A judge has refused to block a recall
election to remove three El Paso, Texas elected officials who backed
gay rights, the AP reported.
Pastor Tom Brown of the Word of Life
Church is leading the effort to oust El Paso Mayor John Cook and two
City Council members, Steve Ortega and Susie Byrd, because they
supported giving health insurance benefits to the unmarried domestic
partners of city workers.
In his legal challenge, Cook claimed
that Brown had violated state election law by using church resources
to collect signatures for the recall petition.
While Brown and his supporters have
used anti-gay sentiment in their campaign, The
New York Times reported that only 2 of the 19 city employees
in domestic partnerships who received the benefit are gay.
The battle began in 2009, when the
Council approved the benefit for the unmarried domestic partners of
city employees. Opponents, led by Brown, forced a voter referendum,
which was approved with 55 percent of the vote last November.
In June, the Council restored the
insurance benefit. An outraged Brown countered with an effort to
recall the mayor and two council members. (The terms of two other
members who voted for the ordinance have already ended.)
The recall election takes place on
Brown told the Times that the
officials should be removed because they “want to reward
fornicators, and they want to reward homosexuals.”