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LGBT certification for Houston city contractors

From last week.

Houston on Thursday became the first city in Texas to add a certification for LGBT-owned businesses in city contracting.

Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order adding the certification during an event with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and its Houston affiliate. The Chamber will manage the certification process.

The move ultimately could help the city direct more contracts to LGBT-owned businesses, which make up a small portion of the region’s 130,000 companies.

Some 173 businesses belong to the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and 70 businesses in Texas — including 38 in Houston — have been certified by the national chamber as LGBT-owned, though the organization said that number often grows after governments recognize them. The number in California tripled in one year after it added the certification.

Houston already has certifications for small businesses and businesses owned by minorities and women, as part of a remedial program intended to boost their participation in city contracting. It places goals for how much of certain contracts are directed toward those entities.

The new LGBT-owned business certification will not be included in those goals, but the executive order says the city will monitor their participation in contracts and produce an annual report about its findings.

It is possible goals could be added in the future. Marsha Murray, the director of the city’s Office of Business Opportunity, said government programs based on sex, like those based on race or national origin, are subject to strict constitutional scrutiny, which means the city has to demonstrate that remedial action is necessary before it can enact goals.

“The city’s new initiative is the beginning step to identify and monitor the level of participation by LGBT business enterprises in city contracting,” she said.

The order also adds the businesses to the city’s firm directory, which means prime contractors will be able to seek out LGBT subcontractors. The city also is launching an outreach campaign to educate LGBT business owners about resources from the Office of Business Opportunity, such as development counseling, legal assistance, and networking events.

This is ultimately about having a representative government. A government that represents the people has to reflect the people, not just in who gets to hold power but also in who gets to participate in the business of government. The only way to know if it’s doing that is to measure it, and this is the first step towards that.

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  1. Bill Daniels says:

    How does the certification work? Do the business owners send in videos of themselves engaged in deviant sex acts? Send in pictures of themselves in drag? Still, it’s a great idea. I mean, who wouldn’t want the city to pay more than it has to to pour a new sidewalk, or purchase new fleet vehicles, if we all knew that the business owner lets xir’s freak flag fly?

  2. robert says:

    How does the certification work? Do the business owners send in videos of themselves engaged in deviant sex acts?

    That would be for closeted republican politicians….and hetero’s are known to be freaks, just ask a Dominatrix …go ahead Bill, ask her/him for permission, lol

  3. Bill Daniels says:


    Excellent! Then Republican owned businesses will be able to dominate (pun intended) the City of Houston contracting scene once again! The good old days are back!

  4. Manny says:

    Bill, you never cease to amaze, I can now add homophobic to your repertoire.

    Bill, is a racist.

    Bill, is a bigot.

    Bill, is a misogynist.

    Bill, is homophobic.

  5. C.L. says:

    I don’t know why y’all continue to feed his ego and ‘can’t wait for your reply to my outrageous post’ cravings.

  6. Lobo says:


    Let me preemptively preface this comment with a disavowal: I am no disciple of Steven Hotze, but I don’t agree with. Here are the reasons, with no claim that they are exhaustive.


    Orifice preferences and sundry seggsual practices (and who you share bodily fluids with) should be a private matter (although they also have epidemiological implications, of course, and are a proper subject of public health measures). If you predicate eligibility for a public benefit on such things, the privacy is lost, and is at least a price to be paid from benefitting from the program. Not everyone will want to be on the public stage, in the public eye, or on the PIA-covered official record, for their seggsual tastes and choices, and those who don’t will then be burdened with either having to forgo the benefit (in the form of preferential treatment) or pay a “price” in the form of the necessary loss of privacy incident to certification.


    And even if, for argument’s sake, you deem this a desirable anti-discrimination measure, how is eligibility for the preferential treatment determined? Can anyone become eligible by engaging in same-seggs (or other definition-encompassed) conduct or by simply self-certifying as an LGBT (or whatever the decreed alphabet sequence or acronym may be)? And, assuming a workable method for ascertaining eligibility has been established, doesn’t the preferential treatment program amount to official governmental promotion of one seggual “religion” (value system/personal moral code of conduct) over another? — What is the principled or practical justification for government singling out and rewarding particular types of seggual attitudinal and behavioral predilections? – Which is not to say such arguments cannot be made. From a public health perspective, for example, monogamy (and it’s nonmarital equivalent, whether same-seggs or ying-yang) and mastubation would seem to be preferable over all others seggsual practices.


    In terms of political/electoral calculation, this program is not likely to be efficacious. The vast majority of the class of people to be accorded preferential treatment is going to vote Democrat anyhow. So what’s the hard-nosed rationale for this form of targeted local government patronage? Not to mention that there is the downside in that part of the existing Democratic voter base may be put off by another program of identity-based preferences, one linked to seggual conduct, no less. This would then implicate the prospect of losing votes either to abstentions or even to the GOP.


    And what about solos who engage exclusively in self-pleasing behavior, which does not even carry adverse epidemiological implications inherent in intimate P2P contact? Shouldn’t public policy encourage such truly safe seggs, as opposed to making same-seggs dyadic pairing (or group seggs, which presumably would also qualify) a requirement for receiving preferential treatment by local government? Has the Health Department been consulted and asked for its input?


    Shouldn’t experienced mastubators be eligible to receive certification and preferential treatment too? Perhaps as a separate category of preferred contractors. Surely an argument can be made that self-seggs has suffered stigma in the past, and has subjected practitioners to scorn, if not – historically – floggings and worse. Look here, at least the graphic, unless you are a more sensitive audience member:
    So, given the pedigree of the practice, such a mastubation-affirmative program might even more easily pass constitutional muster.

    And what about the chase-by-choice and the asexual? Why should they be discriminated against by being excluded from preferential treatment?


    I’ll leave it to others to elaborate on the obvious: Discrimination against heterosexuals who won’t be eligible for the program, including the species-propagators among them:

    That would the suckers who co-produce and raise the next generation.

    P.S. REGARDING THE ELECTORAL DIMENSION: With all due respect to our gracious forum host, let me point out that Houston has already had a non-heterosexual mayor at least once. So much for the community representation or non/electability argument.

  7. mollusk says:

    OK, guys, if you’re going to spin up the outrage machine, at least understand the terminology.

    Orientation: Being attracted to men / women / both / neither. This isn’t a matter of choice. If you think it is, then reflect back on whenever it was that you decided that you would be attracted to men / women / both / neither. Put differently, who on earth would choose to set themselves up for all the abuse that comes with being something other than straight?

    Preference: THIS is the choice part, i.e., lights on or lights off, corn flakes vs. Rice Krispies, etc.

  8. Manny says:

    Lobo, the presumption is the Primes that qualify for the projects are almost white and male-dominated, and probably heterosexual. There is no evidence that the above is not true, and historically it is true that most such firms are white male-dominated.

    Affirmative action in contracts probably should be based on class; at least, that is what I believe would be the most equitable.

    Even if the decision to base on class, the firms hired would probably have strong political connections. That is how government works (personal connections). That is how private businesses work. Aggies hire Aggies, for example.

  9. C.L. says:

    Re: “Even if the decision to base on class, the firms hired would probably have strong political connections. That is how government works (personal connections).”

    Manny, (never one to shy away from generalities) that’s a very large brushstroke you’re painting there. Having been involved in the hiring and firing process within the Federal Govt for three+ decades, not once has my department hired anyone based on a political connection.

    You may be thinking of political appointees, Cabinet posts, etc., which make up about 0.00001% of the Federal workforce. The rest of us were hired based on skill set.

  10. Lobo says:


    Rejoinder to Mollusk:

    I am afraid you haven’t addressed that pivotal question of what the eligibility criterion for the new program is, and how it is ascertained/proven so as to determine who is entitled to preferential treatment and who is not.

    As a lawyer, you must surely agree on the need for something hard and fast to determine who gets some (reserved portion of the pie). With women/men, there may rarely be doubt (and there are technical means of verification), but with sexual orientation? — How do you verify it?


    Suppose I have spare cash in the US equivalent to EUR 30,000, wire this amount (plus the applicable professional fee) to a law firm in Liechtenstein to set up a GmbH. That entity type is an acronym for Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (sort of like Limited Liability Co.).

    Under the Texas Biz Org. Code, not to mention under American English, companies are neuter. Every one of them is an “IT”. Gesellschaft (Company, literally Society), by contrast, is feminine in German – die Gesellschaft — so voilà: I have set up a business with the appropriate gender to take advantage of the City of Houston program that favors femality in public contracting. And I didn’t even have to submit to a gonad check or a scientific scrutiny of my DNA for exes and whys. Nor did I have to undergo a sex-change operation, leaving the corresponding pile of cash available for use as start-up capital.

    So, with my properly-gendered GmbH, duly registered to do business in Texas, I can now enter my bid for a contract to provide the City of Houston with expert insight and advice packaged into a deliverable titled “Options and Opportunities to Further Inclusify and Diversify City Programs and Initiates Informed by International Experience and Intergalactic Model Projects.”


    Now, how would my Lobo Consultancy go about qualifying under the new El-Bee-Gees-Transatlantic-whatever program? Will it be sufficient to establish an LLC, or an INC, based on these types of entities all being grammatically *neuter* under domestic governing law and dominant language? And if it’s not sufficient to be neuter, what does it take to establish the proper status for pre-qualification purposes?

    So, okay, the seemingly obvious solution is the rule that the artificial nonhuman business entity takes the gender of the owner (see reference to gonad type and XX/XY chromosome criteria above), and for the City to set up the new program to operate analogously.

    But what if Lobo the Consultancy Guy clocks in at 10% homo and 90% hetero in the best of the Kinseyean tradition?

    For more on the topic, see

    And what if a prospective city consultant or other contractor were to consider himself 100% homo, as in homo sapiens not to mention erectus, but as perennially female-attracted (if not necessarily attracting) too?

    And what if there are co-owners of Lobo, GmbH or Lobo, LLC. whose Kinseyan ratios and ownership shares run the gamut? What is sufficient to meet the threshold and get in the door, and how would the math be done?

    Still up in the air: What would it take for the City to consider the Lobo outfit’s bid for arguably much-needed enlightenment and elucidation services?

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    LOL, Wolf!

    You’re putting forth great arguments and doing a great Devil’s advocate to (pun intended) flesh out exactly what the goal of this new mayoral initiative actually is. I’m loving it! (no homo)

    That said, I think we have already seen clear evidence of equity (read: favoritism) in hiring based on sexual orientation……I’m sure we all remember Hizzoner’s $ 95K/year “intern.”

  12. mollusk says:

    I do not know the criteria for or specific benefits of this particular program, nor am I going to bother to look it up until one of my clients pays me to do so.

    I’d simply forgotten to follow my usual rule of not responding to trolls, which after this post will resume its proper place in the universe.

  13. Manny says:

    C.L., referring to contracts not hiring of personal. Government employment especially federal government have been in the forefront.

    Read the first paragraph of the article.

  14. Manny says:

    Lobo you have no idea of government contracting and how it works.learn about it first and then argue what ever side you want to argue. LEARN FIRST.

  15. Lobo says:

    A cada cual lo suyo

    Bueno, Sr. Manny, Lobo may not have much inkling of pub(l)ic contracting, but what’s wrong with a load of levity now and again? Had fun today. Hope the same for you, too, in between ranting sessions.

    If that’s not your thing, I recommend “Gatos Graciosos” on YouTube.

    Mollusk, hope you will soon bless us again with your pro bono insight and wisdom, time permitting.

    Should you not think much of the regular suspects in this comment space and question the worthiness of engaging them, just visualize the multitude of the lurkers and their silent invisible acclamation for what you are about to contribute, thereby elevating the quality of the discourse of the plebes on miscellaneous matters of public concern in the virtual arena.