Antigay Forces Run for El Paso Council

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com March 14 2011 3:00 PM ET

Every race for the El Paso, Texas, city council has a candidate connected to the movement to rescind city employees’ domestic-partner benefits, according to an investigation by local TV station KVIA.

Voters last year approved a ballot measure rescinding the benefits for municipal workers’ same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex partners, but its vague wording meant it went further than its proponents intended — for instance, it could take away benefits from spouses of elected officials, as elected officials are technically not city employees. It has not gone into effect yet because it is being challenged in court, with a judge expected to issue a ruling in April. The council had OK’d the benefits in 2009, and the coverage began to be offered to employees in 2010.

On Monday, the last day to file for a place on the ballot in the May 14 election, KVIA reported that in all four of this year’s council races (the council has eight seats in all, with terms staggered) there are candidates tied to the antigay effort, spearheaded by El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values.

One of the movement’s leaders, minister Manny Hinojosa (pictured), is one of four challengers to incumbent Ann Lilly in the city’s first district. “I’ve got God and the Holy Spirit on my side,” he told the city council during a discussion of the benefits issue last fall. He also said some city workers have a “conflict of interest” in the matter because “some of you have the lifestyle we're discussing today.”

Other candidates connected with the antigay move are Sonia Brown in the fifth district, Zulema Lazarin in the sixth, and Malcolm McGregor in the eighth. Read more here.