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The Brief: Sept. 12, 2013

The gay rights debate that sparked a bitter fight in San Antonio this summer may soon be moving to Houston.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker at the Texas Democratic Party's convention in Houston on June 8, 2012.

The Big Conversation

The gay rights debate that sparked a bitter fight in San Antonio this summer may soon be moving to Houston. 

Officials in the state's biggest city appear willing to follow the lead of San Antonio, which last week — after nearly a month of heated protests — approved an ordinance that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's nondiscrimination policy.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who in 2009 became the first openly gay leader of a major U.S. city, told the Houston Chronicle that the vote in San Antonio "upped the ante."

"It is absolutely something we should do, and the majority of council members have publicly stated they are in support of a nondiscrimination ordinance," Parker said. "But this is an issue that requires all of council to be engaged and agree it is time to move it forward. When it happens, we will do that."

Whether such an ordinance would stir the same type of debate that roiled San Antonio — and drew the ire of several statewide GOP politicians — remains unclear. But any measure would undoubtedly face opposition from the city's large religious community and, as the Chronicle notes, have to adhere to the city's charter, which bans domestic partner benefits for city employees.

Regardless, the City Council is likely months away from taking up the matter. A spokeswoman for the mayor said no action was planned before the end of the year.

But some councilmembers already appear eager to debate the issue.

"Without question, a city the size of Houston, and a city that is as sophisticated and at the front lines of these kinds of things, should step forward and make it happen," said Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, a former state representative. "It may not be easy, but we need to get it moving."


•    Cruz: 'We Need a Hundred More Like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate' (Roll Call)"Sen. Ted Cruz might raise some eyebrows outside of his conservative base for comments he made Wednesday in praise of former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms. … 'The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic in this town, and you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then. We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.'"

•    An arms race, of sorts, in lieutenant governor race (Austin American-Statesman): "Listening to the four Republicans running for lieutenant governor, one might think they’re campaigning for sheriff rather than the leader of the state Senate. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and his three challengers for the GOP nomination all own and carry concealed handguns, and they talk tough on crime and easy on the Second Amendment. Two have even raffled off guns as part of their campaign activities. The reason for all the pistol talk so far, say political observers, is Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is currently running third in political contributions and widely considered to be a wild card in the high-profile race."

•    Perry Takes Aim at Maryland in Latest Campaign (The Texas Tribune): "Gov. Rick Perry is taking aim at Maryland and its business climate — his latest effort to lure out-of-state companies to Texas. In a radio advertisement, Perry slams Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who is considering a presidential bid in 2016, for turning Maryland into a 'tax and fee state' with 'some of the highest taxes in America.' 'When you grow tired of Maryland taxes squeezing every dime out of your business, think Texas,' Perry says in the minute-long spot."

Quote to Note: "We’re supposed to believe that the perpetrators of 9/11 hated us for our freedom and goodness. In fact, that crime was blowback for decades of US intervention in the Middle East. And the last thing we needed was the government’s response: more wars, a stepped-up police and surveillance state, and drones." — Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in a Facebook post on Wednesday


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