Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and Pete Pete Gallego
Two San Antonio congressmen persist
in rejection of LGBT issues
QSanAntonio, March 28, 2014
On March 18, nearly every Democratic member of the Senate and 148 Democratic
members of the House of Representatives signed a letter urging President
Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination
against LGBT federal workers. Missing from the signatories on that letter
were two Democratic congressmen who represent San Antonio.
Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and Pete Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), who both
have constituents in San Antonio, were among the three Texas Democrats
in the House who did not sign the letter and neither has endorsed the
Employment Nondiscrimination Act.
"We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State
of the Union address to make this a 'year of action' and build upon the
momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors
from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, 'now is the
time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,'" says the
Cuellar and Gallego are a thorn in the side of San Antonio LGBT activists.
Neither has ever sought the endorsement of the Stonewall Democrats or
shown any interest in courting LGBT voters much less supporting their
President George W. Bush touches the face of Democrat
Henry Cuellar after his State of the Union at the Capitol in Washington
Wed., Feb. 1, 2006. The photo has led to a surge in online donations to
Cuellar's rivals in the next month's Democratic primary. (PHOTO VIA The
The BEAT AIDS Cuellar flap
In 2006, Cuellar was one of 34 Democrats in Congress who voted for the
Federal Marriage Amendment. The FMA was a discriminatory proposal to amend
the U.S. Constitution to deny marriage protections to gay and lesbian
couples and their children. Fortunately, despite Cuellar's vote, the measure
fell far short of the two-thirds vote required to pass a constitutional
amendment. A similar measure also failed in the U.S. Senate.
That same year, Cuellar was chosen as the keynote speaker for the BEAT
AIDS annual charity banquet.
Dan Graney, ex-officio board member of the Stonewall Democrats of San
Antonio and then-group leader of the Soulforce San Antonio chapter, voiced
his concerns in a letter addressed to BEAT-AIDS’ then-vice chairman
of the board Joseph Scott, Jr. and executive director Michele Durham.
“I do not understand how BEAT-AIDS can embrace as its featured speaker
a man who votes in favor of discrimination,” Graney wrote in a letter
he shared with the press. “By voting in favor of discrimination
against same-gender couples, Cuellar is also signaling his willingness
to discriminate against those who are infected with HIV/AIDS. These issues
BEAT AIDS feared a boycott of their banquet and sent then-board
member Ron Clarke to speak at a meeting of the Stonewall Democrats.
In a statement defending their choice of Cuellar, BEAT AIDS said, ".
. . the GLBT community is not the only community that we serve. We serve
the entire San Antonio and surrounding area and quite literally everyone
in this community who is affected by HIV/AIDS in some way or another .
. . Congressman Cuellar remains committed to providing funding to HIV/AIDS
resources . . . providing direct support to the GLBT community by assuring
continued funding to HIV/AIDS organizations.”
Given the state of AIDS funding at the time, BEAT AIDS could ill-afford
to insult Congressman Cuellar by rescinding his invitation to speak. In
the end, there was no boycott but Graney's publicly-voiced concerns put
the spotlight on Cuellar's record.
Pete Gallego is interviewed by the Texas Tribune in
Gallegos: Same-sex marriage not a
In a February 9, 2012 interview with the Texas Tribune, then-State Represenative
Gallego, who was running for Congress in the 23rd District, said that
same-sex marriage is a state issue, one that he will not encounter in
Washington if he's elected.
"I don't think it will come before us," Gallego told the Texas
Tribune. "I think it will remain a state issue. The state gets to
rightfully make those determinations as to what happens."
When pressed for a more concise answer to the question Gallego added:
"I think what happens in Texas is what people in Texas want. I'm
one of those who believes the legislature really is a microcosm of Texas."
When the Tribune interviewer asked Gallego what his vote would be should
the issue come before Congress, Gallego replied, "I don't have a
vote on this issue. It's not an issue that's going to come before Congress."
Pressing on, the Tribune interviewer asked Gallego what he would tell
gay San Antonians who want to know where he stands.
"My answer to gay San Antonians . . . would be that it's a state
issue and were I a still a member of the state legislature then I would
say here's what I think and here's what I think you should do and how
you should approach it."
Gallego went on to beat Republican incumbent Francisco "Quico"
Canseco for the congressional seat but he did so without seeking votes
from the LGBT community, even after the Texas Democratic Party added a
marriage equality plank in the party platform that year.
A photo circulating on Facebook
urging voters to contact Congressman Gallego about the Employment Nondiscrimination
Local activists are urging LGBT residents of San Antonio who are in Cuellar
and Gallego's districts to make their voices heard. "We need to bombard
them with our message," says Graney. "We need to tell them to
stop acting like Republicans."
here to contact Congressman Gallego
here to contact Congressman Cuellar