Palm Springs’ White Party may be the premier circuit event in America, and if you wonder what you missed this past Easter … well, wonder no more. This is what it looked like, and some of those men are, well, I need to get back to the gym.
Houston’s lesbian Mayor Annise Parker leads the list of openly LGBT candidates, 75 percent of whom won in elections this week
BIG WIN | Houston’s incumbent Mayor Annise Parker, who became the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a major city when she won in 2009, addresses the crowd in Lee Park following Dallas’ 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, for which she was honorary grand marshal. Parker took 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, avoiding a runoff and winning re-election to a second term.
Tuesday was a very good day for openly LGBT candidates around the country, with three in four of more than 60 winning their races, including Annise Parker, who secured a second term as mayor of Houston.
But the real excitement in the Nov. 8 results came in some of the low-profile races of the day, many in notoriously conservative places.
Four out of five openly gay candidates won in conservative North Carolina, including LaWana Mayfield, the first openly LGBT member of the Charlotte City Council.
Another lesbian, Caitlin Copple, became the first openly LGBT person elected to city council in Missoula, Mont. Attorney Mike Laster became the first gay man to be elected to the Houston City Council, and businessman Zach Adamson became the first openly LGBT member of the Indianapolis City Council.
Alex Morse, 22, won an upset victory over a long-time public official to become mayor of Holyoke, Mass. Steve Pougnet glided to a second-term as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., and attorney Chris Seelbach, who helped overturn Cincinnati’s anti-gay charter amendment seven years ago, won a seat on the City Council there Tuesday.
Data collected independently by Keen News Service and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund indicates there were at least 63 openly LGBT candidates on the ballot Tuesday: 47 of them won, 14 lost, and two outcomes remain uncertain.
Eight of nine openly gay candidates for mayor won Tuesday.
Parker in Houston
Parker in Houston secured 50 percent of the vote in a field of six candidates, though none of her five opponents had anywhere near the funding or organization that she did.
Still, going into the race, Parker had reason to worry. In mid-October, a local television news poll found that voters were split on her effectiveness. Fifty percent rated her job performance in her first two-year term as either “Fair” or “Poor,” while 47 percent rated it “Good” or “Excellent.”
In an interview with KHOU-TV, Parker attributed her poll split to people’s anxiety around the economy.
“We have the worst economy here in Houston that we’ve had in decades, and we have the worst economy that we’ve had nationally since the Great Depression,” Parker told KHOU. “I understand completely why people are anxious, unhappy. It is what it is.”
KHOU noted the bulk of the low job performance scores came from Houston’s unemployed and that mayors in other big cities around the country were polling similarly.
Right-wing groups that opposed Parker in 2009 tried again to portray her as a lesbian activist, creating a video they posted on YouTube that showed a slow-motion clip of her giving her partner-in-life a peck on the cheek after being sworn in.
It also showed a news clip of Parker appointing a transgender person, Phyllis Frye, to a local judgeship, and a news clip of an executive order Parker issued to ban discrimination in public restrooms on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.The video also showed a letter in which Parker referred to her partner, Kathy Hubbard, as “First Lady.”
Other mayoral races
In Holyoke, recent college graduate but longtime local youth and community activist Alex Morse won an upset victory against an incumbent who had been a top town official for many years.
The key issue had been over casinos — with Morse being against and incumbent Elaine Pluta being for.
Morse had served on the one-time governor’s LGBT commission and started a non-profit LGBT group. While attending Brown University in nearly Providence, R.I., Morse worked for openly gay Mayor David Cicilline, who is now in Congress.
In Palm Springs, incumbent Mayor Steve Pougnet, who is openly gay, won re-election over a field of six other candidates, taking 70 percent of the vote.
The only losing mayoral candidate Tuesday was Bevan Dufty in San Francisco, where, as of Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, Dufty had earned less than 4 percent of the vote in a field with more than a dozen candidates.
The apparent winner, acting Mayor Ed Lee, will become the first American of Chinese descent to be elected mayor of San Francisco. Lee became acting mayor by appointment of then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, after Newsom was elected lieutenant governor.
Lee was only the third choice of San Francisco’s LGBT newspaper, Bay Area Reporter. (San Francisco voters were able to rank their choices — first, second, and third — among the 16 on the ballot.)
The paper endorsed Dufty first and the current City Attorney Dennis Herrara second.
One of the city’s LGBT Democratic Clubs endorsed Herrera first, Dufty as second choice, and Lee as third. The other LGBT Democratic Club endorsed Supervisor John Avalos, followed by Herrera and state Sen. Leland Yee.
More election news
In other interesting news from election day:
• An openly lesbian candidate, Caitlin Copple, has won a seat to the city council of Missoula, Mont. — a state with a very sparse LGBT population.
While Copple’s connections to the gay community were not consistently highlighted during the campaign, they weren’t hidden either. The local daily newspaper, the Missoulian, ran an article about her involvement “with the Pride Foundation, which works to connect and strengthen Montana’s gay rights movement.”
• Four of the 63 races Tuesday were for seats in state legislatures. One of the most important of those candidates was Adam Ebbin, who moved from the State House to the State Senate in Virginia, becoming the first openly LGBT person in that chamber.
Unfortunately, the Virginia Senate lost a number of Democrats Tuesday and is switching from majority Democrat to majority Republican, giving the state a Republican majority now in both chambers and the governor’s office.
• Two gay men won Assembly seats in New Jersey: Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora.
• The only loss on the state level was Patrick Forrest, who fell short in his bid for a Senate seat in Virginia.
• Two out of three candidates for judgeships won yesterday. The winners were Anthony Cannataro in New York and Hugh McGough in Pittsburgh. Daniel Clifford, a Republican, lost his bid for a judgeship in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
• All five candidates for local school boards won Tuesday, including Daniel Hernandez, with 60 percent of the vote, in Tucson. Hernandez was the openly gay aide to U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., credited with saving her life after a gunman shot and killed a number of people attending a meet-and-greet the congresswoman was hosting at a local grocery store.
• Of the 41 candidates running for city council or its equivalent in their cities, 28 won. Two others are still pending. Brad Bender’s bid for a Town Council seat in Southampton, N.Y., is too close to call. Lance Rhodes has been thrown into a run-off for a seat on the East Point City City Council in Georgia. •
Mixologists vie for top bartending bragging rights
Tonight, Palm Springs (yes, the Palm Springs destination spot) is once again hosting its Summer Splash Cocktail Challenge, looking for the best bartender in the country. The winner in Dallas goes on to the desert ogaysis on June 2 to match mixology skills with other finalists from around the country. Our own Arnold Wayne Jones was a judge at last year’s event, pictured above, and he will be back again testing and scoping the talent tonight.
DEETS: Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. 8 p.m. PalmSpringsCocktails.com.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization behind the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift its injunction and allow legal same-sex marriages to resume in California as the lawsuit moves through the appeals process.
As you probably remember, early last year federal District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 — an amendment to the California Constitution approved in a 2008 voter referendum — violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection. California state officials said they would not appeal the ruling because they, too, believed Prop 8 to be unconstitutional. But the folks who backed the amendment in the first place and who were the only ones to try to defend it in Walker’s court, did appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit, which issued an injunction that is keeping same-sex marriages from resuming under Walker’s ruling. But in addition, the 9th Circuit, unsure whether the Prop 8 supporters even have legal standing to appeal, have asked the California Supreme Court to weigh in on the question of standing.
And therein lies the problem. The California Supreme Court justices have said they will issue an opinion on standing, but they aren’t in any hurry to do it. In fact, they don’t plan to issue any decisions until sometime after the summer.
And that just isn’t soon enough for some people, and that’s why AFER is asking the 9th Circuit to lift the injunction. We don’t all have the luxury of time, and that includes 78-year-old Ed Watson of Palm Springs.
Watson has joined in Courage Campaign’s efforts to get the injunction lifted by writing this letter and making the video above. I think he says it all:
“Yesterday, I found out the California Supreme Court denied a motion to speed up the Prop 8 trial. They’re going to take their summer recess and come back in around 6 months or so. It must be nice for them.
“The thing is, I am 78 years old, and I have Alzheimer’s disease. I have been with my partner, Derence, for over 40 years. And if the courts drag this out for months and months, I fear I will, God forbid, lose the ability to recognize my beloved Derence when he gets on his knee to propose to me.
“I can’t afford that, and Derence deserves better. That’s why I agreed to be named in Courage Campaign’s amicus curiae letter to the 9th Circuit, asking that the stay be lifted so I can at least have my dignity on our wedding day.
“Please watch this video of my and my partner Derence, then co-sign our letter to the 9th Circuit, begging them to lift the stay while the California Supreme Court drags its feet.
“If the California Supreme Court is going to take its time, then we deserve the dignity of marriage … before I can’t remember what marriage is.”
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.
For several years, Lambda Legal has celebrated “the Lawrence Dinner,” named after the Lawrence v. Texas case that overturned gay sodomy laws. But this year, the political climate warranted a new name: The White Party.
With the victory (fingers crossed) in California declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional, what better way to celebrate in the heat of a Texas summer than with our very own White Party Gala, which takes place Saturday night at the W Victory Park Hotel.
The evening kicks off with a dinner (sorry — it’s already sold out) then turns into a dance party. The $30 cover includes all the champagne, wine and Absolut Vodka drinks you want (you’ve gotta pay for anything else) while L.A. circuit DJ Casey Alva spins from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. Proceeds benefit Lambda Legal.
And because it’s a White Party, attendees are asked to show up in the classiest white duds they can — this isn’t Palm Springs, after all.