BREAKING: Barney Frank to retire

Rep. Barney Frank

Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., is expected to announce his retirement today.

Frank is the longest serving of four openly gay members of the U.S. House. The other three are Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Jared Polis, D-Colo., and David Cicilline, D-R.I.

Frank will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. Eastern time today in Newton, Mass., to announce that he won’t seek re-election in 2012, according to multiple reports.

Frank, 71, is the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. He was first elected in 1980.

The Boston Globe reports that a major factor in Frank’s decision to retire was the new district in which he would have had to run next year.

—  John Wright

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: Chick-fil-A update; Anti-gay lawmakers to have majority in U.S. House

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. After reports surfaced Tuesday that Chick-Fil-A planned to sponsor two conferences hosted by a rabidly anti-gay group in Pennsylvania, the company’s name was abruptly removed from a website promoting the events. Chick-Fil-A also said this on Twitter: “For those seeing reports of a CFA sponsorship w/ the Penn Family Inst, we are looking into the issue and will provide a response ASAP.” Of course, this isn’t the first time Chick-Fil-A has backed an anti-gay group, but the good news is the company still treats us slightly better than chickens.

2. Republicans will take over the U.S. House when it convenes at noon Eastern time today, and the Human Rights Campaign says anti-gay lawmakers will also now have a majority in the chamber. According to a report released by HRC this morning (screen grab above), anti-LGBT lawmakers now hold 225 seats, a gain of 53 from the last Congress. (Read more here.) On the bright side, the House will gain its fourth openly gay member — David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

3. Speaking of Rhode Island, the new governor there, Lincoln Chafee, is calling for marriage equality.

—  John Wright

Top 10: Dallas Dems narrowly survived GOP tidal wave

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While Texas turned redder, Dallas County remained an island of blue. On Election Day, Texas followed national trends turning Democratic incumbents out of office and replacing them with conservative Republicans.

For the first time in Texas history, more than 100 Republicans will sit in the 150-member Texas House of Representatives. As recently as 1983, Democrats held more than 100 House seats.

Several gay-friendly Democratic House incumbents lost their seats in North Texas.

However, Democrats swept countywide races for the third consecutive election cycle.

Among the winners were Tonya Parker, who will become the first known openly gay African-American elected official in Texas. Parker is also the first openly LGBT judge elected in Dallas County. Openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons won re-election, as did Judge Tena Callahan, a straight ally who in 2009 declared Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, for the first time in a generation, Democrats will control the Dallas County Commissioners Court, possibly paving the way for LGBT employment protections and domestic partner benefits.

Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia unseated anti-gay Republican Commissioner Ken Mayfield, with strong support in heavily LGBT neighborhoods in Oak Cliff.

Clay Jenkins, who defeated openly gay County Judge Jim Foster in the Democratic primary, knocked off Republican Wade Emmert in the general election and will serve as chair of the court.

But Republicans retained all statewide offices in Texas, including governor. Anti-gay incumbent Rick Perry was elected to a third full term, easily defeating Democrat Bill White, who’d received a rare endorsement from the Human Rights Campaign.

Nationwide, a record 106 openly LGBT candidates won election, including David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who’ll become the fourth openly gay member of Congress.

In California, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who first decided his city would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was elected that state’s lieutenant governor.

But mostly the news around the country was good for conservatives.

Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives, where the leadership will include two conservative North Texas congressman, Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions.

In the Senate, the Democratic lead was cut to 51 seats plus two Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

While tea party-affiliated candidates won a number of Texas seats, Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s tea party opponent received only 25 percent of the vote.

With the Republican majority in the House, most agree there’s little chance the 112th Congress will pass any pro-LGBT legislation. Incoming House members have already threatened to work on a repeal of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Count on the Senate, however, to stop any anti-gay bills from making their way to the White House.

Other troubling signs for the LGBT community included an election in Iowa, where three judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage were defeated after a multimmillion campaign by the religous right. Anti-gay activists have begun a movement to impeach the remaining four.

Because of Republican gains, the LGBT community is not looking for additional advances in equality legislation in 2011 on the federal level. However, some state legislatures and the courts may provide some bright spots.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Cicilline becomes 4th gay member of Congress

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is reporting that Providence Mayor David Cicilline has won his race for Congress in Rhode Island.

“Mayor Cicilline will be a strong advocate for all Rhode Islanders, but he will also be an authentic voice for the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans who long for the day when we will be treated equally under law,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. “We are enormously proud of him and grateful to Rhode Island voters.”

Cicilline will join openly gay Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado, all Democrats.

—  John Wright

Joe Mosca becomes Los Angeles County's 5th openly gay mayor or mayor pro tem

Mayor Joe Mosca and his son Gabrielle
Mayor Joe Mosca and his son Gabrielle

Joe Mosca was named mayor of Sierra Madre in Los Angeles County this week, according to the Pasadena Star-News. Mosca and his partner have a 3-year-old son.

The night of Mosca’s appointment, his parents were visiting from Providence, R.I., a city that also, coincidentally, has a gay mayor, David Cicilline.

Mosca becomes the fifth openly gay mayor or mayor pro tem in Los Angeles County, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

The others are Mayor Jeffrey Prang and Mayor Pro Tem John Heilman of West Hollywood, Mayor Mike Gin of Redondo Beach and Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Ward of Manhattan Beach.

—  David Taffet