Attorney Ben Hall courted crazy and HERO opponents to boost his mayoral bid and it's little wonder why. Given the chance, his family spews the sort of dog whistle homophobia that his supporters embrace.
Buried in a lengthy Houston Chronicle profile of the conservative Hall is this nugget:
His parents and grandparents raised him in Columbia, S.C. on a tight budget – the four smallest kids to one bed after rotating turns in the same bathwater – with strict expectations of what it meant to be a man, his older sister, Naomi Hall, said.
“My daddy did not want a sissy punk boy,” she said. “He made that boy hard, really hard. He said, 'You will not turn out to be feminine or anything like that.' My granddaddy had him out in the heat, fishing, painting, hanging fences.”
His sisters would often try to lure him away. “Come on, Ben, let's go swing,” she said, but there was little wiggle room. “My daddy and granddad wanted him to be a macho man.”
Maybe those strict ideas of gender from childhood are fueling Hall's misguided notions about HERO as an adult. He's signed on to Dave Wilson's petition seeking to enshrine anti-trans bias into the City Charter and applauded as the Texas Supreme court swatted down the city's non-discrimination ordinance and forced it to a public vote on Nov. 3.
To Hall, HERO boils down to a poorly worded legal document that jeopardizes women's safety by letting heterosexual men use restrooms and locker rooms under false pretenses.
“I am clearly for no one discriminating against anyone. And I have to immediately say this ordinance is not the way to do it,” said Hall, 59. “I'm concerned about being right. I'm concerned about being just. I'm concerned about being true and authentic.” He said his position on the Nov. 3 HERO ballot proposal, which asks voters if they favor the ordinance, is firmly in line with traditional black voters.
Then again, it could be his bromance with Steven Hotze, the Houston physician who likens all things LGBT to the “evil, wicked” ways of the gays and their supporters.
Part of that gamble involved rubbing shoulders with Dr. Steven Hotze, a powerful GOP operative and Christian activist at a public forum. Hotze lauded Hall's position on HERO at a faith and family rally in August, introducing Hall to a standing ovation from a partially filled hotel ballroom.
By welcoming such attention, Hall, a socially conservative Democrat and ordained minister, aligned himself with a constituency that is “so fringe, they're crazy,” said Maverick Welch of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus: “The people he is playing footsies with are tantamount to Klansmen.”
Of course, if Hall loses the mayor's race – he lost against Parker in 2013 – supporters are setting the stage to claim he's a victim of the gay agenda, whatever that is, according to the Chronicle.
The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church and a friend for more than 25 years, said Hall is taking a risky stance against HERO based on principle. “He believes in the end that principles outweigh practicality,” Caldwell said. “He's bet his legal career on it, for better or for worse. The position he has taken not only singles him out in the entire field of mayoral candidates – if voters say no, his practice as a lawyer going forward is arguably in jeopardy.”