barracks when all the weekend passes are gone. By 5:30 p.m., fewer than 600 souls rattled around the cavernous coliseum, many having left after Ambassador-atlarge Bob Kruger blessed some yellow buckets and sent them into the audience in search of donations. \(Even at peak attendance, there had been plenty of seats, thanks to the breaking of a cardinal rule of politics that says thou shalt not rent a hall you can’t fill. And all weekend long, Goldberg kept looking for dignitaries to herd into the seats behind him reserved for dignitaries. Not to mention the space between the flower-ringed speaker’s lectern ‘and the first rows of cushioned seats, where the county could have Goldberg announced he would keep the convention in session until after dark, if necessary, to act on the reports of the platform and resolutions committees. When the platform report was read, Carter campaign chief Robert Strauss of Houston convention in Hofheinz Pavilion. He claims the presidential race is neck and neck but that Carter will give it to Reagan there in the end. Former gubernatorial standard-bearer John best grin and grip to sunhatted delegate Romona Groweg of Spring. of Travis County Commissioner David Samuelson. The blacks, nearly tripped up by Hill but supported by Slagle, had blunted the Mexican-American spearhead aimed at Deralyn Davis’s vice chairmanship, pushing her to a comfortable re-election win over Austin constable Margaret Gomez. Nostalgic veterans of the Great Manhattan Encampment in August were handing out invitations to a reunion party Saturday night and a general air of “why are we here?” hung over the huge hall as thick as the mood in a boot camp 12 OCTOBER 17, 1980 nothing sparked a response from the sparse crowd until the mention of a plank calling for repeal of Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal code, which outlaws homosexual acts, even between consenting adults. The diehard delegates cheered and booed, and it was clear that the real fighting was about to erupt. The Gay Political Caucus was ready, having planned for this moment for two weeks. Their repeal proposal had been stymied in San Antonio, but this time they had both the troops and the timing, it appeared. Rural interests began revving up their arguments, including the one that forecasts doom in the non-urban areas for any born-again President running for reelection with a gay rights medallion around his neck. Then former East Texas state senator Jack Strong brought the tempest to a head, moving for a halt to convention business for lack of a quorum. Here was Goldberg’s chance to imitate Tip O’Neil’s performance on the national platform in New York and railroad the homosexual rights issue to a safe siding. Some behind the scenes, including Carter campaign operatives, urged him to wield a fast and heavy gavel, to call for a voice vote and rule in favor of the repeal opponents. But Billy Goldberg had nothing to lose but his honor. He was by this time a lame-duck chairman, not looking for election to any seat, public or party, and thus he had the luxury of his own conscience. As he said later, “I had some real religious problems with that plank too, but in my judgment you never go wrong giving people a vote.” As for whether there was a quorum by that time, Goldberg said he couldn’t even be certain a legal quorum had been present when the party officer elections were staged. He was given “all kinds of advice” on ways to finesse the gays out of their majority position in the shrunken convention, Goldberg remembered. But when he “felt something sinister” begin to creep into the advice, he rebelled. He ruled in favor of a roll-call vote on the plank and the gays were victorious, 1,922 to 1,609. Larry Bagneris Jr. of Houston, Gay Caucus board member and strategist, said that once their plank was secure in the party’s fall platform, his followers agreed to drop a gay rights resolution “in the interest of party unity.” The fact is, Texas Democrats have gone into the salvage business, or need to. They need to salvage their unity coming out of Houston in order to give Carter a fighting chance next month against the phone-bank demons in the GOP. They need to salvage the energy and talent that went into the races for chairman so that they can wage a decent comeback campaign in 1982 against the Clements juggernaut. And maybe they need to turn the whole shooting match over to the Texas Gay Political Caucus. They knew what they wanted, and they stuck around until they got it. That’s not a bad place to start.