Deep in the heart of Texas, El Paso is emerging as a haven for LGBT people: First hometown hero Sidney Alvarez launched Fuerte Men, the first magazine aimed at gay Latinos. And now efforts to recall mayor John Cook (left) for extending health-care benefits to city employees’ domestic partners have failed.
When Cook and the city council originally decided to extend the benefits, homophobic Pastor Tom Brown of the World Life Church led the charge to get the decision put to a public referendum. Saaly, 55% of residents said “no,” but Cook and the council went ahead and did it anyway.
If you know anything about religious bigots, you know they can’t stand being disobeyed.
So Brown and his cronies attempted to recall Cook and two city council members for supporting the action. But, on Friday, the Lone Star State’s Eight Court of Appeals said “Nuh-uh” and ruled that Brown (right) broke the law in gathering petition signatures.
The measure, aimed at promoting “traditional family values,” asked voters to limit benefits to “city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children.”So when 55 percent of the voters approved the measure on Election Day, they eliminated coverage for some 200 people who don’t fit that description—among them elected officials, who aren’t technically city employees, and many former city workers, including retired police and fire department employees.
Unless amended or repealed, unions and city officials feared the law could grow to affect at least 10,00 others over the next several years, promoting Cook and city Reps. Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega to vote to restore the benefits.
By the way, you know how many gay couples actually took advantage of the new domestic-partner benefits? Two.
And they say offering gay rights is a distraction from the important work of government!