Frank Mariano Tejeda (October 2, 1945 – January 30, 1997) was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he notably represented Texas's 28th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 until his death.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, he dropped out of Harlandale High School and joined the Marine Corps, earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving a tour of duty in Vietnam. While enlisted, he earned high school equivalency degree; upon his return to San Antonio in 1967, he enrolled at St. Mary’s University, graduating with a B.A. in 1970. Tejeda went on to law school at the University of California at Berkeley, receiving his J.D. in 1974. He returned to San Antonio after law school to work as an attorney, remaining in the Marine Reserves and eventually earning the rank of major. In 1976, at age 31, Tejeda won a seat in the Texas state house of representatives. Tejeda spent a decade in the Texas house before advancing to the state senate. While serving in the legislature, Tejeda continued working as a lawyer and pursued two advanced degrees. In 1980 he obtained a Master’s of Public Administration degree from Harvard, and in 1989 he earned an LL.M. degree from Yale. In the state legislature, Tejeda developed a reputation as a dedicated and tenacious public servant and also cultivated alliances with politicians from San Antonio’s South Side and emerged as a leader of a formidable political coalition with a strong grass-roots base aimed at reform and community activism.
After Texas gained three seats in the U.S. House, Tejeda announced his bid to enter the race for the new 28th congressional district, facing no opposition from either fellow Democrats or Republicans. Reflecting his personal background and his interest in national security policy, Tejeda received assignments to the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. During his short tenure in the House, Tejeda focused much of his attention on the military and veterans. Tejeda earned a reputation as an independent thinker. Though a strong supporter of increased federal funding for education and initiatives to combat poverty, he also opposed gun control and military budget cuts. He voted against President Clinton’s highly publicized crime bill and against the Brady Bill, which restricted the purchase of handguns. In 1993 he came out against “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the President’s proposal to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military provided they did not reveal their sexual orientation.
On January 30, 1997, shortly after the beginning of his third term, Congressman Tejeda died in San Antonio from pneumonia after a 17 month-long battle with brain cancer. He was buried with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.