Today is a very big day in the progress towards Houston’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance (aka the Equal Rights Ordinance or Human Rights Ordinance). If you support equality for all Houstonians, then please consider attending today’s meeting at Houston City Hall. The Quality of Life Committee will convene at 2pm, but there is also a rally that begins at 1:15pm in front of City Hall. This session is the best opportunity for the public to comment for or against the ordinance.
Even if you cannot make today’s events, there’s still time to contact your 6 City Council Members. Houston residents are each represented by 1 District Council Member, and 5 Members At-Large.
As was written previously, the other side is working hard to defeat this ordinance, but they can be defeated by a clear majority of citizen support. We’re so close to making the Bayou City a better, safer city for everyone. Don’t let them win!!
A central part of the Democratic Party fundraising apparatus, the Democratic Governors Association is a group devoted to the nation’s gubernatorial races. They pour in millions of dollars each year to turn the highest state offices around the country blue.
But if you’re a Texan, don’t expect much from them to help Wendy Davis get to the Governors’ Mansion. Apparently because Texas Democrats have gone so long without a major win, the big money group have little faith that she can pull an upset. Here’s the take from the Wall Street Journal…
Despite the hype surrounding Texas Democrat Wendy Davis’ run for governor, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association didn’t include her state in a list of top targets in 2014.
Ms. Davis, a state senator, gained national acclaim for filibustering a bill last year that increased regulation of abortion clinics and banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Polls show Republican nominee Greg Abbott with a double-digit lead in the state, which hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1994.
“We’re hopeful in Texas but we all understand that Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” DGA Chairman and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin told reporters Tuesday at the Third Way think tank. He added, “We hope this will be our year.”
Mr. Shumlin singled out Paul LePage in Maine, Rick Scott in Florida and Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania as the most vulnerable Republican incumbents. In the second tier are a trio of Midwestern governors who also represent states won by President Barack Obama – Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Snyder in Michigan.
It’s worth noting that Governor Shumlin’s assessment seems like an initial one, and as the 2014 season heats up, this could certainly change. But if I were the Davis campaign, this should be a clarion call to help fund raise and further motivate Texas’ ‘sleeping giant’ Democratic base. You never know… an email titled “Even Washington’s against us” may play better with Lone Star Independents than had she earned firm DGA support. It seems like Davis has already figured this out. From the San Antonio Express News, here’s the response from Davis campaign manager Karin Johanson…
“The uninformed opinions of a Washington, DC desk jockey who’s never stepped foot in Texas couldn’t be less relevant to what’s actually happening on the ground.
I couldn’t agree more. This race isn’t going to be won because of something a Washington organization does anyway. In Texas, the only Washington that Davis needs to care about is Washington-On-The-Brazos. This state can only be won by re-making the Texas electorate, and getting people to come off from the sidelines to vote. This is Davis’ most important goal, and they should keep their eyes on the prize. In recent week’s she has done an excellent job of letting her independent spirit shine through, and that is what truly matters.
It appears as though the far-right is moving to try and stop Houston’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance from passing Council. Here’s an email received today from Steven Hotze, President of the Conservative Republicans of Texas. In an effort to enrage their supporters, they’ve renamed the planned NDO the ‘Sexual Predator Protection Act’…
Dear Fellow Conservative,
Mayor Annise Parker is introducing a city ordinance on Wednesday, April 30th, at 1:00 pm at City Hall which would create a new minority class for individuals based solely upon their practice of sodomy and other homosexual and lesbian activities. This is outrageous!
This would make those who engage in deviant sexual acts a new minority class equal to African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and other legitimate minorities. This is a slap in the face of true minorities. It is absurd to base a person’s minority status upon a choice of sexual activities or any other activity, for that matter, in which a person is involved. It’s outrageous!
Mayor Anise Parker’s proposed ordinance should be entitled the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.” It would allow men to put on women’s clothing and go into a female bathroom or locker room in both public and in private business locations open to the public. If challenged all he has to say in his defense is that he thinks that he is a woman. Parker and her supporters call this “transgendered.” Most would consider this deviant and perverted behavior. Do you want your mother, wife, girlfriend, daughters or granddaughters to be exposed to this danger? To allow this would be outrageous!
Parker wants to coerce the public, by force of law, to accept her lesbian relationship as morally equivalent to marriage. This violates not only the Texas Constitution Marriage Amendment, but also our Sovereign God’s law for marriage. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5)
While we are all sinners in need of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us of our sins, it would be outrageous to allow any group who organizes politically, based upon their sexual activities, to elevate themselves to minority status.
Please call the members of the Houston City Council today and tell them that you are outraged about Parker’s Sexual Predator Protection Act. Tell them the following:
Parker and her supporters’ sexual behavior does not give them a right to a minority status like legitimate racial minorities, and
You do not want girls and women to be exposed to sexual predators in restrooms or showers.
The City Council names and contact information are listed below.
Also, go to City Hall this Wednesday, April 30, for the 1:00 pm city council committee hearing on Parker’s ordinance. It is important for the council members to know that their actions are being watched.
Parker’s “Sexual Predator Protection Act” will be voted on by the Houston City Council on Wednesday, May 7th.
It is critical that you start calling the city council members today and tell them that you are outraged about Parker’s Sexual Predator Protection Act.
Please forward this email letter to your family members, friends, neighbors and business associates.
Committed to advancing Biblical principles, I remain, as always,
Sincerely yours for Constitutional liberty,
Steven F. Hotze, M.D.
Just because Houston’s pro-equality movement has made some significant progress in recent weeks doesn’t mean that we’ve won the fight yet. As you can see, Hotze and his organization are not above spreading as many lies as possible to get what they want. If this ordinance is to pass, it’s going to take an overwhelming show of support from those that know the truth.So we are clear, here’s some myth-busting from the American Psychological Association…
1.) Sexual orientation is NOT a choice.
2) LGBT people are NOT child molesters or sexual deviants
3) Being LGBT is NOT a disease of any kind. We all have a sexual orientation and a gender identity. It is something that you are born with!!
And many more from years of extensive research from the APA. Remember the meeting at City Hall is tomorrow 2pm, with a rally for equality starting at 1pm. If you can attend, please do so and help create a better Houston for us all. There’s also still time to call and email your City Council representatives. This is for real folks!!
If we could travel back in time just 5 years, it would seem impossible to imagine the pace at which marriage equality is occurring today. To think that even less than 2 years ago, no popular vote granting same-sex marriage rights had been won in any state. That didn’t occur until the November 2012 elections.
But since those first wins at the ballot box in Washington state, Maine and Maryland in 2012, large parts of the United have seen nothing short of a transfiguration on LGBT marriage rights. Sometimes it seems like magic to sit and watch this play out from a southern state like Texas or Arkansas… it feels as though time is moving forward in other areas, yet we’re still stuck squarely in the past. But this swift movement towards equality was anything but magic. It was earned through the blood, sweat, voices, votes and tears of millions of people working to advance these rights. For the past several years, marriage equality has been the central orb around which the country’s largest and most powerful Civil Rights organizations have revolved. You throw all of your time and money into a cause, and hopefully you yield some results.
But a new report from The New York Times reveals that this singular focus on marriage equality is about to change. The movement itself is now turning to those that have stood patiently on the sidelines…
The country’s leading gay rights groups and donors, after a decade focused on legalizing same-sex marriage, are embarking on a major drive to win more basic civil rights and workplace protections in Southern and Western states where the rapid progress of the movement has largely eluded millions of gay men and lesbians.
The effort will shift tens of millions of dollars in the next few years to what advocates described as the final frontier for gay rights: states like Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, where Republicans dominate elected office and traditional cultural views on homosexuality still prevail.
The new strategy reflects the growing worry within the movement that recent legal and political successes have formed two quickly diverging worlds for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans: one centered on the coasts and major cities, and another stretching across the South and up through the Rocky Mountains, in states where gays enjoy virtually no legal protections against discrimination.
“We can’t allow two distinct gay Americas to exist,” said Tim Gill, a Colorado philanthropist whose foundation is putting about $25 million into a handful of mostly conservative-leaning states over the next five years. “Everybody should have the same rights and protections regardless of where they were born and where they live.”
The push is likely to encounter resistance. Gay rights groups will be engaging in communities where churches and other religious institutions are tightly woven into daily life, and where efforts to expand civil rights protections to gays are sometimes viewed as an attack on people of faith…
In some states, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union and groups Mr. Gill helps fund plan to lobby for nondiscrimination ordinances in housing and employment and for legislation allowing gay parents to adopt. In other states, they are building new grass-roots organizations and pushing for the election of openly gay and lesbian officials where there are none.
Those involved in the planning described it as the biggest realignment of gay rights activism in a decade, one that will shift the movement’s focus into territory where there is almost no unified network of support and where gay people are more likely to hide who they are, making them more difficult to reach.
Just the American Civil Rights movement two generations ago, today’s fight for equality has always been about much more than marriage. In my opinion this shift in focus is welcome, and long overdue. When they do get to the south, they will be able to build on the great work of groups like the Campaign for Southern Equality. This fight is already being waged, but with the help of larger resources, it can be won decisively.
For this shift, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign are in capable hands. The group’s President, Chad Griffin, knows much of the territory to which he is taking this next great push. He is a native Arkansan, and grew up in the small, bucolic college town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas (full disclosure, I went to college in the very same town). Knowing the struggles that some of our most vulnerable LGBT Americans face, Griffin’s voice is sure to be an even greater attribute in this “new” frontier.
As Houston City Council prepares to vote on a comprehensive Non- Discrimination Ordinance, the focus of the political debate has turned swiftly to Council Members themselves, as everyone postulates to determine how they plan to vote. But some Council Members are taking this time as an opportunity to hear directly from Houstonians on the issue.
In something of a surprising move, Michael Kubosh whom represents the entire city of Houston as an At-Large Council Member, held a Town Hall to specifically to discuss the ordinance. The meeting was organized by political activist and business owner Jenifer Rene Pool. As some will recall, Pool ran against Kubosh in 2013 for his current council seat, At-Large Position 3, but since the election, the two have spoken numerous times about the non-discrimination issue. Pool served as the moderator for the event.
One of those speakers was Monica Roberts, award-winning transgender activist and author of the Transgriot blog. She shared her personal story of being fired from her former employer because she is transgender. She also made an important point about how the lack of these protections could be lessening Houston’s competitive edge…
“Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, this city is one of two that does not have an ordinance to protect all of its citizens. Those others are cities that Houston competes with to get corporations and high-profile business deals.” said Roberts.
Mike Craig, the operations and planning director for Out and Equal Houston, made some related points in his comments…
“The city of Houston is in direct competition with cities all across the country for people to come here and work. The next generation of young workers… they expect that there is not going to be workplace discrimination. I want those people to know that they are welcome in Houston.”
Some also took the opportunity to question the Council Member about his past statements on equality. When he was running for office, Kubosh indicated on several questionnaires that he would not support a “San- Antonio style ordinance” that extended equality protections to citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. His reply to the questions was direct, saying that since the campaign, he has gotten to know more people affected by these issues and has a better understanding of them from personal level.
Former Council Member Jolanda “Jo” Jones also attended, and shared her insight on why the ordinance should be passed…
“It is important for the city to get on the right side of the Human Rights fight. To me, this is not a GLBT issue, it is a Human Rights issue.”
Throughout the Town Hall, citizens shared their stories, and worked hard to combat some of the “myths” that have overtaken the right-wing discussions in the equality debate. I did not ask the Council Member’s thoughts directly following the meeting, but the fact that it was even held is an indication of progress. Kubosh listened very intently to his constituents, and showed concern for their issues.
The next setting for this debate takes place on Wednesday, April 30th at City Hall, for a Quality of Life Committee meeting. It’s expected to have a large crowd, so if you plan to attend, get there early.
Chances are when someone says the word “emergency” to you, some of the images that may cross your mind are those of an ambulance or fire truck speeding to save someone in danger. Or perhaps the loud sound of alarm bells at a school being threatened by a storm.
But apparently to Gubernatorial Candidate Greg Abbott, the threat of wedding bells and divorce court constitutes an emergency of the utmost importance. This week after a District Judge moved to hear the case of a lesbian couple seeking a divorce, Attorney General Abbott raced to put an emergency stay on the decision. Here’s more from Lone Star Q…
Warning of the possibility of same-sex marriages and “legal chaos,” Attorney General Greg Abbott has convinced a Texas appeals court to halt a San Antonio judge’s decision striking down the state’s marriage bans.
State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe ruled Tuesday that a lesbian couple’s divorce and child custody case could proceed, citing a federal judge’s ruling in February declaring Texas’ marriage bans unconstitutional.
However, the Austin American-Statesman reports that Abbott requested an emergency stay from the 4th District Court of Appeals, warning “to avoid the legal chaos that would follow if the trial court’s broadly worded ruling is mistakenly interpreted as authorization for the creation or recognition of same-sex marriages in Bexar County or throughout the state.”
The 4th Court of Appeals granted the stay on Thursday.
Abbott, a Republican who’s running for governor, is defending the state’s marriage bans against three federal lawsuits, from same-sex couples, including the one in which U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in favor of marriage equality in February. Abbott is appealing Garcia’s decision, which was also stayed, to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It’s an interesting window into the mind of Abbott and his anti-equality colleagues. Challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage ban would result in legal chaos, but cutting billions of dollars from Texas’ schoolchildren is no big deal? He’s also not in a big rush to provide a pathway for millions of Texans to access life-saving healthcare either. Both of those problems seem much more chaotic than a few people that want to marry who they love, or be granted a divorce.
Back to the chaos point, isn’t it time to drop all of the fire and brimstone rhetoric around marriage equality anyway? Calamity has yet to erupt in any of the 17 states that now grant same-sex marriages, and there’s no reason to assume the Lone Star State would be different. When are Conservatives going to stop sounding the alarm on this? Pretty soon, no one will believe them anyway.