HOUSTON - A Houston mayoral candidate Friday defended language some considered homophobic, insisting her words weren’t meant to be divisive.
"I am for the community because they are the people, and I represent all people,” Demetria Smith said.
The comments come after Smith made a series of Facebook posts claiming she was being attacked by members of the gay community for her views on whether she would support another equal rights ordinance, similar to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that failed at the ballot box in 2015.
Some question Smith’s language and accuse her of spreading hate, rumors, and lies. One post, in particular, drew the most ire:
“Houston have had too may gay mayors back to back and in city hall period it's time to get it straight,” Smith posted on her Facebook page Friday morning.
When asked to clarify what she meant, Smith said: “OK, so, any event that that the LGBTQ lose the mayor that they endorse, then they have a chance to have a straight mayor, but that straight mayor, which is any candidate that is not part of that community, does not mean that we would not represent your community. That means you had your chance with your representation, but it doesn't mean that we won't represent you at all, either."
Smith said her message is being twisted.
The mayoral hopeful said she's the candidate for all people, pushing a platform of equal rights, fair housing and jobs.
Smith said that while her platform is for a fair and equitable Houston, she's not being given a fair shake.
"They're inciting lies," Smith said. "They're inciting hate, and they're fueling it within their community, because I am not anti-LGBTQ.”
Friday, the debate over Smith's stance on issues regarding the LGBTQ community intensified.
When asked for clarification on whether her Facebook posts contradicted her own stance on equal rights, Smith repeatedly refused clarification.
“I just explained myself, and it's no other way to explain that," Smith said. "I made my position very clear.”
The fallout follows an Aug. 1 pride forum featuring mayoral candidates.
One question asked candidates whether they supported the 2015 HERO measure.
Smith said she didn't support the ordinance, as drafted, but would support language that included a third restroom for transgender people. She wasn't the only candidate to call for changes to the proposed ordinance and insists she’s being unfairly targeted.
Smith’s post was shared throughout political circles, calling for an end to what’s being called hateful rhetoric.
Ashton P. Woods, a community activist and current City Council at-large candidate, identifies as gay and said sharing Smith's post wasn't about bullying anyone. He said words mean things, and Smith’s words were clear.
"She's treating this as if black LGBT people don't exist and that LGBT people are just LGBT people, in referring to us as 'them,' 'they,' 'them people,' 'those people,' as if we are other," Woods said.
Smith ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2015, garnering half of 1 percentage point of the vote.
Monday is the deadline to file all necessary paperwork to be included in the next election ballot.
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