Voice for Equality: Annise Parker

Annise Parker is the first openly gay mayor of Houston, Texas, the fourth most populous city in the U.S.

"...Texas lost marriage a few years ago. I really take the long view. We lose battles, but we're winning the hearts and minds of this war. And we just have to keep chipping away, coming out, being visible, integrating our concerns into the issues of our society at all levels, and we're going to get there."

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Gay Mayor-Elect: Victory Shows Houston’s Diversity

The Associated Press
December 13, 2009
Annise Parker was elected the first openly gay mayor of Houston on Saturday in a runoff race against Gene Locke. Parker: "It's a historic election for my community, and I believe an election that will change some people's minds about the city of Houston. It's a diverse, international city that welcomes everyone." [Link]

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City Council Upholds Benefits for Unwed, Gay Partners

KVIA.com (El Paso, TX)
December 8, 2009

The El Paso City Council has decided to uphold its decision to extend medical benefits to the gay and unwed partners of city employees. Opponents of the decision must collect 1,548 signatures in order to put the issue on the ballot in May 2010. [Link]

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An Interview With Annise Parker, Candidate for Houston Mayor

The BILERICO Project
December 8, 2009
Adam Bink posts an interview he conducted with Annise Parker, the openly lesbian Houston mayoral candidate. When asked her opinion on recent setbacks in LGBT equality ballot measures and legislation, Parker said, "We just have to keep chipping away, coming out, being visible, integrating our concerns into the issues of our society at all levels, and we're going to get there." An excerpt from the interview:

Adam: I’m interested to know what you think of the recent losses on marriage equality in California, Maine, and yesterday in New York State. There’s a lot of discouragement and debate about where to go from here.

Annise: It’s frustrating. I’ve been an out, gay activist since the 70s. I helped found the gay student organization at my university. I was, for a decade in the 80s, arguably the most visible lesbian activist in Houston for a very long time. Texas lost marriage a few years ago. I really take the long view. We lose battles, but we’re winning the hearts and minds of this war. And we just have to keep chipping away, coming out, being visible, integrating our concerns into the issues of our society at all levels, and we’re going to get there.

Adam: There has been a lot of discussion about shifting strategy and resources from marriage equality to domestic partnership benefits. While I know Houston is “a blue island in a sea of red”, I’m curious what you think of that coming from a more conservative state.

Annise: Because I have been doing this kind of work for more than 30 years, and I do tend to take the longview, but I’ve also been in a lot of negotiations, and you don’t start a negotiation from your bottom line. You start from where you’d like to be, and you settle for your bottom line. Full marriage equality is where we want to be. But we have to be pragmatic as we move forward, and I would remind folks, when I started in public office, we were only talking about domestic partner benefits. When we shifted to marriage, domestic partnership started popping up lots of places, and people would say, “please leave marriage alone! You can have domestic partnership benefits!” Marriage is a cultural institution that provokes a visceral reaction. Domestic partnership benefits is something you can have a discussion with folks on its merits. Soon as you talk about marriage, you tap into collective, subconscious issues for a lot of us. You don’t abandon marriage, but you take the pragmatic course when there’s an opportunity to advance.
The Houston election is on Saturday. You can contribute here. If you are in the area or know folks who are, they also need help getting out the vote. You can also join the campaign on Facebook to stay up to date in the final stretch. [Link]

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Op-Ed: Authors Of Texas Marriage Amendment: Who Barks The Loudest?

The Huffington Post
November 21, 2009
Barbara Ann Radnofsky blogs about her discovery of language within the Texas constitutional amendment banning marriage equality that says that Texas "may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage," which she says bans all marriage. [Link]

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Op-Ed: World’s Best Persons: Texas AG Candidate, Barbara Ann Radnofski

MSNBC: Countdown with Keith Olbermann
November 19, 2009
Keith Olbermann commends Texas attorney general candidate Barbara Ann Radnofski for bringing to light a clause in the Texas amendment banning marriage equality which Radnofski believes could outlaw all marriages in Texas. [Link]

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Texans: Are you really married? Maybe not.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
November 18, 2009
Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for Texas attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 state constitutional amendment banning marriage equality endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state. [Link]

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Texas doing the divorce fandango

The Janesville Gazette
October 8, 2009

I suppose there is something charming about watching conservative politicians in Texas trying so ardently to preserve a gay couple's marriage.

How else can you explain their passionate opposition to a court ruling last week that would allow a couple legally wed in Massachusetts to be divorced in their state? (Link)

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Dallas Judge Paves Way for Gay Couple to Get Divorce

The Dallas Morning News
October 2, 2009
In a first for Texas, a judge ruled Thursday that two men married in another state can divorce here and that the state's ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan's ruling says the state prohibition of the freedom to marry violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection. [Link]

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Marriage Equality Strong Component at Dallas’ Gay Pride Parade

Dallas Morning News
September 20, 2009
With a strong message of equality dominating the 26th annual Dallas Pride parade on Sunday, marchers took a stand in support of the freedom to marry, with signs proclaiming “A civil marriage is a civil right” and “Marriage is about love not gender. [Link]

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