Human Rights Campaign, Texas 2020 Endorsements

New Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, right, at a press conference in Dallas Sunday. Former state senate candidate Mark Phariss is on the left. (James Russell/Dallas Voice)

(DV) The Human Rights Campaign rolled out its first Texas endorsements on Sunday, Aug. 18, backing incumbent freshmen Congressman Collin Allred of Dallas and state Rep. Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch.

The two Democrats defeated incumbent anti-LGBTQ Republicans last fall and are top Republican targets. Congressional Republicans, who saw significant losses in 2018, are seeking to take back the lower chamber and the GOP wants to maintain its majority in the Texas House.

Morgan Cox of Dallas, the new co-chair of HRC’s Board of Directors, also introduced new HRC President Alphonso David.

David, a civil rights lawyer who previously worked for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and for Lambda Legal, was in town touring the region and meeting donors. He said Allred and Johnson are the candidates necessary to advance LGBTQ equality.

“Since he was elected and ousted one of the most anti-LGBTQ lawmakers, former House Rules Chairman Pete Session, [Allred] has backed and co-sponsored the Equality Act,” David said. The bill would advance LGBTQ protections nationwide. It has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“Johnson is a true changemaker,” he said of the openly lesbian freshman legislator. “As a founding member of the LGBTQ Caucus, she led the charge defeating 22 anti-LGBTQ bills. They [Johnson and Allred] prove why elections matter.”

Allred said Democrats’ ability to defeat incumbents like Sessions was not one solely related to a backlash against President DonaldTrump, enthusiasm for presidential candidate former Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz or about one candidate. Instead, he said, “It was the product of ordinary people coming together and [who] saw government does not reflect our values and politicians do not represent the district. That change wouldn’t have happened without HRC.”

Johnson noted HRC was the first organization to back her campaign against former Rep. Matt Rinaldi and is the first to back her this cycle.

Johnson touted the victories for LGBTQ rights she has since in the two decades since she first volunteered with HRC.” But, she added, “we have a long way to go,” noting that she was asked to provide a marriage certificate before adding her wife, Dr. Susan Moster. To her state health insurance.

“Do you think my straight counterparts have to do that?” she asked.

Johnson said she plans to research changes for the next legislative session.

Cox said that 2020 can be an even better year than 2018 for the LGBT community. North Texas has become a battleground for expanding Democratic gains in Congress and seizing control of the Texas House.

Democrats are only nine seats away from flipping the state House, and two of the key seats are in Dallas County, which saw a near blue sweep in 2018 of its state legislative body.

The two remaining Republicans, General Investigating Committee Chairman Morgan Meyer of Highland Park and Urban Affairs Committee Chairwoman Angie Chen Button of Garland, narrowly won re-election and are top Democratic targets for next year.

No challenger has emerged against Johnson. A handful of Republicans are mulling runs against Allred, including Meyer and Sessions.


Texas state Rep. Julie Johnson, right, with former state senate candidate Mark Phariss (James Russell/Dallas Voice)

New HRC Board Co-Chair Morgan Cox, right. (James Russell/Dallas Voice)