Page 19


Theirs was a battle against making their people work seven days a week. Give’m a day of rest, a chance to go to church! I guess at least 10 percent of the folks in Texas go to church sometimes but surely they go before the stores would normally open on Sunday, and most of them would go even if you passed a law against going to church. Probably more would go! I know I’d go if somebody said I couldn’t. Charlie and I did the whole number for the Gallery and the world. The Senate was sacked up and ready to do what the lobby wanted, as usual. Eight stalwarts voted with us but that wasn’t enough. Could you buy toilet paper but no diapers? Why could you buy beer? Was the beer lobby so strong \(or the of beer on Sunday? Yes. Some answers were easy, others were not. Was a piece of rope you bought in a hardware store hardware? It went on, and on, and on. Reasonable people had trouble keeping their lunch down as our moral leaders in the Senate reverently spoke of church and the Lord’s Day of Rest, while attempting to sound like they were singing their favorite hymns. They sanctimoniously lied about how their hearts were breaking for the working people of Texas. Stifling competition in the name of Jesus was surely offensive to the Seventh Day Adventists and, worse yet, smacked of that same kind of hypocrisy as the oft told tale of a merchant family standing around a cash register at Christmas holding hands and singing, “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.” Samuel Johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel but I learned a long time ago that more scoundrels wrap themselves in the Bible than in the Flag. It passed. Hooray for the six day work week and church on the Sabbath as long as your Sabbath was Sunday. Seventh Day Adventists observe Saturday as the Sabbath and Jews would too if they did, but who cares about that, or the people who are neither or none of the above? Hooray for stifling competition and “good” government regulations in the free enterprise system. Let’s not forget to be four square for independent initiative so long as your initiative doesn’t inspire you to compete with the wrong folks. By God, that’s what laws are for! Well, the legislature is a wonderful thing to behold when the sunibitch is really runnin’ right. The political system serves the serious players who are organized and functional. Its masters are the people who work at it constantly and stoke its fires with political contributions. Money is the only green thing I know that burns well enough to create energy. It wins political campaigns and “them that wins” sometimes dance with the ones that brung ’em when the issue is fully explained to them. The serious players are the folks who coined the expression “money talks and bullshit walks.” They explained it to me in many a campaign and sometimes I even understood an issue better after they did. Tom Creighton laughingly answered a Senator once, who demanded a better explanation, by saying he could explain it to him again, but unfortunately he couldn’t understand it for him. I was quick to point out that some of us might not have gotten the same explanation he got. At least I didn’t carry out my threat against Jack Welch. In the heat of that debate long ago I pointed up at him in the Gallery and said, “See that fellow. I planted a tree he gave me and it’s 14′ tall now. If this bad bill passes, I’m going to cut it down, make a club out of it and beat him senseless.” We still laugh about it. The tree is 30′ tall and we’re in our 30th year of friendship, thanks to Dimple and her choice of a Christmas gift. The law, however, is still a bad law. LI Houston When the Houston City Council voted last June to ban discrimination in city hiring and firing on the basis of sexual orientation, it was clearly a major victory for Active for the last ten years, the GPC has generally been acknowledged as one of the fastest growing voting blocs in city politics, and the anti-discrimination vote was, if not a political payoff to the gay community, at least a gesture of good will on behalf of the city council. Now, after Houston voters turned out in record numbers on January 19 to defeat the anti-discrimination measures by an astounding 82 percent to 18 percent margin, the GPC is faced with the challenge of trying to maintain some semblance of political strength. Progres Bob Sablatura is a freelance writer living in Houston. sive members of the city council now fear that, in the name of civil rights, they have stirred up an issue that promises to linger in Houston politics for a long time to come. The vote came as a result of a petition drive which followed the council’s action last June. Led by conservative city councilman John Goodner, anti-gay forces gathered over 60,000 signatures, more than enough to force a referendum on the anti-discrimination measures. From the outset, it was apparent that opponents were going to make the homosexual lifestyle, rather than job protection, the main issue in the campaign. Councilman John Goodner was joined by Russ Mather, Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, in forming the Committee for Public Awareness. The committee, along with a number of other conservative anti-gay groups, built an unlikely coalition of religious, political, and business organizations to oppose the measures. Included in the coalition was the Houston Chamber of Commerce, large segments of the Republican Party, a city-wide organization of black ministers, and local chapters of the Ku Klux Klan. Opponents accused the city council of trying to legitimize homosexuality and argued that the measures would create a preferred status for gays, which could lead to quotas in hiring and in the awarding of city contracts. They also warned that passage could make Houston a homosexual mecca, which would bring about health and social problems of major proportions. The Committee also brought in Dr. Paul Cameron, a Nebraska psychologist, well-known for his anti-gay activism, who called for a national quarantine of all gays until a cure can be found for A.I.D.S. “Twenty years ago San Francisco made the mistake of encouraging homosexuals,” Cameron told the council. “Today the city faces public health costs that threaten to break the city’s bank.” As the campaign progressed, Klansmen marched on city hall, while many ministers across the city turned their church pulpits into political podiums to preach the evils of homosexuality. Defeat of Anti-Discrimination Referendum The Houston Backlash By Bob Sablatura 6 FEBRUARY 8, 1985