Texas Democratic Official to Face Trial Over Anti-Gay Comments
Members of the Bexar County [Tex.] Democratic Party voted 72-1 on Tuesday, April 5, to put their chairman on trial for charges related to anti-gay and other controversial remarks he made earlier this year.
The vote is only the latest development in the Dan Ramos saga. He originally came under fire for comparing gay Democrats-specifically the state's Stonewall Democrats caucus-to "termites," children born with polio and the "fucking Nazi Party" in an interview with the San Antonio Current early last month. Ramos further described the LGBT rights struggle as a "very sinister movement" that is out of touch with the county's values. And he also made controversial statements about African Americans and the Jewish community.
Numerous activists and fellow elected officials throughout the state-including Texas Democratic Party chair Boyd Richie and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro-have called for Ramos' resignation. The Human Rights Campaign and the Anti-Defamation League have condemned his remarks. And state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) has even introduced a bill that would specifically open the door to removing Ramos, who was elected to his current position last May, from office on the grounds of "incompetency."
Nevertheless, Ramos has reportedly stood by his comments. He first claimed the Current article did not accurately represent them; he blamed those calling for his resignation as having skeletons in their closet over the upcoming embezzlement trail of the county Democrats' former treasurer after the newspaper released a recording of his remarks.
Ramos has, thus far, refused to resign from his post and said he plans to complete his term, which is set to expire March 2012.
Dan Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, described Ramos to EDGE as a "disruptive, divisive" individual-long before his controversial comments came to light.
"He's just a very ignorant person," said Graney. "And it's very sad and egregious coming from the local leader of a party where we actually have a place at the table at the state, local and national level. The kind of language he uses can promote violence against our community and it's dangerous. We're dealing with a very stubborn human being here."
John Dean, a member of the Direct Action Network of San Antonio, helped to organize a demonstration outside of a meeting Ramos had called-it would appear, with the goal of confusing his executive committee members-on the other side of the city at a restaurant with the same name. Dean said that roughly 30 demonstrators turned out to bring additional media attention to Ramos' refusal to leave his post or apologize for his remarks. Get Equal also participated in the demonstration.
"Our main demand is his immediate resignation, but our secondary message is that this is San Antonio; a diverse city that doesn't stand for bullies like him," Dean said. "We can't let him silence us."
Ramos is certainly not the only Democrat who has come under fire from LGBT activists.
New York State Sens. Ruben Diaz, Sr., and Carl Kruger were among the eight Democrats who voted against a marriage equality measure in the state Senate in late 2009. The New York Post outed Kruger last month after federal authorities indicted him, his alleged partner and six others on bribery charges.
Maryland Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery) faced scathing criticism early last month after his support of a marriage equality bill he co-sponsored appeared to waver. LGBT activists also blasted Del. Tiffany T. Alston (D-Prince George's), who also initially backed the measure, for withdrawing her support.
The marriage equality bill failed to gain enough legislative support, but Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post blasted Arora and Alston after his newspaper opined the "pace" towards marriage equality is "frustrating."
"A pace not helped at all by cowards in the state legislature who talked out of both sides of their mouths to the gay community and who refused to heed the call of leadership," he wrote on March 15. "Or by African Americans who can't or refuse to see that one's civil rights should not be encumbered by race or sexual orientation."
Back in Texas, Ramos' comments appear particularly out of line with public sentiment. An Equality Texas poll conducted late last year found majority, bi-partisan support for anti-bullying, employment, housing non-discrimination and even relationship recognition measures.
Both Dean and Graney said they are very confident Ramos will be removed from his position pending the decision of his trial, which is scheduled to take place April 16. Ramos has specifically been charged with misconduct and dereliction of duty under the Roberts Rules of Order - charges that Graney said a council of the county's Democratic executives will carefully review.
"[Ramos] will either resign or be removed from his post," he added. "At this point, this is a matter of 'when' and not 'if.'"