Houston candidates shy away from anti-gay activist

Posted on 03 Dec 2009 at 10:27pm
By David Taffet | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Gene Locke, in runoff for mayor with lesbian Annise Parker, has yet to reject endorsement from Hotze

As the Houston runoffs enter the last week of campaigning, the issue of sexual orientation has entered the race in an unusual way. Candidates are running away from endorsements by an anti-gay conservative.

Anti-gay activist Steven Hotze endorsed mayoral candidate Gene Locke. After the Nov. 3 election, Locke met with Hotze seeking support, but now he has not decided whether to accept that endorsement.

Hotze has been a leader in opposing lesbian and gay candidates and issues in Houston since the 1980s.

Although Annise Parker, the other candidate in the mayor’s race, is a lesbian and received the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Locke had also sought that group’s support. Locke has said that he supports legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Both candidates in the race are Democrats, but city elections are non-partisan.
The Houston Chronicle, which endorsed Parker in the race, said the Hotze endorsement puts Locke on the spot.

In an e-mail to Dallas Voice, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat, criticized Hotze and said that in previous elections, Hotze has also sent out racist mailers. Liberal white candidates were pictured among black elected officials with taglines such as "birds of a feather flock together."

"Year after year, Hotze and his consultant [Allen] Blakemore resort to the lowest forms of hate-based campaigning," Coleman wrote. "It’s important to see the kind of filth that has come from the people behind the latest attacks in the mayoral race."

Two city council candidates in runoff elections have asked not to be included in a Hotze mailer. Another, who is running against lesbian incumbent Sue Lovell, has accepted the endorsement, saying he accepted anyone’s endorsement in the race.

Only one council candidate simply said he was proud to have the endorsement.
The candidate for controller that received Hotze’s endorsement accepted it but said that he rejects intolerance.

Despite two candidates asking to be removed from his mailer, all seven endorsements were included. Hotze’s literature is clear that all of the candidates he endorsed were not "endorsed by gay lesbian political action committee."

The Hotze candidates also did not receive the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle.

The Parker campaign has been determined not to allow sexual orientation to become an issue in the race. Parker has been open about her orientation, even releasing her partner’s tax returns with her own, but she does not raise LGBT issues.

Whenever asked about sexual orientation, she quickly returns to the topics of flood control in the city, adding more police officers and continuing the policy of fiscally sound government that she pursued during her three terms as controller.

In Dallas, Young Stonewall Democrats of Dallas is teaming with Stonewall Democrats to staff a phone bank for Parker on Dec. 5. They will make calls from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. from Resource Center Dallas.

Stonewall President Erin Moore said, "Bring your cell phone. We got call lists and scripts from the Parker campaign to get out the vote."

Moore said voter turnout is expected to be low. The runoff will be held Dec. 12.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 4, 2009.

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