The Human Rights Campaign has officially endorsed the candidacy of Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who is running to defeat Ted Cruz as the junior U.S. Senator from Texas.
“The choice for Texas voters this November could not be starker,” says HRC president Chad Griffin. “While Ted Cruz has spent his career undermining the rights of LGBTQ people for his own cynical, political gain, Beto O’Rourke is a proven champion of equality who will defend the rights of all Texans.”
O’Rourke, a native of El Paso, Texas, has served as the U.S. Representative in the state’s 16th congressional district since 2012.
“Together we will work to ensure our state finally has a voice in the Senate who is committed to passing the Equality Act, standing up to discriminatory and dangerous measures like SB6, supporting transgender troops serving our country across the globe, ensuring caring same-sex couples can open their home to one of Texas’ 30,000 children in foster care and continuing the daily fight for equal justice under law in this country,” says O’Rourke.
During his time in the House, Beto O’Rourke was a co-sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which extended employment and retirement benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. In 2013, The Dallas Voice, an LGBT news outlet, called O’Rourke “among the strongest new LGBT allies in Congress.”
During O’Rourke’s primary campaign for the House of Representatives he declared marriage equality a civil rights issue.
O’Rourke’s campaign for U.S. Senate has steadily been raising more money than Ted Cruz. In the first quarter of 2018, Beto O’Rourke raised $6.7 million from 141,000 individual contributions; moreover, his campaign does not take money from PACs or special interest groups.
While Texas isn’t the most gay-friendly state in the country, its rapidly evolving demographics and growing urban centers — Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — are forcing the state to confront the changing times. O’Rourke’s election would not just be historic for the state of Texas, which hasn’t had a Democratic senator since 1993, but for the state’s LGBTQ population.
In addition to gay rights, O’Rourke has been a vocal supporter of immigrant rights. Having lived almost all of his life in the border city of El Paso, he regularly speaks with authority against the negative narratives Republicans are using about immigration. He says the border with Mexico has actually never been safer and that a border wall would not help anything, and he supports efforts to protect DREAMers.
Beto O’Rourke has also been a vocal opponent of Donald Trump, too, recently stating that he believes there is enough evidence to impeach the president.
O’Rourke has been campaigning all around Texas for the past year, driving in his truck with his wife Amy, running road races with supporters and filling auditoriums and community centers for town halls. He has gained attention for his regular use of Facebook Live to address his audience directly as he campaigns.
Given the fact that Ted Cruz has been ranked the most hated man in the U.S. Senate, it might seem like he should be easy to beat. But O’Rourke still has a lot of work to do in the coming months. Voter turnout for him in the primary wasn’t quite as high as expected, and Texas remains an overwhelmingly Republican state.
The support of Texas’s LGBTQ community members could make a big difference for Beto O’Rourke, the state and the community this fall.
UPDATE, April 18: A new poll has Cruz and O’Rourke “in a statistical dead heat” according to The Hill. It’s the first Quinnipiac University poll of this race, which has been deemed too close to call.