Pastor Tom Brown of Word of Life Church is on a mission to ensure that El Paso city workers in domestic partnerships don't retain equal health insurance benefits -- and to punish politicians who believe otherwise.
The New York Times reports that Brown is campaigning to oust El Paso's mayor as well as two city council members who backed health benefits for partners of city employees, regardless of sexual orientation. Last year, voters approved a referendum revoking domestic partner health benefits, though the city council rejected that ordinance.
"They want to reward fornicators, and they want to reward homosexuals," Pastor Brown said in an interview.
El Paso has been in the news recently on what some experts see is an antigay climate in the west Texas city of 649,000. Last month, an FBI agent told a local news channel that while El Paso has low crime rate, law enforcement has reported a disproportionate number of hate crimes directed at gays and lesbians.
Also last month, the Catholic diocese in El Paso distanced itself from a recent four-part advertisement titled "True Pastoral Care for Homosexuals" in the El Paso Times.
"Engaging in depraved and unnatural sexual acts will lead directly to the ruin of both the homosexual's body and soul," Reverend Michael Rodriguez of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church wrote. "Our very anatomy cries out against the lie that homosexual acts are 'ok.'"
In the ads, Rodriguez asserted that compassion is needed for gays and lesbians, but then blasted the "wickedness" of gay people.
"I decided to write these articles primarily because it's my duty as a Catholic priest to teach the truth when it comes to faith and morals," Rodriguez wrote to the El Paso Times. "My mission is to labor for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. That's why I wrote the articles. The government has no right to undermine or redefine the institution of marriage. This is beyond the scope of their competence."