Democrat Lupe Valdez, the only out Latina lesbian sheriff in the country, has become the target of anti-gay political strategies weeks before voters decide on her re-election as Dallas Country Sheriff, her supporters said.
According to the Dallas Voice, this claim was a response to a September 18 article in the Dallas Morning News in which an issue was made out of a questionnaire that was answered anonymously and addressed attitudes about sexual orientation, which was then used during cultural diversity training for the sheriff’s department employees.
This questionnaire was developed by the Resource Center of Dallas, an agency serving the local LGBT community, and has been used for diversity training since 2002. Intended to foster dialogue about sexual orientation, it asked trainees to circle “agree” or “disagree” in response to assertions such as “children should not be raised by gay parents” and “the Bible states that homosexuality is immoral.” According to representatives from the Resource Center, trainees were allowed to leave them blank if they felt uncomfortable.
On September 19, the Dallas Morning News reported that there had been several “employee complaints” about the phrasing of the statements, and that “some deputies questioned whether a personal agenda was behind the questionnaire, given that Sheriff Lupe Valdez is lesbian.” They did not ever name a direct source, but rather quoted secondary sources.
One such source was Deputy Mike Ramirez, the vice president of a police union that has endorsed Valdez’s Republican challenger, Lowell Cannaday. Ramirez has not taken the class but said he has been approached by two deputies and a civilian who “felt the department was trying to promote the gay lifestyle,” by gearing the class towards LGBT issues and not including enough discussions about other minority groups.
Cece Cox, and associate executive director for the Resource Center, said that it was “unfortunate that this is being used in a political manner against the sheriff.”
According to the Dallas News, Sheriff Valdez never saw the questionnaire prior to the training, but signed off on the Resource Center’s participation. Valdez’s supporters condemned both the article and the quotes from Ramirez as an anti-LGBT political attack.
Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, which recently endorsed Valdez’s bid for re-election, said the incident “looks and smells like a political smear.” He added, “openly gay candidates face this all the time. It’s a tried and true political attack.”