Majority of House Democrats from Texas decline to sign brief opposing Defense of Marriage Act

Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was among four Democrats from Texas who signed the brief opposing DOMA. Five House Democrats from Texas declined to sign the brief.

With friends like these, who need enemies?

The Texas Democratic Party may have recently added marriage equality to its platform, but obviously that doesn’t mean all or even most Democratic elected officials in the Lone Star State support the plank — or have the guts to stand up for it.

In fact, a majority of U.S. House Democrats from Texas have declined to sign a court brief opposing the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

Five of the nine House Democrats from Texas — the most from any state — are among 60 from across the country who declined to sign the friend-of-the-court brief filed Tuesday before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (BuzzFeed has a list of all 60 representatives who declined to sign the brief.)

The Washington Blade reports that 132 House Democrats signed the brief, which urges the federal appeals court to strike down as unconstitutional the the 1996 law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage. The brief was filed in Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, in which federal employee Karen Golinski is seeking benefits for her partner.

Shelbi Day, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, which represents Golinski, told the Blade that the brief filed by House Democrats “sends a powerful message” and “underscores just how problematic and unconstitutional DOMA is.”

“As the brief points out, DOMA is not the rational result of impartial lawmaking but rather was enacted in haste with no legitimate government purpose,” Day said. “We welcome this brief and applaud the members of Congress who have signed it.”

The four Democrats from Texas who signed the brief opposing DOMA are Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Charlie Gonzalez, Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson.

The five U.S. House members from Texas who declined to sign the brief are Reps. Henry Cuellar, Al Green, Gene Green, Rubén Hinojosa and  Silvestre Reyes. (To his credit Al Green is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.)

In case you’re wondering, contact info for these five — and the rest of Texas’ congressional delegation — can be found here.

Read the full brief here.

—  John Wright

Annise Parker officially files for re-election

Mayor Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city, officially filed re-election papers with the city clerk on Thursday. Parker is seeking a second two-year term in city elections this November. In a speech to supporters at Houston watering hole Howl at the Moon, Parker spoke of her great love for Houston and her job as mayor.

“I’m more in love with this city than I was when I started in this office on Jan. 2, 2010, and I do love this city.  I’m more excited about the job than I was when I first started,” said Parker. “There’s an old saying that if you have a job you love then you never have to work a day in your life. It’s true. I love what I do, I’m excited every day to have the honor of representing the citizens of Houston and helping shape the future of this truly wonderful city.”

Two other candidates have officially filed in the mayor’s race: Kevin Simms and Amanda Ulman. Simms is a former staffer for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and currently serves as the night supervisor at the University of Houston Recreation and Wellness Center. Ulman is the perennial Socialist Party candidate. Neither is considered a serious challenger. Other candidates have declared their intent to run, but have not officially filed, including Fernando Herrera, who ran as the Republican challenger to State Rep. Jessica Farrar, the House Democratic leader.

As previously reported by Instant Tea, Herrera attacked Parker in July for the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s ‘My Gay Houston” Campaign, which seeks to attract LGBT tourists. Herrera specifically objected to an article on the My Gay Houston website titled “The Gay Boys Weekend in H-town” and questioned whether the campaign should be funded with tax dollars. The Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded by a hotel occupancy tax.

When asked if he expects further anti-gay attacks as part of the campaign, Victor Castillo, co-chair of the steering committee for Parker’s re-election campaign, conceded that, as an out lesbian elected official, she faces opposition based solely on her sexual orientation. “That has always been the case,” said Castillo,  “but that is not a distraction for the campaign. The campaign is moving forward in terms of providing more jobs for the city of Houston, building a stronger local economy for the city of Houston — that is what Houstonians want.”

The most recent campaign finance report filed by Parker indicates she has a a war chest of more than $2 million dollar for the campaign. In contrast Herrera reports less than $4,000 in the bank and has raised a total of just over $12,000 in the election.

—  admin

Where are the voices of our straight political allies in Texas on 'don't ask don't tell'?

OK, so this is really one of those Facebook status updates that’s morphed into a blog post. So to my FB friends who’ve already seen it, I apologize for the redundancy. And for everyone else, keep in mind that it’s nothing but an overblown status update, but anyway here goes …

Where are the voices of our straight political allies in Texas calling for the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”? Has anyone heard a peep from any of them? I haven’t. Have you? Now is the time. This to me is a defining moment in our struggle for equality, and the outcome may be decided in the next few days. Where are Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson? Hell, where is Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White? Sure, our allies in Congress will vote for the repeal when it comes to the floor, but shouldn’t we be hearing their voices loud and clear at this critical juncture?

—  John Wright