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Let’s Admit What Really Went Wrong in Houston

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Hayden MoraIt’s a dangerous myth that Houston was unexpected. National leadership of the LGBTQ movement has known or had very good reasons to suspect that our opponents — still reeling from their defeat around same-sex marriage — would seize on trans issues to energize their supporters, refill their treasuries, and create a new opportunity to gain traction with voters and the public at large.

But our funding has been so focused on marriage equality that we were left fighting for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance without the proper resources for political strategy, organizing, and effective, wide-scale public education. We were caught unprepared and that is inexcusable.

The voters’ decision on HERO comes at a pivotal time in our movement and raises key questions for all of us — especially our leaders — about what happened, why it happened, and where to go from here. How much and how quickly we learn from this loss depends on whether we, as a movement, engage in an unsparing and rigorous analysis not just of the Houston campaign, but also the ways in which we have and have not prioritized trans issues.

The reaction to the loss itself is telling. Many whose engagement is bounded by the victory of marriage equality and the goal of passing the Equality Act are left shocked. On the other extreme, for those who spend most of their lives working on the “margins” of our community — the undocumented, the young, people of color, trans folks, and those that hold multiple marginalized identities — Houston is like a distant rainstorm amid an ongoing level 5 hurricane of profound and pervasive violence and oppression. Identifying how and working toward bridging this divide is part of the crucial work that must occur in order for us to develop a stronger, smarter, and more holistic strategy of how to move forward.

By Hayden Mora – Full Story at The Advocate

Houston Destroys HERO; LGBT Candidates Fare Better

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

The election news is in, and it’s pretty bad. But LGBT candidates won a number of races across the country.

Houston HERO

The LA Times reports on the fall of HERO in Houston:

Houston voters rejected a controversial ordinance Tuesday that would have barred discrimination against gays and transgender people, an outcome that came after an 18-month battle pitting gay rights advocates against those who believed they were defending religious liberty. The vote had been expected to be close. But with nearly 94% of precincts reporting, the measure was failing by a wide margin, 61% to 39%. Opponents of the measure celebrated, while one of its leading supporters, Mayor Annise Parker, predicted that the city’s reputation would suffer.

Opponents of the LGBT rights law won dirty. Keen News reports:

But opponents of the measure, the Campaign for Houston, portrayed the ordinance as “The Bathroom Bill” and pounded the airwaves with an ad showing a man following a young girl into a public bathroom stall. The voiceover warned that a vote for HERO would mean “any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom by simply by claiming to be a woman that day. Even registered sex offenders could follow women or young girls into the bathroom and, if a business tried to stop them, they’d be fined,” said the ad.

Openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker lamented the vote:

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is blaming the rejection of an ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people on “fear mongering” and “deliberate lies” by opponents. The openly gay mayor told more than 100 people at an election night watch party in downtown Houston that the opponents’ campaign was part of an effort to demonize the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The GOP wave also threatened to take out Parker’s democratic replacement:

The Houston mayoral race appears to be headed to a run-off between Democrat and state Rep. Sylvester Turner, a LGBT ally, and Bill King, a former Kemah, mayor who has mixed feelings on the ordinance.

Voters gave a number of reasons for rejecting the ordinance:

Susan Hunter said she doesn’t know why anyone would think that men going into a women’s bathroom or swimming pool, locker room would be a good idea. Hunter said it’s not safe and people need to find another solution. Another voter, Randal Hankla, rejected the measure saying the tactics were being used to frighten people. Hankla says there’s already an ordinance in place for discrimination, so why pile on another rule or law? Jeff Jansen, who also voted against the proposal, said it was pushing a social agenda that he doesn’t agree with.

The folks over at the far-right wing site Breitbart are dancing:

This is a national game changer. Today’s vote is a massive victory for common sense, safety, and religious freedom, not just in Houston, but for all of Texas. The eyes of the nation were on Houston, and the people sent a clear message and soundly rejected this intentionally deceptive and dangerous ordinance. Millions of dollars pouring in from national LGBT extremists, an out-of-control Mayor, and a sustained media onslaught could not overcome the tireless efforts of Houston pastors and people of faith standing for common sense, safety, and liberty. I was born and raised in Houston, and I had faith Houstonians would do the right thing, and they did. This vote will impact the nation and shows, once again, that the people still support common sense Texas values.

In Kentucky, Matt Bevin, the tea party favorite, won the Governor’s race in a come-from-behind victory riding the coattails of the Davis fiasco:

Republican Matt Bevin, who exploited Kim Davis to order to galvanize evangelicals, decisively won Kentucky’s gubernatorial race tonight, defeating Attorney General Jack Conway, who had refused to defend his state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Bevin’s candidacy was heavily supported across Teabagistan.

There was a little ray of light in Utah, where it looks like there may now be an openly lesbian mayor:

Jackie Biskupski (above), a former state legislator, was leading incumbent Mayor Ralph Becker 52 percent to 48 percent by an unofficial count Tuesday, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. Both are Democrats; the mayor’s race is nonpartisan. No further results will be released until after a November 17 canvass.

Also in Utah, marriage equality plaintiff Derek Kitchen was elected to city council:

Thank you! Thank you to my family for standing next to me through this campaign, for my volunteers for putting in countless hours knocking on doors, making calls, and talking to their friends. Thank you to all my supporters, your enthusiasm, donations, and moral cheers really kept me going. This has been such a positive experience for me as a first time candidate for public office. I’m happy to say that we ran a clean campaign focused on the issues and the residents of this great city. I feel honored that the residents of District 4 have put their faith in me to represent them and make important decisions on their behalf. I’m energized and excited to get to work on the salt lake city council as your next representative!

And overall, LGBT candidates themselves had a decent night:

There were anti-gay smear campaigns and surprise victories in conservative strongholds, as 30 of 48 openly LGBT candidates won election Tuesday night.

Maine’s 90 Year Old Marriage Equality Hero

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Maine's 90 Year Old Marriage Equality HeroThe campaign for marriage equality has drawn support from prominent politicians, professional athletes, top-tier actors and hit-making singers. Some have even lent their faces and voices to advertisements.

But the marquee pitchman for an Election Day referendum to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine isn’t a conventional celebrity. He’s a former hearse driver and postal carrier. Who is 90-years old. And fought in World War II. And lives in the boondocks, about a half hour’s drive from the Canadian border.

His name is Harlan Gardner, and I paid a visit to him recently, sitting with him in his kitchen here on a sunny, brisk Sunday afternoon. His wife, Dorothy, served pie, or rather pies: blueberry and apple. She’s 78.

Authored By Frank Bruni – See the Full Story at The New York Times

Find more articles and gay wedding resourceshttp://www.purpleunions.com/usa/maine.html.

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