Gay What ?
Rest of site back up shortly!

Arrest made in murder of lesbian couple

James Cosby Jr., murder, gay news, Washington Blade

James Cosby, Jr. (Photo courtesy of the Galviston County Sheriff’s Office)

PORT BOLIVAR, Texas – Texas officials have arrested a Houston man in connection with the murder of his daughter and her girlfriend.

The Houston Chronicle reported James Larry Cosby, Jr., was arrested on March 13 and charged with two counts of tampering with evidence.

A deliveryman on March 7 found the bodies of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson in a dumpster outside a Port Bolivar store. Lone Star Q reported the two women had left the Houston house in which they lived with Britney Cosby’s father and great-grandmother two days earlier to drive to nearby Galveston for the city’s annual Mardi Gras celebration.

The Houston Chronicle said officers with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office “found evidence of a bloodbath” in James Cosby’s bedroom. They also found his fingerprint outside the convenience store where the women’s bodies were found.

Cosby’s mother, Loranda Remer, told the newspaper that Cosby did not accept his daughter’s relationship with Jackson. Other relatives offered conflicting accounts.


2 memoirs show power of parenthood

parenthood, Pregnant Butch, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image courtesy of Soft Skull Press)

Two new, very different memoirs continue to expand our sense of what an LGBT family looks like. One is the story of a lesbian mom struggling against her son’s anti-gay Catholic school while grappling with her relationship to the church and to her own mother. The other is about a butch lesbian and her experience being pregnant—the print version of a graphic novel first serialized online.

Michelle Theall’s “Teaching the Cat to Sit” (Gallery Books) is a beautifully crafted tale about the power—and pitfalls—of faith, family and love. Theall, the editor-in-chief of Alaska Magazine and an award-winning adventure and fitness writer, weaves the story of attempting to raise her son Catholic with the story of her own childhood and coming out. She deftly intertwines anecdotes that take us back to her childhood in Bible Belt Texas and forward to her life as a parent in Colorado, moving us through her Catholic upbringing, sexual abuse by a neighbor, coming out during college in the 1980s, meeting her now-partner Jill, and adopting their son.

The narrative begins in Colorado in 2009, when she and Jill are first sensing a reluctance from their priest to baptize their son. The boy also attends the Catholic school run by the same church, and the family has been welcomed by the school community. The priest, however, eventually warns them that he is reconsidering whether they can stay, since being gay goes against Catholic teaching.

Despite the insult, Theall hesitates to withdraw their son, knowing that it would hurt her strongly Catholic mother, who also suffers from depression. Theall has struggled her whole life for her mother’s acceptance, and their relationship nearly ended when Theall came out to her.

Through her story, she shows us the harm—to individuals as well as entire families—of a view of the world in which lesbian and gay people exist only as sinners and deviants. While she pulls no punches about the church’s hypocrisy and failings, her book is far from a condemnation of religion.

A. K. Summers’ “Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag” (Soft Skull Press) has an entirely different style and tone—irreverent and often caustic, with bold images that both capture the details of everyday life and exaggerate its incongruities. This is not a children’s comic. The tale, first serialized starting in 2011 at the Web comic collective site Act-i-vate, is semi-autobiographical, with the protagonist Teek standing in for Summers.

Summers grew up in California and Georgia, went to college in Ohio and Illinois, and now lives in Rhode Island. Trained as a printmaker, she is the creator of the comic zine Negativa: Chicago’s Astute Lezbo Fantasy Mag, as well as several short animated films.

She was adopted herself, which gave her “an emotional longing to experience a biological relationship to somebody,” she told me in an interview in 2011. Getting pregnant—often seen as the ultimate womanly act—took on different overtones when she did so as a butch woman, however. “Pregnant Butch,” she said, “is about my attempts to hold on to my butch self and also to allow myself to be transformed by the process [of pregnancy], and where that could occur and be positive.”

Summers explores what it means to be butch, the lack of positive role models, and how she and her partner negotiated their relationship and roles as they headed toward parenthood. She charts her changing interactions with friends and neighbors as they encountered the dissonance of her masculine gender expression and her pregnant belly.

Summers writes in her introduction that she thinks there has been a shift in the 10 years since she was pregnant. Young queers are now less likely to use the term “butch.” Nevertheless, Summers felt it was important to capture her experience, both to ”make the unseen visible” and to document a point in time before the enormous positive shift in public attitudes toward gay people in the last few years.

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian, an award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBT parents.


The circus has come to town!

Taylor Albin, Taylor the Tailor, Built to Amaze!, Ringling Brothers, gay news, Washington Blade

Taylor Albin as Taylor the Tailor (third from left in back row) in ‘Built to Amaze!’ It runs through Sunday at the Patriot Center. (Photo courtesy Ringling Bros.)

‘Built to Amaze!’

Ringling Bros., Barnum  & Bailey

Patriot Center

Through Sunday



Growing up in Mineral Wells, Texas, Taylor Albin shunned the Friday night lights of the high school football games and dreamt of having different lights shining down on him — those from the “greatest show on earth.”

“I went to the circus every single year with my family and fell in love with it. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a clown; it just looked like so much fun,” Albin says. “Whenever they came out, they made people laugh and that’s definitely something I wanted to do and saw myself doing.”

One of his favorite pastimes was watching the Ringling Bros. video “How to be a Clown”; he aspired to be one of the greats like Tom and Tammy Parish, Chris and Gina Allison, Michael Frum, Jeff Schott and Todd Zimmerman.

Of course, wanting to be a clown and actually doing it for a living are two different things. Like most people, Albin had absolutely no idea how to go about it. It was in 2009, while in college, that he read that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was holding open auditions in New York, so he flew to the Big Apple and auditioned.

“It was a year later when they called and told me I was just what they were looking for,” he says. “I was still in college, but a year later I was with them and doing what I consider to be the best job in the world. My dream had come true.”

Albin says that being gay has never been an issue with anyone at the circus and that the atmosphere among his fellow clowns and other performers has been very supportive.

“The circus is such an open community and an environment that accepts all people — I mean not only do we have people from different lifestyles but we also have people from all parts of the globe,” he says. “The circus is a place anyone can feel comfortable in and I feel fortunate to work in an environment that people accept you for who you are.”

In his clown persona, Albin is Taylor the Tailor and he dons a large black wig that sticks up, wears funny glasses and has loud and colorful striped pants.

“The best part is I designed my look and who I wanted to be,” he says. “One of the best things is that we get the freedom of creating who we are and what we want to look like.”

You can check Albin out locally now as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Built To Amaze!” at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. It opened last week and runs through Sunday. It’s a show that promises plenty of high energy, high jinx and hilarity.

“What I enjoy most about being a part of Ringling Bros. is that I have the honor and privilege to see kids so happy and vibrant, and for their parents to be right in the moment with them,” he says. “There’s something magical about seeing a family forgetting their worries and just having fun! Your heart is filled with so much happiness and joy.”

For those children (and adults!) who are afraid of clowns, Albin says that everyone is very sensitive to their feelings and they work hard to make sure everyone is comfortable and having a fun time.

“We have people who come to the shows from all sorts of life and when we see people startled, we don’t approach them and we let them approach us,” he says. “Parents have their kids come to see us and we’ll bend down and talk to them on their level so we are not an ominous figure. We always take caution when we talk to children.”

Albin has been with the circus for five years and currently serves as the Boss Clown, meaning he is the liaison between show management and all the clowns on tour.

“I make sure everyone stays on top of their tasks and are prompt and at the end of the day that we all have fun,” he says. “When you wake up excited to do what you do, nothing can stop you. If there is a challenge, I would say it’s not seeing my family as often, but I am going to Texas soon so will see them then. At the end of the day, I love what I do.”

In addition to the fun of the clowns, the circus will include nine-time international award-winning comedic animal presenting duo Alex and Irina Emelin of Russia; the Tower Tumblers, a troupe of competitive aerial athletes from the Ukraine who launch themselves from trampolines to scale, repel and pass through a three-story high translucent tower; and a spirited and fiery competition of basketball with the next generation of whirling unicyclists, the legendary King Charles Troupe hailing from New York City.


Houston mayor marries longtime partner

Annise Parker, Houston, gay news, Victory Fund, Democratic Party, Washington Blade

Houston Mayor Annise Parker married longtime partner Kathy Hubbard last week. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.—Houston Mayor Annise Parker and her partner of more than two decades, Kathy Hubbard, married on Jan. 16.

A press release the city of Houston released said Parker and Hubbard, who celebrated their 23rd anniversary on their wedding day, exchanged vows at a Palm Springs home.

Rev. Paul Fromberg of San Francisco officiated the wedding that Parker’s mother, Hubbard’s sister and a small group of family and friends attended. Harris County Civil Judicial District Court Judge Steve Kirkland and Mark Parthie were witnesses.

“This is a very happy day for us,” said Parker. “[Hubbard] is the love of my life and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life married to her.”

Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill, who is suing Parker and Houston over the extension of benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees, criticized the wedding.

“This is about a bigger political agenda for her,” said Woodfill as Lone Star Q reported.

Houston voters first elected Parker as mayor in 2009. She won re-election for a third term last November.


Federal judge strikes down Texas gay marriage ban

Politically and strategically, the Supreme Court's ruling in Windsor is appearing more brilliant by the day.


Record number of LGBT candidates in 2013 races

Annise Parker, Houston, gay news, Victory Fund, Democratic Party, Washington Blade

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is favored to win re-election to a third term. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund on Tuesday named 10 openly LGBT candidates as part of its annual “Races to Watch” list after endorsing a total of 85 LGBT candidates that it says represents an all-time high for an off-year election.

Among those on the “Races to Watch” list are lesbian Annise Parker, who’s considered the favorite to win re-election to her third term as mayor of Houston; and gay Washington State Sen. Ed Murray, who’s ahead in the polls in his race for mayor of Seattle.

“2013 isn’t an off year,” said Victory Fund Political Director Lucinda Guinn. “It’s definitely on at the Victory Fund.”

Guinn said the national LGBT advocacy group that raises money and provides campaign support for LGBT candidates for public office was focusing on candidates in places where LGBT rights have not advanced as rapidly as in other parts of the country.

“We’re working hard this year to help build up heroes in places where equality is late in arriving,” she said in a statement. “Places where these candidates can be the spark to help their own communities move toward equality.”

Of the 85 LGBT candidates the Victory Fund endorsed this year, 18 have won primaries and advanced to the general election on Nov. 5; 14 have won in general elections already held; and one emerged as the victor in a run-off election, bringing the total number of winning LGBT candidates so far to 33.

Nine Victory Fund-endorsed candidates lost their 2013 races in primaries and three have lost in a general election, bringing the total number of losses so far to 12, according to data released by the group.

One of the most prominent candidates who didn’t make it through their primary race was lesbian Democrat Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council, who lost her race to become New York’s first openly gay mayor to pro-LGBT Democrat Bill de Blasio.

Also losing in a primary contest was gay State Rep. Carl Sciortino of Massachusetts, a Democrat who ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives formerly held by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey.

Fifty-four Victory Fund-endorsed candidates are running in the Nov. 5 general election for local and state offices throughout the country, according to information released this week by the Victory Fund.

Among them are at least three openly gay candidates in the D.C. metropolitan area. Gay Democrat Jay Fisette is running for re-election to a fifth term on the Arlington County Board, the county’s legislative governing body. He’s considered a strong favorite to retain his seat.

In nearby Falls Church, Va., Lawrence Webb, who lost his re-election bid for his seat on the Falls Church City Council, is running for a seat on the Falls Church School Board.

In Maryland, gay attorney Patrick Wojahn, a former board member of the state LGBT advocacy group Equality Maryland, is running for re-election to the College Park, Md., City Council. He’s considered a favorite to retain his seat.

In April, gay Mayor Jim Ireton of Salisbury, Md., won his re-election bid by a comfortable margin.

Although Quinn lost her race for mayor, seven openly gay or lesbian candidates are either seeking re-election or election to the New York City Council on Nov. 5 after winning primary elections in September. The Victory Fund has endorsed each of them.

The remaining candidates the Victory Fund announced on Tuesday as members of its “10 Races to Watch” list are Celia Israel, candidate for the Texas House of Representatives; Robert Lilligen, candidate for the Minneapolis City Council; Chris Seelbach, candidate for the Cincinnati City Council; Darden Rice, candidate for the St. Petersburg, Fla., City Council; Michael Gongora, candidate for Mayor of Miami Beach, Fla.; Tim Eustace, candidate for the New Jersey State Assembly; LaWana Mayfield, candidate for the Charlotte, N.C., City Council; and Catherine LaFond, candidate for the Charleston, S.C., Water System Commission.

The Victory Fund says it doesn’t release the names of openly LGBT candidates who seek the group’s endorsement but don’t receive it.

“We have a set of criteria for endorsing candidates,” said Victory Fund spokesperson Jeff Spitko. “We want to confirm that they are qualified, have a campaign plan and a path to victory,” he said. “We want to make sure they are viable.”

Spitko said the Victory Fund endorsed 180 openly LGBT candidates in 2012 and 124 of them won their races.

A full list of the openly LGBT candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund and appearing on the Nov. 5 election day ballot can be found here.


Parker favored to win re-election in Houston

Annise Parker, Houston, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, gay news, Washington Blade, marriage equality, gay marriage, marriage equality

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is favored to win re-election to a third term. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The mayoral contests in Seattle and Houston are being watched closely by LGBT advocates from across the country because the outcome on Nov. 5 could be the election and re-election of openly gay mayors in two prominent U.S. cities.

In Seattle, most political observers believe Washington State Sen. Ed Murray is in a strong position to unseat incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn to become that city’s first openly gay mayor. Murray, 59, won election to the Washington House of Representatives in 1995 and was elected to the State Senate in 2006.

He’s been credited with taking the lead in pushing for the successful passage of the state’s LGBT non-discrimination law and for approval in the legislature of the marriage equality law that voters subsequently passed in a 2012 referendum.

In a development that raised eyebrows among Seattle’s political establishment, Murray beat McGinn by a narrow margin in the city’s multi-party “top two” primary in August by a margin of 30 to 29 percent in an eight-candidate race. Under the city’s election rules, the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election in November.

Murray’s supporters were quick to point out that 70 percent of the voters cast their ballots in the primary for someone other than McGinn, a sitting mayor. And two of the primary candidates, both members of the City Council, who received 16 percent and 15 percent of the vote respectively, have endorsed Murray.

The most recent public opinion poll conducted by the Seattle-based communications and research firm Strategies 360, which isn’t backing any of the candidates, showed Murray ahead by a margin of 51 percent to 34 percent among likely voters. The remaining 15 percent either declined to disclose who they planned to vote for or were undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent.

With McGinn expressing strong support for LGBT rights during his career as an attorney, environmentalist and community activist, observers say LGBT issues aren’t at play in the election. Instead, the issue on the minds of most voters in a city known as a bastion of liberalism and progressivism is who is most capable of running the city to continue its current strong economic base and progressive agenda, political commentators have said.

In Houston, most consider incumbent Mayor Annise Parker, an out lesbian, as the frontrunner in a nine-candidate race. But they say it’s possible that her lead rival, millionaire attorney and philanthropist Ben Hall, could capture enough votes to force Parker into a runoff election, which would take place in December. Under the Houston election law, a mayoral candidate must win at least 50 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate race to win the election outright without a runoff.

Parker’s supporters say she is well known and well liked in a city where she has served six years as an elected City Council member and another six years as city controller before being elected to her first two-year term as mayor in 2009. Should she win in November she would enter her third and last term under Houston’s term limit law.

Some observers say that Hall, who is black and obtained a master’s of divinity degree before becoming a lawyer, could make inroads into Houston’s black vote, including socially conservative blacks, who comprise as much as 30 percent of the city’s voting population.

Hall has expressed opposition to same-sex marriage and has declined to say whether he would support legislation to ban discrimination in Houston based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Noel Freeman, president of the Houston LGBT Political Caucus. Freeman said Hall declined an invitation by the group to meet with its members to discuss LGBT issues and refused to fill out a questionnaire on LGBT-related issues that the caucus gives to all candidates running for public office in the city.

Campaign finance records show that Hall has contributed more than $2 million of his own money to his campaign.

Sue Davis, the Parker campaign’s communications director, said Hall, while attacking Parker on various non-gay issues, has so far not raised LGBT issues or Parker’s sexual orientation in the campaign.

“Annise has said all along she is not going to be the gay mayor but the best mayor,” Davis told the Blade.

A poll released in early September by Houston’s CBS TV affiliate showed Parker leading Hall by a margin of 34 percent to 13 percent, with more than 40 percent of respondents saying they were undecided. The remaining seven candidates had a combined total of less than 10 percent.


Homophobia prompts judge to leave GOP

Carlo Key, Texas, San Antonio, gay news, Washington Blade

Judge Carlo Key renounced the Republican Party in a video posted to YouTube. (Screen capture courtesy of YouTube)

SAN ANTONIO—A Texas judge on Oct. 21 cited homophobia within the Republican Party as among the reasons that prompted him to leave the GOP.

“Rational Republican beliefs have given way to ideological character assassination,” Bexar County Court-at-Law Judge Carlo Key said in a video posted to his re-election campaign’s website. “Pragmatism and principal have been overtaken by pettiness and bigotry.”

Key specifically highlighted former San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan, who described LGBT Texans as “disgusting” before she resigned in August to challenge state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), in his video.

“I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their economic status,” Key said. “I will not be a member of a party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office, rather than disqualifying them.”


Will Republicans keep the government open?

government, Ted Cruz, Texas, Republican Party, United States Senate, Values Voters Summit, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

After 16 days, the government reopened last Thursday and hundreds of thousands of people are back to work. The threat of default is off until Feb. 7, 2014. The question we need to ask is: Will Republicans realize they lost and that shutdowns don’t help anyone?

What changes can Washington make that will be seen by the American people in a positive way? How do we move toward balancing the budget and bringing a sense of sanity back to our political system?

The time has come for moderates in both parties to rise again. There will always be a far right of the Republican Party and a far left of the Democratic Party. But we have seen that when those groups are ascendant in either party that party usually loses. They create havoc, but in the long run they aren’t the ones that can get people together to move the nation ahead.

Today’s far-right hero is Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and he is scary. Listening to him last Sunday in an interview he did with Dana Bash of CNN, you had to acknowledge how smart he is even if his thought process seems deranged. He finds the words to make what he nearly did to the nation make some kind of sense and to justify his efforts to close the government and nearly drive the nation into bankruptcy. This when we know that what he actually did is cause interest rates to rise upping the cost of mortgages and student loans; send workers’ 401k retirement plans down; cause veterans and seniors a delay in receiving the benefits they are entitled to; and hurt small businesses across the nation by taking billions of dollars out of the economy. Yet he had the empathy so when he talked about doing all this to help others, he actually sounded plausible to some. Again the man is smart but very scary.

People like Cruz and his acolytes in the House of Representatives have actually been referred to as anarchists and that label may be appropriate. The Republican Party’s internal civil war was highlighted on NBC’s Nightly News, when anchor Brian Williams asked John McCain (R-Ariz.) a question about relations in the Senate and then cited a comment Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) made in which he accused McCain of supporting al-Qaida. McCain responded “Sometimes comments like that are made out of malice, but if someone has no intelligence I don’t view it as being a malicious statement.”

Unfortunately today even those with no intelligence both in and out of Congress manage to get their voices heard. They have their own media outlet and it’s called Fox News. There are Americans listening only to Fox and the likes of Rush Limbaugh who get only part of the news. They don’t hear the other side so it’s hard to blame them for not understanding what is going on. They hear from those like former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) who now runs the once respected Heritage Foundation and turned it into an organization to prop up the likes of Cruz and the Tea Party. In doing so he makes once respected conservative Republicans seem like the moderates of the party.

Thankfully, Americans have a knack for eventually seeing through charlatans. They eventually abandoned Joe McCarthy when they realized the snake oil he was selling and they will eventually abandon Cruz. But until those in that alternate universe where they exist, some call it the Tea Party, others call it Texas, wake up, their actions will continue to cause untold suffering.

The nation is facing many difficult issues. We are still coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. We are facing numerous foreign policy issues including ending the war in Afghanistan; dismantling and destroying chemical weapons in Syria; working to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon; and trying to restart the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks to name just a few. The world is a complicated place and we are the only remaining super power. Our position in the world will only remain strong if we can work out our domestic problems and come to some agreement so that we can once again be governed in a sane way.

We’re left to hope that Republicans like McCain, McConnell and Boehner who say they won’t shut the government down again will stand strong. The time has come for sane people to resume control of the government.


Miami Beach mayoral candidate among LGBT hopefuls

Michael Gongora, Miami Beach, Victory Fund, gay news, Washington Blade

Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Gongora is one of several Victory Fund-endorsed LGBT candidates hoping for a win on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Gongora is considered to have a shot at becoming that city’s first openly gay mayor on Tuesday despite the fact that former President Bill Clinton has endorsed one of his three opponents.

Gongora, Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, who’s running for re-election; and Washington State Sen. Ed Murray, who’s leading in the polls in his race for mayor of Seattle, are among a record 54 openly LGBT candidates running nationwide in an off-year election.

Each of the candidates has been endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national LGBT advocacy group that raises money and provides logistical campaign assistance to openly LGBT candidates for public office.

Like Gongora, Murray would be the first openly gay mayor of Seattle if he beats incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn. Murray finished ahead of McGinn in a multi-candidate open primary in August, prompting political observers to predict Murray would emerge as the winner in the general election on Tuesday.

Most political observers in Houston consider Parker the frontrunner in a nine-candidate race. But they say it’s possible that her lead rival, millionaire attorney and philanthropist Ben Hall, could win enough votes to force Parker into a runoff election in December.

Most of the remaining 54 LGBT candidates backed by the Victory Fund are running in county and municipal races, including seven openly gay or lesbian candidates running for re-election or election to the New York City Council. Each of seven candidates, all Democrats, is expected to win their races in heavily Democratic districts.

In the Miami Beach race, Gongora, an attorney and environmentalist, received the endorsement of the Miami Herald and several of his fellow city commissioners. He’s running in a hotly contested race against a millionaire real estate developer, Philip Levine, whom Clinton endorses; and former comedian and entertainer Steve Berke. A fourth opponent, Raphael Herman, is considered by observers as a fringe candidate who isn’t expected to be a significant player in the race.

According to the Miami Herald, Levine has contributed more than $1.5 million into his campaign and is believed to be behind a series of negative ads attacking Gongora. Some of the ads point to Gongora’s 2002 drunken driving arrest that was lowered to a reckless driving charge.

“I made a mistake, and it’s not a mistake that will impact in any way, shape or form my ability to lead the city as mayor,” the Herald quoted Gongora as saying.

Gongora has fired back at Levine, pointing out in his own campaign ads that Levine gave money to the 2010 campaign of Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio when Rubio ran in the GOP primary against then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist for an open U.S. Senate seat, which Rubio won.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in Miami Beach by a wide margin and Levine’s support for Rubio in 2010 could hurt him, even though he’s a Democrat.

Victory Fund spokesperson Jeff Spitko said another candidate — along with Parker, Murray and Gongora — running in what the group considers this year’s 10 “groundbreaking” races for LGBT candidates is lesbian Celia Israel of Austin, Texas. Israel is running in a special election for an open seat in the Texas House of Representatives in a four-candidate race.

She would become the second openly LGBT member of the Texas Legislature if she wins her race on Tuesday.

Israel, a progressive Democrat, worked as an aide to former Texas Gov. Ann Richards before starting a public policy consulting business in Austin, where she and her partner of 18 years live. She’s running against two other liberal Democrats, Rico Reyes and Jade Chang Sheppard, and Republican Mike VanDeWalle in a majority Democratic district. She received the endorsement of the Austin Chronicle.

Spitko said the Victory Fund has dispatched staff and board members along with volunteers to work on the get-out-the-vote effort for Israel, Parker and Murray. Victory Fund Executive Director Chuck Wolfe will be in Seattle helping with the Murray campaign; the group’s political director, Lucinda Guinn, will be in Houston helping on Parker’s campaign; and Deputy Political Director Mike McCall will be in Austin helping Israel, Spitko said.

“And a large part of our office [in Washington] will be here late into the evening following the election results and we’ll be posting the results on our blog,,” said Spitko, where activists throughout the country can keep track of the outcome of the races where LGBT candidates are running.

A total of 85 openly LGBT candidates backed by the Victory Fund emerged in races throughout the country earlier this year. Out of that total, 18 have won primaries and advanced to the general election on Nov. 5; 14 have won in general elections already held; and one emerged as a winner in a run-off election. Nine candidates backed by the Victory Fund lost their races in primaries earlier in the year.