Houston GLBT Political Caucus backs 4 out candidates in city elections


Mayor Annise Parker

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus endorsed Mayor Annise Parker for re-election, as well as three other openly LGBT candidates in Nov. 5 city elections.

Unlike other cities in Texas that hold municipal elections in May, Houston holds its elections in November.

The Caucus met Saturday and voted to endorse Parker, Mike Laster, Jenifer Rene Pool and Zeph Capo.

Parker is running for her third and final term as mayor. Houston mayor and city council members are allowed three two-year terms.

Laster is running for his second term as city councilman. When elected in 2011, he was the first openly gay man to be elected to Houston’s Cty Council.

Pool is transgender and running for an at-large seat on the council. This is her second try for the position. Like Parker, she is a former president of the GLBT Political Caucus. If elected, she would become the first trans person elected in Texas.

Capo is openly gay and running for Houston Community College trustee.

“There are a couple of other LGBT candidates running whom we did not endorse,” Caucus President Noel Freeman said.

In an email to Dallas Voice, he noted two other races.

“[City Councilwoman] Ellen Cohen represents Montrose, and has always been an amazing advocate for the LGBT community. She is fantastic,” he said. “One person we would prefer to see out of office is [Councilwoman] Helena Brown. She has voted against every HOPWA contract that has been on the agenda, as well as homeless programs and a whole host of other things. She refuses to meet with me or other representatives of the LGBT community.”

The endorsements were made by 150 members of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. Parker and 25 other candidates attended the meeting.

The Houston GLBT was founded in 1975 and is the oldest GLBT civil rights organization in the South. The oldest organization in Dallas, Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, was founded about two years later.

—  David Taffet

Houston PD says gay sex sting netted 7 arrests, won’t discuss officers’ attire


Houston police say they regularly conduct gay sex stings in parts of Memorial Park, and the one conducted last Thursday was no exception.

HPD spokesman John Cannon said undercover officers engaged in conversation with men in the park and some of the men enticed the officers with conversation and by getting their attention from a vehicle or outside in the park.

The sting led to seven arrests, not more than 20 as gay activist Ray Hill alleged after talking to one of the arrested men. The men were arrested between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for indecent exposure, a Class-B misdemeanor, after they “voluntarily exposed themselves,” Cannon said.

As for the account that officers were wearing Speedos, Pride-related T-shirts, including one with a chrome penis on it, Cannon declined to comment on the attire because police don’t discuss operational tactics.

—  Anna Waugh

Houston’s Jenifer Pool vies to become 1st transgender elected official in Texas

Jenifer Pool

Jenifer Pool

Jenifer Pool is making a second bid for Houston City Council this November. If elected, Pool would make history as the first transgender official elected in Texas. She is seeking an at-large seat.

“We’re in much better shape this time,” she said.

Last election, Pool had 10 opponents, including two who were LGBT, and did not make it into the runoff. She said this time only six others are running with no one else from the LGBT community.

“We’re more organized,” she said. “We have more volunteers, more money at the first reporting period, more support in the African-American community.”

In this election, Pool said she’s better known and has the endorsement of many of her opponents in the last race.

The LGBT community is supporting her candidacy in greater numbers than last time, she said.

“The community isn’t looking for anyone else to support,” she said.

Pool is a self-employed consultant in construction management and permitting and, like Mayor Annise Parker, is a former president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. Pool also hosts Queer Voices, an LGBT program on KPFT, Houston’s Pacifica station. Because of FCC rules, once her name officially is placed on the ballot in August, she will be off the air until after the election.

One of her opponents in the race is Al Edwards, a former member of the Legislature, best remembered for authoring the bill that made Juneteenth a state holiday in 1979. But Edwards also championed the anti-marriage amendment in 2005.

Also running for re-election in Houston are Mayor Annise Parker, who is lesbian, and Mike Laster, who’s gay and holds a district rather than at-large seat.

Houston municipal elections are held in November. Mayor and city council members may run for three two-year terms. This year, Election Day is Nov. 5. The runoff is on Dec. 3.

—  David Taffet

Out TX officials praise Supreme Court rulings, look ahead


Annise Parker

Local and state officials and agencies applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings Wednesday in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and allowing a pathway for marriage equality to return to California.

In two 5-4 decisions, Section 3 of DOMA was ruled unconstitutional and the federal government will have to recognize legally married same-sex couples. But Section 2 that addresses states recognizing same-sex marriages, was not up for consideration and the high court dismissed the Proposition 8 case on standing. So while many officials in Texas were pleased with the DOMA ruling, their attention turned to how to create marriage equality in Texas.

“The desire to legally affirm and protect loving relationships and families is fundamental and one that the American people increasingly understand and support,” lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement. “The Court’s decision strikes down an inequality that has prevented legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as other married couples. Today we take a huge step forward, but this fight is not over. It is my hope that the decision leads to greater acceptance and tolerance — and ultimately to full equality.”

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who’s openly gay, said he was glad the ruling found that gay couples deserve the same federal protections.

“It is the concept of equal protection that ensures all Americans regardless of background may enjoy the freedom and dignity afforded to them by the constitution and not just a privileged few who happen to be members of a particular racial or ethnic group, religious denomination, gender or sexual orientation,” Fitzsimmons said.

—  Anna Waugh

Houston Mayor Annise Parker to kick off re-election campaign Thursday


Mayor Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker kicks off her third and final run for mayor on Thursday.

In 2009, Parker became the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a top 10 U.S. city. Houston limits its mayor and council members to three two-year terms.

The campaign kickoff will be at the Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar St., Houston at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Last weekend, Parker was in Austin addressing Stonewall Democrats at its annual Texas conference. She told Dallas Voice her opponent, lawyer Benjamin Hall III, has indicated he’ll spend as much of $3 million of his own money on the race.

“I fully expect to be re-elected, but I’m going to have to work for it,” Parker said.

Since Parker took office, Houston has earned the title America’s Coolest City to live (Forbes 2012) and others, including:

• Leading the nation in job creation (Houston Chronicle 2013)
• Best city in America to advance a career (Monster.com 2013)
• Number one city where a paycheck stretches the furthest (Forbes 2012)
• Best city in America for personal safety (Mercer Human Resources)
• Leads America in women-owned business revenue (American Express Open 2012)
• Leads America in diversity (Rice Kinder Institute 2012)

To attend the campaign kickoff, RSVP here.

—  David Taffet

Stonewall Dems gather in Austin to talk pro-equality strategy in Texas

Former Congressman Barney Frank addresses the crowd during the Equality Forward Summit in Austin on April 6. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

AUSTIN — Texas Stonewall Democrats met in Austin this weekend for the first Equality Forward Summit to discuss how to gain support for pro-equality measures and ultimately turn Texas blue.

The event was the first collaborative effort between the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus and drew about 150 people for the weekend’s workshops.

About 250 people, many standing, packed a room at the Hilton Austin Airport hotel after a day of workshops on Saturday to hear former Congressman Barney Frank speak about his time in office and the change he expects in the future.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker introduced Frank, during which she said she still considers herself an activist and has since learned of a gay agenda.

“I don’t know of any gay agenda, but I have been doing this long enough that we do have a gay agenda,” Parker said. “Our gay agenda is the ability to have jobs that we love, to support the families that we care about and to pay taxes.”

She said No. 2 on the gay agenda was serving openly in the military, which has been accomplished, No. 3 is feeling safe in schools and being free from bullying, and No. 4 is the freedom to marry.

Parker said all of the items on the list will gain support from Texas votes but it is Stonewall and the state party’s job to get that message out.

“But just as we as Democrats have a message that will resonate in Texas, the GLBT community has that same agenda that will resonate across Texas,” she said. “And when we openly advocate for that agenda, I’m standing here as proof that being who we are, being open and honest, we can win at the ballot box.”

—  Anna Waugh

Annise Parker to seek 3rd, final term; trans woman to run for Houston council

Mayor Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker at Dallas Pride in 2010.


Jenifer Rene Pool

Houston Mayor Annise Parker plans to seek a third and final term in November, and a transgender candidate has launched her campaign for City Council. Houston mayors and council members may serve up to three two-year terms.

On her campaign website Parker writes:

“We’re leading the nation in job creation. We’re ‘America’s Coolest City’ (Forbes) and the 7th best place in the world to visit in 2013 (New York Times). We’re the #1 city in America to further a career (Monster.com). And those are just a few examples in just the last year.”

This year Parker may have some serious opposition. Benjamin Hall III, who served as city attorney under Mayor Bob Lanier (1992–1998), told a local TV station he is seriously considering a run. As of today, he had no campaign website in place.A recent poll by a Rice University political scientist shows 57 percent of voters approve of her job performance and 30 percent disapprove.

Meanwhile, Jenifer Rene Pool, who is transgender, tells Instant Tea she’ll make a second run for an at-large City Council seat.

Pool is a self-employed consultant in construction management and permitting. She served as a member of the Buildings and Standards and Police Advisory commissions and was appointed by Parker to a special blue ribbon task force on buildings and standards. She co-hosts Queer Voices, a weekly radio show on the Houston Pacifica station.

But her biggest asset in running for office in Houston may be the three terms she served as president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. Both Parker and former three-term City Councilwoman Sue Lovell began their political careers heading the caucus.

Pool’s campaign kickoff event takes place from 5:30–7 p.m on Thursday at BB’S, 701 Studewood St., Houston.

Houston municipal elections are in November.

—  David Taffet

Could TX elect a lesbian governor?

Mayor Annise Parker polled 40 percent against Gov. Rick Perry’s 47 percent in a Public Policy Polling poll

Public Policy Polling’s latest indicates that Texans are ready for a change in the governor’s office. The polling outfit looked at everyone from one of the LGBT community’s staunchest opponents to a member of the LGBT community.

Of Republican Primary voters, 41 percent want Gov. Rick Perry to run for another term while 47 percent want someone else. Among Texans in general, 31 percent favor another Perry term while 61 percent don’t.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is the governor’s closest opponent and trails Perry by just 3 points. But Abbott doesn’t have good name recognition. Among voters who know him, he leads 55 to 33 percent. (Abbott is perhaps best know in the LGBT community for challenging two same-sex divorces.)

The poll shows that Democrats have a better chance to taking the governor’s mansion if Perry wins the Republican Primary.

Against three Democrats, Perry would get 47 percent of the vote, according to PPP. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro polls 42 percent, State Sen. Wendy Davis would get 41 percent and Houston Mayor Annise Parker would get 40 percent.

Castro was a strong supporter of nondiscrimination in San Antonio. Davis ran for re-election last year with support from Equality Texas and Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County. Parker, who is lesbian, is in her second term as mayor, making Houston the largest city with an LGBT person at the helm.

None of the Democrats has indicated whether they have interest in running for governor yet. Abbott has told supporters he plans to run.

The general election will be in November 2014.

—  David Taffet

TX megachurch pastor Joel Osteen admits he didn’t choose to be straight

Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen appeared on Soledad O’Brien’s show on CNN along with former Clinton advisor Richard Socarides.

Most of the news about this appearance has focused on Osteen’s quote that homosexuality is a sin.

Socarides asked him if he chose to be straight and Osteen said that being straight is just who he is.

“So how can I choose to be gay?” Socarides asked.

But then Osteen said that he really only talks about the issue on news shows like this when he’s asked about it. He said it’s not a subject he feels he knows a lot about.

“I don’t necessarily focus on that,” he said, indicating it is not something he talks about much in church.

But when pressed about homosexuality being a sin, he lumped it in with other minor sins like pride or lying.

After Mayor Annise Parker was first elected mayor, I asked about Osteen’s appearance at her inauguration. She said at the time she had good relations with him and that homosexuality was not an issue he focused on in his church of 45,000.

Watch the clip below.

—  David Taffet

Annise Parker says Mike Rawlings ‘will eventually come around’ on same-sex marriage pledge

Mayor Annise Parker

But Houston mayor says she’d be ‘shocked’ if Obama evolves on marriage equality before November

During her opening remarks at the third annual Haas LGBT Journalists convention in Houston this past Friday, openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker said that when President Barack Obama called to congratulate her on her successful mayoral bid in 2009, Parker was in an interview with her phone on silent and let his go to voicemail.

“You would think that the president of the United States would have somebody that could call ahead and say, ‘The President’s gonna call you — answer the damned phone!’” Parker told the crowd of journalists. “But no. But it did make for a nice souvenir for about a week until I accidentally erased it.”

She then went on to take “no-holds-barred” questions from the journalists about reproductive rights, conservative Christians, marrying her partner and whether the Democratic party will support marriage equality in the 2012 election. We snagged her best quotes for you below:

—  Daniel Villarreal