The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, on Wednesday endorsed Mark
Phariss' bid to represent the people of Senate District 8 in the
Phariss, a Plano-based lawyer, and
Victor Holmes, an Air Force veteran, were among the two gay couples
who sued Texas after the state refused to issue each couple a marriage
license. They won at the district court level but the decision was
stayed as the state appealed. The case was resolved two years later
when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell that gay and
lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Phariss, who will face engineer Brian
Chaput for the Democratic nomination, would become the state's first
openly gay state senator, if elected. The Democratic primary is held
on March 6.
“Mark Phariss will fight for all of
his constituents – no matter who they are or whom they love – if
he is elected to the Texas State Senate,” HRC National Field
Director Marty Rouse said in a statement. “We are proud to endorse
Mark’s candidacy and look forward to working with him in the Texas
Legislature, where he would be the first openly gay state senator in
the Lone Star State. Following an especially tough year for LGBTQ
Texans, Mark’s voice is needed now more than ever in Austin.”
Phariss told The
Dallas Morning News that he was inspired to run by recent
Democratic wins in Virginia and Alabama, both considered Republican
“When I was accepting the fact that I
was gay, there were two things I kind of thought I had to give up:
one, getting married, and two, running for political office,"
Phariss told the paper. "I need to quit assuming what people
will think. I need to allow them the choice."
HRC has also endorsed Julie Johnson,
who is running for a seat in the Texas House.