Brad Pritchett, the field director for Equality Texas, has been appointed by Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones as one of the first six appointees for the history-making LGBTQIA+ Commission. His appointment was approved by the Commissioners Court on August 30.
“I am honored to be appointed to the Harris County LGBTQIA+ Commission and grateful for the leadership of Commissioner Briones,” he said. “I look forward to working with the other members to advance equality for the community.”
Commissioner Briones introduced the measure to create the LGBTQIA+ Commission on June 6—the same day that the Human Rights Campaign was making history for a different reason.
“The Human Rights Campaign has declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQIA+ people for the first time in its history following a slate of harmful and discriminatory legislation across the nation,” said Commissioner Briones at the time. “Representation matters. This Commission will ensure voices of the LGBTQIA+ community are front and center in the County’s decision-making processes.”
The report released by HRC, LGBTQ+ Americans Under Attack, details more than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been signed into law this year alone, more than doubling last year’s number, which was previously the worst year on record.
Regarding the August 30 appointments, she added: “Now, more than ever, we must ensure LGBTQIA+ voices are represented in Harris County’s decision-making processes.”
Commissioner Briones named Pritchett and Dr. María C. González as her appointees. In total, the LGBTQIA+ Commission comprises 11 seats, nine of which are appointed by the Court. Members of the new Commission will then appoint the remaining two seats.
Dr. González will fill the at-large Position 9 position. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Houston and is a leading authority on Mexican American literature, Chicana writers, feminist and queer theory, sexuality, and pedagogy. González was among the core group of faculty, staff, and students who helped establish the LGBTQ Resource Center at UH which, unfortunately, was closed on August 31 due to the Texas Legislature’s Senate Bill 17, which prohibits public institutions of higher education from maintaining Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) offices and conducting DEI-related trainings, programs, and activities.
“I thank Commissioner Briones for this opportunity to serve, and for the honor to be part of the inaugural Harris County LGBTQIA+ Commission,” González said. “Because the LGBTQ+ community can still be discriminated against at the local and state level, I applaud Commissioner Briones for creating this commission to begin to address that issue, and look forward to working with the group.”
In addition to Pritchett and González, the Commissioners Court approved the following members of the LGBTQIA+ Commission:
Brandon Mack (Position 1) and Kylie McNaught (at-large Position 6), appointed by Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
Victoria Cordova (Position 2) and Ramiro Fonseca (at-large Position 7), appointed by Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia.
This fall, the County Judge’s Office will nominate appointees for Position 5 and the at-large Position 8.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, the only Republican on the court, has not yet submitted his nominees. He was the lone vote against creation of the LGBTQIA+ Commission, and his office did not return a phone call as of press time.
It is unclear what will happen if Ramsey does not appoint anyone, although it is possible those two seats would be appointed by the other commissioners.