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Gay El Paso Fights for Mayor Facing Recall

Gay El Paso Fights for Mayor Facing Recall


A bitter battle over health benefits for the partners of El Paso, Texas, city workers is enveloping the whole city -- and now the LGBT community is fighting for the city's mayor after he refused to rescind those benefits.

El Paso's leadership first approved domestic-partner benefits; then a voter-approved ordinance stripped them away. City Council members Steve Ortega and Susie Byrd and Mayor John Cook refused to enforce the ordinance, arguing it would strip benefits from another 100 unintended employees. The response of the right-wing political action group that first proposed the antigay ordinance? Recall Ortega, Byrd, and Cook.

As the recall effort ramps up, gay residents are launching their own PAC, El Pasoans For Equality, to keep the three politicians in office. They will be doing battle with El Paso for Traditional Family Values, which has made it a mission to not only take benefits away from fellow citizens but to punish politicians who fight to keep health care for their constituents. This is the mind-set the gay community is dealing with:

"Until the state of Texas approves same-sex marriages as a legal marriage, I'm sorry, they don't have benefits," Ignacio Padilla, of El Paso for Traditional Family Values, told KVIA. "We can't turn into a super gay community. What about the other people who are paying their taxes? We will fight to the end to defend our constitutional rights and our right to vote and that our vote be respected." Read more here.

Coincidentally or not, El Paso has a high rate of hate crimes against LGBT people. And the El Paso Timesrecently ran an advertisement for several days in which gays were called "putrid."

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