In what had become a referendum on equality, voters in the Austin-area Pflugerville Independent School District on Saturday re-elected two embattled incumbents to the district’s Board of Trustees. Religious-right activists had opposed incumbents Carol Fletcher and Mario Acosta, who last December voted for a policy offering access to health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of district employees. The two won re-election by comfortable margins on Saturday.
The Texas Freedom Network had proudly endorsed Fletcher and Acosta in their races. Religious-right and anti-gay pressure groups had pointed to the vote on domestic partners benefits in efforts to get their activists to the polls on Saturday. A local pastor even told his congregation that God wanted them to vote against candidates who supported the benefits policy.
But voters rejected that cynical misuse of faith as a political weapon and took a stand for treating all Pflugerville ISD employees equally. Moreover, they sent a strong message against discrimination as school districts and other local governments across Texas consider similar benefits policies.
In April, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a formal opinion warning the Pflugerville school district that its benefits policy might violate the Texas Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage. The Pflugerville district now decide whether to keep its benefits policy or modify it to avoid any legal challenges. Had Fletcher and Acosta been defeated, it’s likely the board would have scrapped the policy altogether.