Annise Parker 050609 signAn editorial in the Houston Chronicle Saturday strongly condemned an effort to smear Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker because she is openly lesbian:

Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, told Olson, “The bottom line is that we didn’t pick the battle, she did when she made her agenda and sexual preference a central part of her campaign.”

That’s a lie.

While Parker has never made a secret of her sexuality, the campaign debate and agenda to date have been wholly defined by the issues facing the city and the comparative qualifications and experience of the candidates.

The Chronicle’s news staff Friday night posted a story about a coordinated plot to keep Parker from becoming mayor because she is openly gay, and also said her remaining opponent in the runoff election, Gene Locke, was courting the support of one of Houston’s leading anti-gay crusaders.

Meanwhile the Houston Press is reporting that another local group called Christians for a Better Government has issued a co-endorsement in the race, specifically rejecting gay-baiting in its call for solutions to Houston’s problems:

“Most of the elected officials who profess to be godly are the ones who got us in this mess,” [CFBG's president, the Rev. Willie Wright Jr.] says. “People are losing their homes not because of what homosexuals have done. If a person is out on the river and the boat has capsized, and you about to drown and go down for the third time, and someone comes to your rescue who can deliver you to safety on shore, you don’t ask them, ‘Are you a lesbian or are you straight?’ Our focus is not on orientation but qualification.”