The head of the fringe-right Houston Area Pastor Council has just published a new screed attacking politicians and others who support equal rights for gay people. But Dave Welch — who isn’t shy about promoting his ties to elected state officials, including the governor — reserves his most vile rhetoric for politicians and other people who are gay, and his contempt for Houston Mayor Annise Parker is especially clear.
The subject of Welch’s new diatribe was this past weekend’s Pride Parade in Houston. That annual event in cities across the country marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, which sparked the modern gay rights movement.
Welch’s hit piece includes heated criticism of candidates, elected officials and representatives of the Houston police and fire departments who participated in the city’s Pride Parade. Addressing “pastors and Christian men of greater Houston,” Welch highlights the participation of Parker, the city’s openly lesbian mayor elected by voters last fall:
“It was OUR failure to stand in the gap that allowed the election of a sodomite who has now proven (remember cross dressing men in the women’s restrooms?) that her lifestyle IS her public policy agenda. It is not OUR duty to see that we redress this grievance by assuring we choose leaders of faith, character and virtue to provide moral leadership rather than amoral depravity.”
Welch joined other religious-right leaders last fall in warning Houston voters of a “gay takeover” of City Hall if Parker were elected mayor. Their coordinated anti-gay smear campaign failed miserably, however.
It might be easy to dismiss Welch as just a fringe, right-wing gadfly if he were not connected to various high-level politicians and policy-makers in Texas. Those connections, unfortunately, make him an influential fringe, right-wing gadfly.
Last year, for example, Welch’s group hosted Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and state Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright at a so-called “Pastors Policy Conference” in Austin. The Pastor Council billed the event (which was closed to the press) as an occasion in which “the state’s political leaders are convening behind the city walls with pastors who are willing to engage our leaders on behalf of Texas families and our God.” Around the same time, Welch wrote an Internet essay in which he attacked people he labeled as “Christians in Name Only” because he didn’t approve of their political and faith convictions.
Welch’s new anti-gay diatribe continues his theme of viciously attacking the faith of people he opposes:
“By the way, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union were also in the parade – again. The common denominator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender movement, the pro-death, pro-abortion movement and the anti-religious legal attack dogs is demand for freedom from the ‘tyranny’ of Christianity and its ‘restraints.’”
For Welch, faith is a weapon for bludgeoning political opponents and dividing voters. And in his intolerant mind, anyone who believes that gay and lesbian people should be treated with dignity or wants to defend the reproductive rights of women can’t possibly be people of faith and especially not Christians. We wonder: are Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, General Abbott, Commissioner Patterson and Justice Wainwright still proud of sharing the stage with Welch last year?