Tag Archives: Log Cabin Republicans Houston

Sides Weigh In on Houston NDO Debate

Back on October 3rd, I published the questionnaire response from Council Member Cohen, and she not only confirmed full support for the Non- Discrimination Ordinance, but gave valuable insight into how to move it through Council…

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.

EC: I absolutely support a comprehensive non-discrimination measure a consider it to be a major civil rights priority. Demonstrating community support and dispelling misconceptions will be critical in getting such a measure passed.

Not sure whether that last statement is more politics or prophecy, but whichever the case, it’s certainly coming true. In the short time since the Ordinance’s public debut, declamatory shots have been fired by all sides. Here’s more on that from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

The City Council is expected to discuss the measure at a committee hearing next week and to vote on the proposal next month, the mayor said.

Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, said she is aware most of the debate will focus on sexual orientation and gender identity – two groups not covered by federal law – but stressed that the proposal, Houston’s first nondiscrimination measure, is comprehensive.

“It has been surprising to me how many people in the African-American community I have heard from in recent months talking about still having problems getting equal access to the hottest clubs in the evening or restaurants, bars, music venues,” she said. “It gives the city of Houston an opportunity to weigh in and try to help smooth a path for those who want access to those facilities.”

Churches’ criticism

Dave Welch, of the Houston Area Pastor Council, said Parker is imposing onerous rules on businesses for a problem that does not exist.

“She is using anecdotal examples of discrimination, which may or may not occur, based on race and veterans’ situations as a front for her promises to ‘her people,’ as she described them in her inaugural address, the GLBT community,” he said. “It’s dishonest.”

Parker initially had talked of creating a human rights commission to hear complaints, but that idea was left out of the proposal announced Monday.

Contrary to what the article implies, not all churches are against equality. As Texas Leftist readers know, many faith-professing congregations around the Bayou City are proud to support this Non- Discrimination ordinance, and others like it. But from people like Dave Welch, this response was to be expected. After all, he and the Houston Area Pastor Council have led the charge against Parker since before she was even elected, and have opposed her every step of the way. In summation… Haters gonna HATE.

But if a couple of enraged pastors and irate bloggers is the best that the anti-equality side has, then this vote really should be a no-brainer for Council. And in case anyone needed a reminder, equality is not a right vs. left issue. Many Conservative Houstonians are willing to support this Non- Discrimination ordinance as planned, and some, like the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston have been working behind the scenes towards its passage. Here’s what LCR had to say on the group’s Facebook page

The Log Cabin Republicans of Houston applauds Mayor Parker’s plans to introduce the upcoming Equal Rights Ordinance. The ordinance is a significant step to promote the economic development of Houston. The great city of Houston is currently experiencing an economic highpoint, and it would be well served by protecting its workforce from incidents of discrimination. This proposal is good policy which will move Houston forward into the 21st century.

The history of the Republican Party has been one of supporting equal treatment of all people before the law, including supporting the civil rights movement for Black Americans, women suffrage, and the 1964 civil rights act. It is in this same vein that we today urge all city council members and citizens of Houston to support this important step for our city.

As Cohen stated above, dispelling misconceptions about this ordinance is just as key as anything else. Thanks to groups like LCR, we can put one more to bed… Houstonians on both the Left and the Right support equality, and want to see this ordinance move forward. Hopefully Council Members will keep this in mind as they consider their vote.


Immigration Reform from the GOP Side

As returning readers know, Texas Leftist is a site that makes no issue with having a Left-leaning perspective (as though the name was not sufficient enough to decipher that). But even with that acknowledgement, there are many issues that are simply too big to confine to a singular point of view. I also believe that whatever one’s personal viewpoint, it is important to continue conversation with the other side of the political spectrum.

Given all of these things, I was very pleased to be invited to a recent special event. Last month, the Houston chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans hosted an immigration forum for their members. The forum panelists were Tony Garza from the Republican Hispanic Citizens in Action, and Marcus Pena from the Federation of Hispanic Republicans. The forum’s moderator was Christopher Busby, Vice President of Houston LCR. Finally, I had an opportunity to not substitute a left-leaning narrative for the GOP’s opinion on this issue, but hear from real members of the party themselves.

Of course some very quick background… this is the Log Cabin Republicans, one of the branches of the party that believes in full LGBT equality. And this was a small event, held in conjunction with their monthly meeting. No Rick Perry, Ted Cruz or any other “big wig” in attendance here.

Nevertheless, what the group may have lacked in size, they did make up for in substance. The panelists seemed quite knowledgeable about the issues facing the Republican Party no matter what legislation was ultimately achieved. Though there was a lot of “party-line narrative”… talking about how Democrats are doing everything wrong, and don’t believe in solving the issues, a couple of truths were able to be revealed.

The first question was regarding border security…
Given all the discussion around various methods, costs, etc. to secure the border, do you feel that such provisions are feasible and a good component of the legislation?
Pena: As for my organization, we believe that our primary objective is to secure the border. And those that are here illegally… have them pay fines and back taxes for 10 years or whatever necessary. But another issue? The federal government takes forever to process immigration paperwork. They can process our income taxes quickly and passports within a month, immigration is a 10 to 15- year process. Those here illegally must go back to the line, but there’s got to be a way to speed up the process for those who have done everything right.
Garza: it’s important that we establish a path to citizenship for people that are already here, however stringent and however long it takes. The border goals are important, but we have to get this process moving. Once they become… well, not “legal” but recognized members of our communities, we can provide a way for them to stay in the country, pay taxes and not live in constant fear of being arrested and deported.
In dealing with those undocumented persons, do you support the expansion of the guest worker program? 
Pena: Guest workers have to be accounted for, and should not be allowed to overstay their visas. I believe that we should expand the guest worker program, but be more aggressive with visa monitoring and enforcement.
Garza: the guest worker program is not working now, and would be even worse if we were to expand it. In many cases, work VISAs are used as a discriminatory tool… Why is it that some people who overstay and are discovered are simply offered extensions (typically the upperclass), while others get sent to detention camps or are deported? If we expand this system, where would it lead? Privatization of VISA enforcement? Bounty hunters? It’s a bad system overall.
If CIR passes, how will it affect GOP politics? Do you think it’s going to help the Democrats, help the GOP, or would it be a wash? 
Pena: I think it would be a huge help to the Republican Party, as long as we demand border security. It sends a message to voters that Republicans actually care about their safety. We (as the GOP) spend so much time stressing national security, and we need to recognize that immigration reform is a big part of that. The United States can’t truly be secure until we account for all of the people that are here. Once that’s done, we can better protects those illegal immigrants who are here and doing nothing wrong, and separate out those that are committing crimes. In the Harris County jail right now, there are a lot of illegal immigrants, and what does ICE do with them? They pull them out, process them, and then let them back onto the streets to commit more crimes. That system isn’t making anyone safer.
Garza: I think in the long-run it will be good for the GOP, but in the short-run I’m not so sure. It all depends on how the party is able to get the message out. If we show that Republicans have a genuine interest in making the country a better safer place to live, that will be reflected by the voters. But if we let racism, discrimination and fear dominate the party’s message, it’s not going to be good for the GOP.

I still don’t quite understand this obsession with securing the border (the SOUTHERN border… as though the United States only has one). Last time I checked, we live in the 21st Century now… if people want to get to this country illegally, it’s as easy as paying someone to make them a phony passport, take a flight, go through Customs and overstay a fake VISA. We can build a fence halfway to heaven, and put 1 million guards along the Rio Grande. It’s still not going to keep determined people from getting to this country illegally. The GOP needs to save the American people some time and MONEY by dropping this border ridiculousness.

But that point aside, I was glad to see that there is some constructive dialogue going on within parts of the GOP. And perhaps that’s the most disappointing aspect. This was the Log Cabin Republicans… as an organization, still far-removed from the most influential voices of the party. Mr. Garza and Mr. Pena’s organizations probably fare better in the mainstream, but it’s pretty clear that this type of dialogue isn’t taking place on the national stage, or with the people in Congress who are making these decisions. The point Mr. Pena made about linking immigration reform with safety within the country… helping to protect undocumented people by bringing them out of the shadows… is one that I wish was being discussed more by both sides. And Mr. Garza was absolutely right that if the GOP continues to approach reform from a standpoint of racist attitudes and fear of the Hispanic Community, they will never succeed in continuing as a viable party. I know… As a Liberal, destroying the GOP is a good thing, right? Actually, what’s most important is that both sides operate from a point of logic and reasoning so that we can actually solve real problems in this country. This forum was a surprising sign of progress, but I suspect that Democrats are still much farther down field on the issue.

My sincere thanks to LCR for hosting an important discussion.