Texas Catholic Democrat Eddie Lucio says racial slurs won't stop his pro-life advocacy

Pro-life Texas Democrat says racial slurs won't stop his pro-life advocacy

State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. Credit: Official portrait/state of Texas
State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. Credit: Official portrait/state of Texas

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A pro-life Texas state senator running for re-election says he won’t be deterred by racial slurs directed against him by pro-abortion groups.

State senator Eddie Lucio, representing Texas’ 27th district in the southern tip of the state, is a Catholic pro-life Democrat from a Mexican-American family. As one of ten children who grew up attending St. Joseph Catholic church in West Brownsville, he told CNA that his upbringing “taught us family values and also to respect the sanctity of life.”

“I don’t make any excuses for that, and I don’t apologize for that,” he said of his advocacy on life issues.

Senator Lucio has been a member of the state senate since 1991, having previously served two terms in the state house. His 2020 Democratic primary race extended into a runoff in May, when he received just under 50% of the vote in a three-way race to advance to the general election.

Lucio is vying with candidate Sara Stapleton Barrera for the party’s nomination for the November general election in the July 14 runoff election; Barrera has received the endorsement of pro-LGBT and pro-abortion groups.

Pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood Texas Votes PAC and the Texas Freedom Network have repeatedly referred to Lucio as “Sucio Lucio” in direct mailing campaigns and online, calling him “dirty” in an apparent reference to his politics; the term, he and others have said, is offensive to Hispanics.

“It’s been used in the past to describe a ‘dirty Mexican,’” Lucio told CNA. “I take it hard for someone to use an adjective that speaks badly of my surname that I’m very proud of. My dad was a very decent, hard-working man who contributed so much to his fellow man.” Lucio said his father was a disabled American veteran who fought in World War II in North Africa and Italy.

The groups “appropriated this offensive term, without consideration of its racist undertones, and it’s wrong to use the term to describe any person of color,” Lucio said. The opposition, he said, is “wanting to defeat me because I am pro-life.”

In a press release, Lucio’s son—a state representative—condemned the “derogatory and racial slurs.”

On July 3, the Mexican American Legislative Council said that political campaigns should “steer clear of political name calling that plays on racial, sexist, homophobic, ableist, and every form of discrimination when our country is working for social justice.”

Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville also spoke out against the use of the term in a July 3 statement.

“While not surprised that Planned Parenthood would attack State Senator Eddie Lucio’s pro-life record, I am deeply discouraged that Texas Freedom Network and others would join in this malicious kind of attack, using such derogatory language to disparage him and his family,” Bishop Flores said.

Lucio appreciated Bishop Flores’ statement, noting that he voted in lock-step with the policy prescriptions of the Texas Catholic Conference last term.

“I’m very grateful to him [Flores], and I hope that we can continue to echo the sentiments of the conference of bishops because I truly believe that they represent what’s right for our society,” he said.

Lucio says that growing up in Texas, he experienced racial discrimination first-hand.

When he arrived at a South Texas university in the 1960s, Lucio said he sat at the front of the classroom in his first-period class. The professor told him “very abruptly, and in kind of a loud voice” to stand to the side.

“What he said after that, I’ll never forget,” Lucio said. The professor instructed Mexican students to sit at the back of the classroom, while telling “black athletes” to sit in the middle, and white students to sit in the front of the classroom.

In another instance in southeast Texas, Lucio said he was told by a motel there was no vacancy despite an empty parking lot outside. “So I figured it out, that it was because of me that we weren’t going to get any rooms there,” he said.

This experience, he said, has prompted him to fight against discrimination of anyone. And this also entails learning to respect areas of genuine disagreement on policy, without resorting to name-calling as Planned Parenthood did.

“I don’t want anyone, regardless of color, regardless of religious preference, regardless of our differences—we’re human beings and we certainly deserve to be treated equally,” he said. “But,” he continued, “we also have to respect religious freedom, we have to respect things that sometimes, people don’t want to.”

Lucio says that the “biggest issue,” for him, is the issue of protecting human life— at all stages. “I support life from conception until natural death,” he said, which puts him at odds with both political parties.

“Democrats will support a woman’s right to an abortion,” he lamented, “but if the baby’s born, will throw themselves in the fire to see that they get education, health care, everything else that goes with it,” he said. “And then they’re against the death penalty, most of them,” Lucio said.

“Republicans,” he said, “are pro-life, which I’m very happy about, but sometimes there are some Republicans that we find are so hard, and so far to the right, that they don’t want to vote to expand Medicaid or to add more dollars to education or health care when it’s needed in our state.”

“And they’re for the death penalty,” the senator lamented.

Speaking of his efforts to put faith before party, Lucio said: “I try to be different, and I am different in a sense,” he said.

Tags: Abortion, Catholic News, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores

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