Tag Archives: Houston city council LGBT stance

TLCQ 2013: Modesto “Moe” Rivera

In the Second installment of the 2013 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Modesto “Moe” Rivera, candidate for Houston City Council At Large Position 2.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted verbatim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

TL: What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

MR: Modesto (Moe) Rivera

TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

MR: Negative, this is the first time I have run for office.

TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

MR: Government is essential since it represents its voting and non-voting citizens and has the power to rule and enforce laws. Government is necessary to manage its people’s affairs, offers rights and protection and certain services without government chaos would exist. We need to elect officials that look out for everyone’s interest.

TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.

MR: Promote a balanced budget and insure that expenses do not exceed its collected revenue (Tax, services and other revenues). I plan to do this by educating and influencing other members of Council s of such. I will also use my personal financial record, accounting, business experience and education as assets in obtaining a balanced budget. I will only approve responsible and reputable construction projects and service contracts.

TL: With the exception of city government and some other select businesses, Houstonians can still be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender because we do not have a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for general employment. This lags behind other Texas cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Ft. Worth. Do you support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for the city of Houston? If not, please explain why. If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.

MR: I cannot support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for gays and lesbians; but will support a policy of “Don’t ask and don’t tell”. Gays and lesbians need to be protected from being ridiculed, bullied and treated unfairly; I promise to fight and defend them to the best of my knowledge and strength.

TL: There have been an alarming number of complaints filed against officers in the Houston Police Department, accused of unwarranted police brutality towards citizens. A disproportionate amount of this violence occurs in minority communities, and in the vast majority of these cases, officers have gone unpunished. As a result, these incidents cause a cycle of mistrust between Houstonians and the very officers sworn to protect them. What can you do to increase oversight of the Houston Police Department, and help ensure that these incidents do not continue?

MR: Agree that this is an ongoing issue; the Mayor through the back-up from City Council should inform the HPD Chief that this type of behavior and abuse will not be tolerated. If abuse is reported then the Mayor must appoint an independent commission to investigate the incident and take action based on its recommendation. Consequently this may lead to the suspension and or dismissal of the abusive police officer and its chain of command.

TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?

MR: My candor, persistence, demeanor, work ethic, and respecter of social justice before God.

TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

MR: I spend my time training physically, mentally and spiritually and mentoring others.

Thanks to Mr. Rivera for his response.

‘Engaging’ Houston City Council in the Equality Debate

In the wake of both sweeping national changes and historic movement in another Texas city, many eyes are now turning to Houston, and wondering when we will follow suit with a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. But this debate has been very active in the Bayou City for a while. In fact, Texas Leftist asked Houston Mayor Annise Parker directly about her reluctance to move such a measure back in April. Here’s a reminder of that exchange…

Texas Leftist: During your administration, you’ve tackled some of our city’s toughest issues… Chapter 42, city pensions, etc. and as a result have made tremendous progress. But why has so little been done regarding the LGBT community? With the exception of city government and some other select businesses you can still be fired for being LGBT because we do not have a non-discrimination ordinance for general employment. This lags behind other Texas cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Ft. Worth. When will you work to pass city-wide non-discrimination laws for our city? And even if it weren’t to pass council, isn’t the conversation worth having for the sake of all Houstonians?

Mayor Annise Parker: The conversation is worth having and as an openly lesbian politician, it is clearly not an issue I’m afraid to tackle, but see the answer above. I am unwilling to bring an issue forward when I know there aren’t sufficient votes to pass it. A non-discrimination ordinance would be important, but I am more interested in seeing discrimination removed from our city charter.

The city is prohibited by charter from offering domestic partner benefits or from recognizing the domestic relationships of our gay and lesbian employees. It would require a vote of the citizens to undo. I hope Council will join me in placing it on the ballot at the appropriate time.

Of course, that was then, and thanks to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and some very brave city council members, this is now. When asked yesterday if a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance is something Houston should do, this was the Mayor’s response, directly from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle…

“It is absolutely something we should do, and the majority of council members have publicly stated they are in support of a nondiscrimination ordinance,” said Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city. “But this is an issue that requires all of council to be engaged and agree it is time to move it forward. When it happens, we will do that.”

So the Mayor confirms what many in the city have suspected… the majority of Houston City Council is probably in support of a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. But no one knows for sure because the council members themselves have not been put on record for their stance on equality.

Thankfully though, the day has come. If you haven’t checked out Off the Kuff’s 2013 election page and listened to his interview series, I highly recommend it as an essential voter resource. So far this year, he has asked every candidate for City Council whether or not they support domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, and as it turns out, the responses are mostly in favor from the data he’s collected at this point. The question is out there, and unlike past years, Houston City Council will have to answer.

Of course he’s asking only about domestic partner benefits, and not about a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. Which is why I included it in the very first Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire (TLCQ), currently being distributed (via email) to all Houston municipal candidates. If Mayor Parker thinks that “all of council” should be engaged in the subject for political action to occur, then it’s time to help make that happen.

And if you’re wondering where the Mayor’s top challenger Ben Hall stands on LGBT equality, you’re going to have to keep doing so, as he has refused entirely to give an opinion on the issue. Hopefully Mr. Hall knows that whoever stands to be the next Mayor of the City of Houston will not have the luxury of ignoring monumental shifts in the fight for LGBT rights. And if he wants any credible chance of winning this year’s election, he won’t be able to ignore for much longer.

Texpatriate and Brains and Eggs have more.