“It’s appalling that in a city like Houston, right in the middle of the Bible belt, we have a homosexual mayor.”
When I was in school, it was often noted in history and social science classes that, although there was still bigotry, it was not overt as it had been in past years. It was more subtle; there was no longer slavery, lynching and colored drinking fountains. Things are even better now, it is no doubt noted, what with there being a black president – elected twice, to boot.
The same is true for the GLBT community. After all, same-sex marriage is now a right across the land. But, at least sometimes, it’s hard to see anti-gay bigotry, at least, as that much less overt and blatant than in the past.
Not when there are quotes like the one above. And not when it’s from the father of a leading presidential candidate and U.S Senator – the father being Rafael Cruz and the son being Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Mr. Cruz was speaking as one of the many people opposing Proposition 1, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, on the November 3 ballot. The measure would have consolidated existing bans on discrimination based on race, sex, religion and other categories in employment, housing and public accommodations, extending protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. It was championed by Mayor Annise Parker, who is a lesbian and the first such mayor of a major U.S city. As she put it, “It is my life being discussed… The debate is about me.”
Never mind that she has been a very popular mayor, elected to two terms. Never mind that she was praised for taking on some of the city’s most basic municipal problems: the water system, street repairs, homelessness. People did and said everything to try to defeat the proposition, although it would no doubt mean the end of Ms. Parker’s political career.
Out came all the all-too-familiar fear mongering and hate spewing, of which Mr. Cruz’s rhetoric barely counts as an example. One Baptist minister urged his huge congregation to vote against the proposition, proclaiming, “It will carry our city…further down the road of being totally, in my opinion, secular and godless.”
In an extra ugly twist, opponents labeled the measure the “bathroom ordinance,” because it would allow transgender women to use women’s restrooms and transgender men to use men’s restrooms. “Do you know what lurks behind this door?” asked one flier. “If Houston Mayor Annise Parker has her way and her Proposition 1 passes, it could be a man dressed as a woman or worse.” Former Houston Astro star Lance Berkman appeared in a television commercial, saying he didn’t want his wife and four daughters to have to share restrooms with “troubled men.”Yes, this is nothing new. Things like this have been said for a long time and are still being said. Which is my point. That and the fact that they can work, still. While same-sex marriage is the law of the land and although the Houston City Council is now mulling another go at the ordinance, perhaps in a more piecemeal fashion, Proposition 1 loss resoundingly, 61% to 39%.