Measure would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in Houston

Charter amendment could also allow DP benefits for city workers

DANIEL WILLIAMS  |  Contributing Writer

HOUSTON — Long-brewing plans to place a city-wide non-discrimination policy before Houston voters became public this week.

Since December a coalition of organizations and leaders have been working to draft a city charter amendment that would make it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment or public accommodations on the basis of  “age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical characteristic.”

The amendment would also remove anti-LGBT language added to the Houston city charter in 1985 and 2001 — which could allow the City Council to vote to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of municipal employees.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who famously became the only out LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city in 2009, has declined to comment on the proposed charter amendment until the language is finalized. She told the Houston Chronicle: “I believe it’s important for the city of Houston to send a signal to the world that we welcome everybody and that we treat everybody equally, and depending on the elements of what was actually in it, I might or might not support it,”

According to Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman, the prospect of Houston voters approving the non-discrimination amendment has ramifications for efforts to pass similar measures in the state Legislature.

“Nondiscrimination in Houston builds a better case for us when we go for nondiscrimination in Austin,” said Coleman. “To be able to tell representatives that they represent areas that already support these efforts is very helpful.”

The cities of Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth all already have similar nondiscrimination ordinances and offer DP benefits to employees.

But Houston’s form of governance makes this effort unique. While the City Council is empowered to pass city ordinances covering issues of discrimination, they can be overturned by popular vote if those opposing the ordinance collect 20,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

That was the case in 1985 after Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire pushed through the council the city’s first protections for gay and lesbian Houstonians (no protections were provided for the bisexual or transgender communities).

A coalition of right-wing voters led by Louie Welch, then president of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, was able to place the issue on a city-wide ballot, claiming the policy “promoted the homosexual lifestyle.” The group also recruited a “straight slate” of candidates to run against City Council members who had favored the protections, with Welch running against Whitmire.

The public vote on nondiscrimination was held in June 1985 and Welch’s forces prevailed, but the city’s temperament had changed by the time of the City Council and mayoral races in November. A comment of Welch’s that the solution to the AIDS crisis was to “shoot the queers” was aired on local TV and few in Houston wished to be associated with him after that. The “straight slate” failed to capture a single City Council seat and Whitmire remained mayor, but the defeat of the city’s nondiscrimination policy remained.

By 1998 Houston had changed: Annise Parker was serving as the city’s first out lesbian city council member and Houston boasted the state’s first out gay judge, John Paul Barnich. Mayor Lee Brown, sensing the change, issued an executive order protecting LGBT city employees from employment discrimination. But the city had not changed that much. Councilman Rob Todd led efforts to fight the order in court, arguing that since voters rejected city-wide protections from discrimination in 1985, it was inappropriate for the mayor to institute them without voter approval. The city spent the next three years defending the policy in court, finally emerging victorious.

The joy of that 2001 victory would be shortlived, however. That year Houston’s voters approved another amendment to the city charter, this time prohibiting the city from providing domestic partner benefits for city employees. In a narrow defeat, just over 51 percent of voters decided that the city should not offer competitive benefits.

The current proposed non-discrimination amendment would remove the language added in 1985 and 2001. While it would provide non-discrimination protections it would not require the city to offer benefits of any kind to the spouses of LGBT city employees, leaving that question back in the hands of the City Council.

The organizers of the current effort are confident that this year is the year for victory.

Noel Freeman, the president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, which is spearheading the effort, explains that the previous votes occurred in “non-presidential years,”when voter turnout in general is low, and conservative voters make up a larger percentage of the electorate.

Additionally, polling by Equality Texas in 2010 showed that 80 percent of Houstonians support employment protections for gay and lesbian people.

In order to place the non-discrimination amendment on the November ballot the coalition supporting it will need to collect 20,000 signatures of registered Houston voters and submit them to the city clerk. Freeman says that the final charter amendment language is still under consideration and that once it is finalized the group will begin collecting signatures.

Even former Councilman Todd, who once fought the city’s policy of non-discrimination for LGBT employees, supports the current effort.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Another Signal For Palin 2012

Sarah Palin has hired longtime Republican strategist Michael Glassner as chief of staff for SarahPAC. Politicos say this is the strongest signal yet that Mama Grizzly plans to run for president. After all, why else would an unemployed former reality show star need someone like Glassner?

Michael Glassner, who first worked with Ms. Palin during her 2008 vice presidential campaign, will become the top political adviser to Ms. Palin and will coordinate her political activities through her political action committee, SarahPAC. “We are very grateful that he is bringing his expertise to our enterprise,” Tim Crawford, the treasurer of SarahPAC, said in an interview on Saturday. He confirmed that Ms. Palin has hired Mr. Glassner, which was first reported Friday evening by CNN.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

God created marriage equality to signal Judgment Day on May 21, 2011

In 1992 televangelist & radio host Harold Camping suggested in his book 1994? that Judgment Day would happen somewhere between September 15 and 17, 1994. He does not know the exact day because Scripture says ‘no man knows the day nor the hour’ (Matt. 24:36). But according to Camping we can certainly know the month and the year that Christ will return.”

Botched that one.  But now the scamster is back with a New! Improved! endtimes date of May 21, 2011 that he’s super sure of because God has provided an unmistakable sign: Gay Pride: Planned by God as a Sign of the End.  Got that?  Gay pride is the work of God!  Camping’s radical-right colleagues have got to be choking on that one.  Not to mention Camping says that true believers should abandon the churches.

GAY PRIDE & SAME SEX MARRIAGE SUCCESSES; A SIGN FROM GOD THAT JUDGMENT DAY IS VERY NEAR

The world-wide success of the Gay Pride/Same Sex Marriage movement is a dramatic sign provided by God to warn the world that the world is on the threshold of Judgment Day.

In the Bible God has given a number of signs to warn the world that Judgment Day and the end of the world are very close. …But no sign is as dramatic and clear as the phenomenal world-wide success of the Gay Pride movement. In the Bible God describes His involvement with this dramatic movement. Remember, each and every word in the original languages of the Bible came from the lips of God. [snip]

Thus in Romans 1:24 and 1:26 God is declaring that God planned to deliver up the world to gross homosexual and lesbian activity.

How strange! Why would God do this?  …[I]t is God’s mercy that normally He restrains the natural tendencies of mankind to be extremely sinful. …Because of what God teaches us in Romans 1:24-27 of the Bible, we can know that the present day phenomenon of the Gay Pride movement is a result of the fact that God has removed His restraints on sin. As a result an otherwise shameful and unique sin such as homosexuality has become widely practiced and accepted by mankind.

Thus we learn that God has planned today’s situation of Gay Pride and same-sex marriages to show the world that it is on the threshold of Judgment Day. He has shown us that an obviously parallel situation exists between Sodom, when it was on the threshold of destruction, and the world of our day, which is on the threshold of destruction.

Both have the public unique sin of homosexuality (going after strange flesh) loudly and proudly displayed. …

Therefore we can know that by means of the continuing worldwide successes of the Gay Pride, same-sex marriage movement, God has given convincing evidence that the world is on the

threshold of Judgment Day.

This conclusion is not offered because it is the opinion of some Bible scholar. It is said because this is what God teaches in the Bible. This dramatic sign which increasingly is in evidence all over the world fits perfectly with the solid Biblical teaching that May 21, 2011 will be the first day of the Day of Judgment.

But here’s the real question: If Judgment Day is only 6 months away, why is Mr. Camping accepting recurring donations?  Does he think he can take it with him?  Or does it have more to do with his encouraging people to leave the churches to fulfill prophecy?  Because if they did there’d undoubtedly be more ka-ching! in the world for him.  One wonders whether Camping’s method of calculating the date of rapture isn’t the only creative number-crunching going on.  As we all know, vilifying gays is a reliable cash cow for the religious right.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Video: Huckabee in Iowa, applauds dangerous decision to turn retention process into discriminatory smoke signal

This man wants to be your next president of this supposedly church/state-separated nation, a job that will most certainly come with a few U.S. Supreme Court picks:

[Retention vote] wasn’t personal. It was just business. It was the business of protecting marriage the family. It was the business of believing that there really is a God to whom we are ultimately responsible and accountable, and that we are not merely answering to political governments set up by men, but we ultimately will answer to all things to a holy God who will ask whether or not we held not to a human standard but rather to an eternal standard that supersedes all the of the human standards that can be voted in or voted out. And when we stand by those things it is not personal, it’s business.

Full justice-chilling breadth:







[YT: iowanews1]

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*Our many posts on the gay-focused Iowa retention vote and why it was so wrongheaded/dangerous (regardless of one’s personal view of the judges’ careers, btw): Iowa For Freedom Archive [G-A-Y]




Good As You

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Cindy McCain does video opposing DADT, accuses ‘our government’ of sending signal that bullying is okay – her hubbie is the lead defender of DADT

John McCain is leading the filibuster against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” “repeal” legislation in the Senate (it’s not an actual repeal, but we’ll leave that for another time).  Today, Cindy McCain joined a number of celebrities in a video about gay youth suicide and bullying.  Mrs. McCain’s part of the video condemned DADT and then accused our government of sending bullies a message that what they do is okay.

The woman basically accused her husband of sharing the blame for gay kids killing themselves.

I’m astonished.  And impressed as hell.

CINDY MCCAIN:

Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.

They can’t serve our country openly.

VARIETY OF SPEAKERS:

What’s worse, these laws that legislate discrimination teach bullies that what they’re doing is acceptable.

CINDY MCCAIN:

Our government treats the LGBT community like second class citizens, why shouldn’t they?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin