier this month that Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst seems to be taking a page out of Rick Perry’s political handbook in his quest for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate this year. The lieutenant governor is scheduled to speak on Friday at a “private briefing” for pastors in Houston. Over the years Gov. Perry has made such “briefings” a key part of his political strategy to court the electoral support of conservative evangelical pastors. But we thought it was interesting how today’s email from the Texas Pastor Council (another name the Houston Area Pastor Council uses) highlights just one of the so-called “critical issues” pastors will hear Dewhurst discuss on Friday:

Pastors, this is your opportunity to receive a private briefing from our Lieutenant Governor on critical issues such as the controversial Voter ID law. We will also be briefed by Pastor Steve Riggle about our stand for traditional marriage and what it means to the city, state, and nation!

Riggle has been involved in an intense anti-gay attack campaign against Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. But event organizers think pastors are particularly interested in having Dewhurst “brief” them about the Texas voter ID law.

Well, maybe they are. But we wonder whether any of them will ask the lieutenant governor what he thinks Jesus would say about a law that will make ballot access harder especially for low-income minorities and the elderly, all of whom are least likely to have driver’s licenses or other state-issued photo identification.

Advertisements

Dewhurst Taking a Page from Perry Playbook

March 8, 2012

Does David Dewhurst see electoral gold in politicizing Texas churches? The Texas lieutenant governor is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat Kay Bailey Hutchison is leaving after this year. On March 23 he will attend “a private briefing” with conservative pastors at a megachurch in south Houston. The right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC) is promoting the event.

From the event’s website:

Join pastors and community leaders for this timely opportunity to have a private briefing on critical issues facing state and nation, and also have personal interaction with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. We will introduce other elected officials and candidates in attendance. Included in the program will be critical Primary and General election information.

This “private briefing” is a page right out of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s political playbook. Gov. Perry has made courting the support of conservative pastors a key part of building his electoral base over the years. In fact, the governor spoke before thousands of pastors and their spouses at six “Pastors Policy Briefings” sponsored by the Texas Restoration Project in 2005 and at others since then. All of the events have been closed to news reporters (except for a crew from the Christian News Network at one). But Restoration Project organizers made it clear that they wanted pastors to use their positions and their churches to push a political agenda (an agenda Gov. Perry promoted in his speeches to those pastors).

The March 23 “briefing” doesn’t appear to be a Restoration Project event, but that seems to be a distinction without much difference. Will reporters be allowed into Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s “private briefing” with pastors? We’ll see. But this isn’t a courtesy call by Dewhurst — it’s an effort by yet another politician to drag churches into partisan politics.

We also note that the event will be held at Grace Community Church. The pastor at Grace is Steve Riggle, who last month publicly released a letter demanding that Houston Mayor Annise Parker resign or stop exercising her First Amendment right to speak out in support of same-sex marriage. Texas Restoration Project events for Gov. Perry also featured numerous anti-gay speakers as well as incendiary rhetoric. One speaker, for example, suggested that God sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans and was prepared to incinerate America because of tolerance for gay people.

Bashing Gays for Votes

February 24, 2012

How quickly they turn on you. Tom Leppert won his 2007 race for Dallas mayor after supporters attacked his main opponent for being gay. Now Leppert is under attack by his opponents in the race for a U.S. Senate seat for “celebrating gay pride” while he served as mayor.

On Wednesday Leppert and other Republican candidates for the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Kay Baily Hutchison participated in a debate sponsored by the right-wing Eagle Forum at the Dallas Country Club. Among the candidates at the debate were Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, ESPN sports analyst Craig James and Driftwood mediator Lela Pittenger. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is also seeking the Senate seat, didn’t attend.

Leppert’s opponents criticized him for (gasp!) attending two gay pride parades when he was Dallas mayor. According to the Dallas Morning News, Cruz argued that Leppert’s participation in the events sent a wrong message to the public:

“When the mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride, that’s a statement. It’s not a statement I believe in.”

James moved beyond just criticizing Leppert and insisted that sexual orientation is a “choice.” From the Dallas Morning News story:

James, a rancher and former NFL player, said Leppert could have made a stronger stand for Christians by skipping the events. James said he would never take part in a gay rights parade.

“Our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that’s going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t ride in gay parades,” he said. “I hear what you’re saying, Tom, but our kids out there need to see examples. … I know you’re a Christian. I’m not doubting you, Tom, but, man, you have to stand up.”

James went on to say that being gay was not innate.

“It’s a choice,” just as people choose to be in same-sex relationships, he said. “You have to make that choice.”

“God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions,” he said. “But in that case right there, they are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions.”

Leppert argued that he was just as opposed to gay marriage as the other candidates, but he defended his actions as mayor:

Leppert, who appeared visibly angry, said he marched in the parades because he was the mayor of all the city’s citizens. “My job as mayor was to represent everybody in this city. I visited groups that didn’t agree with what I said. I talked to groups that I didn’t agree with what they said, but it was my obligation to represent everybody,” he said.

“My role as a Christian is to reach out and touch everybody,” Leppert said. “I wish I could have made stands only when I was in a courtroom, but I didn’t. I was criticized time and time again for showing my faith and being open with it” while mayor.

Leppert won his mayoral run-off election in 2007 against openly gay Councilmember Ed Oakley. Cathie Adams, then and now the rabidly anti-gay president of Texas Eagle Forum, was particularly outspoken in her opposition to Oakley. She sent out an email to right-wing activists begging them to “PLEASE vote FOR Tom Leppert for Mayor!” Just days before the run-off election, Adams told the Houston Chronicle:

“Does Dallas want to be famous for having a lesbian sheriff and a homosexual mayor to compete with San Francisco? I don’t think that is where Dallas is going,” said Cathie Adams, leader of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum.

She said Oakley, who sits on the board of a company that operates four gay bars, has been low-key about it but “will push a gay agenda in every arena he can push it.”

Now, less than five years later, Leppert finds himself criticized for walking alongside gay folks after his election.