HOUSTON — A group of socially conservative Houstonians is planning a campaign to discourage voters from electing City Controller Annise Parker in the December mayoral runoff because she is a lesbian, according to multiple ministers and conservatives involved in the effort, reports the Houston Chronicle.
The group is motivated by concerns about a “gay takeover” of City Hall, given that two other candidates in the five remaining City Council races are also openly gay, as well as national interest driven by the possibility that Houston could become the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay woman.
Another primary concern is that Parker or other elected officials would seek to overturn a 2001 city charter amendment that prohibits the city from providing benefits to the domestic partners of gay and lesbian employees.
“National gay and lesbian activists see this as a historic opportunity,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, numbering more than 200 senior pastors in the Greater Houston area. “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.”
Parker has tread carefully in her candidacy for mayor, stressing frequently that she is running not as a gay candidate but as a qualified city official who’s won election six times.
In a televised debate last month, she voiced “no current plans” to revisit the city charter amendment if elected, although she said the city will need to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees “at some point.”
The Houston mayoral run-off election is December 12.