Louie Welch's political career began in 1949 when he was first elected to
Houston City Council, serving from 1950 until 1952 and again fr
om 1956 to 1962. He then served as Mayor from 1963 to 1972.

After a non-discrimination ordinance for lesbian and gay city employees
passed under Mayor Kathy Whitmire in 1984, Welch re-emerged on the political scene as a leading opponent of the ordinance. Weeks after the ordinance passed, the opposition collected enough signatures to force a referendum. In the January 1985 vote, Houstonians overturned the ordinance in a stinging 4 to 1 defeat.

The backlash continued in the fall elections with the "Straight Slate," a
coalition of conservative candidates who wanted to unseat the City
Council members who had voted for the 1984 ordinance. Emboldened
by the referendum, Welch also declared his candidacy for mayor.

In early October 1985, polls showed Whitmire leading Welch and vulnerable on only one issue - her support for the failed referendum. Attempting to capitalize on that perceived weakness, Welch attacked Whitmire's support of gay rights and reminded voters of her 1983 visits to Montrose gay bars to thank the gay community in her successful re-election campaign that year. Welch commented, "There is no way that you could hog-tie, hobble, and drag me into a gay bar at 2 o'clock in the morning to give them thanks."

Then, on October 24, Welch thought his microphone was off at a press
conference when he joked that one solution to AIDS would be to "shoot the queers." Reporters caught the comment, however, and it raced through the local news.* Though he apologized, Welch lost to Whitmire, who remained the city's mayor through 1991. In 2001 she moved to Hawaii, where she invests in real estate.

Welch died on January 27, 2008 of lung cancer.

*Welch's comment was aired on the six o'clock news and due to the efforts
of Don Hrachovy (former Gay Political Caucus President) and John Buschlen (owner of TNT T-Shirts) "Louie, Don't Shoot!" t-shirts hit the streets for sale the next morning. After the election "You Missed, Louie!" shirts were produced, to further mock Welch.


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Houston Post editorial cartoon on Welch
and Houston Chronicle coverage