Houston City Councilwoman Wanda Adams plans to challenge State Rep. Dr. Alma Allen, D-Houston, for the Democratic Party nomination in House District 131, according to a recent post on Adams' blog. The race would pit two candidates with very different records on LGBT issues.
Rep. Dr. Alma Allen
|Rep. Dr. Alma Allen
Councilwoman Wanda Adams
|Councilmember Wanda Adams
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 Councilman 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."
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 Councilwoman 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 its 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."