Tea Party Leader Ran "Gay Bashing" Campaign In Connecticut

Note: This is the second part of a series about Gabriel Jose Carrera, a leader of the Tea Party. Click here to see the first part.

More than a decade before Gabe Carrera became a leader in the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party and began rubbing shoulders with the likes of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, he ran a campaign of his own for state house in his native Connecticut.

And it was one of the ugliest races Hartford has ever seen.

mantillagergen.jpg
Hartford Courant
Evelyn Mantilla with her wife, Babette, and David Gergen
​The 46-year-old
Carrera, who was an evangelical missionary at the time who also worked in his father's furniture store. took aim at Democratic state Rep. Evelyn Mantilla in 1998. He kicked it off by holding a protest in Hartford denouncing diversity posters hung at City Hall claiming they advocated homosexuality. His protest drew 100 people and was covered by the Hartford Courant.

It was almost as if Carrera was trying to create his own version of the Tea Party in Hartford about 11 years before its time.

"This movement does not have a name," the paper quoted Carrera saying. "We have to show the city we are united. We have to come together in unity for Jesus Christ."

Carrera made no secret why he was challenging Mantilla. It was because she was a lesbian. Carrera, who ran as an Independent, held prayer vigils outside Mantilla campaign events and claimed that she would promote homosexuality in Hartford schools.   

"We need to put morality back into the law," he said the day of the rally. "We need to put morals back into our schools."

The rally was in July 1998. Carrera kept his promise and ran against Mantilla, blatantly running on the basis that her sexuality was sinful and that she represented a moral breakdown to society. Mantilla had just come out the year before and was running for her first reelection.

"He ran a campaign based strictly on my sexual orientation," recalls Mantilla, who is now communications director at the health department in Hartford. "He had a van with loudspeakers that repeated all these tired messages, letting people know that I was gay, letting people know he thought I was going to bring it into the schools, that it was a sin, that I would recruit people, untrue stuff.

"When it all started, the first thing I always said was that I protect his right to say these things and I protect his religious rights. But it was very hard, it was very hurtful, and very difficult to go through. It was hard to see my name with all these inflammatory messages."

A brutal murder that occurred across the country would play a pivotal role in the campaign. On October 12, 1998, a 21-year-old student named

was Matthew Shepard and he was robbed, beaten, tortured, pistol-whipped, and left tied to a fence to die by two men. The reason for the crime: Shepard was gay.

The case drew the nation's attention -- and it's collective horror. But the notoriety of the Shepard case didn't slow Carrera down. He kept running a campaign that a growing number of critics were calling hateful. Then he put out a poster of his own that led to a rallying cry against him that soon became deafening.

shepardmatthew.jpg
Shepard
​The poster were dominated by the words, "No Metas La Pata," which translates to "don't mess up" or "don't put your foot in it." The problem was that "pata," which Carrera emphasized with bold print, doubles as a homosexual slur, specifically against gay women.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that Carrera allegedly placed a bulls-eye target on the poster, which some took as inappropriate at the time.  

The poster, which Carrera put up around town and on the Internet, incited Hartford's gay community to action, with the Sheppard murder as the backdrop. Groups organized a press conference on the steps of City Hall to denounce Carrera. Again the Courant reported on the controversy.

"We don't have to go to Wyoming for gay bashing, it's in the 4th District in the city of Hartford," one prominent gay leader, Richard Stillson, told the newspaper. "Rep. Mantilla is being bashed by her opponent and it has to stop. Her opponent is deliberately misrepresenting her. As we saw in Wyoming, hatred fosters hatred and that is not a model that children need to be learning about." 

In that article, Carrera denied knowing that the word "pata" was a slur, a charge that wasn't believed by anyone. When I asked him about the bulls-eye, Carrera denied there was one, though the detail was included in an uncorrected newspaper article. "That wasn't me," he said of the bulls-eye. "That was somebody else."

Carrera blames the media for much of the controversy though he points out that he only had a GED education at the time and has since become a lawyer so he probably would have "articulated" things differently.  

"I made some comments indicating that she married her female campaign manager and is this the type of person you want to have in office," Carrera says. "The media jumped on it because they wanted her to win and they didn't want the evil right wing to win."

Carrera has said in the past he regretted the race though, and it was clear by his avoidance of the subject that he's not proud of it. He points out that even then he came out against the Shepard murder as well.

carrerarubio1.jpg
Carrera, right, with Sen. Rubio
"I condemned that, I that that was horrible," he recalls. "But they went on the airwaves and made flyers and handed out flyers at doors saying this guy was hate speech, you know, 'the hate speech of Mr. Carrera.' It was sort of like Sarah Palin, you know."

So what happened at the polls? Well, Carrera was routed, pulling only 12 percent of the vote while Mantilla got the other 88 (to be fair, it was a heavily Democratic district). He says he's still proud of his campaign, saying he had only $3,000 while Mantilla had about $100,000.

I asked Carrera if he still felt the same way about gay people.

"It's a lifestyle that is legal in the United States and I try to separate the sin from the sinner," he said. "To me, acccording the Bible, it's a sin and God isn't happy with it. But do I go out there like the Westboro Church and picket? No. I have a lot of friends who are homosexual. I have more friends on the left than I do on the right, did you know that?"

Mantilla, who is still married to that same former campaign manager, Babette Mantilla, says she was surprised to learn that Carrera had resurfaced in Fort Lauderdale with the Tea Party.

"I just didn't think that the kind of campaign he ran -- it was so over the top -- that it was the type of activity that people wouldn't buy at the polls," she said. "I hope if he's using some of the same tactics now, I would hope people don't buy them now either."   


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53 comments
Bobw_33406
Bobw_33406

When will you progressive bozos get it through your drug-addled skulls that the Tea Party movement is solely about fiscal responsibility, and upholding the Constitution? If you must target somebody, why not an anti-semitic, racist like Al Sharpton?

lifelongyankfan
lifelongyankfan

I wonder what all these evangelical nitwits are going to do in 2012 when a Mormon wins the Republican nomination and runs against good Christian Barack Obama. These fundamentalists consider the LDS church to be a cult. Just ask any of them. They held their noses in '08 and voted for McCain, but if Romney is nominated I suspect they'll sit this one out. Which means easy reelection for Obama. Sweet!

Eduardo Especial
Eduardo Especial

Breaking: there is some nut with a gun in the courthouse.

Guest
Guest

Good Morning All! "I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!" Tom Lehrer

Something worth reading
Something worth reading

Some of my best friends are Jewishby Ralph Zwier Tuesday January 27, 2009 from ICJS Research

This article is primarily addressed to our non-Jewish readership, some of whom have sought clarificaton on this theme

It is quite common to hear certain non Jewish people, when accused of anti-semitism, defend themselves saying "Some of my best friends are Jewish". This doesn't go down well with Jews. I want to explain from a Jewish perspective how hollow and false such a defence sounds.

By the way, the issue is not confined to Jews and anti-semitism: As a child I remember hearing someone claim: "I'm not prejudiced against negroes, I absolutely love Louis Armstrong and I have all of Paul Robeson's LPs". These kinds of claims fell on deaf ears to my parents and to me as a child.

There are many variations of the theme: For example, "I have business dealings with Jews", "I love visiting synagogues when I go overseas", "I am profoundly interested in Jewish culture". Recently we saw an innovative application of the theme in "I named my son Shimon after Shimon Peres".

Are you starting to get the drift? In all of these phoney defences the suspect bigot is explaining how he BENEFITS from the group against which he's suspected of bigotry. And in his mind our bigot constructs the fantasy that the group is benefiting from him, ie "I bought Paul Robeson's records, therefore African Americans should be grateful to me". Unfortunately it just doesn't wash. You bought his records for your own benefit. You paid the money because you had to. That's OK, just don't lay on me that I should be grateful in ways that you expect from others.

WhiskeyForMyMenBeerForMyHorses
WhiskeyForMyMenBeerForMyHorses

Ahhh look its David Gergen the establishment’s puppet minion boy....

Wow Carrera is a real piece of work. I think he's an attention seeker that was either dropped on his head a few times growing up or possibly bullied by kids a at school. People like him ruined the initial intention of the Tea Parties. I recall at the start it was Liberty & supporting the US Constitution but now it’s been infiltrated by a bunch of right wing extremists and idiot attention seekers who were neglected growing up like Carrera.

I love his excuse – at the time he had a GED now he’s a lawyer. Your 15 minutes are up Carrera – go hang with Stacy, help her out, you two self loathers would be a good fit.

PULP YOU RULE!!!!!!!!!

Bob Hartmann
Bob Hartmann

This guy is a lying hypocrite who will say or do anything to get noticed. I was just thinking, I wonder how many of his gay friends does he invite to the tea bagger gatherings? Answer - none! You know why, the other gay bashing, right wing haters would call him a hypocrite too. Wow, now I feel better and I can take the president suggestion and move to civil discourse. I would recommend that Mr. Carrera join a GLBT sensitivity training course for ambulance chasers. Ooops, there I go again, but I am not sure the President meant civil discourse about lawyers, I think there are exempted from civil discourse, its not in their educational requirements for the JD.

Bob Hartmann
Bob Hartmann

This guy is a lying hypocrite who will say or do anything to get noticed. I was just thinking, I wonder how many of his gay friends does he invite to the tea bagger gatherings? Answer - none! You know why, the other gay bashing, right wing haters would call him a hypocrite too. Wow, now I feel better and I can take the president suggestion and move to civil discourse. I would recommend that Mr. Carrera join a GLBT sensitivity training course for ambulance chasers. Ooops, there I go again, but I am not sure the President meant civil discourse about lawyers, I think there are exempted from civil discourse, its not in their educational requirements for the JD.

MaryWaterton
MaryWaterton

God hates homosexuality. He will destroy any city, state, or nation that embraces this wicked lifestyle. God is slow to anger desiring that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Nonetheless, there is a limit even to God's patience. Already the thundercloud of God's wrath is gathering on the horizon. Connecticut is choosing its own destruction.

unowho
unowho

Virgie Two of da bestCrosby and Ovechkin HBO rocks!!!

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

DUNNO WHY BUT CAPTION IN PIC MADE ME PEE MESELF HAHAHAHA

Model Citizen
Model Citizen

From Bob Norman:

"Carrera, who ran as an Independent, held prayer vigils outside Mantilla campaign events and claimed that she would promote homosexuality in Hartford schools."

"Carrera kept his promise and ran against Mantilla, blatantly running on the basis that her sexuality was sinful and that she represented a moral breakdown to society."

Quoting Mantilla:

"He had a van with loudspeakers that repeated all these tired messages, letting people know that I was gay, letting people know he thought I was going to bring it into the schools, that it was a sin, that I would recruit people..."

From Gabe Carrera:

"I have a lot of friends who are homosexual."

So was he lying when he said homosexuality was a sin, to get votes, or was he lying when he said he has a lot of gay friends?

If it's so horrible and sinful, why does he have "a lot" of homosexual friends?

Why would "a lot" of homosexual people want to hang out with someone that actively campaigned, with truck-mounted loudspeakers, no less, that homosexuality is sinful?

Is he a closeted gay, himself?

Can anyone trust anything that comes out of Carrera's mouth?

Patti Lynn
Patti Lynn

Why is intolerance so celebrated in South Florida? Marco Rubio is proud to be photographed with this intolerant, rabble-rousing, uneducated idiot. Damn...how backward is FloriDuh to have elected this man.

herbcaenentertainmentaward
herbcaenentertainmentaward

The Tea Party has served its purpose. I think its time to distance from it.In Miami when a Republican gets into office it's always a big celebration in the Cuban community. Everyone is so happy and they party all night. The Cuban people have a great sense of family.

Guest
Guest

He's divisive and advocates hate for those that are entitled to live their lives in THEIR own way as THEY see fit. This should never come into politics where you serve All the people regardless of their sexual preference or religion. I find him detestable, ignorant, offensive and narrow minded.

Christy
Christy

The Larime Project is a play telling the story of Matthew Shepard. Very moving and touchingplay if you ever get an opportnity to see it live it is a play that will stay with you especially if the acting is done well, Well written play.

Model Citizen
Model Citizen

"I have a lot of friends who are homosexual."

This is where the tea-bagging comes in handy.

Guest
Guest

He is a vile stupid man. I agree the Good Decent people have to be made aware, speak out and not buy into his hateful trash.

Gatorfl
Gatorfl

Carerra's a douchebag. He's no different than Bill Maher on Leno the other night criticizing the right.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

You'll have to excuse Gabe. Years ago, when he was campaigning in Connecticut and was making vile and idiotic statements, he only had a G.E.D.

Today, he is much better educated--a graduate of the esteemed Nova Law School--and is still making vile and idiotic statements.

Ulysesses Macauley
Ulysesses Macauley

My big brother Homer says this guy and Scott Rothstein are tragic proof that law schools (like Nova SE) too often teach way too little about the law.

unowh0
unowh0

Anything that Gabe says is good with me.

Linda
Linda

Get it Carrera.....hollow and false !

Bob Hartmann
Bob Hartmann

Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet. Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet. Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet. Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet. Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet. Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet. Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet. Sorry I am not used to this new posting system yet.

sunny
sunny

So, do you speak to GOD often? Does he answer? I'm concerned about you Mary, how long have you been hallucinating and hearing those voices in your head?

KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

Mary, god is the imaginary friend in your head. Get help.

Guest
Guest

God's truth judges created things out of love, and Satan's truth judges them out of envy and hatred. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Linda
Linda

Mary, poor Mary, pitiful Mary, you're very misinformed. God doesn't hate.

Guest
Guest

Very funny Model Citizen.I have no Tea Party friends. I choose not to be friends with those right wing intolerant narrow minded ignorant hateful.......

unowh0
unowh0

Certainly not. The last thing that came out of Carrera's mouth was Model Citizen's cock !!!

Guest
Guest

Patti Lynn, I agree.That's the word intolerant. That word should never be associaed with our "American Way"

unowh0
unowh0

Congratulations for coming out of the closet Model Citizen . I see a run for County Commission in your future.

KattyKat
KattyKat

Saying you graduated from NOVA law school is like saying you made it through the lightest weight law school ever sanctioned to practice law, used mostly for stay at home moms who just want to learn how to calculate and negotiate better while dealing with domestic issues. It ain't Harvard...

Guest
Guest

unowho, do you really advocate what this guy is saying?

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

By the way, Bob: Any thoughts on the new posting system?

unowh0
unowh0

ATG , I'm confused. Looking at all your posts on this thread you make it clear that you are intolerant of the Tea Party. How does that fit in with your version of the "American Way" ?

unowho
unowho

Not the real unowho!!! obviously!!!

unowh0
unowh0

Absolutely. Some of what he says is very true

Guest
Guest

Thank you DB Floyd- Your reply was excellent and I could not have said it better!

DB Floyd
DB Floyd

What an ignorant comment from unowh0...its so absurd to suggest that being intolerant of Intolerance makes someone intolerant. Am I a bigot if I hate BIGOTS? That is what you are suggesting.

Bigots are not a protected class of people in this country. It is not prohibited by any civil rights legislation to discriminate against those who actively spread messages of hate against other people who look, speak, worship or love differently then they do.

I am free to hate all bigots and this does not make me a bigot. God bless America.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

I knew that wasn't you Canuck. Hey, how do you like HBO 24/7, Hockey style? Fantastic stuff!

Guest
Guest

What a low life lousey thing to do!

unowho
unowho

Thanks Glitzy Girl we now have a unowhOrses ass to deal with again ,somethings never change!!!

Guest
Guest

Not in my book! He's divisive and advocates hate for those that are entitled to live their lives in their own way as they see fit. This should never come into politics where you serve All the people regardless of their sexual preference or religion.

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