Houston's LGBT Community Reacts To DOMA Ruling

Several days per week, gay and lesbian seniors gather at the Montrose Center for a free lunch social. It’s part of the LGBT counseling center’s “Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years” program, or SPRY.

This week’s conversations inevitably involve the Supreme Court decision that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Lloyd Wassenich is single and retired and comes here three times a week. He’s careful not to get too excited about the decision.

“I’m still letting that sort of go through my mind to figure out. I think it would be unwise to just emotionally come up with something. I think it needs to be thought through, or at least on my part, and figure out, OK, here is where I am, here is where it is, here is where we go, here’s what could happen, and deal with it accordingly.”

One floor above the lunch social, Chris Kerr, the clinical director at the Montrose Center, is more excited.

“There’s not much that gets me at 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning pounding my desk, yelling, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ and running down the hall saying, ‘Yes, yes!’ and say something positive and then get choked up even trying to say the words, ‘Did you hear that it happened?’”

The decision changes nothing about Texas’s non-recognition of gay marriage, including any financial benefits. But Kerr says the psychological impact of rulings like this on the LGBT community here in Houston can’t be ignored.

“When those rulings are negative, it affects people’s psychology. It affects our self-esteem, it affects our sense of our safety and our place in the world to not have our relationships and our way of life, who we are as people, recognized. So when there’s a positive ruling like this, besides the fact that there could be some benefits – you know, financially, legally and those things – just in terms of psychologically, it says that the world is a bit of a safer place.”

The same may be true for one of the most high-profile members of Houston’S LGBT community. Mayor Annise Parker says she’s hopeful to one day be able to marry her long-time partner Kathy Hubbard in Texas.

“The possibility that I can someday marry her is extremely important to me. Now I have said and she has agreed that we want to do that in the state in which we’ve made our home and so at this point we’re not planning on going to one of those states which has recognized relationships such as ours.”

Parker is scheduled to speak at a screening event by Pride Houston, the organizer of the Pride Parade, tonight at the River Oaks Theatre.

Not everyone is happy about the Supreme Court’s decision. In a statement, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called it “a regrettable overreach against the will of the people.”

His press office did not respond to an interview request.

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