Newly Elected Houston Council Member Vows Support for LGBTQ Protections

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Gay official re-elected in Brazoria County, but husband loses race.

By Brandon Wolf

Martha Castex-Tatum reiterated her support for LGBTQ equality after winning the District K seat on the Houston City Council in a special election on Saturday, May 5.

Castex-Tatum, who was endorsed by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, captured more than 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff, in an eight-way race to replace the late Councilman Larry Green. Green, who passed away in March, was also an LGBTQ ally who voted in favor of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in 2014.

“I believe I deserved the Houston GLBT Caucus endorsement because I support non-discrimination protections for all people,” Castex-Tatum told OutSmart following her victory. “I do not believe people should be treated unfairly based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. This amazing district is a true representation of our entire city, and I am committed to representing each and every resident to the best of my ability. I do support HERO and will defend HERO if it is approved by voters as a charter amendment.”

Mike Webb, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, called Castex-Tatum’s victory “a huge local win” for the LGBTQ community and “a positive sign for what’s to come.” 

“The Caucus went all in during the District K special election because the LGBTQ community needs pro-equality leaders like Martha who can not only be one of our ambassadors on City Council during the next fight for an equal rights ordinance, but also help us engage with communities we neglected during the last HERO campaign,” Webb said. 

Castex-Tatum, who served as Green’s director of constituent services, will join Councilwoman Amanda Edwards as one of two African-American women on the council. District K covers part of southwest Houston between Almeda Road, Brays Bayou, and Beltway 8, and stretches into Fort Bend County.

Michael, right, and Steven Byrum-Bratsen

Elsewhere, Michael and Steven Byrum-Bratsen fell short of becoming the first same-sex couple in Texas in which both spouses are elected officials. 

Michael Byrum-Bratsen was unopposed in his bid for re-election to his seat on the Iowa Colony City Council, but Steven Byrum-Bratsen lost his race for a seat on the Brazoria County Drainage District Board. Michael Byrum-Bratsen said he was thankful to voters who entrusted him with another two-year term, and proud of Iowa Colony.

“In this small Texas town, my sexuality has never been an encumbrance,” he said. “The greatest endorsement of a job well done is the gift of an uncontested race.”

Michael Byrum-Bratsen vowed to continue his efforts in public safety and economic expansion, and said he plans to run for mayor in 2019.

“I believe the city’s services are not growing at an appropriate pace to keep up with our population growth, and I believe I can fix that by realigning the city’s priorities,” he said.

Steven Byrum-Bratsen, who finished second in a three-way race, said he plans to run for Drainage Board again in two years.

Although Steven Byrum-Bratsen’s sexual orientation did not come up directly during the campaign, there were comments in a Facebook group that the winning candidate was “a family man with family values.”

The incumbent, who is under indictment for using public equipment for personal use, came in third in the race. In the meantime, Steven Byrum-Bratsen plans to focus on the area’s local emergency services district.

 

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Brandon Wolf

Brandon Wolf is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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