Lives at stake in the Democratic runoff for governor

Governor Greg Abbott, who is running for re-election this year, relentlessly attacks Texans and their rights. Workers’ rights, women’s health care, the public education of our children, and voting rights are all under siege. Immigrants and LGBTQ Texans are being outright threatened.

With the Democratic gubernatorial runoff election now upon us, our organizations remain committed to the rights of all Texans to live and raise families in healthy and safe communities, with dignity and justice — regardless of race, income, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious belief, or immigration status. Because of this commitment, our organizations have endorsed Texas Democrat Lupe Valdez for governor.

Lupe Valdez has spent a lifetime breaking down barriers and defending Texans. We know who she is and what she stands for. Her candidacy is about the fair shot Texans from all walks of life deserve. The same cannot be said of her opponent and we feel a moral obligation to step forward and speak out.

When Andrew White first launched his campaign to become the Democratic nominee for governor, he was serving as a church leader in a conservative anti-LGBTQ church that describes homosexualty as “sexual perversion,” he directly told a Planned Parenthood board member that he would sign anti-choice legislation if it came to his desk as governor, and he owned a border surveillance company that used anti-immigrant slurs in its marketing materials.

White’s positions and affiliations on core progressive issues were offensive in their own right, but what is  even more troublesome is that as each of these issues have come to light, White has conveniently changed course. Four days after news broke regarding his affiliation with an anti-LGBTQ church, the first-time candidate resigned as a church elder. He stated his personal faith would never affect how he would govern, but he never actually clarified if he believes homosexuality is immoral. After announcing his candidacy and having his anti-choice position called into question, White said his personal position on choice would not affect how he would govern and he denounced legislation restricting reproductive rights passed under Gov. Abbott. In the days following a forum led by Latinx youth he stated that IF he won the primary runoff he would divest from his border surveillance company.

He became supportive of LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights and immigrant rights only when he realized that Democrats would not support a candidate who does not support these values – when people were looking. Character and leadership, however, are defined by who you are and what you do when people are not looking.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time,” as Maya Angelou said.  

As progressive advocates in Texas, we are all too familiar with political compromises that regularly occur in the Legislature on the backs of women, LGBTQ communities, immigrants, teachers and hard-working Texans. White’s candidacy promises more negotiating on the importance of the lives and rights of each of our constituencies — and that is something we can not and will not risk.

As a private citizen, White is certainly allowed the space to evaluate and grow in his personal and political beliefs. But as a candidate for governor of Texas, a state with 26 million people from different backgrounds, we demand solid, unwavering leadership that Texans can count on now. No matter what. And that is why we are supporting Lupe Valdez for governor.

Mayor Annise Parker, LGBTQ Victory Fund
Yvonne Gutierrez, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes