Councilmember Adams to challenge Rep. Alma Allen for Texas House

Rep. Dr. Alma Allen

Houston City Councilmember Wanda Adams plans to challenge State Representative Dr. Alma Allen, D-Houston, for the Democratic Party nomination in house district 131, according to a recent post on Adams’ blog. The race will pit two candidates with very different records on LGBT issues.

Rep. Dr. Alma Allen

Allen has served in the House since 2005. She is a former school principle who, during the last legislative session, co-authored HB 224, legislation that would have required public schools to report incidences of bullying to the state using an enumerated list of that included sexual orientation (but not gender identity or expression). HB 224 did not pass. During the special session last summer Allen voted for a budget amendment that included a similar reporting requirement (which also did not pass). She was one of 44 house members who opposed attempts by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, to ban LGBT resource centers from college campuses. Although Allen is not the most outspoken ally of the LGBT community in the Texas House, she has a strong voting record on LGBT issues.

Councilmember Wanda Adams

Adams was recently sworn in for her third city council term. Until redistricting this year Adams’ District C included much of Montrose. She regularly attends LGBT events (she actually cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the Transgender Center) and has a reputation for being open-minded and willing to speak to people. However two events in the last year have some in the LGBT community questioning the depth of her commitment to the community.

In June the Houston City Council considered cutting funding for Marjoe House, a residential HIV/AIDS treatment facility. Adams spoke in the council meeting of the importance of continuing funding, which was opposed by Council Member Jarvis Johnson. When the time came for the vote, however, Adams left the council chambers and was recorded as “absent” (the council voted to continue funding, 10 to 2). Community leaders who had lobbied Adams for her support were disappointed that she missed the vote. “We had been given every indication that she would be in support of renewing funding,” says Robert Shipman, president of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats. “It was extremely disappointing that she left the room when it was time to put that support into effect.”

Councilmember Wanda Adams

Adams support for a Catholic youth homeless services provider has also led to questions about her dedication to her LGBT constituents. The provider, Covenant House (located in the heart of Montrose) had been accused by leaders in the transgender community of denying services to transgender and intersex youth unless they were willing to live in the gender they were assigned at birth. As a private religious organization, argued the agency’s director, Rhonda Robinson, Covenant House was under no obligation to provide services without discrimination. Things changed when Council Member Jolanda Jones threatened to cut the funding Covenant House received through the city unless they enacted a non-discrimination policy that was inclusive of gender identity and expression. While the threat worked and Covenant House is now working with local organizations like the Transgender Foundation of America to change their policies and practices, Adams continued to defend the organization. “Covenant House has long history of doing great work and making sure that our homeless youth are protected without any… type of prejudices,” she told the council, refuting allegations that the agency discriminated in it’s services.

“I was extremely disappointed at Council Member Adams’ defense of Covenant House,” said Cristan Williams, executive director of the Transgender Foundation of America. “TFA and others worked for over a decade to bring them to the table to discuss their very well documented discrimination. For the person who cut the ribbon at the opening of Houston’s Transgender Center to turn around and defend discrimination against trans-identified children made me feel ill. It was like being stabbed in the back.”

—  admin

Houston LGBT community: 'Where's Wanda?'

A few weeks ago I posted video of Houston City Councilwoman Wanda Adams tearfully responding to allegations that she’s anti-gay. The allegations were made after Adams, who represents the city’s heavily gay Montrose area, skipped out on a council vote about whether to fund a facility that provides housing for poeple with HIV/AIDS. Now, a reliable gay source in Houston reports that Adams has skipped out on another matter of significant interest to the LGBT community. Here’s a report from the source, who’s asked to remain anonymous:

In a move that has the Houston LGBT community asking “Where’s Wanda?” Houston City Councilmember Wanda Adams was absent Friday, June 11 from a meeting to discuss housing for homeless transgender youth.  The latest absence comes just over a week after Adams was publicly chastised by the chair of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus for walking out on a City Council vote to fund AIDS housing.

The meeting, which had been scheduled for over a week, had been set up between transgender community leaders and Covenant House, a faith-based housing program for homeless youth in Adams’ city council district. Covenant House receives funds from the City of Houston. Their policy against allowing transgender clients to dress as their identified gender has long been a frustration for transgender advocates.

Adams mentioned the meeting during a radio interview with the program “Queer Voices” last Monday, in which she defended her record with the LGBT community and claimed to be surprised at the anger caused when she walked out of council chambers just before the vote to extend city funding for Marjo House, a facility offering housing for people with AIDS.

The Covenant House meeting was scheduled to start at 11 o’clock. A few minutes after 11 Adams (who was previously employed by Covenant House) called to say she would be running late. At about 12:30 p.m. a staffer for her office arrived and explained that she would not arrive.

The good news is that Covenant House has agreed to work with the Houston transgender community to revise their policies. The bad news is that “Absentee Adams” has missed another opportunity to represent her constituents.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Houston councilwoman 'brought to tears' after being accused of hating gays

OK, I admit it, I’m sick and tired of the other major cities in Texas getting all the fun gay stories this week. First there was the big hubbub over Austin Pride, and now a Houston city councilwoman has been brought to tears after she was accused of hating gay people. How great is that?!

Actually, despite the headline from Fox 26, I didn’t really see any tears in the video. And Fox’s story is wrong too: Councilwoman Wanda Adams didn’t vote against funding a facility that provides housing for people with HIV/AIDS. She instead chose to leave chambers so she didn’t have to vote, which to me is actually worse. (Maybe Adams was just afraid that if she stayed, gay Councilwoman Sue Lovell would tell her to shut it.)

According to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Adams represents both the Sunnyvale area, which has the highest concentration of HIV in Houston, and Montrose, the city’s gayborhood. Adams also used to employ Kris Banks, who’s now the president of GLBT Political Caucus.

Like I said, it’s good stuff.


—  John Wright