Opponent Points To Texas County GOP's Platform That States 'Homosexuality Tears At The Fabric Of Society'
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A Republican congressional candidate and decorated military officer came out swinging Sunday in response to attacks over his participation in LGBT Pride runs at an Air Force base where he served as commander.
Retired Col. Michael Bob Starr, one of eight Republicans seeking the District 19 congressional seat in West Texas, participated in LGBT Pride runs in 2014 and 2015 sponsored by the Pride Alliance at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, where Starr served as commander of the 7th Bomb wing.
As The New Civil Rights Movement reported Sunday, fellow District 19 candidate Jason Corley raised the issue of Starr's participation in the runs in an article published by right-wing website Breitbart Texas. Corley told Breitbart he was concerned about the military being used for "social engineering," which he said could also include paying for gender reassignment surgery for transgender service members and allowing women in combat.
Starr, a decorated colonel who dropped some of the first bombs on Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, accused Corley and others of “false and malicious attacks” and a “smear campaign.”
"Muslim terrorists have shot at me, and I’m used to being attacked," Starr in a statement published by The Lubbock Avalance Journal on Monday. "But the attacks by my challengers go beyond me; they are also a direct attack on Dyess Air Force Base and the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom — even the freedom of the cowards who orchestrated these attacks."
Starr is considered one of the favorites in the eight-person field to advance to a runoff for the Republican nomination in the race to replace outgoing GOP Rep. Randy Neugebauer. According to Lubbock radio host Glenn Robertson, Corley is in the second tier of candidates. There is no Democrat running in District 19, considered one of the most conservative in the nation.
Starr planned press conferences in Abilene and Lubbock on Monday to address the attacks, which he says have also included fliers placed on vehicles outside campaign events.
"I believe and strongly support traditional marriage, but as commander of Dyess Air Force Base, my job was to enforce the law and not discriminate against anyone who made different lifestyle choices than the ones that I agreed with," Starr said in his statement. "All I had to do was make sure that homosexual airmen were not discriminated against. That's what changed in the law in 2011, It is a group of lesbian, bisexual and homosexual airmen who are exercising their constitutional right and their freedom under the law to serve openly in the military. As leader of the base, I participated in as many events as I could to support as many airmen as I could. I created an atmosphere of acceptance. I did it regardless of the group or organization."
Lubbock County Republican Party Chairman Carl Tepper said participation in the LGBT Pride runs could spell trouble for Starr, adding that the commander could have declined the Pride Alliance's invitation under the First Amendment.
Corley responded to Starr's statement by pointing to the Lubbock Conty Republican Party platform.
“We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases,” the platform reads.
Corley also called for the reinstatement of "don't ask, don't tell."
“Why are we supporting one lifestyle over another?" Corley said. “When is there going to be a straight fun run?”
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