Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus Endorses Melissa Noriega

cross posted at Burnt Orange Report

This post was revised on March 15, 2007. If you have a question about the changed content, please contact us at

Tonight, during our March general meeting, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus voted to endorse Melissa Noriega in her run for city council.

With an openly gay candidate, Noel Freeman, running, the decision to endorse Noriega was not an easy one, but the caucus has not compromised its commitment to advancing equality for GLBT people in Houston. After some thorough discussion, there was clear consensus on two things:

First, we can all be very proud of Noel Freeman. His courage is inspiring, and the GLBT community applauds him for running as an openly gay man.

Second, the caucus must be unrelenting in its pursuit of equal rights for GLBT. Of course we want more GLBT elected officials, but, even more than that, we want equal rights as soon as possible. The Caucus is certain that, out of all the candidates, Melissa Noriega will be our most effective advocate. She is a proven leader with broad support. She has demonstrated a deep, personal understanding of GLBT issues, and she is more than prepared to run a victorious campaign. Noriega's screening was exemplary. She far outshined every other contender, including Freeman. We are proud to support her, as proud as we've ever been.

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus enthusiastically looks forward to Melissa Noriega's tenure on city council, and we will be working diligently on her behalf right through May 12th, election day.


Anonymous said...

I was disappointed that Noel Freeman didn't get a fair shake just because he's a Republican, but I appreciated that Annise Parker stood up and said it would be a disgrace to the Caucus if it didn't endorse him. I'm ashamed to be a member of the Caucus, and I won't be coming back.

The Caucus Blog said...

I attended last night's meeting, after serving on the screening committee, and I disagree with your assertion. I can honestly say that Noel Freeman was not denied our endorsement because he is a Republican. The Caucus is not partisan. We've endorsed Republicans in the past, including, most notably, Ann Clutterbuck.

When considering its endorsement, the Caucus evaluates candidates on many levels. One of the most important candidate attributes considered is viability. Can this candidate coordinate a victorious campaign? At the time of his screening, Noel Freeman could not demonstrate broad support. He had not raised an acceptable amount of money, and he had no clear field strategy. Furthermore, Noel Freeman doesn't seem to share all of the Caucus's priorities. Most importantly to me, Freeman does not share our desire for marriage equality. Our organization has clearly stated goals. We endorse candidates that accelerate the realization of those goals. Because of her excellent campaign organization and her history of leadership, Melissa Noriega has exceptional viability, and, to be honest, she is more in line with the Caucus's ideals than Noel Freeman. For these reasons, Noriega won our endorsement vote by an overwhelming margin.

Also, Annise Parker didn't say that it would be a "disgrace" for us to deny Noel our endorsement. Yes, she stood in support of Noel Freeman, and she articulated some compelling arguments, but she did not say our endorsement of Melissa Noriega was a "disgrace." Anyone who heard Noriega speak before the Caucus will agree that there is nothing disgraceful about supporting her.

Having said all that, I must commend Noel Freeman for running. I'm a young guy, who loves politics, and I think that Freeman's efforts are very inspiring. I think he's very bold and courageous, especially because he's an "out" Republican. I disagree with him on many issues, but I admire him.

Finally, if Noel Freeman and his supporters disagree with the goals of the Caucus, they should join and become active participants in our efforts. Annise Parker has been a member for long time. Sue Lovell is also a member. Freeman brought some supporters to last night's meeting, but none of them could vote, because none of them are active members.

Anonymous said...

I was also at last night's meeting, and Noel's party affiliation really wasn't the issue. City elections really aren't partisan anyway. I think he'll have a hard time winning the election.

I remember hearing a presentation on the Texas Republican Party platform. I have a hard time voting for Republicans because of this:

"Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values."

Appalling! And straight from the elephant's mouth. Why is Noel a Republican?

Anonymous said...

I attended the Caucus meeting last night and first let me say that the GLBT Political Caucus is a great organization that does important work.

I do, however, believe it made a mistake in endorsing Melissa Noriega. I've had many discussions with Melissa Noriega and as such I know her to a be a wonderful person; however, to say she has a "personal" understanding of GLBT issues is an overstatement.

I do agree with Annise Parker and she did say it would be "a disgrace" if the Caucus didn't endorse a qualified, openly gay candidate and she indicated Noel Freeman to be that candidate. She said nothing about it being a disgrace to endorse Ms. Noriega.

My problem lies in the question of viability. It was discussed over and over again in the room. Melissa Noriega has a long list of endorsements, but she also is tied into a number of political connections which help her get those endorsements (the Police Officer's Union Endorsement for example).

It was said that Freeman has no viability, but the Caucus had the opportunity to offer him some viability through its endorsement.

I do believe that his being a Republican weighed on a lot of people in his screening and I know it was the point of conversation for many in the group.

City elections are supposed to be nonpartisan; however, many people were unwilling to look past his party affiliations and see his stance on the real issues that face Houston. His platform, his ideas and his experience in the city make him extremely qualified to fill the position of At-Large 3.

Unknown said...

People from the Caucus have been trying to engage Noel since last September when a chance encounter led us to find out he was intending to run.

I know of at least five people closely associated with the Caucus, including Annise, who suggested he make himself visible to us by attending meetings, attending the board retreat, becoming a member, and becoming involved in general. The first we saw him at one of our meetings was at the gathering of candidates last month.

Personally, if he had shown some effort in becoming involved with the Caucus, I would have voted for him last night. From talking to others I am not alone in that sentiment. We would have been willing to give him that support, despite our serious questioning of his viability, had he put forth any effort to support us in return.

There are eight months until the November election. If Noel decides he wants to get involved and earn our endorsement for that election, he can still do so. We will not, however, simply hand it to him because he is gay.

Anonymous said...

So five years of him fighting for the repeal of don't ask don't tell and lobbying Republican congressmembers to oppose the FMA constitutes him not supporting us? I guess you haven't seen the dozens of news articles across the nation over the past several years lauding his efforts to support the GLBT community. In fact, Noel was the first recipient of Lambda Legal's Courage Award.

Anyone who thinks Noel hasn't done anything four our community is kidding themselves. His efforts are why many of us in Houston have helped fund his lobbying efforts over the years, and I am proud that he has represented me and all GLBT vets in Texas.

When was the last time Melissa went up against John Cornyn or Kay Bailey Hutchison on our behalf?

I will be writing Noel a check, and I encourage others to contribute to him as well. If anything, I think this endorsement will divide, rather than unite our community in this election.

Anonymous said...

OK, I will put my comments on this since I was at the meeting as well as being at every screening...

I am truely sorry that people do not understand why it was that Melissa Noriega received The Caucus endorsment. I can tell you that I was extremely disappointed that Mr. Freeman and Mr. Mayers did not screen as well as Ms. Noriega. I wish my own GLBT candidates would have done better.

The fact of the matter is that I know for a fact that there were people in the community telling Mr. Freeman for the past six months exactly how he can win the endorsement. He needed to be involved in the organization and at least be known in the GLBT community overall. Unfortunetly, he is not well known in the community as well as he does not have cummunity leaders to come forward and publically endorse him. The Caucus has a very established history of supporting candidates that are not only good on our issues, but also people that we know and can trust to stand behind our GLBT Community during difficult political times.

I do not know if Mr. Mayers had this advise given to him, but he also suffers from the same fact that the GLBT Community does not know him.

And let's face it, the GLBT community will have to get to know somebody very very well if they are going to trust a person who states that they are a Republican and will only support other Republican candidates even if that candidate is anti GLBT Equal Rights! And if the person has a background of being associated with a corporation that is one of the most anti GLBT Equal Rights, then they too have a long road in front of them to prove that they are on our side. There is that saying that "if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with flees", and I am sorry to say that in this case that the Republican Party in Texas as well as the Exxon Corporation have been very big "dogs" to the GLBT Community in the past. And it sure as hell hasn't changed yet!

I see that people are agreeing with Annise Parker's statement that it would be a disgrace if The Caucus did not endorse Mr. Freeman or Mr. Mayers because they are out gay candidates. I put it to you that the disgrace lies in the fact that neither candidate really did the work that it takes to achieve this endorsement. Perhaps these two gentlemen can go to both Annise Parker and Sue Lovell and talk about the work that it takes to not only run as a candidate but also in serving in office. I am so proud to have Ms. Parker and Ms. Lovell representing me in government because I know that they both "work their ass off" everyday in representing the people and doing everything they can possibly do to protect my rights as a gay man!

Please know that I really do hope that Mr. Freeman and Mr. Mayers stay in touch not only with The Caucus, but to continue on thier journey and efforts to serve in politics. I think both of these gentlemen have a tremendous amount of potential. I would really love to have an out gay man in office here in Texas that will start to change the face of the Republican Party as well as in the business community. I think they can evolve into great candidates that are not only elected into office but could go as far in politics as they wanted. They just have a lot to learn and to accomplish in order to be able to win a political election, or at least a leadership role in our GLBT community.

My hope is also that people who do not understand issues of viability and those that think they are ashamed to be members of The Caucus perhaps do not understand how this organization functions. I encourage them to stay involved. Come to the monthly meetings and join The Caucus to be a voting member, start talking to friends and family about politics and telling them who you want in office, and start taking actions that go with your beliefs. Being an informed and active member in the GLBT community, as well as the community over all, is the best way to make the changes you want to occur.

I hope my comments are helpful and lead to understanding and unity in my own GLBT Community.

Jim Duke
Caucus member

Not to leave Andy Neill out, I can tell you that I think he also has potential,and from what I know he too would be good to have in office. Unfortunetly for Mr. Neill, Ms. Noriega did screen better and that is why she was selected over him. I do hope that Mr. Neill continues on in his efforts to serve in public office.

Jeff Reid said...

I find it interesting that we have seen more passion for Noel in the comments of the announcement of Melissa's endorsement than we have in any of the caucus meetings or events preceding the endorsement meeting.

With all respect to Noel's A&M experiences and his SLDN work, which are both significant and laudable, he is still almost completely unknown in the Houston GLBT community. Building a base from which a successful run for office can be made requires building trust and goodwill within the whole community and that takes time and hard work. Noel is certainly capable of this, but will he do it?

Whether or not our failure to endorse Noel was a disgrace or not is kind of irrelevant at this point. The decision has been made, what's done is done. The real question is: Is Noel going to realize this opportunity to grow into a leadership role in this community, or is he going to fade back into obscurity?

It's his decision, and I have the feeling that if he makes the right choice, the next time he seeks our endorsement the outcome will be very different.

Anonymous said...

The Caucus had thee choices on Wednesday night. #1 Ivan, a very nice and qualified man, who hinted he was gay, but could not even say he was gay to us at a GLBT Caucus meeting. #2 Noel, a very nice and qualified gay man who was advised by GLBT folks over six months ago to JOIN the Caucus, but who told me that "it would not yet be prudent to join." As an out gay man seeking our endorsement, Noel still has not joined the Caucus. So if it is not prudent now, when will it ever be? If elected, before which vote, can he prudently join the Caucus? (NOTE: Noel's being Republican was not a problem for the Caucus, but it remains a problem for Noel.) #3 Melissa is a straight person with proven track record of experience as a past Member of the Texas Legislature (occupying her husband's seat while he served with the military in Afganistan)who voted pro-LGBT each and every time the vote came her way. Melissa also got the Caucus endorsement becasue she is EXTREMELY electable. I AM PROUD TO BE A MEMBER OF THE CAUCUS. Phyllis Frye, the Phyllabuster

Anonymous said...

That's not what Noel said. Noel said it would not be prudent to join the Caucus before May 12th because he would be contributing money to an organization that is now actively seeking to defeat him in the election. Would you give money to your opponent?

I talked to Noel this morning, and he told me he wanted to talk to Jennifer and Maria about it before he decided to join because of the contributing against himself issue. I'm sure we will see him participate in the Caucus, but it's a matter of when. I understand his point of view right now, and I hope you can.

Anonymous said...

I did not attend the endorsement meeting, but I read the endorsement letter.

I'm OK with Melissa Noriega; I do think she's qualified.

However, I am wondering if Melissa Noriega is going to announce this on her website.

Typically, she announces the group she is going to speak to and the location, but she didn't announce she was going to meet the Houston GLBT Ploticial Caucus this past Wednesday. (I think only Andy Neill did)

I'm now waiting to see if she will post a bulleting on her home page proudly announcing this endorsement...

Anonymous said...

She listed it on her endorsements page, but did not post an announcement on her main page. She did not send out an announcement about it through her campaign newsletter, either.

The Caucus Blog said...

Noriega's website is now featuring the Caucus's press release on their front page.

You can read the full press release here.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Caucus Blog said...

The previous comment was completely inappropriate, and it has been deleted. In every interaction I have had with Noel Freeman, he has been professional, polite, and a model of decency. This is not the place for unsubstantiated rants.

Anonymous said...

My comments are true whether you choose to believe them or not. Research into his personal life and you will see.

Anonymous said...

This is to the Anonymous blogger who does not have the courage to identify himself, yet hurls baseless accusations against individuals, and than has the actual audacity to demand that the Caucus investigate silly and stupid accusations. Anonymous accusations against anyone is not acceptable on this blog. The Caucus blog is to continue political discussions. We have proudly endorsed Melissa Noriega for city council and would hope others will endorse her as well.

Maria C. Gonzalez, Vice President, Houston GLBT Political Caucus

Anonymous said...

You clearly misunderstood my post. I demanded nothing. I simply suggested that you become better aquainted with a person before considering endorsement of their campaign. This is a political discussion of the type of person you trust to represent the city of Houston.

Also if you have such large a problem with anonymous posts here, you should remove the option.