Conservatives in Houston who oppose the
mayoral candidacy of Annise Parker because she is lesbian have
mounted an anti-gay campaign to derail it.
Parker and former city attorney Gene
Locke were the two top vote-getters out of a field of seven on
November 3 and will face each other in a December 12 runoff. The
winner will lead the nation's fourth largest city.
About 35,000 fliers featuring Parker
being sworn into office as city controller while her partner of 20
years, Kathy Hubbard, looks on have been sent to voters, the Houston
“Is this the image Houston wants to
portray?” the flier asks.
On the back, the flier includes the
caption: “Just because Annise Parker is a lesbian doesn't maker her
qualified to be mayor of Houston.”
The flier was the idea of long-time gay
foe Dave Wilson, a 62-year-old sign company owner, who in 2001 formed
the political action committee that put gay partner benefits up for a
vote. Fifty-two percent of Houston voters approved the measure that
bans gay spouses of city employees from receiving benefits.
Wilson told the paper that the flier
was not a personal attack on Parker, adding that he has compassion
for gay people because two uncles who were gay died of AIDS.
“There's a cultural war going on in
our society today,” he said. “I feel that homosexual behavior is
an affront to the family values of one man, one woman, and homosexual
behavior, to any society that's embraced it, has led to the
extinction of that society.”
The Parker campaign has the luxury of
ignoring such attacks because she continues to lead in the polls. A
17 poll of 600 likely voters by Lake Research Partners found
Parker with a 13 point lead over Locke (47-to-34%).
“Parker remains the best-known and
liked candidate in the race,” the pollster said.
A second poll released Friday, however,
called the race a statistical dead heat. The KHOU-TV poll of 500
registered voters found Parker leading with 37% of respondents to
Locke's 34%. But the poll's 4.4% margin of error cancels out
Parker's 3 point lead.
Also gunning for Parker is a group of
conservative ministers. The ministers say they're alarmed by the
possibility of a “gay takeover” of City Hall – two openly gay
candidates are also vying for seats on the Houston City Council –
which could lead to the reversal of the gay partner benefits ban.
“The bottom line is that we didn't
pick the battle, she did, when she made her agenda and sexual
preference a central part of her campaign,” Dave Welch, executive
director of the conservative group Houston Area Pastor Council, told
“National gay and lesbian activists
see this as a historic opportunity. The reality is that's because
they're promoting an agenda which we believe to be contrary to the
concerns of the community and destructive to the family,” he added.
Parker's campaign has mostly ignored
the attacks and has remained focused on the issues important to
Houston voters, including job creation and cutting government waste.