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Houston Mayor Annise Parker Calls for LGBT Non-discrimination Ordinance in Inaugural Address

Openly gay Houston mayor Annise Parker used her final inaugural address on Tuesday to push for an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance for her city. Lone Star Q reports:

ParkerParker, the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a top 10 city, won a third and final two-year term in November. Houston is the only major city in Texas that lacks citywide LGBT protections.

 “To ensure the full participation of every Houstonian in the business and civic life of this great city, It is time to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the protections most Houstonians take for granted,” Parker said.

Parker is currently involved in a court battle over her city’s health and life insurance benefits for same-sex spouses of city employees. 

Read the full text of Parker's speech HERE


Houston Mayor Moves Same-Sex Lawsuit Out Of Republican Court

Soon after the openly lesbian Texas city mayor Annise Parker announced that same-sex spouses of city employees would receive health and life insurance benefits, the Harris County GOP sued Parker and got Republican Judge Lisa Millard to stop the benefits from going into effect.

ParkerBut City Attorney David Feldman has just gotten the case moved out of Millard's district court and into a federal court.

Lone Star Q has more:

The notice of removal also brings light of how Republican Judge Lisa Millard failed to notify Mayor Annise Parker and the city of Houston before holding a hearing the exact same day Republicans filed the lawsuit, and then immediately signing a temporary restraining order halting the new same-sex benefits policy enacted by Parker in November…

The notice of removal has now automatically moved the lawsuit case into federal court.

Republicans are going to have to ask a federal judge to remand their case in order to get it back to state court.

The article goes on to say that the Harris County GOP lawsuit and the lawsuit filed by the Lambda Legal on behalf of three same-sex Houston couples could be consolidated into one lawsuit in federal court and finally put the constitutionality of Texas' same-sex marriage ban on trial.

Earlier this year, two same-sex Texas couples also filed a lawsuit calling Texas' 2005 amendment unconstitutional.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker To Wed Partner


The Houston Chronicle reports that the openly gay mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, plans to wed her partner of 23 years, Kathy Hubbard. Hubbard, a professional tax preparer, met Parker after moving to Houston from New York, where she grew up, with her sister, seeking a warmer climate:

In 1990, Hubbard met the future mayor when she visited Parker's Inklings book store in Montrose to see if the business needed a tax consultant. Parker hired Hubbard to handle her personal taxes, and with time affection blossomed.

Parker, who is in her third and final terms as mayor, has yet to confirm the report and has previously said she and Hubbard would not wed until it was legal for same-sex couples in Texas to do so. However, Parker seems to have shifted her position in the wake of the Supreme Court's decisions in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor:

In recent public statements, though, the mayor has suggested she might reconsider her position. She said developments such as the Supreme Court's striking down of the federal Defense of Marriage Act have prompted her to consider the message her inaction might be sending to the couple's two adopted children...

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Michan said in a statement via email: "The mayor very much appreciates the interest in the 23-year relationship she has shared with her life partner, First Lady Kathy Hubbard. However, marriage is a private matter and she has no announcements she wishes to make at this time. If that changes, we will let you know."

In addition to their two adopted children, the couple also took in and aided a homeless gay youth who Hubbard met in 1993 after his grandparents kicked him out for being gay. That youth, Jovon Tyler, now 37, calls both women, "Mom."

Parker and Hubbard will reportedly wed in Palm Springs, California come January. California is one of 18 states where same-sex marriage is legal. 

(Photo via Facebook)

Lambda Legal Sues Houston To Reinstate Same-Sex Employee Benefits

In November, openly lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker decreed that city employees who legally married their same-sex in other states could now qualify for spousal health and life insurance benefits. Soon after, a judge suspended the payment of all benefits pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought against Parker by the Harris County Republican Party for her "illegal" order.

AnniseNow the LGBT-advocacy group Lambda Legal is suing the city on behalf of three same-sex couples to have Parker's promised benefits reinstated. Kenneth Upton, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas said:

“City employees who are married to same-sex spouses are doing the same work as coworkers who are married to different-sex spouses—at the end of the day this case is about equal pay for equal work.These employees, some who have worked for the City for many years, acted in good faith when notified the City was extending health coverage benefits to their legal spouses."

"They enrolled for spousal benefits, including health insurance, paid the premiums, scheduled doctor visits and underwent treatments that will require ongoing care. Now, suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under them.”

In 2011, El Paso county in Texas experienced a similar situation when a local anti-gay activist sued to city to stop it from extending health benefits to domestic partners. The activist said that extending benefits was in violation of the Texas constitution which specifically states, "a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage." Thus far, a District Court has said the El Paso benefits do not violate the state constitution.

Houston's situation is different however as it focuses on mayoral power rather than the constitutionality of said benefits. The case against Parker will go before a judge on January 6, 2014.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker: Phil Robertson is a 'Redneck Wingnut' With 'Completely Irrelevant' Views

Annise ParkerIn an interview with Lone Star Q, openly gay Houston mayor Annise Parker was asked to give her thoughts on neighboring Louisianan Phil Robertson and the controversy surrounding his anti-gay comments and suspension from A&E's hit show Duck Dynasty

Quipped Parker:

"I have never watched 'Duck Dynasty,' so I don't think about it much at all," Parker responded. "I've been a gay community activist since the mid-70s. It was a very different time. We were fighting to keep people out of jails and mental hospitals. What some redneck wingnut has to say about the GLBT community is completely irrelevant."

Harris County Republicans Suing Houston Over Annise Parker's Extension of Benefits to Gay Couples

Jared Woodfill, the chairman of the Harris County Republican party, is suing the city of Houston over Mayor Annise Parker's decision to extend health and life insurance benefits to gay married spouses, the Houston Chronicle reports:

Jwoodfill"This is one of the most egregious acts by an elected official I've ever seen," said Jared Woodfill, chairman the Harris County Republican party. Woodfill, is the lead lawyer on the lawsuit. "They just decided to, unilaterally, as a lame duck, thumb their nose at the will of the people and just spit on the U.S. Constitution."

Woodfill said state District Judge Lisa Millard signed a temporary restraining order late Tuesday, putting the new policy on hold until the matter goes before a judge on Jan. 6.

The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday in state District court, alleges that the mechanism that Parker used to enact benefits for same-sex couples violates the Houston's city charter, the state Defense of Marriage Act and the Texas Constitution.

Attorneys for the city said the lawsuit will likely be thrown out because the two men who filed it do not appear to have legal standing.


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