On November 25th Transform Houston, in partnership with the Transgender Education Network of Texas, Lambda Next Gen Houston, The LGBTQ Chamber and Spectrum South hosted Pride Forum, featuring candidates in runoff elections for Houston City Council. We were able to hear from candidates running for District H, At-Large Position 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
We were able to have conversations with 7 candidates in 6 different races. Unfortunately several candidates, including 2 current City Council members did not respond to our multiple requests to participate in the forum.
Thank you to Council member Karla Cisneros and Isabel Longoria for District H, as well as Raj Salhotra for At-Large 1, Council member David Robinson for At-Large 2, Janaeya Carmouche for At-Large 3, Dr. Letitia Plummer for At-Large 4 and Sallie Alcorn for At-Large 5 for participating in the Pride Forum and for providing responses in support of LGBTQ+ equality for all Houstonians.
You can watch the full conversations below and we are also including information regarding the candidates who did not attend with regards to their records on LGBTQ+ equality.
Unfortunately, a number of candidates in the At-Large races did not respond to our invitation to participate in the forum, but there is ample information regarding their positions on LGBTQ+ equality and you can read that information below.
At-Large Position One, Council Member Mike Knox - DID NOT ATTEND
Council member Mike Knox was elected to Houston City Council in November of 2015. While City Council hasn't voted on any notable LGBTQ proposals or policies during his tenure on Council here is what we can tell you about his positions on LGBTQ equality. In 2016 he participated in protests alongside anti-LGBTQ activist Tex Christopher, protesting Target's inclusive restroom policies. Council member Knox was quoted by media at that event saying, "Equality is the same for you as it is for me. If someone has a greater right to use a bathroom than someone else as an expression of their sexuality, that's a problem." This quote demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition to that position, Council member Knox has also opposed funding for the Census and did not participate in the candidate screening process of the non-partisan GLBT Political Caucus. He did respond to the anti-LGBTQ US Pastors Council 2019 candidate guide and is on record as being in favor of restricting access to abortion, opposing literacy programs like drag queen story time and opposing the passage of comprehensive LGBTQ inclusive nondiscrimination in Houston. In 2015, he signed the petition to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Unfortunately we do not have an opportunity to ask the Council member to clarify his positions on LGBTQ equality, or his alliances with anti-LGBTQ activists and organizations since he did not respond to our multiple requests via email and on social media to participate in the Pride Forum.
At-Large Position Two, Pastor Willie Davis - DID NOT ATTEND
Pastor Willie Davis has run for the City Council At-Large Position 2 seat previously. With regards to LGBTQ equality Pastor Davis is known as "the Pastor who helped overturn HERO". His opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was very well known and he helped to lead efforts to collect petition signatures to place a repeal on the ballot. A jury of Houstonians later declared those petitions to be forged. Pastor Davis is quoted as saying, "...Houston is not a city that discriminates against anybody at any time." Pastor Davis is a member of the anti-LGBTQ US and Texas Pastors Councils. In response to their 2019 candidate guide he is on the record as wanting to restrict access to abortion, opposing literacy programs like drag queen story time and opposing passage of an LGBTQ inclusive nondiscrimination policy at the city of Houston. We hoped to hear directly from Pastor Davis this evening on his positions on LGBTQ equality, but received no response to our multiple emails and social media invitations to attend the Pride Forum.
At-Large Position Three, Council member Michael Kubosh - DID NOT ATTEND
Council member Michael Kubosh was elected in 2013 to the At-Large 3 position. With regards to LGBTQ equality, Council Member Kubosh has been an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ equality during his time on City Council. He voted in opposition to passage of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in 2015 and supported efforts by anti-LGBTQ activists and organizations to repeal the law. At a rally during 2015 he is quoted as saying, "God put me on City Council to oppose this ordinance". Council member Kubosh has received the most money on City Council from anti-LGBTQ activist Steven Hotze. Council member Kubosh did not participate in the non-partisan Houston GLBT Political Caucus candidate screening process but did respond to the anti-LGBTQ US Pastors Council candidate guide wherein he supports restricting access to abortion, opposes literacy programs such as drag queen story time, opposes passage of an LGBTQ inclusive nondiscrimination law in Houston and supports the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. In his Pastors Council questionnaire he is quoted as saying that he led the effort on City Council to oppose HERO. He has also been a supporter of the organization Mass Resistance, which is recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Council member Kubosh did not respond to our multiple requests via email and social media to participate in the Pride Forum.
At-Large Position 4, Anthony Dolcefino - DID NOT ATTEND
Anthony Dolcefino is a first time candidate. He began this election cycle in the District C City Council race, but moved to the At-Large 4 race after Council member Amanda Edwards announced her resignation. Mr. Dolcefino participated in the District C Pride Forum, where he made pledges to support LGBTQ equality, including the passage of a new nondiscrimination law. Video of his statements at that Pride Forum are available. However, he did not participate in the Houston GLBT Political Caucus candidate screening process but did choose to participate in the anti-LGBTQ US Pastors Council candidate guide where he makes pledges in direct opposition to the statements made at the June Pride Forum. For example, he supports the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, he supports restricting access to abortion, he opposes the passage of an LGBTQ inclusive nondiscrimination law in Houston and opposes literacy programs like drag queen story time. Since the Pastors guide was for his At-Large 4 race, we can only assume those are his final thoughts on LGBTQ equality. Additionally in 2018, Anthony Dolcefino was the Vice Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas where he participated in a pro-Kavanaugh demonstration on campus and organized an event on UT's campus with Katie Hopkins who represents the right-wing, white nationalist student group Turning Point USA. Mr. Dolcefino did not respond to our multiple requests to participate in the Pride Forum.
At-Large Position 5, Trustee Eric Dick - DID NOT ATTEND
Eric Dick is currently a member of the Harris County Department of Education representing Precinct 4. He has also previously run for Houston City Council. With regards to LGBTQ equality, no LGBTQ policies have come up for a vote during his time on the HCDE board. What we do know is that Mr. Dick acted as the pro-bono attorney to anti-LGBTQ activist Tex Christopher in his lawsuit against the City of Houston over Drag Queen Story Time. Since 2016 he has personally donated more than $20,000 to anti-LGBTQ activist Steven Hotze's organization the Conservative Republicans of Texas, which is recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He did not participate in the non-partisan Houston GLBT Political caucus candidate screening process and he also did not provide responses to the anti-LGBTQ US Pastors Council candidate guide. We would have liked to dig deeper into Mr. Dick's positions on LGBTQ equality but he did not RSVP for the Pride Forum.