Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Conversation With a Straight Ally

I had a really good conversation last night with a prominent straight ally about the HERO hearings. He talked about his surprise over the vitriol and hate of the opposition and how impressed he was with Mayor Parker's calm and measured response. I'm not taking anything away from Mayor Parker here, but I told this ally that members of our community are used to that kind of response, we expect it, we deal with it daily. There's a reason that Parker, Laster and Gallegos were able to calmly deal with the hate while the straight supporters of HERO either got angry or bolted for the door (I'm looking at you Boykins): you can not survive as an LGBT person unless you learn to deal with that kind of hate... and I mean that literally. When we talk about youth suicide, when we talk about the high rates of addiction and depression - this is what we are talking about. You can not survive as an LGBT person unless you learn to deal with that kind of hate. 

So thank you, ally, for your compliment of our mayor, but I hope you find a way to see that your surprise and shock is a byproduct of your straight privilege. We deal with this everyday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Houston GLBT Political Caucus endorsments

It is my great honor to serve on the Board of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. I can, with the greatest of confidence, recommend their slate of endorsed candidates. The Caucus has one of the most rigorous screening processes of any organization I've ever been involved with. Ever candidate must submit a written questionnaire on LGBT issues and screen with a panel. The panel then makes a recommendation to the Caucus' membership which votes for endorsed candidates. It is a very open and accessible process and our membership subjects candidates to the highest of standards (which explains why their are some races for which no endorsement was made).

Don't forget, you can print off this endorsement slate and take it with you to the voting booth.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Game of Electoral Math

Let's play a game of electoral math! Historically the Texas Senate has had a 2/3 rule that requires 2/3 of Senators to agree to bring legislation to the floor during the regular session (there are some exceptions). There are 31 Senators so any coalition of 11 Senators can block a bill. There are currently 11 Senators that can reliably be counted on to block anti-LGBT bills (all members of the minority party). One of them is Sen. Davis who is running for Governor and not for re-election. In her old Senate District, SD 10, Libby Willis (who has positioned herself as an LGBT ally) is running against Konni Burton (who has positioned herself as an opponent). If Willis looses the election we will be down to 10 reliable pro-LGBT votes and will have to work to pick up a vote from the majority party. That's doable, we've done it before.

Additionally, Sen. Van de Putte, another very reliable ally, is running for Lt. Gov. If she wins her election she will have to resign her Senate seat and a special election will take place to replace her. It's likely that that replacement would not be sworn in until mid March of 2016 meaning we will have 30 Senators, still need 11 to block a bill and have either 10 or 9 reliable pro-LGBT votes (depending on the result of the election in SD 10).

Sen. Hegar is also expected to resign which brings us down to 30 or 29 Senators (depending on the outcome of the Lt. Gov. race). His replacement would also not take office to March likely. If Sen. Hegar resigns and Sen. Van de Putte wins only 10 votes will be needed to block a bill under the 2/3 rule. So if Libby Willis wins we maintain a strong wall, if she looses we'll have to pick up another vote somewhere.

The takeaway is two conflicting ideas: first, elections matter - if you live in South Tarrant county go vote for Libby Willis like your life depended on it and make sure anyone you know who lives in SD 10 does the same. Second, we have to work bipartisanly. In half of the scenarios presented above we are relying on a Republican Senator to save the day. We can not expect them to come to our rescue if we've spent the entire election painting every Republican with the same broad, homophobic brush.
So get out there, work for the candidates that work for us, but remember to be kind, to be fair and to be mature.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Houston Same-Sex Couple Sues after being kicked out of cab

A Houston Same-Sex couple is suing Yellow Cab after being kicked out of a cab, they allege, for being gay. Details HERE.

So, if HERO was in effect, how would this have been handled:

1. The couple would file a complaint with the office of inspector general.

2. The OIG would inform Yellow Cab of the complaint and give them the opportunity to respond.

3. If the OIG felt the complaint was meritorious the OIG would schedule a meeting with the couple and representatives from Yellow Cab, likely including the cabby, to sit down and discuss the incident. Maybe, as Yellow Cab is claiming, the cabby just doesn't like kissing in his cab and Yellow Cab would adjust their rules with their contractors about how to address this well, perhaps instituting required diversity training. Hopefully the entire issue could be resolved and that would be the end of the investigation.

4. If mediation did not work, the OIG would refer the complaint to the City Attorney.

5. If the City Attorney felt the case was meritorious they would pursue the case in Municipal court.

6. If the Municipal Court Judge, upon hearing all arguments in the case, found that Yellow Cab and/or the cab driver (who appears to be an independent contractor) violated the public accommodations portion of HERO the court could issue a fine of up to $500.

Instead, we're left with people bickering in the press.

We need a ‪#‎HERO‬