Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Houston School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez Got Away With His Anti-Gay Campaign—He Had A Lot Of Help

At Houston’s Gallegos Elementary School on Harrisburg Drive, they appreciate School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez.

We know this is true because–at least as of 2 days ago–there was a sign in front of the school that said so. You see that sign above.

In contrast to the views expressed on the sign, I am uncertain that Mr. Rodriguez is a good example for school children or for any resident of our community.

Mr. Rodriguez circulated anti-gay campaign materials in his recent successful reelection effort. Please click this link to see what Mr. Rodriguez circulated. The bottom right corner of the circular is where you will find the hate.

Here is what the Houston Chronicle reported at the time

“Rodriguez, who is seeking re-election to the District III seat, noted in the brochure that his challenger, Ramiro Fonseca, has “spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids.”  The ad also points out (Ramiro) Fonseca’s endorsement by the Houston GLBT political caucus and underlines the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.” Rodriguez describes himself in the flyer as a “family man” who is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of four and the grandfather of five. The ad says Fonseca has a male partner and no children”

There were some protests regarding Mr. Rodriguez.

A website was set-up to draw attention to the issue. There was also a Facebook page.

While the people who organized the protests and set up the website are to be commended for the work they did, these protests were not able to be sustained.

This failure is an indictmant of our entire city of Houston.

If local civil rights groups and advocacy groups had spoken out, maybe the protests could have been sustained.  Maybe it only matters when people in your own group are attacked.

If local political leaders had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained. Many of these officials seek the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, yet they were no place to be found when a school board member responsible for the education of children used anti-gay words.

If the Houston GLBT Political Caucus had focused on the issue, maybe the protests could have been sustained.

In a previous post on this subject I noted that news of Mr. Rodriguez’s deeds were not on the Caucus website.  This is still the case.

Yet Mr. Rodriguez is still on the board and is still making decisions about our Houston schools.

There is a measure of irony in the absence of Rodriguez issue from the Houston GLBT website. The Houston GLBT Caucus endorsement questionnaire for local candidates is well-known for having very many questions and for taking a long time to complete.

Candidates for public office are expected to take hours to complete that form in the middle of a campaign, but the Caucus itself can’t take a few minutes to update a website when a school board member responsible for the education of children attacks gay folks and remains on the board.

I update this blog each day.

If the parents and all the other folks who live in Mr. Rodriguez’s district had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained.

If everyday people in Houston had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained.

Instead–What has happened is that Mr. Rodriguez communicated a terrible message and got away with it just fine. If you motor on down Harrisburg Dr., you’ll know Mr. Rodriguez as nothing other than a great guy helping out school kids.

Sure.

On the back of the sign at the top of this post was a reminder that Martin Luther King Day was approaching. I have no idea if the incongruity of this was considered at a place where people are supposed to be learning history.

You see this side of the sign at the bottom of this post.

Here is former NAACP chairman Julian Bond speaking in support of gay marriage. Coretta Scott King supported gay marriage. 

The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us. You can’t wait for somebody else.

If you are a gay kid in our Houston schools— or any freedom loving young person who sees that all people are created equal—you just got a lesson from all sides of the aisle.

Regretfully, one of the most valuable things you can learn from your elders is very often how not to be like them.

About these ads

January 19, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. On the back of the sign at the top of this post was a reminder that Martin Luther King Day was approaching. I have no idea if the incongruity of this was considered at a place where people are supposed to be learning history.

    I’m sure King wouldn’t have put out an ad like Rodriguez did, but it doesn’t look like he approved of homosexuality. The only time King made a public statement about homosexuality that I know of was in an advice column in Ebony in 1958. A boy wrote in:

    “My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?”

    King’s response:

    “Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired. Your reasons for adopting this habit have now been consciously suppressed or unconsciously repressed. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with this problem by getting back to some of the experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. In order to do this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in bringing to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”

    It’s not a fire-and-brimstone condemnation of homosexuality — he was giving pastoral advice to a troubled kid, after all — but it sure isn’t an acceptance or an affirmation of it. It’s clear that he thought of homosexuality (at least in this instance) as a deviant inclination to be corrected.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | January 19, 2012

  2. What someone thought in 1958 about gay folks is not of much value in 2012. The issue could hardly be addressed at the time as evidenced from the fact the letter writer did not wish to be known as gay. While nobody can know what a dead person would think about today’s issues, my own feeling is that M.L.K. would share the view that his wife came to hold about the question. I doubt she supported gay marriage in 1958.

    Here is a link with the letter and more detail on what King may or may not have thought—

    http://www.theindychannel.com/news/30226541/detail.html

    Of course Matt- what you could have done with your comments here is share the view that Mr. Rodriguez got away with hurtful deeds. Instead, you looked for a way to take a shot at King, or to undermine the likely view that King would have supported the most expansive vision of freedom for all.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | January 20, 2012

  3. Here is a link with the letter and more detail on what King may or may not have thought—

    I saw that link. I thought it showed a false dichotomy — as though the only alternatives are to be “a champion of gay rights” or to “condemn gays.” He did neither with his correspondent.

    “Of course Matt- what you could have done with your comments here is share the view that Mr. Rodriguez got away with hurtful deeds.”

    But I don’t share that view. It was a cheap political shot in a race I didn’t care about for an entity of which I’m not a resident, but I don’t think it was particularly hurtful. My response was exclusively about King’s comments.

    “Instead, you looked for a way to take a shot at King”

    Not at all! I agree with his response and I thought it showed great care.

    Your interpretation — that his thoughts were merely a product of the times — doesn’t seem likely to me. His views on race certainly weren’t a product of the times; they were a direct resistance to the times.

    “or to undermine the likely view that King would have supported the most expansive vision of freedom for all.”

    I don’t know what he would think today (and neither do you.) But I do know what he wrote in 1958. He viewed homosexuality as a problematic inclination to be overcome through pastoral care, reflection and effort. I would expect most Christian pastors would give similar advice today (though maybe without the psychiatric recommendation).

    You might be right — maybe he would have come around to accept homosexuality. His wife says yes. His daughter says no. But there’s no evidence that he accepted homosexuality, and there is evidence that he opposed it.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | January 20, 2012

  4. [...] at Texas Liberal wrote this week abour how Houston School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez got away with using anti-gay campaign materials in his recent reelection victory. Everyday citizens, Civil rights groups and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus all gave Mr. [...]

    Pingback by Eye on Williamson » TPA Blog Round Up (January 23, 2012) | January 23, 2012


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 138 other followers

%d bloggers like this: