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Behind the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio council endorsements

March 28, 2011

District 1 candidate Ralph Medina prepares to field another question at Sunday's gathering of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio.

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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  • NiceMtgU

    “Many in our area would look at that as something that would be divisive,”…Some days I am shockingly reminded that I am not in Chicago anymore. I really didn’t realize that some people still felt this way. Pity. I attended college outside a predominantly gay community. I met some wonderfully educated, ambitious, worldly, kind-hearted people there. It’s a pity that their endorsement would not be welcome. I wonder if stating this concern publicly is equally divisive. Personally, knowing nothing else about the councilwoman/candidate, my opinion of her has been lowered.

  • Martino

    Shame on Ivy Taylor. She comes from a tradition of expanding civil right and yet she is content to close the door for others. From her comments, it is apparent that she is not a leader, but rather a spineless follower of public prejudice.

    Ms. Taylor, the goal of every American should be, that no American can say…

    I swear to the Lord
    I still can’t see
    Why Democracy means
    Everybody but me.
    – Langston Hughes, The Black Man Speaks

  • Dcgraney

    It is not true that none of the candidates from District 3 “failed to file their paperwork or attend the forum”. Incumbent Councilwoman Jennifer Ramos did complete a questionnaire and attend the forum (she was the only candidate from District 3 who did). Ramos’ positions on the LGBT issues were all very positive. However, members were concerned about the ethical cloud hanging over Ramos because of the WellMed allegations and decided to do a “No Endorsement” in that race. It is true that neither of the candidates from District 9 responded to the questionnaire nor attended our forum.

  • Dcgraney

    It was also announced at the meeting that Mayor Julian Castro received the “friendly incumbent endorsement” of Stonewall Democrats of SA.

  • Anonymous

    It is especially egregious coming from someone representing a community that had to fight so hard to find equality itself. You would think she of all people would stand up for what is right.

  • Anonymous

    Lopez, Taylor and Ramos along with the rest of the City Council and mayor Castro conspire with City Attorney Michael Bernard to hide decades of criminal activity inside the City’s IT Department. Public funds and City resources are being used to finance the illegal cover-up.

    Guajardo was sent a certified letter in 2005 informing the then Councilperson of the fraud/cover-up but she did nothing.

    This lawsuit is far from over as the judgment was obtained via “fraud upon the court” and is VOID. City Attorney Deborah Klein coached former CIO Varn and others to lie under oath in court. Varn snuck out of town but other liars remain on the city payroll.

    “Attorney fraud calls into question the integrity of the judiciary and erodes public confidence in the fairness of our system of justice. Accordingly, where an attorney embarks on a scheme to either suborn perjury or intentionally conceal documents, extrinsic fraud constituting a fraud upon the court occurs.” -Chewning v. Ford Motor Co., 354 S.C. 72, 83-84, (2003),

  • gharman

    yes, you are right. ramos did attend, for all the good it did her. will make adjustment.

  • Qsanantonionews

    Councilwoman Taylor’s comments made it seem like her constituents were homophobic. I’m sure that can’t be true.

  • roger

    Councilperson Ivy Taylor works for and supports ONLY the wealthy power brokers in San Antonio. Her constituants mean NOTHING unless they have money for her to help promote herself! Roger Osborne(and proud of it)

  • Timothy Clark

    The majority of district 2 constituents are religious minorities. I do not believe Councilwoman Taylor is homophobic but I think her decision to not accept the endorsement was due to the fact that many in district 2 (majority of whom are black), tend to be anti-gay. I think Ivy Taylor has long been supportive of gay rights issues even if she doesn’t accept the endorsement of SDSA. Gay rights issues are very divisive within the black community sadly enough. As a black man myself who is very open about my support for gay rights, I find it hard to identify with the black community when gay rights are so divisive within it.

  • trooper4truth

    Kudos for Ivy Taylor for unifying Americans instead of division.