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T HE TEXAS server MAY 20, 1994 VOLUME 86, No. 10 FEATURES Wheeling and Dealing By Ken Silverstein 1 El Norte to Houston: By Roberto Suro DEPARTMENTS Editorials `God’s’ Politics in Austin The Next Public Enemy Las Americas Death & Politics in Baja By John Ross James McCarty Yeager Nixon: He Made a Desert 11 Molly Ivins Grumbling About Executives 12 Jim Hightower Chlorine vs. Macho; Fighting Inflation. Books and the Culture The Magic of Blood Book review by Louis Dubose 16 White House Daze Book review by Todd Basch 18 Growing Up Chicana/o Book review by Elzbieta Szoka 20 Belle Epoque Movie review by Steven G. Kellnian 22 Afterword An Environmentalist Passes By James Presley 23 Political Intelligence 24 13 Cover art by Beth Epstein tive Glen Maxey, the only openly gay legislator. “I had progressives tell me that if we lose, its not that big a deal, because its only insurance for a hundred people. They never saw the context of the much bigger picture about the religious right and the radical right organizing around this issue.” According to Hyde, of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Dianne HardyGarcia, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, fundamentalists use anti-gay initiatives to identify voters and build an electoral data base. “The whole mainstream community underestimated that they would turn out 20,000 new voters,” HardyGarcia said. “I think they turned out people who don’t traditionally vote. More people voted on this item than voted on the mayor’s race. They identified voters and they targeted all of their their identified voters.” “I don’t really think they are that anti-gay,” Hyde said. “They use this issue to build toward the larger issue on their agenda, which is a takeover of the Republican Party and what some fundamentalists openly call `Christianizing the government’ No one in the progressive community anticipated the margin by which the measure would lose. ‘They ran a church-based campaign and flew below the radar,” said Hugh Strange, communications director for the Mainstream Coalition, an organization that included labor, teachers’ groups, Travis County Black Democrats and other local organizations opposed to the repeal of benefits. According to Maxey, polling results from several campaigns indicated that the race was a dead heat one week before the election. “Though it was startling to me, it’s been borne out in other referenda having to do with gay civil rights around the country….People won’t tell a pollster that they were going to vote against a civil-rights issue, even though the sampling was correct. The poll numbers that dealt with City Council elections were correct, and on this issue were completely wrong, by 20 percent.” . Maxey also said that age made a difference in how people voted. “It was very generational, the polling and telephone identification and all those things point to overwhelming support from people under 45or 45 to 50 and under. Age 50 and upthey are overwhelmingly negative to this issue,” Maxey said. He also contends that many voters will support gay rights issues as long as no tax dollars are involved. “A comment that I’ve made over and over in the last couple of weeksand Saturday night bears it outis that even with liberal, open-minded people, some of those open minds close when the billfold has to open. They will say all along that they will vote for civil rights and they’ll vote for equality in all kinds of ways, until they have to put some money up to insure people’s equality. Then we lose them.” Concerned Texans, according to Maxey, “masked” the anti-gay nature of their campaign. “They never talked about morality. They said this is not a moral issue, this is a fiscal issue.” And, Hardy-Garcia said, the conservative Christian groups inflated the costs. “They said it would cost $700,000 a year and millions in later years,” she said, while actual cost estimates were somewhere around $104,000 for the current year, in which 98 unmarried partners of city employees enrolled in the city health insurance program by paying for 50 percent of their monthly premiums. Two-thirds of those enrolled were unmarried heterosexual partners of city employees. All benefits were terminated after the election. “I never hid what the reasons for my opposition were,” Bullock said. “Like I told PBS, they are Biblical…. and I opposed the heterosexual unmarried couples’ too, not only homosexuals.” The large congregations of some of the churches involved with the Concerned Texans are a natural organizing base, Bullock suggested. Hyde Park Baptist Church, north of the University of Texas campus, has a congregation of 10,000, according to Bullock. And Great Hills Baptist Church, in Northwest Austin, has a congregation estimated to be larger than 6,000. Bullock’s Christ Memorial Baptist Church has a congregation of “about 2,000,” Bullock said. “Voters actually had to vote in Bullock’s church, which was an official polling place,” Hardy-Garcia said. “And isn’t it ironic that on the day of the election many of the churches had free car washes and barbecues?” The marquee at Skyview Baptist Church read: “God voted for Proposition 22.” ‘Those people are probably here to stay and we’re going to see them over and over. They were manning polling places in this election and they have their own candidates,” said Maxey, who this year will face Dick Mallory, the same fundamentalist Christian Republican he defeated by a substantial margin in 1992. “My district has an 86-percent Democratic [party] index. I don’t think they are going to be able to peel traditional Democrats off me in the fall. It was real easy to vote against a gay issue Saturday because you could hide behind something else. I want my constituents to look at my record of service in the Legislature…I don’t think my sexual orientation will be something that people be concerned about” Maxey is probably right about the demographics of his district. But the May 7 vote might have changed the electoral landscape of the whole city. That will be determined over the next few years, after Concerned Texans fully fund their political action committee. “We’re new to this,” Bullock said in a telephone interview. “We just kind of stumbled through the campaign.” God help those of us who value a secular state if these fundamentalists ever hit their full stride. L.D. Corrections In Health Care Notes, TO 5/6/94, the Observer ran an incorrect telephone number to obtain a copy of How to Resolve the Health Care Crisis. The correct number is 512-477-4431. In Political Intelligence, TO 5/6/94, the name of Stephen Birch, Democratic candidate for House District 65 in Carrollton, was misspelled. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3