Parker appoints gay attorney as Houston judge

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Mayor Annise Parker appointed a gay Houston attorney and LGBT activist as a municipal judge, at least the second openly LGBT attorney she's named to the bench. 

Parker appointed Jerry Simoneaux to the two-year term on Wednesday. In 2010, Parker appointed transgender attorney and activist Phyllis Frye – a former law partner of Simoneaux – as an associate Municipal Court judge. Frye was the first transgender judge in Texas.

Judge Barbara Hartle, the presiding judge of Houston's Municipal Courts, said Simoneaux was selected after a judicial screening process. Simoneaux declined to comment about his appointment.

Simoneaux, who has more than 13 years experience in estate planning, wills, probate litigation and guardianships, is a former staff attorney for a Harris County probate court judge. He's also a certified mediator.

Last year, Simoneaux was among several gay candidates who ran for judicial posts across Harris County. He lost to Republican Rory Robert Olsen for a County Probate Court judgeship.

“I believe our courts should be fair, efficient, and compassionate, but never political. Fair to all parties—no exceptions,” Simoneaux told Outsmart during the campaign.

In 2014, Simoneaux was a finalist for Best Attorney in Outsmart's Gayest & Greatest awards. He won the award in 2007 with Mitchell Katine. Simoneaux also helped launch the Foundation for Family & Marriage Equality, a Houston group started in 2002 to promote marriage rights for LGBT couples. 

Simoneaux, a wills and estate lawyer, operates the Simoneaux Law Firm with offices on Greenway Plaza and in the Heights. For nearly seven years, Simoneaux and Frye worked together in a firm specializing in real estate, property tax issues and estate planning. 

Simoneaux has also used his legal experience on LGBT issues, chairing the LGBT law section of the State Bar of Texas in 2005-06 and leading the AIDS Outreach Committee of the Houston Bar Association in 2003-04. 

[Montrose Center | photo courtesy Simoneaux]

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