Behind the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio council endorsements

It was no surprise that Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Dan Ramos’ recent bigoted statements became something of a litmus test at Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio’s candidate forum on Sunday, leading to the group that respresents the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals in the city endorsing one incumbent, several newcomers, and two former councilmembers seeking another shot over the weekend.

District 6 incumbent Ray Lopez offered the most colorful critique of Ramos when he suggested the Bexar County Democratic Chair “is the ass of the Democratic Party.”

Most of the candidates were enthusiastic in their willingness to sign on to a Stonewall letter urging Ramos’ resignation and supporting efforts to drive him from office. “I will sign the letter. I will do whatever it takes. He’s a friend of mine, we go way back in labor, but what he said was unacceptable,” said former councilmember and District 5 candidate Lourdes Galvan. “Civil rights, equal rights, advocacy, these are the things that I am,” said District 1 candidate Diego Bernal. “Every measure should be taken to make sure that he steps down.” “Basically, he should of just kept his mouth shut,” said District 6 would-be councilmember Steve Shamblen with his sizable wizard’s staff in hand, comparing discrimination he'd experienced as an advocate for legalizing marijuana to that experienced by members of the LGBT community. Perhaps what was most surprising about the day’s discussion was that a sitting councilmember like Ivy Taylor (right) would expose herself as being so uncomfortable about LGBT issues. In response to a candidate’s survey, Taylor said that if she were endorsed by Stonewall she would not carry that endorsement on her website or campaign literature. “Many in our area would look at that as something that would be divisive,” Taylor told the group. She added that she’d be happy to meet with her gay, lesbian, and transgender constituents, but she wouldn’t be marching in the annual Pride Parade in July. Still, for Taylor it’s an improvement over two years ago, when she returned Stonewall’s questionnaire saying simply she was not even seeking their endorsement. Interesting to note that “divisive” was the same word she later used to describe Ramos’ comparisons of Stonewall with the Nazi Party, in effect placing Stonewall’s potential endorsement on parity with Ramos' Nazi comparisons. Her opponent made a much better impression when he stood in front of the group at the downtown Luby’s cafeteria meeting room. Darrell Boyce has been working with SA Fighting Back as the group’s Project Hope coordinator working to combat the spread of HIV in the community. When asked if he would sign on to a letter demanding Ramos’ resignation, Boyce responded, “I would sign it with my eyes open, my eyes closed, with a pink, a purple, or a blue pen — however you want me to sign it,” earning appreciative laughter from the room. Another curiosity of the gathering was the responses of District 4 candidate Leticia Cantu, who marked multiple Stonewall position questions in the negative. But Cantu’s campaign assistant Tim Salas, who appeared on her behalf at the meeting, insisted they were positions that are now in flux. He had spoken to the candidate about LGBT issues, he said, and “she may have a different opinion now.” It wasn’t enough, however, to earn an endorsement. Apart from giving approval to the positions of Boyce and Lopez, the group also threw their weight behind fellow Stonewall members Chris Forbrich (District 1) and Elena Guajardo (District 7). Others receiving Stonewall’s endorsement this year include Rey Saldaña (District 4); Lourdes Galvan (District 5); Caron West (District 8), and Laura Thompson (District 10). No endorsements were made for District 3 and 9 races, where all most candidates failed to file their paperwork or attend the forum*.
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