Archive for June, 2014

Happy Pride Day!

Monday, June 30th, 2014

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into federal law. The landmark bill outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Fifty years later — in 2014 — fair-minded individuals are still working in cities and states across the United States to extend civil protections to every American, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation:

  • In May, Houston City Council and Mayor Annise Parker adopted the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) which bans discrimination in housing and employment among 14 characteristics – including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • In June, federal judges struck down same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.
  • In the decade since Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriages in 2004, the practice has become legal in 18 more states.

I like how President Barack Obama said it recently:

When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Our Montrose neighborhood has been inclusive and gay-friendly since the 1980s, and still hosts Houston’s annual Pride festival and parade on a Saturday in mid-June. When the girls woke from good, long, 3-cycle (2:15) naps, we could already hear the music, five blocks away. Auntie Emily was in town, and we decided to wander over to Westheimer and check things out.


As we walked toward Westheimer, mingling with other festival-goers, we got lots of smiles, a couple of winks, and even a “go, girl!” It dawned on me that the four of us looked the part of a happy, non-traditional family. We could do worse!

Auntie Emily and Cate

Mama Bob and Sam

On Westheimer, we encountered couples in matching bikinis, individuals wearing fairy wings, vendors hawking loads of rainbow gear, and scantily-clad dancers.

But, it was hot and loud and both Cate and Sam looked daunted. Just as I started to propose we walk home again, we were rescued by Lyle Bento, the sous chef of the award-winning restaurant, Underbelly. He asked us if the girls needed some water, paused, and then proposed ice cream. We accepted, and he returned a few minutes later with the fanciest push pops I’ve ever encountered: vanilla and chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownie, and fresh blueberries, emerging gracefully from a sleek plastic sleeve. Thank you, Lyle!

On the way home, Cate and Sam both stopped to splash in the dolphin fountain next to Lamar Park.

Cate splashing in the dolphin’s spray

Sam splashing in the dolphin’s spray

I don’t know whether or when the Supreme Court will finally declare marriage bans unconstitutional. And I don’t know whether the Texas Legislature will act to expand marriage rights to all individuals without federal intervention. But I hope that by the time our girls and their peers are old enough to start choosing partners, that any two consenting adults will have the right to love and marry and raise children. It would be cool if Pride celebrations could morph into cultural events without the need to be a political rallying cry. In the meantime, happy Pride Day!

Houston City Hall


Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

It’s summer!

For several months, we have been enjoying “Toddler Tuesdays” in Galveston with Baba Jean and Papa Chuck. Yes, we miss preschool, but it’s important to me that the girls spend time with all of their grandparents — Gram Nancy, too — and my Dad is no longer comfortable riding to Houston in the car.

We’re continuing to use the pool at Gran’mom’s condo to teach girls to swim. I wrapped up the Downtown Commute Survey for Central Houston at the end of March, which means I’m a free agent again. So when the water started to get warm in April, we started going every week.

However, Sam and Cate finished their first year at Becker near the end of May, which frees up our daily routines. And Bill separated from GE at the end of May. He’s looking for work but functionally free-range. Not knowing how soon he will start a next gig, we decided that I should seize this window of opportunity to spend more time in Galveston and try to settle my Gran’mom’s estate.

So last Sunday, I met Mom and Chris at the condo to unearth and discuss treasures together. (More on that in another post.) I spent most of last week there helping Jean sort clothes and housewares to donate to the Resource Crisis Center.

Since 50 miles separate Galveston from Houston, Bill and I decided I should go solo for 2 to 3 days at a time, while he keeps girls at home. It’s the first time I’ve been away from them for more than 12 hours, and it required adaptation from all of us.

We took advantage of technology to bridge the time apart. My little iPhone 3s only supports audio calls, but Papa Chuck let me borrow his iPhone 4 for Facetime calls with Bill and the girls. Here’s what our first video call looked like:

Mama Bob, Sam, Cate, and Lion

Such cuteness!

Afterward, the girls did *not* want to hang up and go off to bed. Some fussing ensued. For next time, we’ll plan to chat earlier in the day when they’re less tired and more resilient. In the meantime, it feels good to be Getting Things Done.