Tag Archives: texas lgbt

Houston Pride Festival, Parade Makes Surprise Move to Downtown

Much to the surprise of Houston LGBT community leaders, next year’s annual Pride Festival and Parade will have a new location. Pride organizers announced the news yesterday at a press conference in Downtown.  Here’s the scoop from Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle

The Houston LGBT Pride Celebration, after more than 30 years in Montrose, is moving downtown.

“Pride Houston has outgrown the space required to produce quality activities associated with the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration,” Pride Houston president Frankie Quijano said. “Downtown is already host to many successful annual festivals and parades. The downtown location also ensures greater access to parking, public transportation, hotels, emergency personnel and other facilities within walking distance of the celebration.”

At the press conference, Quijano also said that the changed was already approved by the Board of Pride Houston by a 7 to 1 vote.  Community leaders were shocked to find out about the changes, as it seems that no one was informed of this in advance of the Board vote.  Here’s more on that response, via News92FM

Pride Houston said the decision to move the 2015 parade came because the event has gotten so big. On its website, Pride said downtown can accommodate more people, and has better parking.

But Jack Valinski, founder and former committee member of Pride Houston, said the move came as a surprise.

“I am not necessarily against the move, I am against the idea that they moved it without really talking to the community,” Valinksi said.

The website said committee members met with the Mayor Annise Parker’s office, with the Houston Police and fire department.

But Valinski said the committee did not meet with the LGBT community.

“This is where our heart is and this is where the center of our universe is, Montrose and Westheimer,” Valinksi said, “and the fact that they’re leaving that are without consideration of even talking to people is a real slap in the face to the community.”

Several aspects surrounding the announcement seem suspect as well. Pride Houston chooses this week to break the news knowing that Mayor Parker is on a trade mission in Asia, and therefore unavailable to share her insight on the community’s concerns.

If Pride Houston has indeed outgrown the neighborhood, it stands to reason that organizers want to institute a sound plan for its future.  Houstonians are incredibly supportive of the LGBT community, and want the Pride celebrations to continue to grow.  But having a vote with little public notice, followed by a stealth and sudden announcement was not the way to make those changes happen. Many Montrose businesses count on Pride festivities, not just for increased sales during that one week, but as critical promotion and advertising so that customers will come back throughout the year.  As a longtime partner in the area, Pride Houston had an obligation to work with community leaders and business professionals affected by the move, and should have done so before this decision came up for a vote. 

Even with those huge missteps, this will hopefully be a good move for the City of Houston.  No one can deny the special role that Montrose has played, and continues to play in national LGBT history, as well as the movement for equality.  Today GCAM, the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum of LGBT History, is actively working to establish a permanent museum site for these treasured stories.  Growing pains are being felt all over the Houston region, and Pride festivities are no exception to that swell.

Though the decision has already been made (and Pride Houston makes that very clear on their website), there will be a forum this Saturday to discuss the move and its various implications.  If you have comments, this is the place to share them with others, and have all community perspectives be heard.  Let’s hope that Pride Houston learns from their mistakes on this one.


HERO Opponents File Suit Against City of Houston

Here’s the story from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

Opponents of Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance sued Mayor Annise Parker late Tuesday after city officials rejected a petition the group had submitted hoping to force a repeal referendum in November.

Plaintiff and conservative activist Jared Woodfill said his group is asking a state district judge to declare that City Secretary Anna Russell followed her legal duty and verified a sufficient number of signatures to force a referendum before City Attorney David Feldman illegally inserted himself into the process.

“If he felt there were underlying problems with the petition then he, like us, has the right to file a lawsuit if he doesn’t agree with what the city secretary did,” Woodfill said. “Going in before she’s ever made the decision and influencing her is inappropriate, it’s illegal and we believe the court will agree with us and that folks will have their voices heard in November on this issue.”

Feldman declined to comment until he had seen a copy of the lawsuit, but earlier Tuesday disputed the idea that his involvement crossed any ethical or legal lines.

“The fact is, that given my role as defined by law,  I’m supposed to give advice to city officials, whether they be elected, appointed or just employees,” he said. “That’s part of my role and the role of this department, so I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here in terms of our involvement.”

This move was to be expected, which is why Mayor Parker decided to delay the new ordinance while all of the legal battles are being worked out.  Plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit were Ex-Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill, almost convicted criminal Steven Hotze, Pastor F.N. Williams Sr. and Pastor Max Miller.  Noticeably absent from the plaintiff list was Pastor and Kendall Baker, whom has had his own trouble with the law. Rest assured, it ain’t no “family values” Brady Bunch.

UPDATE:  Be sure to visit Lone Star Q for an excellent post on the lawsuit as well.  Here is some critical information that they have published…

The lawsuit alleges that last Friday, City Secretary Anna Russell determined there were approximately 17,846 valid signatures on the petition, more than the 17,269 needed to qualify for the ballot. However, on Monday, Parker and City Attorney David Feldman held a press conference to announce that the petition contained only 15,249 valid signatures.

Given that there is a significant disagreement between the City Secretary’s numbers from Friday, and the announcement on Monday, this could certainly strengthen the plaintiff’s case in the lawsuit.  Kudos to Lone Star Q for publishing not only this information, but including both the lawsuit and City Secretary’s official memo, dated Friday August 1st.

(Steven Hotze.  photo credit:  Death and Taxes mag

BREAKING: HERO Opponents FAIL At Recall Attempt

It appears that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance has survived an attempt to be forced onto the ballot.  According to City Secretary Anna Russell, opposing forces to the new law did not successfully attain the over 17,000 signatures needed to require a referendum.  According to Janice Evans in the Mayor’s office (via Twitter), the city was able to verify only 15,249 signatures of those turned in.

Even before the H.E.R.O.’s final passage, opponents had begun to organize in the effort to defeat the law.  From those with the HOUequality group, an independent community effort that was also checking petitions separately from the City Secretary, it was clear that some pages had to be thrown out because their collection dates were before the law was signed by the Mayor. In other cases, people printed their name and then didn’t sign, or their information was illegible.  Another issue seen by the independent group was that petition collector were not City of Houston voters.  These are just a couple of reasons that municipal officials likely invalidated petition pages.

“There are simply too many documents and irregularities to overlook.  The petition is invalid.”  City Attorney Feldman said.

“Clearly the majority of Houstonians were not interested in a repeal process.”  said Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

However, the Mayor also said that implementation of the ordinance will be delayed, as further legal challenges are anticipated.

UPDATE:  Here is a statement from the group Equal Rights Houston

Opponents of equal rights failed to submit the required number of valid petitions for one reason and one reason only: Houston is a city that doesn’t discriminate. Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance modernized our nondiscrimination laws in a balanced way with the support of the broadest coalition of Houstonians – from the Greater Houston Partnership to the NAACP, Rice University, LULAC, the GLBT Caucus, the League of Women Voters, the Houston Chronicle, public safety professionals and faith leaders. The Equal Rights Houston campaign will defend against any attempts, whether in the courts or at the ballot box, to overturn the basic, common sense protections the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance provides to all who live and work in our great city.





Texas Couple Denied Adoption Of Their Own Biological Kids?!

Most everyone in the United States of America understands the concept of a blended family… A couple gets married, and each member of the couple already has child.  In order to become a more cohesive family, that couple may cross adopt each other’s children.  Given all the legal complexities associated with raising a child, this makes total sense to do with young children.

But apparently in the state of Texas, the basic rights of parenthood are not so simple for the LGBT community.  As one couple in Fort Worth found out, they can even be denied  rights when they are the BIOLOGICAL parents of the children.  Here’s more from LGBTQnation about the tangled web that one judge has woven for this family…

A judge in Texas has denied a same-sex couple’s petition to adopt their month-old twin boys.

Jason Hannah, 36, and Joe Riggs, 33, are the proud fathers of twins Lucas and Ethan, who were born of the same surrogate mother. Each biologically fathered one of the twins, and the boys — who are half-brothers — share an egg donor. One child is biologically Hanna’s, the other is Riggs.’

But neither Hannah nor Riggs, who were married in Washington D.C. last year, are listed as fathers on either of their sons’ birth certificates. They have petitioned to add each of their names to their biological sons’ birth certificates and to cross-adopt, or second-parent adopt, the boys, reports KDFW-TV.

But the judge, who says she “strictly follows the law,” has denied the couple’s adoption request.

Currently, only the surrogate mother — who has no biological relationship to the boys, since embryos were transferred to her — is named on the twins’ birth certificates.

In case you didn’t catch it above, Jason and Joe are the biological fathers of their children… each man fathered a child separately, found a common donor mom, and had a surrogate mother (unrelated to the children) carry them to term.  There are absolutely no disputing the facts in this either, considering that they had a fantastic profile in the Dallas Morning News before the babies were born!!  Yet the court says that not only can the men not cross-adopt, but the ACTUAL fathers of each child cannot be listed on the child’s birth certificate?  Is this even possible??  What would this judge say if a court ruled that he or she didn’t have custody of their biological children?

Whatever the outcome, this case has “United States Supreme Court” written all over it.  Hopefully Jason and Joe decide to appeal this ridiculous ruling.  Yet another example that proves the unending asininity of Texas’ same-sex marriage ban.