Annise Parker Hub




Poll Shows Majority Of Houston-Area Residents Back Marriage Equality For 1st Time

Houstonmarriage

A week after Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance finally took effect, a new survey shows a majority of residents in the nation's largest solidly red metropolitan area now support marriage equality. 

Houston is the nation's fourth-largest city, but the survey covers three counties that account for most of the nation's fifth-largest metropolitan area. All three counties — Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery — were swept by Republicans in November 2014 elections. 

Parker.AnniseThe region covered by the survey also includes the district of anti-gay GOP state Rep. Cecil Bell, who's filed multiple bills seeking to undermine a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. Of course, Houston is also home to out lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, who married her longtime partner in California last year. 

Rice University's 34th Annual Kinder Houston Area Survey, released Thursday, found that 51 percent of Houston-area residents now believe, "Marriages between homosexuals should be given the same legal status as heterosexual marriages.” That's up from 35 percent in 2004. 

Meanwhile, 52 percent of those surveyed now believe homosexuality is morally acceptable, up from just 21 percent in 1997 — which happens to be the same year Parker was first elected to the City Council.  

From the survey

Meanwhile, on virtually all the relevant questions asked over the years, support for gay rights has increased consistently. In alternating years, for example, the survey participants were asked about the statement, "Marriages between homosexuals should be given the same legal status as heterosexual marriages." The numbers in agreement reached a majority of 51 percent in this year's survey — up from 43 percent in 2009, 37 percent in 2001 and 31 percent in 1993. 

Similarly, as we reported last year, the percent who were in favor of homosexuals being legally permitted to adopt children grew from 17 percent in 1991, to 29 percent in 2000, to 38 percent in 2004, to 43 percent in 2012, and to 51 percent in 2014. The number of area residents who consider homosexuality to be "morally acceptable" also has grown consistently, from 21 percent in 1997, to 31 percent in 2005, to 45 percent in 2011 and to 52 percent in this year's survey. 

Recent polls show that anywhere between 42 percent and 48 percent of Texas voters now support marriage equality. However, most state and federal lawmakers represent gerrymandered districts in which Republican primary voters, who are significantly more conservative, determine the outcome of elections.


Anti-LGBT Groups To Appeal Judge's Ruling Upholding Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

HERO

Not surprisingly, anti-LGBT groups say they plan to appeal a judge's recent decision upholding Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance. 

Two weeks ago, Judge Robert Schaffer rejected a petition a repeal the ordinance, saying it didn't have enough valid signatures due to problems like rampant forgery

ParkerAnti-LGBT groups, which call themselves the "No Unequal Rights Coalition," plan a press conference Thursday announcing their appeal. From a Texas Pastor Council email announcing the press conference:

The NUER referendum would repeal Mayor Annise Parker’s terrible ordinance allowing biological males in women’s restrooms and criminalizing businesses who believe in traditional marriage by city council action or placing it on the ballot for a vote of the citizens.

Mayor Annise Parker has practiced deception, oppression, abuse of power and abject violation of Constitutional rights of the people to keep the people from voting – we are as committed as ever to fighting against her tyranny.  Come stand with us and say “Yes!” to our freedom and “No!” to Mayor Parker’s unlawful acts against the laws of God, laws of nature the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution!

More from plaintiff and former Houston GOP Chair Jared Woodfill: 

WoodfillUnfortunately, Judge Robert Schaffer (D-Houston) ruled on Friday, April 17th that our coalition of pastors and activists had collected 16,684 valid signatures, just short of the 17,269 needed to force a public vote on the ordinance.
 
We will appeal Judge Schaffer's decision.
 
This process has made it very clear that Mayor Parker and her liberal allies are willing to do whatever it takes to keep this important issue off the ballot. Clearly, Mayor Parker does not trust the voters.
 
Fortunately, the Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court traditionally are "strong" on voting rights.
 
Be encouraged knowing this is just one battle in a larger war we will win. We will not surrender, quit or compromise when it comes to religious liberty, voting rights, and the constitutional freedoms we the people enjoy. Please continue to pray as this case moves to the appellate courts.

If you'll remember, the anti-LGBT groups demanded a jury trial in the case. However, when the jury came back with an unfavorable verdict, they called on Schaffer to reject it. When Schaffer ruled against them, they accused him of having a political agenda because he was endorsed by an LGBT group. 

In short, it appears these folks — who also unsuccessfully attempted to repeal an equal rights ordinance in Plano, Texas — will never be satisfied and will do anything to accomplish their goal, including forging signatures.

But they'll have a very high burden on appeal to overturn decisions by both the jury and Schaffer. The Houston ordinance is now in effect, and time is running out to get a referendum on the November ballot. 


Judge To Decide This Week Whether Petition To Repeal Houston LGBT Protections Qualifies For Ballot

HERO

Nearly a year after the Houston City Council approved an Equal Rights Ordinance, a judge is expected to rule this week on whether anti-LGBT groups gathered enough valid signatures to place a repeal of the measure on the ballot. 

The city filed a motion Friday alleging that opponents of the ordinance remain 650 signatures short of the number needed to trigger a referendum. 

The Houston Chronicle reports: 

TaylorThe city's latest count puts conservative opponents of the law closer to triggering a vote than ever before, but still short of the needed 17,269 valid signatures.

"Under the jury's verdict, and under any honest application of the court's rulings, plaintiffs lose, the city wins, and civil rights are safe in Houston, Texas," said Geoffrey Harrison, lead attorney for the city. ... 

Andy Taylor (right), attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was not fazed by the city's filing Friday and would submit his own count Monday proving opponents have a valid petition.

"I'm excited to report that our number exceeds the minimum number required so we're going to get to have an election for the city of Houston," Taylor said.

ParkerMayor Annise Parker has placed enforcement of the ordinance, known as "HERO," on hold pending the outcome of the case. In February, supporters of HERO reported that since it passed, 84 cases of discrimination had been reported to the city's Office of the Inspector General, including 52 that would have been covered by the ordinance. From HouEquality.com

These reported cases of discrimination run the gambit of protected characteristics, from race to age to gender to disability to sexual orientation to gender identity to national origin to veteran status.  

If you look at the math, that breaks down to 1.6 people every week who are actively facing discrimination in some form and who have no local remedy because HERO is not in effect. To look at it another way that is almost 7 people (6.9 to be exact) every month. 

After Houston became the last major city in the US to add LGBT protections, opponents launched a petition drive to repeal them. The city eventually rejected the petition, saying it didn't have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.  

Anti-LGBT groups filed a lawsuit, and in February a jury determined that among other things, the petition contained widespread forgery. Based on the jury's determinations about which signatures should be considered valid, Judge Robert Schaffer began a final count. In late March, Schaffer revealed that opponents of the ordinance were roughly 3,000 signatures short of the 17,269 needed. However, approximately 8,500 signatures remained in question because they appeared on pages circulated by people whose names weren't legible. 

Opponents have vowed to appeal if Schaffer determines they don't have enough valid signatures. 

Houston officials rejected a separate petition last week aimed at repealing the ordinance — and enshrining a transgender bathroom ban in the city charter — after the organizer misread rules about the number of required signatures.  


Houston Mayor Annise Parker Opens Up About Marriage, Family In Powerful Interview: VIDEO

Parker

Most people know Annise Parker as the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a major U.S. city.

But few, at least nationally, know that she and her wife are also the mothers of four children — one African-American and three biracial.

With Parker's final two-year term as mayor of the nation's fourth-largest city winding down, she and her wife opened up about their family in a recent interview with Houston's KTRK-TV

Not that they've ever been shy about the subject. 

"We're so far out of the closet that we live on the front lawn," Parker's wife, Kathy Hubbard, says. 

Nevertheless, the powerful, humanizing interview could come at an important time, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to consider same-sex marriage, the LGBT community under siege in the Texas Legislature, and the battle over Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance raging on.

In the interview, Parker talks about how the couple took in their son after meeting him at a gay Pride parade when he was a homeless teen. Today, he is sometimes mistaken as a member of the mayor's security team.

Parker and Hubbard also discuss their struggle to adopt their first daughter in the face of an anti-LGBT judge and a foster family that told the 7-year-old if she went to live with them, she would burn in hell. And they talk about the significance of their marriage in California last year. 

"It felt very special. We're still walking on air," Hubbard says.

Parker also spoke recently with The Washington Post for a biographical piece that touches on her possible political future after she leaves office at the end of the year. 

Watch KTRK's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Houston Mayor Annise Parker Opens Up About Marriage, Family In Powerful Interview: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Bigots Say Fight To Repeal LGBT Protections In Houston Is 'David vs. Goliath' Battle: VIDEO

Welch

Opponents of equality — including Texas Pastor Council Executive Director Dave Welch (above) — are fond of saying that LGBT people comprise such a small fraction of the overall population that there's no valid justification for granting them "special rights." 

But now, suddenly, Welch and fellow anti-LGBT activists in Houston have decided that they are in fact the little guy.

The Houston Chronicle reports on closing arguments Thursday in a jury trial over the lawsuit seeking to repeal the city's Equal Rights Ordinance:

Andy Taylor, attorney for the plaintiffs, painted the case as pitting the desire of the people to vote versus an all-powerful City Hall. Gesturing to the city's many pro bono lawyers, Taylor invoked the Bible. He stacked the binders of signatures opponents collected, allowing the "thump" of each to echo in the courtroom.

"Help us beat Goliath," Taylor said. "Help us beat City Hall."

The jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon and will resume on Monday, the Chronicle reports. 

If jurors decide there are enough valid signatures on a petition to repeal the ordinance, a referendum likely would appear on the ballot in November. If not, the ordinance may finally take effect — nine months after it was approved by the City Council. 

Opponents claimed they gathered more than 30,000 signatures on the petition to repeal the ordinance, but the city determined that only 16,500 signatures were valid, fewer than the 17,269 needed. Attorneys for the city now say that based on a subsequent review, only 3,905 signatures on the petition are valid. 

During closing arguments, attorneys for the city reportedly focused on technical issues about whether specific signatures and pages met requirements laid out in the city charter — including allegations of fraud, forgery and perjury. Meanwhile, opponents of the ordinance tried to pander to jurors' emotions. 

Geoffrey Harrison, lead attorney the city, told KPRC-TV

"Both sides laid out their case. The city's side was based on the evidence, facts and testimony, and the plaintiffs' case, like much of its presentation during trial, was based on bluster utterly divorced from the evidence." 

Earlier in the week, Mayor Annise Parker took the stand in the trial, later holding a news conference to reiterate some of the issues: 

Parker"I want to be clear: There was fraud, there was forgery. There were lots and lots of mistakes," Parker said. "But the vast majority of things that were disqualified, pages that were disqualified, was because they didn't follow the form and the process laid out in the charter, and that's not optional."  

Also testifying this week was former City Attorney Dave Feldman, who shed further light on problems with the petition: Incendiary language attacking the merits of the ordinance at the top of the pages took up so much space that there wasn't sufficient room at the bottom for the oath, signature and notarization. 

Others who testified included a handwriting expert who called into question a large number of signatures — including one belonging to the wife of Jared Woodfill, the anti-gay attorney who filed the lawsuit, which appears to have been forged. 

Both sides say they'll appeal if they lose, according to reports. 

Brad Pritchett at HouEquality.com live-tweeted the closing arguments. Here are a few highlights: 

Watch KPRC-TV's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Bigots Say Fight To Repeal LGBT Protections In Houston Is 'David vs. Goliath' Battle: VIDEO" »


Annise Parker Named Top Mayor In US

Parker

Out lesbian Annise Parker of Houston is the top mayor in the US and the seventh-best in the world, according to the City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank dedicated to urban affairs. 

After being selected as one of 26 nominees for the Foundation's semi-annual World Mayor Prize in December, Parker was the only US mayor to crack the top 10. First place went to Calgary's Naheed Nenshi. 

CultureMap Houston reports: 

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for doing what I love for a city that I dearly love," Parker tells CultureMap in a email. "Being mayor of Houston is the best political job in the world. It provides the opportunity to shape the future of one of the great American cities. I am humbled that others view this work as worthy of being right up there with the accomplishments of my mayoral colleagues around the world.” ... 

The World Mayor Jury offered its own summary of the thousands of emailed vouchers from Parkers's supporters in the contest:

"Annise Parker should be 2014 World Mayor because of her adept balancing of social and economic issues while making significant progress on both during her three terms as mayor of my hometown, Houston, Texas, USA. Her policies, which enabled the city to remain fiscally healthy during the worst of the recent recession, set the stage for the tremendous economic growth Houston enjoys today. Meanwhile, she champions human rights issues such as by being a pioneer — first openly-gay mayor of a major city — and a role model."

More from the City Mayors Foundation on the selection process for the World Mayors Prize:  

An outstanding mayor must possess qualities such as: honesty, leadership and vision, good management abilities, social and economic awareness, ability to provide security and to protect the environment, as well as having the skill to cultivate good relations between communities different cultural, racial and social backgrounds. ... 

The total number of testimonials received for the 26 nominees exceeded 256,000. While a number of top-ten ranked mayors were supported by thousands of followers, the World Mayor jury considered the size of support as only secondary. The panel was primarily influenced by the arguments and persuasiveness of testimonials bestowed on mayors. As some city leaders in the top ten represent large metropolises, while others are mayors of much smaller towns, members of the jury were of the opinion that basing judgment on numbers alone would unfairly disadvantage mayors from smaller communities.

Read more on Parker's selection and the testimonials in support of her HERE

While receiving international honors, Parker has come under fire for pro-LGBT initiatives in her third and final two-year term. She's been sued for extending benefits to the same-sex spouses of city employees, and over the City Council's decision to pass an Equal Rights Ordinance containing LGBT protections. Earlier this week, she took the stand in a jury trial over the Equal Rights Ordinance.  

Watch a report on the ongoing trial from Click2Houston.com, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Annise Parker Named Top Mayor In US" »


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