Anti-HERO campaign leaders have shockingly hateful past

Why is this just now coming out???

In documents leaked to The Daily Beast by an unnamed LGBT organization and reported earlier today, the people spearheading the campaign against HERO have a shockingly hateful resume, reciting pretty much every bigoted conspiracy theory about LGBT people in the book.

An ad from the Campaign for Houston, run by Steve Hotze, via

An ad from the Campaign for Houston, run by Steve Hotze, screenshot via YouTube

First is the lead organizer of the Campaign for Houston, Steve Hotze. If that organization sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Back in 1985, Hotze organized the “Campaign for Houston Straight Slate,” led by then-mayor Louie Welch who said that the best way to control AIDS would be to “shoot the queers.”

Credit Hotze for consistency. In 1982, he said of gays that “they proliferate by one means, and one means only, and that’s recruiting. And they recruit the weak. They recruit children or young people in their formative years.” And in May 2015, he said, “Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they have to recruit, and they start with children.”

Hotze also reportedly said, on a “Faith Family Freedom Tour” following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, “I’m not going to fight the homosexuals with sweet words. I’m going to fight them with God’s word,” while brandishing a sword, which he had likened to God’s word. He then called for Houstonians to drive gay people out of their city, saying “I don’t want them in our city. Send them back to San Francisco.” Again, while still brandishing his sword.

Additionally, Hotze earnestly read aloud a satirical manifesto that aimed to make fun of how ridiculous anti-gay conspiracy theories are. Which is odd, given that he has signed on to an entirely serious manifesto calling for wives to be subservient to their husbands and railing against interfaith marriage.

He also recorded auto-tuned pop songs calling for Texas to secede from the United States and stop Obamacare. They’re wild. Here’s one of them.

But that’s not even close to all. As the Daily Beast continued:

Then there’s Pastor David Welch. After HERO passed the city council (by a vote of 11-6), Welch was one of the pastors under investigation for improperly soliciting signatures for a political petition in church. This investigation led to the disastrous PR move of the city subpoenaing Welch’s sermons, among other records.

It turns out that the subpoena, while terrible optics—the City of Houston seemed to be telling pastors what they could and couldn’t preach—was quite justified. In fact, Welch was in frequent contact with national organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom as the anti-HERO fight took shape. And in a video posted last year by Equality Texas, he’s seen training people on how to obtain signatures.

As for the people charged with examining signatures on his suspect petition? Welch called for members of his congregation to pray for God to smite them. Literally.

That’s to say nothing of the web of dark money that flowed through the various interconnected organizations that all worked to defeat HERO — a list that includes the Liberty Institute (Kim Davis’s lawyers), Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. The documents provided to the Daily Beast also included five separate organizations (Conservative Republicans of Texas, Conservative Republicans of Harris County, Campaign for Texas Families, and Citizens for American Restoration) who all have the same treasurer, Bart Standley.

All this is to say that when conservatives claim that HERO was defeated by a broad coalition of concerned citizens seeking to bring Family Values™ back to Houston, they’re wrong. HERO was defeated by a bunch of extremists. But again, while much of this information was right out there in the open, and some of it was reported on during the campaign, why did whichever LGBT group that served as the Daily Beast’s anonymous source for this document dump wait until a full week after Election Day to unload? An opposition research file like this would have been great to have two weeks ago.

Where was it?


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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8 Responses to “Anti-HERO campaign leaders have shockingly hateful past”

  1. Houndentenor says:

    You don’t actually expect 21st century “news media” types to actually do research, do you?

  2. BeccaM says:

    Reminds me of the PropH8 debacle, when only afterwards was it learned just how much money from outside the state poured in and paid for the ceaseless barrage of anti-equality commercials — which I thought were bad, but nothing compared to what Houstonites were exposed to this last month.

    Why did this unnamed LGBT group not release the information back when it might’ve done some good? To be honest, this smells like a Human Rights Campaign ploy… “Hey, we lost! Send us money for the next battle!”

  3. BeccaM says:

    Yep, and then there’s the Catholic Church’s ongoing kiddie-rape problem…

  4. Indigo says:

    Are we to understand that all this was known, the documentation was in place, but whoever-knew just sat on it until after the votes were counted? Is this another “too little, too late” incident that could have been prevented but wasn’t? Who among the knowledgeable profited from this reticence? Or is all this just now coming to light for the very first time and nobody knew? Nobody?

  5. nicho says:

    rapey men in women’s bathrooms preying on little girls.

    If you want to find “rapey men” preying on little girls, look to kids sports teams. It seems that just about every week, some coach is arrested for molesting little girls.

  6. mf_roe says:

    Texas Taliban

  7. BeccaM says:

    I inadvertently watched one of the horrible ‘repeal HERO’ commercials, where they weren’t even subtle about it. They flat out claimed that an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance would result in little girls being raped by violent thugs.

    Despite the fact there are lots of localities and states with LGBT laws and ordinances on the books, and no, there has been no epidemic of rapey men in women’s bathrooms preying on little girls.

    Honestly, anybody who would even suggest this was even within the realm of possibilities is monstrous and despicable.

  8. Doug105 says:

    Not, why now, more how could it have been overlooked. This doesn’t sound surprising in the least.

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