Sarah Davis, that is.
A gay rights group Tuesday backed its first Texas Republican in a primary election, for better or worse.
State Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, will find out in March if the endorsement, from Equality Texas, a gay rights advocacy group, will help or hurt her re-election bid. The announcement marks the first time the group has endorsed a Republican, a subtle signal of the momentum marriage equality is gaining as cases challenging the state’s Constitutional ban make their way through courts.
Davis said in a September interview with the San Antonio Express-News that she does not agree with the ban and that marriage should not be a government issue, citing personal freedom and limited government.
“I believe marriage is a religious sacrament, and the government should not force congregations to perform the ceremonies, however I do not oppose two consenting adults entering into civil unions,” Davis said by text message Tuesday. “The greatest threat to freedom is fiscal in nature, not social.”
She also said in the September interview that language outlawing sodomy in Texas’ law, which has been ruled void by the U.S. Supreme Court, should be removed. Davis also said spouses of same-sex members of the military should receive benefits, a move the federal government has asked state militaries to enforce but Texas has challenged.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Davis said of denying the benefits.
Lone Star Q adds on.
Davis, who was first elected in 2010 and defeated gay Democrat Ann Johnson in 2012, has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT equality. Davis authored legislation to ensure equal hospital visitation and medical decision-making, and she helped defeat an effort to ban LGBT resource centers on college campuses. She also happens to be the lone House Republican who voted against Texas’ strict new abortion regulations.
“The majority of Republicans agree with most of our legislative priorities,” said Texas Equity PAC volunteer Daniel Williams. “We have to make it safe for Republican representatives to be out front on those issues. Rep. Davis has done that and she’s facing a primary opponent who is decidedly anti-equality. Endorsing Rep. Davis in the Republican primary isn’t just the smart thing to do, it’s a vital step towards making it safe for other Republicans to represent true Texas values of fairness.”
Davis wasn’t immediately available for comment on the endorsement, which Williams said she signed off on. Williams said the endorsement also applies to the November election, when Davis faces Democrat Alison Ruff.
EQTx announced the endorsement on their Facebook page; as you can see, there’s not exactly a consensus over this. They also sent out an email yesterday with their full slate of endorsed candidates for the primaries and links to contribution pages for each; Davis’ page is here. As of yet, there is nothing about any of this on Rep. Davis’ campaign Facebook page.
I respect EQTx and I get what they’re doing, though I can’t claim to be as impressed by Davis’ record as they are. That said, Davis does stand apart from the bulk of her GOP House colleagues on social issues, and Lord knows she’s better than her primary opponent. This is obviously a calculated risk for both EQTx and Davis, since it’s far from clear that an endorsement like this will be of value in a Republican primary. What will Jared Woodfill and Dan Patrick make of this? To be as fair to them as I can, dissenters on high-profile issues are never all that popular within their own party, for obvious and valid reasons. We Democrats have been historically pretty tolerant of our own heretics, often out of a practical need to avoid trouble and be competitive in less-than-ideal districts, but that tolerance is almost always grudging at best. You’d think after the example of Martha Wong last decade, that the GOP would want to take a more pragmatic view here, but we’ll see about that. Davis is a strong November candidate, but she has to survive March first. BOR has more.