Of the flurry of LGBT candidate victories in the latest primary races, Lupe Valdez winning the Democratic nomination for Texas governor is the most headline-making.
If ultimately successful in November, the former Dallas County sheriff would not only become the first openly lesbian governor in the country, she would do so by defeating Greg Abbott, the state’s anti-LGBT governor. She is also the state’s first Latina candidate for governor.
Valdez is the underdog in the race, with Abbott far better funded and politically powerful. But after winning the party primary, she said, “Please tell me when I didn’t have an uphill battle… I am getting darn good at uphill battles, and I’m not done yet.”
In her victory speech Lupez thanked her partner, “darling sweetheart Lindsay” (Browning, a chiropractor).
In a statement, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of the Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ candidates, said: “Tonight Texans made history by making Lupe Valdez the first openly lesbian woman to win the gubernatorial nomination from a major political party—the latest in a series of groundbreaking wins for LGBTQ candidates in the state.
“While bigoted state legislators in Austin continue to divide the state and target our community, Texans are voting for LGBTQ candidates because we are authentic, values-driven leaders who deliver on promises. That is why Lupe won, and we will work hard to expose Governor Abbott’s cynical politics of divisiveness and showcase Lupe’s positive agenda for Texans over the next five months.”
In another significant win, Gina Ortiz Jones won the Democratic runoff for Congressional district 23. If victorious in November against two-term incumbent Will Hurd, she would become the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Texas—as well as the first Iraq War veteran and first Filipina-American to represent the state.
Gov. Abbott’s record of anti-LGBT actions is long. Most notoriously, he publicly supported a controversial ‘bathroom bill’ that failed to pass the Texas Legislature in 2017, which would have banned transgender Texans from using the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity.
In March, however, a senior colleague of Abbott’s said he had not wanted the bill “on his desk.”
In 2015, moments after the landmark SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality was passed he issued a directive, giving clerks and others the power to refuse to issue marriage licenses if “substantially motivated by sincere religious belief.”
Last year, Abbott signed a bill that would, as reported by Think Progress, “permit discrimination against LGBTQ couples wishing to adopt children, in addition to allowing LGBTQ children to be placed under the agencies’ care in “religious education.”
David Ermold, who now-notorious clerk Kim Davis denied a marriage license to in Rowan County, Kentucky, lost in his bid to challenge her for the position of county clerk. Fellow Democrat Elwood Caudil soundly beat Ermold in the primary, and will run against Davis in November.