(Austin, TX) The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus (TSDC) presented three awards at its First Biennial Statewide Conference Awards Brunch in Austin on March 1. The awards recognized a TSDC member for outstanding leadership, a local Stonewall Democrats chapter for its political achievements and a politician for her advocacy of LGBT equality in the Texas Legislature.
Dallas LGBT activist Jesse Garcia was the recipient of the Buck Massey Legacy of Leadership Award, named after Lester "Buck" Massey, a beloved LGBT Democratic leader from Dallas who died in 2007. Garcia is the immediate Past President of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and founder of the Dallas Rainbow Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the first LGBT LULAC Council in the nation. He has been a strong activist in the Democratic Party and served on the LGBT Advisory Councils of both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama presidential campaigns. He has been a member of the National Stonewall Democrats Board of Directors for the past four years.
The Houston Stonewall Young Democrats was presented the Club Achievement Award. HSYD is the only active LGBT Young Democrats organization in Texas. Under the leadership of Kris Banks, Victor Castillo, Meghan Baker and E.B. Allen, HSYD demonstrated outstanding leadership during the 2008 election cycle through its grassroots voter registration and mobilization efforts on behalf of numerous Democratic campaigns in the Houston area. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, HSYD members continued to trudge on as "foot patrols" for Democratic candidates and were credited by Carl Whitmarsh and other Houston Democrats for helping turn Harris County "blue" last November. HSYD was also instrumental in organizing a "Join the Impact" rally in Houston after the passage of Proposition 8 and makes use of social networks like MySpace and Facebook on its website to mobilize young progressives to action.
State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) was honored with the Lone Star Equality Advocate Award. Thompson is considered one of the strongest voices for LGBT equality in the Texas House of Representatives. A long-time legislator from a predominantly African-American district in Houston, Thompson was one of the sponsors of the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act which became law in 2001 and includes gays and lesbians as a protected class. She has been an outspoken opponent of anti-LGBT legislation introduced in the Republican-dominated House over the past six years. She is most famously remembered for the fiery speech she gave on the floor of the House against HJR 6, the bill that put Proposition 2, the anti-gay constitutional Texas marriage amendment, on the ballot in 2005. Legislative aide Chanti Seals accepted the award on behalf of Thompson who could not attend the brunch.