An LGBTQ political caucus is under fire for its alleged cozy relationship with an anti-LGBTQ religious group.
The TransAdvocate reports members of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus “encouraged candidates in the current election to support and seek the endorsement of the anti-transgender group, the Baptist Ministers of Houston Area and Vicinity.”
The TransAdvocate notes, “ran false anti-transgender advertising during the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) fight, falsified petitions to force HERO onto the ballot, and have continued anti-transgender activities into 2017.”
The city passed an ordinance extending protections against discrimination to the LGBTQ community in 2014, prompting a referendum the following year, which failed to pass.
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“It has been shown and demonstrated that the people of the city do not want this ordinance,” Rev. Max Miller, of the Baptist group, said at the time. “We simply say: Allow the people to vote on this ordinance.”
The publication reports (Note: HBVHAV stands for Baptist Ministers of Houston Area and Vicinity):
In response to questions from candidates based on rumors they were hearing, Caucus President Mike Webb sent a message to screening chairs in late January of 2018. In the message, Webb confirmed that while the Caucus considered HBVHAV to be an anti-LGBT organization but, Webb left it an open question as to whether candidates should accept their endorsement. At about the same time, Caucus Board member and Election Committee chair, John Humphries, was contacting candidates, facilitating their meeting with HBVHAV, and requesting that the candidate support and seek the endorsement of HBVHAV.
Humphries was reportedly acting on instruction from Webb.
Jason Westin, a candidate for the Texas Congressional District 07, has claimed the caucus asked him to accept an endorsement from HBVHAV, after declining the endorsement following a conversation with a transgender caucus member opposed to the group due to their history.
Westin has also said that a meeting was set up for him by the caucus to meet with HBVHAV.
Another, unnamed, candidate reports a similar experience, and yet another reports seeing Humphries at a HBVHAV meeting, wearing his Houston GLBT Political Caucus shirt, leading the candidate to believe the two groups had a working relationship.
Transgender caucus members are encouraging the community to let the board know how they feel about the apparent cozy relationship between the two groups.
LGBTQ Nation has contacted the Houston GLBT Political Caucus for comment and will update this story if we hear back.
UPDATE: The Houston GLBT Political Caucus had the following to say in a press release:
As discussed during the Houston GLBT Political Caucus General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, March 7th the Caucus participated in two conversations with a known anti-LGBTQ+ organization, Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity PAC. These two meetings ended with an understanding that a larger conversation between both organizations could begin.
Additionally, during the general membership meeting, Mike Webb, President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, publicly apologized to Caucus members as well as members of the Transgender community for not immediately including Black transgender advocates in the initial meeting with the Baptist Ministers, and highlighted the Caucus’ previous commitment to ensure that Black Transwomen will lead this relationship building initiative going forward, which has been the Caucus’ intention from the beginning.
Under no circumstances did the Caucus ever communicate that it is acceptable to seek the endorsement of any anti-LGBTQ+ organizations. President Webb did clarify to candidates that the Caucus does not have any policies that bans endorsed candidates from accepting or seeking an endorsement from anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, while reinforcing the value of transparency and honesty by being upfront with Caucus membership from the very beginning if said candidate did have intentions of accepting or seeking the endorsement of the Baptist Ministers or any other anti-LGBTQ+ organizations. However, President Webb admits the following, “It is definitely understandable how this situation can be misconstrued and frustrating for advocates, candidates, and community members who feel out of the loop. We dropped the ball on communicating with Caucus members in real-time and will do a better job of clarifying when individual Caucus board members are representing themselves during campaign activity versus acting on the behalf of the Caucus. I am honored that I am the elected representative to speak on the behalf of the Caucus and will continue to be a strong voice against LGBTQ+ bigotry while being receptive on how we can better communicate our stances in a culturally appropriate manner.”