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

What’s Brewing: Daniel Hernandez, Fort Worth Episcopal diocese; marriage battles intensify

1. In a victory for LGBT-affirming Episcopalians, a conservative Fort Worth group that left the church over its acceptance of gays has been ordered to surrender the property it tried to steal from the six-county diocese. A state district judge on Friday ordered the group to turn over the property — which includes 55 parishes and missions as well as several schools — within 60 days. The group says it plans to appeal the decision, but hopefully this ruling will mean schools like St. Vincent’s can no longer discriminate against 4-year-olds like Olivia Harrison (above) who happen to have lesbian parents.

2. Daniel Hernandez Jr., the gay intern credited with saving the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will sit next to first lady Michelle Obama during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Tuesday also happens to be Hernandez’s 21st birthday.

3. Battles over same-sex marriage are intensifying in Maryland, Wyoming and Iowa.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Daniel Hernandez, bigoted N.C. lawmaker, Palm Springs gay sex sting fallout

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. President Barack Obama and Daniel Hernandez Jr. — the gay intern credited with saving the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — disagree about whether Hernandez should be called a hero. Thus far, however, discourse between the two has remained civil. Hernandez, who sat next to Obama during Wednesday night’s memorial service in Tucson, also spoke to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann after the event. In case you missed the service, Obama also announced that Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time in the hospital. And as Bill Maher put it, now it’s time for the rest of the nation to open its eyes. Watch Obama’s full speech here.

2. The government shouldn’t spend money to treat people with HIV/AIDS who “caused it by the way they live,” according to Instant Tea’s official Bigot of the Day, North Carolina State Rep. Larry Brown. “I’m not opposed to helping a child born with HIV or something, but I don’t condone spending taxpayers’ money to help people living in perverted lifestyles.” (Winston-Salem Journal)

3. When the Dallas Police Department conducts one of its gay sex stings, it’s business as usual. But when it happens in Palm Springs, Calif., all hell breaks loose.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Dead birds and DADT repeal; gay shooting hero Daniel Hernandez; Chely Wright

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Whacko preacher Cindy Jacobs, founder of Red Oak-based Generals International, says the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” may be to blame for the recent bird and fish deaths in Arkansas. Others, however, have suggested that Jacobs’ wardrobe is the real culprit. In case you didn’t know, Red Oak is a little town in Ellis County, about a half hour south of Dallas on I-35. Here’s what Jacobs says in the video above: “Well, there’s something interesting we have been watching — let’s talk about this Arkansas pattern and say, could it be a pattern? We’re going to watch and see. But the blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. Well the Governor of Arkansas’ name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by a former Governor, this was proposed, Bill Clinton. As so, could there be a connection between this passage [Hosea 4] and now that we’ve had the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, where people now legally in the United States have broken restraints with the Scripture because the Scripture says in Romans 1 that homosexuality is not allowed. It could be because we have said it’s okay for people who commit these kinds of acts to be recognized in our military for the first time in our history, there is a potential that there is something that actually happened in the land where a hundred thousand drum fish died and also where these birds just fell out of the air.”

2. The Los Angeles Times draws a comparison between Daniel Hernandez Jr., the gay intern who may have saved the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — and Oliver Sipple, a gay Marine who thwarted an assassination attempt against President Gerald in 1975. It’s sure nice to know that Instant Tea, which broke the story about Hernandez being gay, probably won’t be getting sued like the newspapers that revealed Sipple was gay. And the column is an excellent illustration of how what it means to be gay has changed so dramatically over the last 35 years. …

3. … But we’ve still got a ways to go. Country singer Chely Wright, who appeared at this year’s Black Tie Dinner in Dallas, says the perception that coming out has helped her career is flat out wrong. “My record sales went directly in half,” Wright says in a new interview with Autostraddle.com, adding that she’s also received death threats.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Gay intern Daniel Hernandez, who saved Gabrielle Giffords’ life, on CNN

On Sunday morning Instant Tea broke the news that Daniel Hernandez Jr., the intern credited with saving the life of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after Saturday’s shooting, is gay.

Unfortunately, just a few hours after we posted this exclusive story, our website went down for maintenance. Talk about bad timing!

Anyhow, we thought we’d follow up on our little scoop by sharing Hernandez’s interview with CNN, in which he refuses to take credit for saving Giffords’ life.

“People have been referring to me as a hero. I don’t think that’s something that I am,” Hernandez tells CNN. “I think the people who are heroes are the people like Gabby who are public servants and who have dedicated their lives to public service. So it just makes me happy that I was able to help her in any way that I could.”

Spoken like a true gay Latino hero.

—  John Wright

Gay intern credited with saving Giffords’ life

Daniel Hernandez Jr. is shown accompanying his boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to an ambulance after she was shot on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Daniel Hernandez Jr., a 20-year-old University of Arizona student who’d been working as an intern for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for only five days, is being credited with saving her life after she was shot on Saturday.

Hernandez, who confirmed that he is gay in an interview with Instant Tea on Sunday morning, is a member of the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. “She’s been a great ally to the LGBT community,” Hernandez said of Giffords during the brief interview across a bad connection.

According to the Arizona Republic, Hernandez was standing about 30 feet from Giffords during the “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a Safeway store near Tucson. When the gunshots began, Hernandez ran toward them and began checking the pulses of people who’d been hit. When Hernandez got to Giffords, he used his hand to apply pressure to the entry wound on her forehead.  He pulled her into his lap and held her upright so she wouldn’t choke on her blood.

Daniel Hernandez is shown with Giffords in this image from his Facebook page.

Hernandez used his hand to apply pressure to the wound until someone brought clean smocks from the meat department of the grocery store. He stayed with Giffords until paramedics arrived, then climbed into an ambulance with her. On the way to the hospital, he squeezed her hand and she squeezed back. From the Republic:

When they arrived at the hospital, Hernandez was soaked in blood. His family brought him clean clothes because the FBI took his for evidence.

He waited at the hospital while she went into surgery. He needed to tell police what had happened. He overheard people walking by talking about how Giffords had died. He also heard this on NPR. Later, he learned she had lived.

“I was ecstatic,” he said. “She was one of the people I’ve looked up to. Knowing she was alive and still fighting was good news. She’s definitely a fighter, whether for her own life, or standing up for people in southern Arizona.”

The fact that Hernandez was nearby and able to react quickly probably saved Giffords’ life, said state Rep. Matt Heinz, D-Tucson, and a hospital physician. He talked to Hernandez at the hospital after the shooting.

Eight hours after the shooting, Hernandez stood with Giffords’ friends and staff and told them what had happened. The tall, strong 20-year-old said, “Of course you’re afraid, you just kind of have to do what you can.”

They hugged and thanked him. Later, he sat with his mom and sisters and told them about his friends and the staffers who had died that day.

“You just have to be calm and collected,” he said. “You do no good to anyone if you have a breakdown. … It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots, but people needed help.”

—  John Wright