Anti-Gay Attacks on Houston Mayor Continue

Religious-right activists in Houston have failed miserably in their efforts to undermine the city’s mayor, Annise Parker. They relentlessly attacked Parker during her successful mayoral election campaign in 2009 and re-election in 2011. In 2009, for example, they argued that the election of a lesbian mayor would lead to a “gay takeover” of City Hall and would be “destructive to the family.” They have called her a “sodomite,” complained about “moral perversion and sin flowing from city hall,” and charged that Parker is imposing a “‘San Francisco Style’ Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, etc. agenda” on Houston. And now they’re attacking the mayor for exercising her right to free speech.

A megachurch pastor, Steve Riggle of Houston’s Grace Community Church, has publicly released a letter to Mayor Parker calling on her to resign if she doesn’t agree to stop speaking out in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Noting that Texans have approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Riggle says “it is very disturbing to me when you make statements as an elected official that are contrary to what the people have decided should be the foundational values and definitions that define our culture.” He also criticizes the mayor for referring to her life partner of 21 years as Houston’s “first lady”:

“I was deeply disturbed some months ago when a memo was circulated by an office connected to your office that titled your partner as the first lady of Houston. You should have corrected that since you know that title has been given only to the wife or husband of the mayor in the appropriate gender language.”

Parker is standing her ground. From the Houston Chronicle:

“I do my duty to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech. We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they (Riggle and his supporters) don’t understand the Constitution.”

She’s absolutely right. And most Houston voters apparently don’t have a problem with Mayor Parker referring to her partner as the city’s “first lady” — they re-elected her. But you can bet religious-righters in Houston will continue their hate campaign anyway — it seems to have become their overriding obsession.

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5 Comments

  1. Ben
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Margaret, why don’t you run for mayor? See if you’re more popular than a “sodomite.”

  2. Margaret
    Posted March 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    FYI, why don’t you contact the democratic party and see if they are willing to ask for the use of the church. Mayor Annise Parker uses our church for the fallen Houston police and firemen. We are ok to use then? By the way why it is not my pastor’s right to speak out against her beliefs and what she is saying. Are you the only group that can be offended, really? Just because he is addressing something that bothers him does not equal spreading hate. He has been very respectful in his letter. If only 60,000 people came out to vote for her then she technically was not voted in by Houston’s majority if we are several million that live here. I is shameful that we didn’t have anyone else to vote in and next time we need to make sure we have a viable candidate we can vote for.

    • Posted March 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Margaret: Both elections featured multiple candidates for mayor (and, in one case, a runoff election). Some of those candidates were endorsed by the group supporting this pastor’s letter. Parker won both times. To suggest that her election is somehow illegitimate because more Houstonians didn’t vote or didn’t have an option is dishonest.

  3. Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    What part of the Constitutiobn does Riggle just not get. This country is not majority rule. It is Democratic. If majority was the rule how many people would still be shuned and oppressed. That is why we have a three tier government. just to keep things like this from becoming the way of life. This country is NOT founded on the Bible it is founded on freedom and justice for all and equal rights “supposedly” for all. We just have to keep finding someone we can hate? if Jesus walked the earth none of these people would recognize him!

  4. Michael in Dallas
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    There was a related mention in the Houston Chronicle story that the Harris Conty Republican Party will hold its April District/County party convention at Grace Community Church, which is headed by Riggle. How can this be, given the IRS prohibition against candidate- and party-specific campaign activity? I can’t help but wonder how Riggle’s church would respond if the Stonewall Democrats asked to hold a state-wide convention there.

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