HOUSTON -- The man who successfully pushed a city charter amendment barring benefits for the same-sex partners of Houston city employees in 2001 has launched a wave of campaign fliers that attack an openly gay candidate in the race for mayor.
Dave Wilson, an electrician who has spent years pestering incumbent politicians of both parties, has turned his sights on Houston Controller Annise Parker. He says that Parker should not be mayor because "homosexual behavior leads to extinction."
Wilson says he is mailing the fliers to 35,000 Houston voters who cast ballots both in the November mayoral election and in the 2008 Republican presidential primary. "I'd like to energize the conservative Christian base in Houston, and get them to vote," he said.
In the flier, Wilson says "I have nothing but compassion, respect, and sensitivity towards those trapped in homosexual behavior. I have family members and friends who have been ensnarled in this behavior, and I know something of the incredible pain and sorrow it has brought to them and their families."
The flier features a photo of Parker standing beside her longtime partner at a swearing-in ceremony after Parker had been elected as the city's Controller six years ago. Over the photo is a headline that asks "Is this the image Houston wants to portray?"
"I don't see a good family, a Christian family, one man, one woman," Wilson said. "It's a picture of her and her mate being sworn in in public and that's the image I have a problem with."
11 News asked Wilson what he believes is wrong with the city having an openly gay mayor. "The openly gay lifestyle leads to extinction," he said. "You can't reproduce."
Parker, who has adopted two children, has been open about her sexual orientation throughout her twelve years as an elected official. In previous interviews, she called it "one of many data points" that Houston voters can use to judge her as a candidate. She did not want to discuss the flyer with 11 News today, and directed our questions to campaign manager Adam Harris.
He said he believes Parker's opponent, former city attorney Gene Locke, is behind the flyer.
"It's really sad that Gene Locke went and met with folks like this in secret and at the same time was telling people on the other side of town that he was in favor of civil unions and same-sex benefits," Harris said. "It's hypocrisy at its worst, and Gene Locke should be ashamed."
Harris was referring to a meeting that Locke had last month with conservative activist Dr. Steven Hotze. Even though 11 News could find no connection between Hotze and Wilson's flyer, Harris said that "whether Locke met with this guy or not, he got this started, and he owes Houston an apology."
Kim Devlin, a senior advisor to the Locke campaign, said Locke and Hotze met once at Hotze's request, and that after the meeting, Hotze endorsed Roy Morales in the race for mayor.
"It's really sad that Annise Parker insists on running her campaign based on lies and attacks rather than the facts and the issues," Devlin said. "Gene Locke has never had a 'secret' meeting during this campaign and the hypocrisy is that Annise Parker knows that. As a former civil rights leader, Gene Locke knows all too well the politics of hate and discrimination. It is evident that Gene Locke is the only candidate for mayor who is committed to running this race on the issues, not on personal attacks."
Wilson said that he has not coordinated with anyone to produce his flyer. "If you knew me well, you wouldn't be asking that question," he said. "This is all Dave Wilson."