20 AUGUST 3, 1984 Houston Discrimination Fight V When the Houston City Council voted in favor of an amendment to the city’s affirmative action and civil service laws that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it was clearly unprepared for a conservative backlash that threatens to polarize city politics and to annul many of the hard-fought gains of city gays. Council members and private citizens who oppose the affirmative action program have called for a referendum to overturn the council’s decision, thus ignoring Councilman Jim Greenwood’s concern that holding a referendum on such a volatile issue would be “divisive, bitter and emotional.” The polarizing effect of the call for a referendum can already be felt in the Houston area as some black leaders prepare to support the referendum bid. The provocative rhetoric of referendum supporters, who speak of homosexuality as a disease, “a sickness that needs treatment,” along with their hardline stance toward the rights of the gay community, have made strange bedfellows of black leaders, who have fought long and hard for fair housing and other anti-discriminatory policies, and conservative Republicans, who have often fought as long and as hard against these same policies. Rev. C. Anderson Davis, who is rallying support from black ministers in favor of the referendum bid, says that the city council decision has “divided the city more than anything I know of.” Other religious leaders, including Bishop John L. Morkovsky, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of GalvestonHouston, have also chosen to support the referendum bid. It remains to be seen whether the Houston gay community can now persuade the Houston public, especially the black and Hispanic communities, that the issue is a civil rights issue which cannot be ignored by any minority without all minorities suffering as a result. When Austin Citizens for Decency opposed a 1981 amendment to the Austin Fair Housing Ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, local gays and other concerned persons created a campaign, “Citizens for a United Austin,” which successfully united Austin minorities against the opposition. In that campaign Austin blacks and Hispanics voted overwhelmingly in favor of the amendment. Their victory, however, resulted from the gay community’s immediate attempts to contact and work with Austin black and Hispanic leaders. As Janna Zumbrun, former campaign director of Citizens for a United Austin, told the Observer, “Here in Austin we moved quickly to talk to black leaders, who recognized the issue as a civil rights issue. You couldn’t attack one group without affecting the others. We got tremendous help from the black and brown communities.” El Anti C onvention When the Republican National Convention is called to order Monday morning, August 20, protesters plan to be pushing wheelbarrows full of voter registration cards past the convention to the Registrar of Voter’s office. Amid the unanimity that will surround Ronald Reagan’s re-nomination, demonstrators hope to send a signal that outside the Republican Club the President is not quite so popular. A voter registration effort in Dallas’ low-income neighborhoods will be one focus of the weekend of protest before the convention opens. Organizers are hoping to register 25,000 new voters. The protest starts Saturday morning, August 18, with the creation of a Tent City on the Trinity River Levee. That evening there will be a march from the Tent City to the Kennedy Memorial, where former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and peace activist Benjamin Spock will address a rally. Sissy Farenthold is also scheduled to speak Saturday, and Holly Near and Ronnie Gilbert will provide entertainment. Sunday morning the voter registration canvass will begin, and voter registration workshops are planned at the Tent City for the afternoon. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is scheduled to lead an interfaith religious service beginning at 8:00 Sunday night. The events are being led by the Alliance for Justice, a coalition of activist groups in which the Association of Community Organizations been prominent. OPEN MONDAYSKIVRDAY 10-6 AND OPEN SI N DAN’ 10WATSON & COMPANY BOOKS occupied. The prices ranged from $44,000 to $50,000. “I had a banker who looked at these homes and he said, ‘These homes belong in West Lake Hills,’ ” Hernandez said. \(West Lake Hills is a posh Austin whenever someone sees homes that are pretty and look nice, they say it belongs in West Lake Hills and if it is ugly and rundown it belongs in my neighborhood? No, these homes belong right here.” The seven-acre site was acquired through a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Develop ment. Hernandez’s Economic Development Corporation was funded by the City of Austin, and the homes were built and financed by private interests. The price tags on the houses were kept low, Hernandez said, “because we eliminated the middle man” his development group didn’t take a cut. v Here is the end result of all the politicking, canvassing, and conventioneering that make up the Texas Democratic primary: At the national convention in San Francisco, Walter Mondale got 119 votes from the Texas delegation, Gary Hart got 40, Jesse Jackson got 36, and John Glenn got 2.
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