HOUSTON -

"We knew the Mayor's act was clearly illegal and a violation of Texas Law" -- That was the opening salvo from Jared Woodfill, the Chair of the Harris County Republican Party as he talked about the decision of Mayor Annise Parker to extend benefits to the same sex partners of City of Houston employees legally married in other states.

After the November announcement by Parker, the Harris County GOP filed suit in State Court in December to stop the implementation of the policy. The case is not in federal court where a decision will be made on which court has jurisdiction. In the meantime Woodfill says the decision by Parker without input from City Council is one of the "most egregious abuses of power" he has seen. Woodfill is the first guest on Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall and responds to questions about the changing demographic in Houston and Texas, the likelihood that the GOP suit will prevail and what he would suggest for those seeking same sex benefits.

Also this week, Ray Martinez, Chancellor of the Western Governors University Texas, the non-profit online university established in 2011 that provides college degrees for those who may not be able to pursue degrees on college campuses.

Joining Chancellor Martinez is Michael Stewardson, a recent graduate of WGU Texas. Stewardson received his bachelor's and master's degrees in the IT field and says if he can do it, anyone can. Stewardson is a father of five and says the program was challenging but rewarding as he finally got his degrees after starting at a traditional college in the 90s.

Chancellor Martinez says "there are 3 million Texans between the ages of 25 & 64 who started college but never got a degree." He says that pool of people is where WGU Texas gets its students and where there are many opportunities in teaching, business, information technology and health professions.

It is a very informative half hour! Watch Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall Sunday at 10 a.m., right after Meet the Press with David Gregory.

More Information:
•Jared Woodfill, Chairman, Harris County Republican Party,  713-838-7900  www.harriscountygop.com.
•Ray Martinez III, J.D. ,Chancellor-Western Governors University Texas, 877-214-7011, http://texas.wgu.edu