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Lower photo (left to right):
Steve Shiflett, GPC President, 1978-1980
Jean O'Leary, National Gay Task Force
Larry Bagneris, GPC President, 1982-1983
Ginny Apuzzo, National Gay Task Force
Bruce Voeller, National Gay Task Force

Don Hrachovy Obituary

 

HOUSTON GAY POLITICAL CAUCUS

The South's oldest GLBT civil rights organization, the Caucus, was founded in June 1975 by Pokey Anderson, Bill Buie, Hugh Crell, and Keith McGee. The behavior of the Texas Legislature spurred the Caucus' founding.

When State Rep. Craig Washington tried to get the sodomy law repealed in the Texas Legislature, he was greeted with junior-high catcalls, prancing, and ridicule from other legislators. This on top of routine Houston police harassment and disrespect from Houston City Council, it was time for action.

By 1979, the Caucus had a 14,000 name mailing list built by Don Hrachovy (Caucus President in 1977). Unapologetic homophobe Frank Mann became the first incumbent City Councilmember to lose an election in twenty years. The Caucus was on a roll and was attracting attention around the country.

But in 1984, the Ku Klux Klan and Houston Chamber of Commerce were among those who attacked a city ordinance protecting gay city employees.
A referendum killed the ordinance, and dealt the gay community a serious setback. Even
so, when mayoral candidate Louie Welch suggested jokingly that the solution for AIDS would be to "shoot the queers," Welch lost in the next election.

Eventually, two former Caucus presidents would go on to win city office --
Sue Lovell served on City Council. Mayor Annise Parker has been elected to citywide office nine consecutive times. In 2009, she became the first openly gay or lesbian mayor of a top-ten US city.

The Caucus continues to do what it has been doing since its founding over 38 years ago: screening and endorsing candidates, registering voters, turning out the gay-friendly vote (including block walks, endorsement cards, and phone banks), and holding elected officials accountable.

And, remember those juvenile jokesters of the 1975 Texas Legislature? Finally, June 2003 brought a long-awaited victory in the US Supreme Court,
as the Texas sodomy law was ruled unconstitutional in the case
Lawrence v. Texas.

Note: The GPC became the GLPC in mid-1987 and then added the "B" and "T" to become the GLBTPC in 2005.

Note: Mayor Annise Parker was caucus president in 1986-87

More info on the Caucus: http://www.thecaucus.org/history
and at HoustonLGBTHistory.org