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OutSmart talks to Kim Ogg

Another good read about our new DA, one that goes into her personal background in some depth.

Kim Ogg

John Wright: Your father, Jack Ogg, was a longtime Texas state legislator, and your late mother was well-known for her charity work. What it was like coming out to your parents?

Kim Ogg: It was traumatic. My parents were of the generation—they felt like my being gay was their responsibility, and that they were morally accountable. I had grown up in politics, and I understood that being gay was a political liability to my father and family, and so it was excruciating. Our family broke apart for some time, but we’re so close that what that did was give me time to go grow up, which I did. I had been on my father’s “payroll” from birth to college, but the day I got out of college I was on my own, and I’ve been on my own ever since. My family and I didn’t see each other on anything but holidays after that for some time—almost four years.

Our family broke up, [but then] we came around. I quit being. . . I was a little militant. An example would be that I wore camouflage for almost a whole year. I was at war with the world. And then it turned out that to get and keep a good job, you needed to have a broader wardrobe.

[…]

In 1996, you ran for district judge as a Republican, and longtime antigay activist Steve Hotze endorsed your opponent in the primary. Were you gay-baited in that race?

They didn’t gay-bait me; they gay-crucified me. But they didn’t do it in print. They did it through a telephone and whisper campaign, and they injected a third candidate into the race. I did not interview with Hotze, and I never answered any questions for him, so I never lied about my homosexuality. [But] the whole courthouse knew. It was funny, they didn’t do an antigay mailer, but they did a whisper campaign. It was enough to force me into a primary runoff where extremists usually win, and so the more conservative candidate won.

Twenty years later, in 2016, you were gay-baited again by your Republican opponent, former district attorney Devon Anderson, and it became a major news story.

It was my lifelong fear, being called a lesbian in front of my entire hometown—4.5 million people, on television. It’s like showing up with no clothes on or something—that bad dream that you have. When it finally happened, I knew it was exploitable and could benefit me, but I had to magnify that thing that I was so afraid of. And so we just sent it out to everybody—it was so freeing. It was sort of like coming out to my family. At that point, you don’t have anything left to lose. You have everything to gain. I realized at that moment how much that fear—it wasn’t a false fear—but it felt so good to let it go and just send it out to the world: “Devon Anderson called me a lesbian.” Discrimination, no matter how you dress it up, is wrong. For Devon to have regressed to name-calling was indicative of her losing the election.

When you ran as a Republican in 1996, Republicans attacked you for having voted in Democratic primaries. When you ran as a Democrat in 2014 and 2016, you were criticized for having voted in Republican primaries. Talk about your partisan evolution.

I think the criticism has been that I have been disloyal to both parties, and what I would tell you is that I grew up in the Democratic Party. I was pretty frustrated with [Democrats] in the mid-’90s, and Republicans were promising this big tent, and I thought it sounded reasonable. It didn’t turn out to be true. In the second presidential campaign under George W. Bush, they really utilized gay marriage—it was used as a wedge issue nationally in 2004, and I would say that radicalized me to the Democratic perspective. I was never going to be for a party that stood for hate and that used discrimination as a platform, as a literal political platform. So, for 13 years, I’ve been a Democrat and stayed a Democrat, and I don’t intend to ever change.

There’s more, so go read it. It’s fascinating to me because I didn’t know a lot of this stuff. Partly this is because I wasn’t paying close attention to local politics in the 90s, and partly because Ogg herself didn’t talk about any of it during either of her campaigns. Hearing her talk now about how she was affected by the gay-baiting in the 2016 campaign, mild as it was in comparison to some other examples we’ve seen, is an eye-opener. Check it out.

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5 Comments

  1. Joshua ben bullard says:

    Ogg prosecuted a young 17 year old african american man named wilton earl bethany in 1991,he wasn’t the principal actor in the crimes ,he had just turned 17, 3 weeks when the 19 year old that was the principal actor led the 2 on a 3 week crime spree,faced with an empty courtroom because the victims families wanted justice from the 19 yr old (not Bethany) Kim ogg offered the 17 year old a 45 year plea bargain knowing that that plea would have giving him a chance at parole in 1997,he went to trial instead ,ogg asked for life in prison and got it,even though Wilton earl Bethany has been eligible for parole since 2005,ogg has always refused to recommend parole in prior years ,now it will be interesting to see what she does now that she’s the district attorney the parole board will turn too.Wilton earl Bethany is now 44 years old,has never been paroled from tdcj (That’s along time,almost a lifetime) The state of Texas Vs Wilton earl Bethany ,Kim ogg 1991.

  2. matx says:

    Jbb: From just the information you have posted (I am not familiar with the case), it seems like Mr. Bethany did not take the plea, had a jury trial, and was found guilty. Texas has put people to death as accomplices who did not commit the murder: Doyle Skillern, G. W. Green, Carlos Santana, Jessie Gutierrez, Robert Thompson. Again, from what you wrote, it was a 3 week crime spree, not a single isolated episode that Mr. Bethany took part in.

  3. C.L. says:

    After reading this, it doesn’t sound like Mr. Bethany was the sharpest of sticks.

    https://www.texastribune.org/library/data/texas-prisons/inmates/wilton-earl-bethany/743437/

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    So Ogg was tough on crime as a prosecutor? ZOMG! She’s a closet (pun intended) conservative. Off with her head!

  5. Paul Kubosh says:

    She was also the head of crime stoppers. That is why she will be d.a. For life. She is doing a good job. Even though I don’t agree on the marijuana position I do understand why she has taken her stance. It is not a deal killer for me. She keeps getting my vote

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    She was also the head of crime stoppers. That is why she will be d.a. For life. She is doing a good job. Even though I don’t agree on the marijuana position I do understand why she has taken her stance. It is not a deal killer for me. She keeps getting my vote

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