Politics

Heidi Cruz Sat On The Board Of A Houston Group That Backed LGBT Rights Measure

The HERO ordinance became a point of contention in Houston in recent years — and was backed by a chamber of commerce-type group that Heidi Cruz serves on the board of. Heidi Cruz did not vote as a board member and opposed the measure.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — A group that Heidi Cruz sat on the board of voted in 2014 to support a LGBT rights ordinance in Texas of which other Cruz family members had been implicitly critical.

Last year, the HERO anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston failed at the polls after public discussion of the bill devolved into controversy over transgender individuals’ use of public restrooms.

The Greater Houston Partnership, a Chamber of Commerce-esque business association in Houston, voted unanimously in support of the measure when the mayor proposed it in 2014, according to the Houston Chronicle. The group reiterated its support for the ordinance in a press release after the Texas Supreme Court forced the issue onto the ballot, and a page still on its website lists FAQs about the group’s endorsement of the measure.

On the board of the Greater Houston Partnership: Heidi Cruz, Goldman Sachs investment manager and wife of Ted Cruz, who spoke out against subpoenas relating to the ordinance and whose father Rafael said it was “appalling” that Houston has a lesbian mayor in the weeks leading up to the vote.

A spokesperson for the Cruz campaign said Heidi Cruz is no longer a voting member of the Partnership because of the campaign.

Heidi Cruz’s ties to a group that wholeheartedly endorsed a gay rights measure is thrown into relief this week after Cruz surrogates attacked Marco Rubio staffers for supporting marriage equality — despite the fact that Cruz’s campaign lawyer and two strategists signed a pro-gay marriage Supreme Court amicus brief. Even among the most conservative Republicans, LGBT issues are often not as clear cut as they seem.

Cruz’s campaign says Heidi Cruz had nothing to do with the Greater Houston Partnership’s vote in support of HERO.

“Mrs. Cruz wasn’t able to participate in that vote,” Cruz campaign spokesperson Catherine Frazier said. “She strongly opposes the ordinance and is glad that Houstonians overwhelmingly voted against it.” Frazier added that Heidi Cruz voted against the ordinance as a citizen.

Unlike many political spouses, Heidi Cruz plays a key role in the Cruz campaign, frequently appearing and giving remarks at her husband’s events and playing an important role in fundraising.

At the time of the controversy over HERO, Ted Cruz’s father Rafael, a preacher who is a frequent surrogate and bridge-builder in the evangelical community for his son, said: “If the righteous are not running for office, if the righteous are not even voting, then what is left? The wicked electing the wicked. And we get what we deserve…I’ll tell you what, it is appalling that in a city like Houston, right in the middle of the Bible Belt, we have a homosexual mayor.” Houston’s mayor at the time, Annise Parker, who was pushing the HERO ordinance, is a lesbian.

Ted Cruz himself blasted Parker for issuing subpoenas to pastors who opposed the ordinance. “The mayor should be ashamed,” Cruz said in a statement in October 2014. “And we should all be proud to stand up and defend the pastors who are resisting these blatant attempts to suppress their First Amendment rights.”

HERO went on the ballot in November 2015 and was defeated by a wide margin.


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Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at rosie@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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