Thursday, April 21, 2005

An 'AYE' Speaks a Thousand Words

Sometimes you just can't trust your colleagues to correctly take care of business for you. This is a lesson Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) learned the hard way on Tuesday when he asked a colleague on the House floor to vote for him while he was attending a Conference Committee meeting (a practice quite common for Representatives with important business to handle during long House debates). Unfortunately for Turner, however, the colleague designated Turner's vote as an 'aye' for a controversial amendment to SB 6 in which he would have voted 'nay.' The amendment, by Rep. Robert E. Talton (R-Pasadena), bans gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from becoming foster parents. Though it was passed by the House with a 81-58 vote into the lengthy Child Protective Services reform bill (see "Talton Goes After Gays in SB6," TXLO, April 19) and Turner's vote wouldn't have changed that outcome, he has still received a bombard of disgruntle phone calls about this issue.
Calls from disappointed constituents, curious politicians, and outraged gay and lesbian organizations have swarmed his office the past few days. Turner is known for supporting the gay and lesbian community by promoting legislation that protects their rights, such as laws against discrimination in the work place. Therefore, his vote for this blatant demonstration of discrimination was obviously a shock to many, including Turner. In response to his temporarily tarnished image, his office is rapidly producing a press release that will come out tomorrow to explain the voting confusion, as well as clarify his position on the issue.
"He's pro-kid. He doesn't care about race, creed, or color, just as long as
parents provide an environment that is loving and happy for the child," said
John Guess, Turner's Legislative Aide who suggested the press release idea to
the Representative. "Who are we to deny these kids their home."
While Turner's standing in the gay and lesbian community probably won't be disarrayed for long, he will surely think twice next time he assumes a colleague knows how he intends to vote.