After big-name Victory Fund brunch Sunday, Annise Parker to kick off re-election campaign

Mayor Annise Parker

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a champagne brunch on Sunday in Houston.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who kicks off her re-election campaign next week, will attend the brunch along with Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns and Gabrielle Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez Jr.

Quinn, NYC’s first out council speaker, is often mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor of the Big Apple. Cicilline became the fourth openly gay member of Congress last year. Hernandez, first identified as gay by Instant Tea, is credited with saving the life of Congresswoman Giffords, who’s currently in a rehabilitation facility in Houston.

The Victory Fund brunch is sold out. It will be at The Corinthian, 202 Fannin St. in Houston.

While election season heats up in Dallas and Fort Worth for the May 14 mayoral and council races, Houston’s election cycle is just getting under way.

Houston’s term cycles are different than those in Dallas. In Dallas, the mayor may run for two four-year terms. Council members may run for four two-year terms. Municipal elections in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and most of the area suburbs are held in May.

In Houston, the mayor, controller and council may run for three two-year terms and elections are held in November.

In November 2009, Parker became the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a top 10 U.S. city. Houston is the fourth-largest city in the nation.

On Saturday, April 23, Parker kicks off her re-election campaign at Discovery Park in Downtown Houston. The event begins at 4 p.m. She writes there will be food, refreshments and an Easter Egg hunt. She said she is looking for volunteers for the campaign. No opponents have officially announced they will enter the race against her yet, but she plans to be prepared.

—  David Taffet

Lupe Valdez, ‘famous modern day lesbian’

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and author Erin McHugh (via Facebook)

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is among the “famous modern day lesbians” featured in The L Life, a new coffee-table book by Erin McHugh that contains 160 pages of portraits and interview profiles. The book, released Tuesday, is selling for $32.50. From AfterEllen.com:

The lesbian phone tree worked its magic for McHugh and photographer Jennifer May, who worked for more than a year to coordinate who and where and when they’d be meeting with to feature in the book. The L Life is 160 pages of insight into each individual woman’s life, and the women in it are from all over the country. From household names like Jane Lynch to politicians and activists like Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Hon. Christine Quinn, the stories they tell are about realizing they were gay, coming out, living out in high-profile positions and moving through life as successful lesbians. …

The L Life may have some lesser-known lesbians on the “famous” scale, but that doesn’t mean the subjects are any less powerful or inspiring. In fact, the book is almost better because of it. Where else do we get to hear about Lupe Valdez, the out Latina Dallas County Sheriff? Or the Executive Vice President and General Manger of Logo, Lisa Sherman?

—  John Wright

Business Week on Annise Parker, lesbian

Annise Parker at Dallas Pride.

Business Week ran a story this week about Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

She told the magazine that when she first started running for office, it was as if “lesbian” was her last name.

When Craig McDaniel sat on the Dallas city council, he used to jokingly refer to himself as Craig McDaniel, F.O.G. Those initials, which stood for First Openly Gay, came from every reference to him by the Dallas Morning News, even when the story was about something completely unrelated. If the story was about the opening of the State Fair, it would have read, “Mayor Ron Kirk, council member Chris Luna and First Openly Gay Councilman Craig McDaniel were at the State Fair today….”

Parker’s office forwarded me a link to the story from Business Week. After rereading my own story about Parker from last week, I noticed I used the word “lesbian” 10 times. Once was referring to Christine Quinn, who heads the New York City Council, so that doesn’t count; and once referred to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, so neither does that one. The others were mostly quoting her, though. And I never called her “Annise Parker, Lesbian.”

But during our conversation, I did ask about some of the issues she’s passionate about — like fixing the flooding problems in South Houston and other infrastructure problems. And we talked about her trade mission to China.

I think I was clearer about why she actually won — most people in Houston got past the whole lesbian thing and voted for the person they thought would do the best job. Her opponent in the runoff was a good guy who would have made a decent mayor but she had a lot more experience than anyone else running and people just like her. Her approval rating has soared since the election.

I’m surprised Business Week missed one important business piece of the story — she’s the only big city mayor who hasn’t had to lay anyone off, mostly because she’s been good at managing the budget.

She’s advanced the image of gays and lesbians as being hard-working average Americans. In my talk with her she said her family and friends were surprised when she ended up running for public office because she was more of a nerdy policy wonk.

She told Business Week, “I’m a middle-aged soccer mom and I appear in public with my spouse of 20 years and my kids. It’s hard to make me scary.”

But the line I really love is, “I take a lot of credit for raising Houston’s coolness factor.”

She’s right. We love Houston’s mayor, but Dallas has always been much cooler.

—  David Taffet

NYC clerk to give gays info on where they can legally marry

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Gay couples can’t legally marry in New York, so the City Council has voted to require the clerk to tell them where they can go to get hitched.

The council approved a measure Wednesday, Aug. 25 that requires the clerk to provide that information to same-sex couples registering domestic partnerships. The information also would be posted online and in the city’s marriage offices.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says the law helps couples know where they can legally wed.

She says it also sends a message to New York state lawmakers that the city wants gay couples to be recognized and will do everything in its power to do so.

—  John Wright