HuffPo profiles Annise Parker, who’s again falsely accused of violating Texas Constitution

Mayor Annise Parker

Readers of the Huffington Post discovered Monday what Houstonians have known for a long time: Annise Parker’s a pretty cool lady. Parker was profiled by SiriusXM radio host Michelangelo Signorile, who also interviewed her for his show. The profile reveals that Parker (shockingly!) believes that the state of Texas should allow for full marriage equality and (even more shockingly!) some people are going to hate anything she does because she’s a lesbian.

“While it’s been a tough time to be an incumbent at any level of government, there’s definitely a hard-core group here that is just mortally offended that there is a lesbian mayor, and one of my opponents ran specifically because of that issue and raised it at every opportunity,” she said.

That would be Dave Wilson, who landed 12 percent of the vote in the last mayoral election. You can read the full story and listen to the audio of the interview at HuffingtonPost.com

Speaking of people who hate Annise Parker: Last week Houstini reported that the Houston Area Pastor Council attacked Parker for her stand on marriage equality, accusing her of violating her oath to “defend the Constitution” (as we pointed out, the Houston mayoral oath of office doesn’t include anything about defending the Constitution). The Houston Chronicle reports that Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church has picked up that line, telling Parker, “Respectfully, if you cannot uphold the Texas Constitution, then you should do the honorable thing and step down.”

As I pointed out last week, there’s a difference between failing to uphold a law (also known as breaking a law) and advocating for the law to be changed. The Texas Constitution has been changed 474 times since it was written in 1876. Everyday Texans across the state see things they don’t like about how the government works and say they think the law should be changed, whether it’s questioning our tax structure or feeling wearing white after Labor Day should be outlawed.

By Riggle’s standard, any elected official who doesn’t think the Constitution, as it now stands, is perfect should “do the honorable thing and step down.” While it might be tempting to imagine a state in which every politician resigned simultaneously (which the institution of the Riggle standard would undoubted precipitate), the reality of such an event, and the ensuing anarchy it would create, would undoubtedly be counter to the pastor’s wishes for a well run world.

—  admin

Houston Area Pastor Council accuses Mayor Parker of violating oath of office

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker has been quite vocal on the issue of marriage equality lately. Last month she co-chaired the bi-partisan “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.” This last Valentine’s Day she greeted marriage equality activists in front of city hall, declaring it “Freedom to Marry Day” in Houston (an action that carried no legal weight).

Of Course the Houston Area Pastor Council is riled up about all this talk of “freedom” and “equality.” In a statement released today HAPC characterized Parker’s actions as a “declaration of war on the traditional family.” Former mayoral candidate and HAPC president Dave Welch (who famously once claimed that the solution to the AIDS crisis was to “shoot the queers”) said ““The battle lines are drawn again as [Mayor Parker] proves her contempt for the churches of the city, the traditional family and our state Constitution.”

The statement from HAPC also claims Parker “violated her oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution of the State of Texas” by advocating for the legal recognition of same-sex couples, which is prohibited under the Texas Constitution. HAPC may want to check out the Houston Mayoral Oath of Office before making such accusations, because this is the oath Parker took when she assumed office:

“I, Annise Parker, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of mayor of the city of Houston of the State of Texas, so help me God.”

Absolutely nothing about upholding or defending the Constitution of the State of Texas, just a promise to execute her duties and a prayer for God’s assistance. The city charter says nothing about the mayor having a duty to uphold the Texas Constitution. So, considering that the mayor’s oath was to execute her duties, and the charter doesn’t say that she has a duty to not criticize the state, it’s hard to imagine how advocating for marriage equality would violate her oath of office.

But let’s assume that Parker had sworn to uphold the state constitution. Members of the state legislature and statewide elected officials like the governor do take that oath. If we follow the logic of the HAPC, those individuals would be violating their oaths of office if they publicly advocated changing what the Texas Constitution has to say about marriage. Which is interesting because in 2005 a majority of state legislators and Gov. Rick Perry did just that when they pushed through the constitutional amendment that currently prohibits marriage equality. By the arguments of Dave Welch and the HAPC all of those individuals should be removed from office for violating their oath.

I’m starting to like where this is going…

—  admin

WATCH: Anti-gay pastor accuses Mayor Annise Parker of promoting ‘GLBT agenda for Houston’

If LGBT Houstonians needed another reason to run, not walk to the polls, this video from mayoral candidate and Houston Area Pastor Council Executive Director Dave Welch should provide it:

The video, complete with soundtrack appropriate to the third act of a Lifetime original movie, attempts to suggest that Mayor Annise Parker, who is seeking re-election to a second term, has engaged in an insidious plot to advance the “gay agenda.” As evidence Welch provides the mayor’s executive order clarifying that the city’s employee nondiscrimination policy covers gender expression and identity, an executive order policy prohibiting police or city employees from barring transgender people from use of gender appropriate restrooms, and the appointment of Texas’ first out trans judge, Phyllis Frye (maybe Welch meant to say “trans agenda”). Welch also attacks Parker for the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau efforts to attract LGBT tourists, a tactic we’ve already seen in this race from candidate Fernando Herrera.

Welch’s most damaging evidence, however, is the chaste, almost Victorian, peck on the check that Parker gave her partner of 20-some-odd years, first lady Cathy Hubbard, immediately after being sworn in. The horror of the kiss is repeated twice in the video, both times in slow motion so viewers can understand the true terror of two people in a loving mutual relationship. Welch closes by encouraging viewers to show the video at their churches.

Early voting in the Houston mayoral race started Monday. Early numbers show historically low voter turnout with only 2,557 people voting in person. That’s down almost half from the 4,089 people who voted on the first day of early voting in 2009 when Parker was first elected.

—  admin

Gay and lesbian Houston police officers will be allowed to march in Pride parade


The Houston Police Department will allow gay and lesbian officers to march in uniform in the city’s Pride parade this June. HPD Chief Charles McClelland made the decision at the request of openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, KIAH-TV 39 reports in the video above. While this isn’t the first time gay officers have marched in the Pride parade, the right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council is objecting:

“Putting the city’s stamp of approval with our law enforcement officers, on a lifestyle that’s highly controversial and very contentious as a public issue, is something we don’t think is very wise,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council.

Police have been allowed to march in the Gay Pride Parade before. But now, with an openly gay mayor, it’s an issue of increasing concern for some religious groups.

“We don’t think it represents the values of the City of Houston,” said Welch.

However, the Rice study does suggests those values are shifting. Meanwhile, gay rights advocates like Banks believe they still have a long way to go.

“We’re actually still the only major city in Texas? that doesn’t have an ordinance preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Banks.

While police can wear uniforms to march in the parade, they must use personal time to march. The police union said HPD has between 300 and 500 gay or lesbian officers.

The estimate of 300 to 500 gay and lesbian HPD officers seems pretty outrageous. I’m assuming this is a statistical calculation as opposed to a reflection of how many officers are out. Even so, it seems high. By the way, we’re not aware of gay and lesbian officers ever marching in uniform in a Pride parade in Dallas. Part of the reason is that there’s only been one out DPD officer at any given time — the LGBT community liaison officer.

—  John Wright