It really was only a matter of time. For months the Houston mayoral election focused on issues important to most working families in the city -- issues like crime, transportation and economic development. Oh sure, there were occasional subtle references by far-right political activists to the fact that candidate Annise Parker, the current city controller, is a lesbian. But an organized anti-gay smear campaign didn't develop. That is, it didn't develop apparently until now, with Parker facing former city attorney Gene Locke in a runoff election on Dec. 12. According to the Houston Chronicle this weekend:

A cluster of socially conservative Houstonians is planning a campaign to discourage voters from choosing City Controller Annise Parker in the December mayoral runoff because she is a lesbian, according to multiple ministers and conservatives involved in the effort.

The group is motivated by concerns about a “gay takeover” of City Hall, given that two other candidates in the five remaining City Council races are also openly gay, as well as national interest driven by the possibility that Houston could become the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay woman.… Read More

The US Pastor Council/Texas Pastor Council, which lately has been wading into the waters of electoral politics in Texas, again demonstrates that gay-bashing is one of the religious right’s prominent political weapons. This weekend the Houston-based group sent out a press release attacking Houston city officials for participating in a gay pride event. The group claims that official participation in the event put “the stamp of approval on pedophilia and myriad other sexual disorders.”

The Pastor Council’s grand pooh-bah, Dave Welch, thundered thusly:

“This event promotes and glorifies sexual deviancy that most people find immoral as well as destructive to family and marriage. . . . We will be initiating an open records request to see if one dime of taxpayers’ money was used.  We will also certainly communicate to our congregants which of those elected to serve the people chose instead to bow to a narrow and morally depraved special interest group.”

The Pastor Council, which also attacked various corporate sponsors of the event, hasn’t been very subtle about its support for Texas Gov. Rick Perry‘s re-election bid next year. And of course, Gov. Perry has scored fairly high in the pastRead More

It is obvious now that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is basing his hopes for re-election next year mostly on winning over the far-right wing of the Republican Party. (That's the same wing that wrote the 2008 state party platform. You can read that classic example of extremism here.)  If Gov. Perry can win the GOP nomination, he figures he'll win the general election fairly easily in a Republican-leaning state. So with an expected challenge for his party's nomination from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the governor has raced to the extremist fringes. In addition to sharpening his attacks on reproductive rights for women, Gov. Perry has rejected federal aid for the unemployed, revived the racially poisoned "states rights" rhetoric of the segregationist right from the 1950s, and even suggested that Texas could and might one day secede. And this week he's once again pow-wowing with fundamenalist pastors at a closed-door confab in Austin. Read More