In defeat, some politicians offer hope, some offer solace, some offer the hard truth. Mayor Annise Parker offered all three, and it was glorious.
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Tuesday night HERO, Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance, was defeated by about 60 percent of the one-fourth of voters who decided to participate in the anti-trans fear-mongering effort led by the religious right. Or, as Mayor Annise Parker put it, "a very small but determined group of right-wing ideologues and the religionous right."
Parker, who has served as Houston's mayor for almost the past six years, winning re-election twice, is something of a surprise in Southern politics. She's only the second woman to hold that office, and certainly the first openly-gay person to as well. As a member of Houston's city council and then as the city's comptroller, Parker earned a reputation for speaking harsh truths because they needed to be heard, and in the face of HERO's defeat Tuesday night, she did not waver.
"I've been an activist for more than 40 years," Parker told supporters last night. "I have stood here in Houston four times when people were given the opportunity to vote on my rights."
"No one's rights should be subject to a popular vote," Parker said, to cheers and applause from the audience and from her supporters on stage, including HRC president Chad Griffin. "It is insulting, it is demeaning, and it is just wrong."
"This was a campaign of fear mongering and deliberate lies. Deliberate lies. This isn't misinformation, this is a calculated campaign of lies designed to demonize a little-understood minority, and to use that to take down an ordinance that 200 other cities across America, and 17 states have successfully passed, and operated under."
"They just kept spewing an ugly wad of lies from our TV screens and from pulpits. This was a calculated campaign by a very small but determined group of right-wing ideologues and the religionous right, and they know only how to destroy, not how to build up," Parker concluded.
Texas GOP Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who was among those who waged war against HERO, reveled in its defeat last night, issuing a press release, and telling reporters that HERO supporters are "out of touch with America."
"The people," Patrick announced, "made it very clear this is not the kind of city they want to live in."
He also slammed Parker, stating, "I'm disappointed that the Mayor could not be gracious tonight."
Watch Mayor Parker's speech: