LGBTs Make Gains

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, California Assembly Speaker John Perez, Commerce Department's Amanda Simpson.

Despite a lack of movement towards equal rights on the national political stage for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Americans (Where are you Democratic Liberals and Progressives when we need you?), there are three important LGBT gains as we enter 2010.

Houston, America’s fourth largest city, elected native daughter and Rice University graduate Annise Parker, its second female mayor. While that may not seem particularly newsworthy, there was actually a remarkable “first” connected to her victory: Parker is a Lesbian! Despite a light turnout, she defeated local attorney Gene Locke by receiving a solid 53% of the vote. Announced The Houston Chronicle, “Parker becomes the second woman to become mayor of Houston and the first lesbian to head a major American city.”

Parker ran as a fiscal conservative and focused on her experience in urban financial matters including 12 years as a Houston council member and city controller. She neither denied nor hid her sexual orientation. To his credit, Locke refused to participate in anti-gay campaign smears even after some religious groups sent out mailers condemning her. According to Denise Penn of the Los Angeles-based Lesbian News, the oldest Lesbian publication in the country, “They were fearful that Parker would repeal the city charter rule that denies benefits to the partners of LGBT city employees if she were elected.”

The newly-elected Mayor was sworn in Monday, January 4, and was joined on the stage by five former mayors who, according to the Chronicle, “… in each of their own ways, advanced the progress of our urban commonwealth.” Contributing the swearing-in’s opening prayer was the Reverend Joel Osteen. Osteen heads Houston’s Lakewood Church, one of America’s megavangelical sports-stadium-churches where up to 45,000 people worship each week. Parker’s vow that became her campaign trademark: “I do love this city,” evidently successfully overpowered Reverend Osteen’s frequent utterances that “homosexuality is not God’s best.” “No one of us has all the answers, and all voices must be heard,” she told the audience. “We rise or we fall together, we succeed or we fail together.”

Earlier, on election night, when news of her success was broadcast, Parker appeared with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, at a rally and told supporters: “I know what this means to many of us who thought we couldn’t achieve higher office. But let us at this moment join as one community. We are united in making Houston the city it should be, could be, can be and will be.”

Denise Penn confirmed, “Parker has a life partner of nearly 20 years, Kathy Hubbard. The couple has a son and two daughters.”

Congrats to this superbly qualified American woman!

Transgender Presidential Appointee
Meanwhile, on the transgendered front, President Obama made up for some lost LGBT time with his appointment of Amanda Simpson (the former Mitchell Simpson), a transgender woman, to serve in the Commerce Department. Amanda, a former test pilot and candidate for a Tucson, Arizona, congressional seat, transitioned from male to female while serving as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development for Raytheon. She was voted 2004 YWCA “Woman On The Move.”

On the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Web site Amanda wrote, “I’m truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me. And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others.”

Amanda will take up the post of Senior Technical Adviser to the Commerce Department. Previously, Amanda worked for 30 years in the aerospace and defense industry as a rocket scientist. Originally from Chicago, “Mitch” was the oldest of four boys in a Jewish family. His yearning to be female from his earliest boyhood years.

Congrats to this wonderfully qualified transgender American!

John A. Perez: First Openly Gay Speaker of the Assembly
Since good things come in threes, let’s not forget young California native John A. Perez, the 44th California Assembly District representative. He was recently unanimously voted, by The California Assembly Democratic Caucus, to serve as the next Speaker of the California Assembly. According to Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), John’s colleague representing the 44th Assembly district, “A unanimous vote by the Democratic caucus is tantamount to election as Speaker.” A full-house member floor vote is expected when the Assembly reconvenes in January.

After the caucus vote Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) says, “The Assembly Democratic caucus has made me proud many times in the past 18 months and today is one of those times. First by the high caliber of the Speaker candidates we had, especially the final two, John Pérez and Kevin de León, and second by the strength our caucus has shown in coming together and uniting behind one of those candidates, the next Speaker of the Assembly, John Pérez.”

First-term Assemblymember Pérez thanked his Assembly colleagues for the honor, “I want to thank the Members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus for the faith they have placed in me. It is a humbling privilege. I will work every day to justify that faith and to earn the enormous honor of having been drafted to serve as Speaker.”

carl-matthes.jpgPérez grew up in El Sereno and Highland Park before attending the University of California, Berkeley. He spent seven years handling political matters for the United Food and Commercial Workers and, until 2008, was a member of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. As a teenager he became one of the youngest members of the Northeast Democratic Club.

John becomes the first openly gay Speaker of the Assembly. He will be following in the footsteps of Karen Bass, the current speaker; his cousin, former Assembly speaker Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco and “Big Daddy” Jess Unruh.

Congratulations, John. You have achieved an amazing milestone.

Carl Matthes


  1. Carl Matthes says

    Marshall wants help for his child to have a civil union. Another words, to make Marshall happy and, I assume his child, everyone must agree that the word marriage will only apply to a man and a woman. I guess that would be different from a domestic partner, which is available in California. Domestic partnership is not a marriage. A civil union is not a marriage. If it were the same, then Marshall and his wife should have no difficulty accepting his marriage as a purely religious experience and allowing the state to give him and his wife the civil union which would be available to all Americans.

    And, Marshall, you would have a bit of a problem as The Oxford English Dictionary defines marriage thusly: The condition of being husband or wife, the relation between married persons, spousehood, wedlock. Entrance into wedlock, or an act of marrying; the ceremony or procedure by which two persons are made husband and wife. A particular matrimonial alliance or union. Intimate union. A dowry. In certain games, the declaration of a king and queen of the same suit (smile)

    Do you notice any reference to biological sex of individuals in the above definitions? Child-bearing ability?

    Perhaps that is why you are having such difficulty making sure your child will be happy with a civil union. You are covetous and possessive of the word marriage and are unwilling to allow everyone to share what you to perceive to be handed down from God. Hmmm.

  2. Marshall says

    If you want to really make head way, use this.One wonders why many gay activists reject strong gay unions laws and insist on only a right of gay marriage? Many who are against gay marriages would support gay unions that offered the same legal benefits as long as it did not use the word marriage. In the mind of Christians, marriage, as stated in the Bible, is a religious union made between a man and a woman before God and the church. It is no wonder that believers in the Bible perceive gay marriage laws as the state violating the theories of separation of church and state. States have the right to afford gay unions to non-heterosexual couples but not to give homosexuals the right to commandeer the religious term marriage.

    I am far from anti gay, A gay organist played the music at my wedding. I have had dinner at a gay club. I have a child who has a same sex partner and while they are of the same sex, they are not of the same ethnicity, which causes additional problems in the current social order. Both of them feel as I do, that marriage is a “religious term”. This couple and their parents agree that strong civil unions, a secular joining outside the church is needed to provide equal rights. Civil unions should have the same legal privileges as marriages but not the same name. I also contacted a gay cousin for an opinion and got the same answers.

    My family supports marriage as a religious term that declares that one man and one woman are joined as one before God and the church membership. If the term marriage is used outside of it’s original religious intent, then government is diluting a religious act.

    All of my family members feel that some gays want the term “marriage” so much that they do not pursue the much more attainable solution of social unions performed under state law and outside of the church. Such a union could quickly be available in all states where as “gay marriage” is going to take a lot longer in many places.

    My family has other minority groups such as Quakers. An observation of both of these minorities is neither group would survive as a population of a country. A country composed of only gays could not repopulate itself and a country composed of only Quakers could not defend itself. My family agrees that a country could not survive composed of either of these two groups but as minorities they are fine. Quakers have equal rights, they do not serve in the military. So if the gays really want equal civil rights, I am willing to vote for that, but not marriage.
    help me help my own child.

    • Carl Matthes says

      Thank you, Marshall, for your articulate and heartfelt response to my article regarding gains made by lesbian, gay and transgender Americans as 2010 begins.

      While I did not address same-sex marriage in my article, my partner of 43 years and myself are one of the 18,000 couples whose California marriage was recognized by the California Supreme Court in its recent ruling upholding the constitutional validity of Prop 8.

      Not being a religious scholar, I only know that marriage in some form is found world-wide among all religions and all peoples. It was here before Christianity and was not invented by Jesus nor is it the property of organized religion in our country. (Sorry Catholic, Mormon, et al!) And, this is not to bring into the equation the fact that America is not a theocracy. Our country is not based on a religion. (Again, sorry Evangelicals, we are not a Christian nation.)

      I would like to address your last paragraph including your personal request to “help me help my own child.” First, if gays and lesbians were the only citizens left in America, they could still, obviously, procreate. Not only because of the physical ability, but because the desire for family and a meaningful relationship does not begin and end with heterosexuals. One good example of that is the millions of loving LGBT families who are raising their children, going to work each day, serving in the military, paying their taxes, etc. They have meaningful and important relationships and are marriages. Religious or civil validation aside. A second example is with the million of families where there is only a single parent who serves as both father and mother to his/her children.

      About your child. God does not make mistakes. Your own child is not a mistake. Jesus came to make it possible for all of God’s children to have life and to have it more abundantly. America promises equality, liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness for all. Help your child by your accepting him/her as an equal member of God’s family. See your child as one who is deserving of the gift of love and marriage. These gifts cannot be denied to the lgbt children of God just because someone claims to represent and speak for that inclusive God.

      God sent His word, Jesus, which equals love for everyone. God did not send the word “marriage,” and then mean it to be only for those who some earthly religion would select.

      • Marshall says

        so many couples would be happy to have a civil union that gave them the same legal rights my wife and I enjoy. you can help them get it but you want the term “marriage” more than a civil union. My child would be happpy to have a civil union, there is where I want your help.

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