Colonel Michael Bob Starr Accused of 'Social Engineering' By GOP Opponent
A Republican congressional candidate and decorated Air Force colonel has come under fire from one of his GOP primary opponents for participating in LGBT Pride runs while he served as a commander at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.
Retired Col. Michael Bob Starr is among eight Republicans battling in the hotly contested March 1 primary for the District 19 seat being vacated by right-wing GOP Congressman Randy Neugebauer.
According to the far right website Breitbart Texas, oil field worker and GOP candidate Jason Corley is attacking Starr for appearing in LGBT Pride runs in 2014 and 2015 that were sponsored by the Pride Alliance at Dyess AFB, where Starr served as commander of the 7th Bomb Wing.
During a candidate forum sponsored by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars on Friday, Corley reportedly questioned why Dyess AFB is supporting LGBT service members.
Jason Corley states that supporting the party is equivalent to communism and says he will support the people #TX19 Debateâ€” Tech Republicans (@TTURepublicans) February 4, 2016
Although Starr didn't directly respond to the attack, Corley later told Breitbart he raised the issue because he's concerned about the military "being used for social engineering," as well as the possibility of the government paying for gender reassignment surgery for transgender service members. The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on open service was repealed in 2011, and the Pentagon is currently working towards changing its ban on trans service members.
Corley also said Starr's participation in the Pride runs suggests voters in the conservative district may not know enough about the retired colonel, who's picked up key endorsements in recent weeks and is among the favorites to advance to a runoff for the GOP nomination in one of the nation's most conservative congressional districts.
"We know he served in the Air Force, and I appreciate that," Corley told Breitbart. "But, what else do we know about him? This is an agricultural region and we need candidate who knows ag. We don't need another Neugebauer."
In addition to publishing several photos of Starr participating in LGBT Pride runs at Dyess AFB, Breitbart cited a 2015 newspaper article in which a Pride Alliance member praised the colonel's support for the group, as well as a 2014 press release from the 7th Bomb Wing titled, "Progression, acceptance and our LGBT Airmen."
Those things are evidence that both Starr and Dyess AFB were "actively involved in the business of promoting the social engineering project underway," according to Breitbart, which also notes that the retired colonel doesn't mention his support for the Pride Alliance on his campaign website.
According to his campaign site, Starr spent 23 years in the Air Force and dropped some of the first bombs on Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He's received numerous awards and decorations, including three Bronze Stars, and was responsible for 12,000 active-duty members, civilian employees and family members at Dyess AFB.
Starr, who's been married to his wife for 23 years, also pledges on his site to "defend life and the pro-family values we all share."
At another recent District 19 forum, Starr said he'd consider an exception to abortion bans for "the immediate life of a mother," which drew a rebuke from another candidate who said such a provision would give doctors an excuse to perform the procedures.
Corley, meanwhile, joined several of the District 19 hopefuls in railing against LGBT rights, calling be transgender "a mental disorder that someone should seek treatment for" and attacking U.S. Supreme Court justices who sided in favor of nationwide marriage equality.
"Republicans in Congress voted to OK these guys to let them in there," Corley said. "When I go to Congress, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to jump up and down, stamp my foot, beat on the table and say, 'No, we're not going to allow this.'"
Corley's campaign logo features two oil rigs, and his favorite slogan is: "Stop voting for the men in suits. Vote for the man in steel-toed boots."
Corley also called for a "Ted Cruz-style" candidate for speaker of the House, and praised Neugebauer for yelling "baby killer" on the House floor in 2011.
"I was like, 'Hey, that's my congressman. Thanks for standing up for that.'" Corley said.
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