Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker named co-chair of DNC’s LGBT Advisory Board

Houston-Mayor-Annise-ParkerThe Democratic National Committee has appointed former Houston Mayor Annise Parker and HIV/AIDS and LGBT activist the Rev. José M. Román co-chairs of the party’s new LGBT Advisory Board.

The board, which is open to LGBT Democrats from all states, will work to advance LGBT equality by prioritizing community concerns and electing LGBT and ally Democrats across the country.

“The LGBT community has made huge strides the past 7 years under Democratic leadership, but with few exceptions the Republican Party continues to fight against equality at every turn,” Parker said in a statement.

In 2009, Parker became the first out LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city. She served for three terms until being term-limited. She was previously a city council member and city controller.

It’s crucial that LGBT voters elect Democrats, Parker said in a statement.

“During the fight to pass the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in my own city, the despicable depiction of transgender people showed us how far our opponents will go to stop progress on protecting the rights of LGBT Americans,” Parker said.

HERO, the city’s comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance, was repealed last November after a yearlong battle with its opponents, who include many Republican lawmakers.

“The DNC’s LGBT Advisory Board will give us new opportunities to elevate local battles like HERO and to share strategies across communities about way to organize and win. I look forward to using the lessons learned in Houston to help lead this effort,” Parker added.

Her co-chair, the Rev. José Miguel Románis, is a prominent LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist based in New York City who is credited for advocating for needle exchange programs in New York City and securing funding for HIV/AIDS research. He also served on the Board of Directors of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

“The diverse voices of the LGBT community have not always been represented in the national LGBT movement,” Román said. “This Advisory Board will help those voices be heard in the Party’s continuing efforts to advance LGBT rights. It will also help shine a light on LGBT Democratic candidates and the efforts of elected Democrats fighting for our community. I look forward to helping lead and shape this diverse body so that we can continue to fight for and protect the progress we have made.”

Board applications are still being accepted. Apply here.

—  James Russell

Texas Democratic Party leaders again refuse to put same-sex marriage on primary ballot

Daniel Graney

As David Taffet mentioned the other day, Freedom to Marry is pushing for the Democratic National Committee to add a pro-marriage equality plank to its platform — and prominent members like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have signed on to the effort. Meanwhile, here in Texas, state Democratic Party leaders are apparently afraid to even ask primary voters whether they support marriage equality.

Back in November we reported that the State Democratic Executive Committee had voted 33-22 against placing a non-binding resolution on the primary ballot calling for same-sex couples to receive “equal access to civil marriage and all its benefits,” and stating that “all state and federal laws denying such access should be repealed.”At the time we noted that two openly gay SDEC members from Tarrant County had actually voted against the proposal.

Now, the president of the state Democratic Party’s LGBT caucus reports that the proposal resurfaced at an SDEC meeting on Feb. 11 — only to be shot down again, apparently by an even wider margin. Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, writes at QSanAntonio:

This time the “no” vote came on a procedural matter. Garry Brown, an SDEC member from Austin, made a motion to bring back the marriage equality resolution for reconsideration in general session. State Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie ruled Brown’s motion out of order “because this was already voted on at the last SDEC meeting and was defeated.”

Brown appealed Chairman Richie’s ruling. A voice vote was taken on the appeal. The outcome of the voice vote was unclear and a division of the house was called. Only 16 members stood in support of the appeal and more than 40 stood in support of the Chairman’s ruling.

“I am very disappointed in the leadership of the Texas Democratic Party,” said Daniel Graney, President of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus.

“Many of these SDEC officials privately tell LGBT Democrats that they are with us on marriage equality and yet, they vote against us in public. Some of these officials who voted against us are LGBT, which makes this even more disgusting. The SDEC is clearly on the wrong side of history here.”

—  John Wright