The Houston Area Pastor Council — one version of essentially the same group (along with the Texas Pastor Council and U.S. Pastor Council) headed by Houston hate-meister Dave Welch — is rallying his troops again as an election day nears. But it’s fair to ask whether the nakedly anti-gay hysteria Welch promotes is fading as an effective political weapon, at least in local elections.
Texas voters will go to the polls Nov. 5 for elections in some cities and to weigh in on proposed state constitutional amendments. Welch’s group is particularly focused on city elections in Houston.
Houston voters will decide whether to re-elect Annise Parker to a third term as mayor. Welch has been particularly vicious in his attacks on Parker, who is openly lesbian. He calls gay people a “morally depraved special interest group” and Parker a “sodomite.” He was one of the leaders of a group of social conservatives who warned of a “gay takeover” of Houston’s City Hall if Parker were elected mayor in 2009. He later cited her election as evidence that Houston is a “sin-sick city.”
To further his anti-gay crusade against Parker, Welch is pointing to the San Antonio City Council’s passage in September of an ordinance barring housing and employment discrimination against lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered (LGBT) people. In an essay and email to Pastor Council supporters today, Welch calls the San Antonio measure “the most aggressive ordinance in Texas elevating ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ to protected status.” (Never mind that San Antonio simply joined other major Texas cities with similar ordinances.) Among his claims is that the ordinance forces Christian business owners to choose between “violating their faith convictions” and discriminating against gay people. He also argues that the ordinance “requires all businesses — including ones owned by Christians — to allow men in women’s restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa” — a claim PolitiFact Texas found to be false.
Now Welch is warning that Mayor Parker has called for passage of a similar ordinance in Houston. He writes:
“The bottom line is that the Christians of San Antonio gave the mayor and city council the authority to do this by their neglect of the simple act of voting and choosing godly leaders. They didn’t show up when it really counted, so they had no real influence when it was needed. …
The only question for us is…will Christians eligible to vote in Houston be found faithful by ALL going and voting for candidates who respect God’s moral laws?”
Welch’s arrogant comments suggest that the Houston voters who elected Parker to office in 2009 (and re-elected her in 2011) can’t be good Christians or other people of faith. We suppose he would say the same for voters in Pflugerville near Austin, who last May re-elected two local school board members despite efforts by religious-right groups to defeat them because of their support for giving domestic partners of school district employees access to health insurance.
The Dave Welches of this world are struggling to hold back the tide of history. They long for a past in which all they had to do was point a finger and shout “sodomite” or “gay takeover” to destroy someone. But now they’re losing, even in Texas.