Tag Archives: Marriage equality

Houston Goes BIG For Historic Pride Celebration

Sometimes a series of unlikely events converge to yield what is ultimately the best of all possible conclusions.  For months prior to the week of Houston’s official Pride celebrations, the continued success of those festivities was somewhat in question.  Pride Houston, the organization charged with planning producing and executing the massive festival and parade each year, had some early difficulties when it first announced last October that the signature events would be relocated to downtown… away from their traditional home in the Montrose neighborhood.  The move came as a total surprise to the many organizations that plan and participate in Pride, as well as local businesses who often cited the parade’s convenient location to be of great benefit.

Barely one month later, Pride Houston once again frustrated community leaders by announcing plans to change the date of Pride from the expected last weekend of June (June 27th) to one week earlier (June 20th).  Had this move occurred the city’s LGBT celebration would have been in direct conflict with observances of the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Juneteenth… an event which prior to a contentious meeting with community leaders was unknown to local Pride leaders.

Even despite this arduous journey, in the case of Pride Houston all is well that truly ends well. Leaders rightfully moved the Parade to downtown in part because they hoped to eventually grow the size and scope of the festival.  But because Pride planners also listened to community leaders and decided to hold the festivities on the June 27th date, Houston received the special bonus of being the first Pride celebration in Texas after the Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize marriage equality across the United States.  What resulted was by all accounts, the largest Pride celebration in city history, in a venue well designed to accommodate the roaring crowds.

On June 26th one day before the planned Pride festivities, city leaders gathered for a joyful and spontaneous rally following the day’s court decision.  Mayor Annise Parker, and now formally recognized First Lady of Houston Kathy Hubbard were all smiles at the event.  With the ruling, their marriage too was now official in the state of Texas.


Mayor Annise Parker speaking just hours after the Supreme Court struck down Texas’ same-sex marriage ban, and brought marriage equality to all 50 states.


Houston’s First Lady Kathy Hubbard beams while linking arms with wife, Mayor Annise Parker.  


Prominent allies like State Senator Sylvia Garcia (above) and State Legislator Garnet Coleman also made time to speak at the impromptu event, and show support on the historic day.  


On Saturday June 27th, many Houstonians experienced a new way to get to Pride.  Now that it is being held in downtown, celebrants can park their cars, and arrive at the event via MetroRail.  Patrons parked all along the lines, including sites like Fannin South station, Northline Mall and the University of Houston main campus.  


The iconic canyon skyscrapers lining Smith street became the new backdrop for Houston’s Pride Parade.  


Record crowds attended the Pride Festival and parade.





Houston Social Media Director Melissa Ragsdale Darragh, Mayor Annise Parker and First Lady Kathy Hubbard smile before the parade. Melissa also placed 3rd in the 2015 Pride SuperStar singing competition, and is an avid LGBT ally.  (Photo credit:  Mayor’s facebook page


No official numbers have been released yet, but many believe that this year’s Pride parade had well over 700,00 attendeesshattering previous records for the city of Houston.  Kudos to all of the incredible volunteers, and to Pride Houston leadership for producing a monumental celebration.  It’s safe to say that many Houstonians and out-of-town visitors will be looking forward to our version of Pride next year.

TL rainbow





Marriage Equality Ad Campaign Hits Texas Airwaves

While the rest of the United States has moved forward, the state of Texas, among other stubborn holdouts, has done everything possible to hold on to the past.

The map from the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, gives a profound visual…

US Marriage Equality January 2015

A full 70 percent of the country’s citizens now live in states with full marriage equality.  But seeing how quickly national attitudes have shifted, the national group Freedom to Marry has decided to shine more light on this issue in the Lone Star State.  Here’s more from the Houston Chronicle

The national same-sex marriage advocacy group Freedom to Marry will air a series of television ads in Texas this week, with the aim to personalize the issue ahead of an important federal hearing Friday.

The $100,000 TV buy will air Sunday and Monday, just days before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is slated to hear arguments in a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The ads, which feature gay and lesbian Texans talking about their desire to marry, will air in eight of Texas’ 20 markets including Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley, Waco and Wichita Falls.

In the ad slated to run in the Dallas area, Fort Worth Police Officers express their desire that their gay colleague, Chris Gorrie, soon has the ability to marry his partner.

“Texans believe in freedom and liberty, and part of that is being able to marry who you love,” Fort Worth Police Department Neighborhood Police Officer Jay Doshi says of his colleague. “So Chris should be able to marry whoever he loves.”

“The aim is to show gay Americans are really completely integrated into the fabric of our society,” said Mark McKinnon, a former advisor to President George W. Bush and Texas chair of Southerners for the Freedom to Marry. He called the ads an “electronic blanket” to reinforce a recent wave court cases validating LGBT Americans right to marry in other states.

Here’s the video of one ad featuring gay and lesbian members of the Ft. Worth police force…

In advance of this Friday’s court hearings, the pro-equality ads seem an important step to help further shift the tide of public opinion in Texas.  They may not reach everyone across the state, but if anything they will serve to promote the already growing coalition of Texans who believe in fairness and common sense for all.  They see that not only is marriage equality right for everyone, but it’s also smart business for a growing and competitive state economy.  Let’s all hope that these ads not only achieve their purpose, but also help to advance the cause of other challenges like LGBT protections in the workplace, housing and public services.  Once marriage rights are settled, the fight for true equality will be far from over.

Off the Kuff has more.

Wendy Davis on LGBT Issues

By now, most Texans probably know that Wendy Davis is running for Governor, and that she is one of the first Democrats to have a serious shot at the state’s highest office in a long time.  But as more people become tuned in to the campaign, they may be trying to figure out where she stands on certain issues.  Particularly when it comes to LGBT rights, Wendy’s public comments have been limited at best.  There is also no section on LGBT issues or equality on the Wendy Davis website.

In a recent visit with supporters of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance , the Senator took some time to share her viewpoint. The group was gathered to review the recent petition submitted by opponents of the ordinance.  Davis came in for a brief visit and said that she is a supporter of the cause. She also spoke about the importance of promoting full equality for all Texans.  Although Davis did not to single out the LGBT community directly, she did give us a reminder of why this year’s elections are so important for LGBT Texans…

“We are getting ready to face a very tough legislative session next year, with more members than ever that do not support equality.  The next Governor will play an important role in determining what laws get passed, and what does not.”

This message is critical for people to understand.  Even if all of the Democrats running statewide were elected, the Texas legislature is still likely to not only be heavily Republican, but heavily weighted against the LGBT community, as over 60 GOP have already stated in a recent amicus brief.  If elected Governor, Wendy Davis’ most important power may be that of the veto, especially where it comes to LGBT rights and protections.  Davis won’t be in a position to propose sweeping changes, at least not much that can realistically get passed through the Texas House and Senate.  But she can be the last line of defense for anything that is directly malicious to the LGBT community or the cause of equality.

On the other hand, an Abbott administration could be very disturbing for LGBT Texans.  The Attorney General has just recently confirmed his beliefs linking same-sex marriage to incest and  pedophilia.   That combined with the fact that some of his closest donors are virulent supporters of debunked “reparative” therapy, Texas has much to fear if Greg Abbott makes it to the Governor’s mansion.

For those seeking to end workplace discrimination for all protected classes, their vote should be for Wendy Davis this November.  On marriage equality, Davis has made her views quite clear as well. Here’s what she told the San Antonio Express-News when seeking the paper’s endorsement…

Davis, asked if she would push to repeal the state constitutional provision on gay marriage if elected governor, said, “I would certainly open up that conversation with the Legislature.

“I think it’s important, and I think that people across this country are evolving on that issue and moving in a direction that demonstrates support for it, so I think it is time to re-open that conversation and ask Texans where they are on it to see if that’s something that we might change legislatively if it doesn’t happen constitutionally,” she said.

Personally, I think it is sad that LGBT rights have to even be discussed in the Texas Governor’s race, and continue to hope for a time when those rights are no longer subject to party politics.  But 2014 is not that time.  If you are someone that believes in full equality for the LGBT community, the choice this November should be clear in the state of Texas.

BIG: Utah Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down in Appeals Court

Some very big news today out of Denver, as the state of Utah is dealt another huge blow to its ban on same-sex marriage in an unusually broad ruling.  Here’s the scoop from LGBTQnation

 A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they want to be wedded to someone of the same sex.

The judges added they don’t want to brand as intolerant those who oppose gay marriage, but they said there is no reasonable objection to the practice.

“It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” the judges wrote, addressing arguments that the ruling could undermine traditional marriage.

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. It becomes law in the six states covered by the 10th Circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. But the panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.

The Utah attorney general’s office will appeal the decision but is still assessing whether it will go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court or ask the entire 10th Circuit to review the ruling, spokeswoman Missy Larsen said.

So why is this ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals the strongest yet to favor nation-wide marriage equality?  Well for one thing, it affects the court’s entire jurisdiction.  If that temporary hold were to be lifted, same-sex marriages could immediately commence in each state.  The other big thing the 10th Circuit did in their ruling?  They drew battle lines between religious recognition of marriages, and the obligation of states to treat their citizens equally.  Even in the 2013 Supreme Court ruling striking down California’s ban, the Justices still tried desperately to skirt around this particular issue.

The 10th Circuit Court also threw down “the gauntlet”, finally posing marriage and family as a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.  If as expected, this ruling is then appealed up to the Supreme Court, they will be forced to make a final decision on which is more important… the rights of the state, or the rights of the individual?

With similar cases heading to other Circuit courts, it will be very interesting to see how long the Supreme Court can hold off on the issue.  Make no mistake, marriage equality is winning, and fast.  This ruling, more than any one’s we’ve seen yet since 2013, is sure to have major national implications.

Guest Post: “The debate”

By Fred-Allen Self.

You know, I keep reading things on the “debate” over same-sex marriage and the more I read, the more I feel like people are simply missing the point… on both sides sometimes. What do I mean by that? Well, I’m glad you asked. What I mean is that the debate focuses so much on what the Bible does and does not say, what the merits of legalizing it versus not are, whether being gay is a choice or not, and the list goes on. Honestly, to all of those things I would like to say, once and for all, who the hell cares?

Civil marriages in the United States of America have absolutely nothing to do with what the Bible, or any other holy book of any other religion, says. We are a country that is “not in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” according to the Treaty of Tripoli, so any arguments that appeal to theology of any kind are irrelevant from the start. Regardless of that fact, and it is a fact, there are many people who insist on continuing to bring religion into the civil discussion. People have this habit of saying, “The word of God makes it clear…” and then proceed to say something that the Bible doesn’t now, nor has it ever said, in many cases. Honestly, my biggest issue with this argument is that, as a person who has spent a large amount of time reading the Bible, studying the Bible, studying the history, and reading multiple commentaries I can pretty comfortably say that there is not much that the Bible actually makes clear at all… It is rife with contradictions and inaccuracies. Any claims to the contrary are simply academically dishonest. No, I am not anti-Christian, I am very much a Christian myself, but I have no qualms with saying that the Bible is challenging in many ways. I mean, if the Bible really made things so clear, then there wouldn’t be literally THOUSANDS of Christian sects all claiming to have it right.

My second qualm with this argument is one that arises as a Christian: you see, to me the Word of God is Jesus. The Bible is a library of 66 books from different writers, different cultures, and different times. Using it as a “rule book” for life in the post-2K world is a little crazy. There are things written there that apply to cultures over 3000 years old. Things that, by any measure, are barbaric now. There are also wonderful things there. There is great wisdom to be had from the Bible, but if you really tried to use it as a rule book, without picking and choosing, you would go crazy quickly. I mean, if you bought a table from Ikea with instructions as “clear” as the Bible you would be taking it back and asking for your money back very quickly.

As for the merits of legalizing same-sex marriage versus not… well, as a married gay man I can’t see any harm in it at all. You know, Matthew and I are legally married and the world hasn’t ended yet, as far as I’m aware NONE of our neighbors even know, and our marriage has, so far, had zero direct effect on anyone but ourselves. What has it done for us? Well, it’s saved us a ridiculous amount of money on health insurance as he no longer has to pay taxes on my portion of it. If something were to happen to him, our home would be my home, because I am the next of kin. It gives us every single federal right any other married couple has. The down sides…well, I fail to see any.

The last point up there, whether it’s a choice or not, this one comes up a lot, and it really irks me more than any other argument. I’m sorry, but why is that even up for discussion. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I never chose who I found attractive or who I could form that deep, to the soul, earth changing bond with. I can say that until I’m blue in the face, though, and there are people who will argue with me that it really is a choice because apparently somehow they know better. That’s neither here nor there, though. The reason this gets to me is simple: whether it’s a choice who you are attracted to or not, everyone has a choice in who they marry and who they spend their life with. The end. Whether you are male or female, gay or straight, you choose, in this country, who you marry. So, even if it was a choice, so what? This is MY choice, and not yours. I don’t understand how this logic works: ‘who you marry is a choice, therefore you should choose what I’m comfortable with and not what you are comfortable with.’ I mean, really? Do you realize how selfish and ridiculous that sounds? Of course, my marriage is a choice, who I engage with sexually is a choice, etc… who I fall in love with is not, but that’s a totally different question all together.

At this point in my life I am with a man who makes me happier than anyone in the world ever has. I am with someone who connects with me on a far deeper level than simply friendship and our relationship certainly does not revolve around sex, like many seem to think homosexual relationships do. We have three children running around all the time, we both work, we have chores that sometimes get done and sometimes don’t…. when is there time for anything else? The reason I bring all of this up is simple: Matthew and I are married. Legally. You can say all day long that that is impossible, but we really do have the piece of paper to prove it is very much possible. With all of that said, I honestly do not care if another person doesn’t approve. I don’t care what their religious convictions are. I don’t care what their opinions are. What I DO care about is that they allow ME to have my freedom of religion and morality, that they don’t force their harmful theology on my children, teaching them that their father is a sinful monster, and that they allow other people the same rights. The reason I speak out is NOT to silence other opinions. The reason I speak out is because libel and hate, whether intended as such or not, must be called out for what it is.

This “debate” is not abstract. This “debate” is not theoretical or theological. There are lives and families on the line, literally. Fighting against this is fighting against the health and wellness of thousands of very real people and very real families. Please don’t call yourself “pro-family” if your crusade is going to destroy families. Call yourself pro-straight-family if you must, but don’t pretend my family is not real.

The reason I stated above that “both sides” are sometimes missing the point is because over and over I see this side allowing the debate to go to these irrelevant points. The point is simple, to me: My family is not a political statement. We are not a religious statement. We are a family. We are NOT up for debate. We are human,we are family, and we deserve the same dignity and respect as all others.

A re-post from Fred-Allen’s blog My Bit of (In)Sanity

From ThinkProgress: A Run-Down for SCOTUS’ Marriage Equality Hearings

The folks over at ThinkProgress have done a spectacular job on summarizing the very complicated range of possibilities for what could happen this week. As the Supreme Court has historic hearings on both the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8, here’s what you’ll want to look for…

How The Court Could Rule

A Broad Decision: The best, and most obvious, decision would be for the justices to follow the Constitution and the clear command of precedent and extend marriage equality to all fifty states. It is fairly likely, however, that at least one member of the majority will be too cautious to require Alabama to follow the Constitution, even if they are prepared to order California to do so. If the justices punt on the Alabama question, the important question is whether they hold that anti-gay laws are subject to “heightened scrutiny,” a skeptical kind of constitutional analysis that will make it very difficult for anti-gay discrimination to withstand court review in the future.

A One-Off: The Ninth Circuit proposed a way to strike down Prop 8 while leaving most other states free to engage in marriage discrimination (the court said that voters were not permitted to withdraw the right to marry once it had been established by the state Supreme Court). The logic of the ruling was thus confined to California. Similarly, two of the Court’s most important gay rights opinions relied on very narrow reasoning that advanced equality only incrementally. It is possible the justices will repeat this performance.

Jurisdictional Dodges: In both cases, the Court could potentially rule that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the case, a decision that would cast a cloud of uncertainty over the rights of gay couples.

A Stealth Attack: Several prominent conservatives are pushing a dangerous legal theory that would strike down DOMA on states’ rights grounds, and potentially endanger Social Security, veterans benefits and progressive taxation in the process.

A Loss: Ultimately, however, it is important to remember that this is a severely conservative Court, and even so-called swing vote Justice Kennedy is a severely conservative justice. Equality could lose.”

They even go into detail to examine the histories of the Conservative judges. Remember how the court is currently tipped 5 to 4 in favor of Conservative views? Oh yeah, how could we forget?? Well anyway, be sure to check it out.

Going Proud? Sen. Rob Portman supports Marriage Equality

In a somewhat stunning development, a high-profile member of the Republican Party has “crossed the Rubicon”… reversing his stance on Marriage Equality.

Senator Rob Portman gave the revelation to CNN’s Dana Bash. He said that the decision was due to his Will coming out to the family.

Make no mistake of it… This is big news for Marriage Equality in the United States. To have a sitting GOP Senator reverse his position, knowing well that he must face the rest of his party is big news. For that, I congratulate Senator Portman. But who we should really be thanking here is his son Will. All of the constituents letters (certainly thousands of them) asking the Senator to reverse his stance didn’t do it. The images of same sex protests and weddings in the state of Ohio didn’t do it. As is typical with so many of our Republican lawmakers, it takes a situation that hits home for them to actually see the light.

For this blogger, I will celebrate the step forward for many in the Republican Party. I will be hopeful (like others) that Senator Portman’s leadership will shepherd others to follow suit. But this is more so a time recognize lawmakers that have supported equality from the start. Given that the Senator’s son revealed his sexuality two years ago, and since that time voted several times against equality, today’s news certainly doesn’t make up for the damage he’s already done. They didn’t need a personal connection to the issue, because they DID THEIR JOB as legislators, and represented all of their constituents fairly and equally. And that prize, on the whole, goes to Democrats.

So thanks Senator Portman… You have arrived to the party. But you’re much more than “fashionably late”.