Despite what some people might think.
The pastor of one of Houston’s megachurches is asking Mayor Annise Parker to resign if she will not cease promoting the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“Respectfully, if you cannot uphold the Texas constitution, then you should do the honorable thing and step down,” Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church wrote in an email to Parker on Friday.
In Riggle’s view, Parker is failing to uphold the state constitution, which includes a voter-approved amendment banning same-sex marriage, by advocating for equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
In January, Parker joined 77 of her colleagues at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., in calling for legalization of same-sex marriage.
Her participation in the event, weeks after her swearing in for a second term in January, amounted to what Riggle described in the email as a “call for action regarding marriage that would violate the very constitution you were swearing to uphold.”
When asked about Riggle’s message, Parker said Monday, “I do my duty to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech.
“We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they (Riggle and his supporters) don’t understand the Constitution,” Parker said.
Unless Pastor Riggle believes Mayor Parker is going to take over the County Clerk’s office and give out marriage licenses as she sees fit, and also take over the Attorney General’s office to prevent any consequences for that, I’m puzzled as to what exactly he thinks she is doing that is wrong. Well, except for the fact that he thinks being gay is icky, because it forces him to spend so much time thinking about what gay people do so he can always be in a state of disapproval about it. You really should be more considerate to the gay-obsessed pastors of the world, Mayor Parker.
By the way, the number of Mayors who have joined the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry brigade is now 175, which is more than double what they started out with. You can see the list, which will undoubtedly continue to grow, here. Among them are other Mayors of Texas cities:
Julian Castro – San Antonio, TX
Joe Jaworski – Galveston TX
Lucy Johnson – Kyle, TX
Lee Leffingwell – Austin, TX
A. David Marne – Shavano Park, TX
Bruce Smiley-Kalff – Castle Hills, TX
There’s also a petition to get Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on board. You can create your own petition to get your Mayor’s support if he or she isn’t already there. There’s a whole lot more Texas cities that need to be heard from. Will Pastor Riggle call on all of them to resign, too? Admittedly, none of them are his Mayor, but then this is bigger than that for him, isn’t it? Then again, maybe he just wants the gay Mayors to resign, so he won’t be forced to think about icky gay Mayor things.
Nonetheless, Mayor Parker reminds Pastor Riggle that she is in fact severely gay in a conversation with Michaelangelo Signorile in the HuffPo.
Speaking on my SiriusXM radio program, Parker, who was elected to her first term in 2009 and won re-election in November of last year, said she’s happy to have won reelection without a runoff against five opponents (getting just over 50 percent of the vote) but that she had to “work harder” than she believes she should have had to in order to win.
“While it’s been a tough time to be an incumbent at any level of government, there’s definitely a hard-core group here that is just mortally offended that there is a lesbian mayor, and one of my opponents ran specifically because of that issue and raised it at every opportunity,” she said.
And Parker described how she’s often held to a different standard because she is a lesbian.
“It’s been interesting to me, she said. “I recently joined 90 other mayors as part of the Freedom to Marry initiative. Local headlines–there was a backlash around that. And sometimes I sort of scratch my head. Okay, I’m an out lesbian. They know that. I’m in a long-term relationship. And yes, I want the ability to marry my spouse. And here I am, one of 90 mayors from around the country, and somehow it provoked this wave of hate mail.
And the funny thing is that this initiative, it actually came from my mayoral colleagues in the big cities. This was Antonio Villaraigosa from Los Angeles. It was Mayor Bloomberg. It’s Mayor Menino in Boston. Nutter in Philadelphia. Emmanuel in Chicago. They had it worked out and then they invited me to join. This is not an initiative from the GLBT community. But because I’m a part of that, it’s like, somehow in people’s eyes down here, I’ve changed from my role as mayor of Houston into lesbian activist. Well, I’m the mayor of Houston first, but I’m still a lesbian. And I care.”
Mayor Parker has of course regularly played down her sexual orientation on the grounds that she wants to be the Mayor of Houston, not the gay Mayor of Houston, despite what Pastor Riggle would prefer. I’m glad to see her join this movement. For sure, it would have been weird for her not to do so, but still. Even with public opinion improving, it’s going to be a long fight, and winning it requires everyone’s help.
One more thing, from that Chron story:
Grace has 15,000 members, according to Riggle, making it one of the largest churches in Houston and in the nation. It is also where the Harris County Republican Party plans to have its convention in April.
Can someone explain to me why hosting the convention of a political party would not put Grace’s tax exempt status with the IRS in jeopardy? Unless of course what they have is a meeting space that is available to the general public for rental. In which case, I suggest Mayor Parker make a reservation there to host the next national meeting of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Consider that an extension of the “Run Everywhere” principle.