Tag Archives: Houston GLBT Political Caucus

LGBT Discrimination in Houston Yellow Cab

In a city as large and diverse as Houston, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in one’s own pace of life, and very easy to not be involved in local politics.  That is until local politics gets involved with you in the form of discrimination, malicious activity or an accident.  As ABC 13 reports, this is what happened to one couple enjoying a night on the town…

Travis Player and his partner, Andres Orozco, were dropped off Several blocks from their home in the Museum District recently.

“We thought he was joking until he actually pulled over,” Player said.

A cab ride home from F Bar took the fun out of Sunday Funday for them.

“We gave each other a kiss and he told us to get out of the car,” Player said.

The couple says a Yellow Cab driver kicked them out of his cab after the two started kissing, keeping it PG, in the back seat.

“The man just turns back to us and tells us that he doesn’t give gay people rides,” Orozco said. “And he proceeds to tell us we’re going to hell for being gay.”

In response to our questions, Yellow Cab sent us a statement:

“Yellow Cab immediately investigated this allegation of discrimination, including talking to the independent contractor driver. the driver stated that he would have taken the same actions if it was a man and a woman in the taxicab. Evidently, the driver was overly sensitive to passengers kissing. Yellow Cab does not have a policy about passengers showing affection in taxicabs. in fact, we encourage kissing in our taxicabs.”

“The sad reality is that it is completely legal,” said GLBT community advocate Noel Freeman.

Freeman says in the last six months, he’s heard 4 other similar stories: gay couples getting kicked out of Yellow Cab taxis, for being affectionate.

“There are no laws in the state of Texas that protect people from discrimination in public accommodations like cabs. So someone can be kicked out of a cab because they’re gay, black, because they’re a woman,” Freeman said.

The whole incident serves as a stark reminder why laws like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance are so important.  Were the HERO law in effect today, people like Travis Player and Andres Orozco would have a direct local channel to file a complaint against that cab driver for discrimination within public accommodations.  Changing the law also decreases the incidents of discrimination because people know it’s against the law to discriminate, and they know that doing so could result in them being fined or losing their position.

Yet forces in the city of Houston are still fighting tooth and nail to destroy HERO, based on erroneous information.  For this couple’s sake, and all the other citizens of Houston, let’s hope they do not prevail.

This November, Annise Parker and none of the City Council members that passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance are on the ballot.  But if you care about equality throughout the state of Texas, make sure to vote for pro-equality candidates like Leticia Van de Putte, Wendy Davis, David Rosen and others.  The only way to protect all Texans from discriminatory incidents like this one is to put people in office that care about ALL Texans.



‘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.