New GOP Chair Doesn’t Want To See Gay Couples Kiss

Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler
Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler

The new chair of the Texas GOP says if his hometown newspaper ever publishes a photo of a same-sex couple kissing, he’ll cancel his subscription.

Texas Republicans on Saturday selected Tom Mechler, an Amarillo businessman who’s served as the party’s treasurer since 2010, to succeed Steve Munisteri, who stepped down as GOP chair to become a senior advisor to Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

Mechler beat out Dallas County GOP Chair Wade Emmert, former Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill and Republican National Committeeman Robin Armstrong in the race to replace Munisteri.

In a column for the Amarillo Globe-News last March, Mechler responded to LGBT activists who objected to a local gym’s refusal to offer a family membership to a same-sex couple.

“We have gone way past the point of reason in the attack by homosexual activists and other liberals who want to manipulate society to serve their purpose,” Mechler wrote. “One of the problems we are experiencing in our nation is that if you say you believe in the biblical definition of marriage (which I do), or if you express an opinion that liberals determine as being politically incorrect, they will attack you—sometimes viciously—frequently making threats against your life and property. They call your comments and thoughts homophobic or hate speech.”

Nevertheless, the outcome of Saturday’s election likely could have been worse for the LGBT community. Woodfill, an anti-gay activist, is suing Houston Mayor Annise Parker over her decision to extend benefits to the same-sex spouses of employees, as well as over the city’s rejection of a petition aimed at repealing an equal rights ordinance. But the outcome also probably could have been better. Emmert has attended meetings of the Log Cabin Republicans, and has questioned the party’s decision to deny the LGBT group a booth at last year’s convention.

Last year, Munisteri provided a glimmer of hope that party leadership was inching forward on LGBT rights, when he responded to the controversy over a GOP plank endorsing “ex-gay” therapy by saying he didn’t believe it was possible for people to change their orientation. But Mechler doesn’t appear poised to continue that progress.

Mechler told the Austin American-Statesman he’ll push to expand the party’s appeal to minorities. But according to his column in the Globe-News, it’s questionable whether that includes gays—at least if they want to get married or even just lock lips.

“I believe that everyone in our country has a right to protection of his or her person and property, and their personal lifestyle choice doesn’t make them a bad person. I also strongly believe that states have a right to decide the issue of marriage,” Mechler wrote in the column. “As a final note, if the Amarillo Globe-News ever publishes a picture of two men or two women kissing each other, I will cancel my subscription.”

John Wright is a freelance journalist based in Austin. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Published at 11:07 am CST