Fight for Texas GOP Chair Slurs Dallas. We Should Be Proud.

From last winter's bizarre fight over having the Texas GOP's 2016 Convention at Dallas' Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center comes a more bizarre fight over the fact that it's still here, beginning in earnest on Thursday.

Over the past few days, a mailer has circulated accusing Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler, the same guy who presided over a 2014 Republican convention that passed a platform that staunchly denounced gay marriage and endorsed so-called reparative therapy for the LGBTQ community, of having a "disgusting homosexual agenda."

The mailer, made by supporters of former Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, accuses Mechler of standing on the sidelines while Woodfill, who is challenging Mechler for the chairmanship, led the charge to strike down Houston's non-discrimination ordinance. Mechler, the mailer claims, refused to move the convention from Dallas — something Woodfill demanded in November — despite Dallas' being a "homosexual friendly location." Mechler won't oppose the "homosexual political movement," the mailer claims, because he didn't denounce the city of Dallas for clarifying that its 2002 non-discrimination ordinance provides protection to transgender individuals, gay or straight.

The final blow, the one that makes Mechler fully unfit to serve in the eyes of Woodfill supporter Steve Hotze, is the fact that this year's GOP convention will feature a booth run by the Metroplex Republicans, an LGBTQ-friendly GOP group. In 2014, the Metroplex Republicans were denied space inside the convention hall. They were forced to hold a press conference outside a set of locked doors, imploring the Texas GOP to remove a section of its platform that claimed that homosexuality "tears at the fabric of society."
At the time, Rudy Oeftering, vice president of the Metroplex Republicans, said the Texas GOP needed to evolve or die. 

"That's the fundamental problem of the Republican Party right now. We've got to change before the state turns blue," he said. "I'm a Republican. I want the state to stay Republican, and I'm nearly sure it's not going to under the current model."

The group secured that minimal concession and, for this year's convention, secured booth space. Despite Woodfill's accusations, Mechler didn't help with that at all. A state committee allowed the booth, ruling that the Metroplex Republicans did not work against principles in the party platform.

Oeftering doesn't think Woodfill's scare tactics would work in Dallas. In November, when Woodfill first lobbed his criticism at Dallas, Oeftering told him to bring it on.

"I'm at the point of saying, Jared, there is a process in Dallas for you to come and bring your Houston lies to Dallas and there's a way for you to get it on the ballot by May. Come up here and try it. See what the results are in Dallas," he said.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young