Good for her. Good for all of them.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker seized the vanguard of a drive by 78 mayors Friday to win the equal rights of marriage for gay couples, donning a national leadership role that contrasts sharply with her low-key demeanor back home.
“This is an issue whose time has come,” Parker told the Houston Chronicle on Friday in Washington, where mayors from New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston and Tacoma, Wash., launched Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.
Despite personal support for awarding same-sex couples the legal rights of married heterosexual couples, Parker said it was not her role to fight for an amendment to the Texas Constitution to override the state’s defense of marriage act or to win a ballot referendum to overturn it.
Nor was it her role to push to overturn the city’s voter-approved charter amendment banning same-sex couple benefits for city workers.
Those changes “are going to have to be something that is important to the citizens of Texas and the citizens of Houston who want to step up,” said Parker. “It needs to come from the community.”
Not sure what is meant by “ballot referendum” here. We don’t have ballot referenda at the state level, we have votes on Constitutional amendments. And before it gets to that stage, it takes a two thirds vote in both chambers to put the amendment on the ballot. Which is why backers of the Double Secret Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment were pushing it, because then a future legislative majority in favor of marriage inequality would be insufficient to overturn it. Here in Houston, a charter amendment would be required to restore domestic partner benefits for city employees, since it was a charter amendment that forbade them in the first place.
As for the leadership question, the Mayor is right that ultimately it’s the will and the actions of the people that are going to make change happen. It doesn’t hurt to have people in leadership positions speak out and take what steps they can to move the people in the right direction, however. Mayors are people, too, after all. The more people speaking out about doing what’s right, the better. I mean, there’s no shortage of people speaking out about what’s wrong:
The latest effort builds upon a resolution unanimously adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2009 supporting “marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the recognition and extension of full equal rights to such unions, including family and medical leave, tax equity, and insurance and retirement benefits, and opposes the enshrinement of discrimination in the federal or state constitutions.”
However, Dave Wilson, one of Parker’s mayoral opponents in November, was critical of the mayor’s appearance, saying, ” It’s totally uncalled for. She needs to be back here dealing with the issues rather than in Washington promoting her agenda.”
Hey, Dave, how about you take care of your own business and file that campaign finance report with the county that was due last week before you start telling other people what to do with their time? I mean, I know you’re only running for County Commissioner to screw with the Democrats, but that doesn’t excuse you from obeying the law.