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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.

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Loyal Citizens (A Few Of Them) Protest Manuel Rodriguez’s Anti-Gay Campaign Tactics—Where Are The Good People?

Above you see freedom loving citizens of Houston protesting the ongoing presence of Manuel Rodriguez on the Houston Independent School District Board.

They are quite appropriately making this protest under the flag of our State of Texas and under the flag of the United States of America.

Mr. Rodriguez circulated anti-gay campaign materials in his recent reelection bid. Mr. Rodriguez won by 24 votes.

The link above shows the campaign circular.

From the Houston Chronicle

“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 is a website regarding this issue. 

Though I don’t see a word about this concern on the website of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. 

There were maybe 20 people at the protest shown in the picture. These folks were loyal Americans seeking to right a wrong.

While that is very good, there are a number of questions I had after attending this rally.

Where was the full GLBT community?

Where were the candidates who have been happy to take the Houston GLBT caucus endorsement over the years?

Where were other civil rights groups in Houston? The freedom of all people is connected. Where is the outreach between groups? Where is the effort and imagination? Where is the hope that people working together can make life better?

At the core of the matter, where were everyday citizens of Houston?

Is anybody serious about anything?

You can’t control what folks such as Mr. Rodriguez are going to do or say. There are always going to be people who do and say mean and hateful things.

All you control is your response to the bad actions of people in power.

Mr. Rodriguez and people who support his narrow mindset know the sad facts of the matter as shown by this example.

You can get away with just about anything and folks will look the other way.

Even folks who say they care about issues of civil rights and freedom will for the most part look away.

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protest To Call For Resignation Of HISD Board Member Manuel Rodriguez—Mr. Rodriguez Has Attacked All Persons In Our City

Incumbent Houston Independent School District Board member Manuel Rodriguez circulated anti-gay campaign materials during his recent reelection bid.

(Above–Citizens of our community calling for the resignation of Manuel Rodriguez.)

Mr. Rodriguez won his race by 24 votes.

A website has been established to call for Mr. Rodriguez’s resignation from the board. 

There is also a Facebook page called Remove The HISD Bully.

How can Mr. Rodriguez well-serve any HISD student? The rights and dignity of all people are connected.

If Mr. Rodriguez has a problem with gay folks, who can be certain that Mr. Rodriguez will champion the success of any HISD student?

There will be an upcoming protest to call for Mr. Rodriguez’s resignation.

I encourage all freedom loving Houstonians to attend this event.

It would be great that if in addition to an informed and outraged general public taking part in efforts to call for Mr. Rodriguez’s resignation, we were also to see coordinated efforts among Houston’s various civil rights groups.

Folks can’t go on just speaking up when their own concerns are the issue. We will never make progress if that is how we operate.

Mr. Rodriguez’s hate mongering is an attack on all people and it is a call to action for all people.

Here are details of the protest—

JOIN US in protest of HISD School Board Trustee Manuel Rodriguez, who according to the Houston Chronicle, displayed “appalling homophobia” over the weekend. The HISD School Board is the LAST place that we want this kind of homophobia to be in power.

What: HISD School Board meeting 
When: Thursday, December 8; outdoor protest beginning at 4:30pm, public hearing at 6:30pm 
Where: The Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 West 18th Street, in the board auditorium.

November 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

I’ll Be Speaking About Occupy Houston At Meyerland Area Democrats Meeting On November 21

I’ll be speaking at the next meeting of the Meyerland Area Democrats.

Here are details of this event—

Occupy Wall St. and the 2012 Election at Nov. 21st Meyerland Area Democrats Meeting

Nov. 7, 2011 –Activists Neil Aquino and Sarah Slamen to speak on Occupy Houston, and Dr. Bob Stein to review the 2012 election landscape on November 21

The regular monthly meeting of Meyerland Democrats is held at Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill, located at 4738 Beechnut. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting starts at 7 p.m. There is no charge to attend, but attendees pay for their own food and drinks. The Meyerland Area Democrats Club is made up primarily of residents of election precincts in the Meyerland area, including Westbury, Maplewood and Marilyn Estates. 

Here is the website of the Meyerland Area Democrats. 

My good friend Art Pronin runs the Meyerland Area Democrats.

Art is working hard to secure the well-merited resignation of HISD board member Manuel Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez circulated campaign materials in the recent election that many view as anti-gay.

Having a speaking engagement allows me to roll out my publicity shot for the first time in a few months.

There I am above with a lobster bib as I enjoyed a lobster earlier this year in Rhode Island.

Nothing says Occupy Houston and nothing says Texas like having a lobster in Rhode Island.

But as Walt Whitman wrote–I contain multitudes and contradict myself and all the rest of what Whitman wrote.

People are a lot of things at once. This makes life all the better.

Please attend the upcoming Meyerland Area Democrats meeting if you are able and if you so wish.

November 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protest Today Against HISD Board Member Manuel Rodriguez

There will be a protest later today against newly reelected Houston Independent School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez.

Mr. Rodriguez, who won by 24 votes, circulated what many view–including myself—as anti-gay campaign materials.

Mr. Rodriguez has apologized. That is not enough in this case.  There is simply no way that Mr. Rodriguez can be seen as an advocate for all kids in Houston schools. Nor can he be seen as an example to follow by either students or HISD employees.

Texas Watchdog has reported on this story. 

Here are details of the protest this afternoon—

JOIN US in protest of HISD School Board Trustee Manuel Rodriguez, who according to the Houston Chronicle, displayed “appalling homophobia” over the weekend. The HISD School Board is the LAST place that we want this kind of homophobia to be in power. 

What: HISD School Board meeting

When: Thursday, Nov 10; outdoor protest beginning at 5pm, public hearing at 6:30pm 

Where: The Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 West 18th Street, in the board auditorium. 

PLEASE SHARE THIS INVITATION. We have several signed up to speak, but also want as many as possible there to stand with us in solidarity against bigotry on the HISD School Board!

For background on this issue, see: http://blog.chron.com/k12zone/2011/11/gay-rights-group-condemns-hisd-trustees-ad-updated/

November 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Houston School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez Distributes Anti-Gay Campaign Materials—It Would Be Great To See Houston GLBT Caucus Backing The Progressives Who So Often Support Them

Houston Independent School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez has distributed campaign materials that by any reading appear anti-gay.

The Houston Chronicle has rescinded their endorsement of Mr. Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez up for election on November 8. He holds position 3 on the board.

From The Chronicle—

A last-minute campaign flier for Rodriguez displays appalling homophobia. The flier urges recipients not just to vote for Rodriguez, but to vote against his opponent,Ramiro Fonseca, because he has been endorsed by the Houston GLBT Caucus, “the South’s oldest civil rights organization dedicated solely to the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.” The flier further states that Fonseca has “spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids,” and winds up with a pair of bullet points noting that he’s 54 years old with no children and has a male partner. That’s obvious gay-bashing, of the kind that HISD rightly prohibits on the playground. It has no place on HISD’s board.

Mr. Rodriquez’s opponent is Ramiro Fonseca. Here is Mr. Fonseca’s website.

‎Perry Dorrell at Brains & Eggs has blogged on thisissue. Art Pronin from the Meyerland Dems is on the case as well as reported in Perry’s post.

I’ve been involved in these issues since opposing anti-gay Cincinnati Issue 3 as a City Council staffer in 1993, and as a Stonewall Cincinnati endorsed candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education in 1997.

It would be great to see our Houston GLBT Political Caucus come to an Occupy Houston event, and to see them ask more of Mayor Parker as she writes a $40K check to the Texas Conservative Review for a campaign ad.

It seems so often a wide range of progressives and liberals advocate strongly for the cause of gay rights and equal rights for all, but that GLBT political organizations are always not to be found on issues of social and economic justice that impact all people.

The rights of all people are connected.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment