Hotze a Persistent Political Voice

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Houston physician’s lawsuit challenges Obamacare, continuing a lifelong pursuit of conservative causes

Steven Hotze at an Austin anti-gay rally 1981
Steven Hotze at an Austin anti-gay rally 1981

Steven F. Hotze, M.D., has made conservative causes his life’s work and his latest endeavor is filing a federal lawsuit in an effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The Austin American-Statesman reported yesterday that Hotze, “founder of the Conservative Republicans of Texas and a leading donor to GOP candidates, said Tuesday he had filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.”

The Statesman reported that Hotze’s lawsuit “raises different issues than were considered when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most aspects of the Affordable Care Act last summer.”

While it means nothing in a court of law and certainly will not affect the outcome of Hotze’s lawsuit, it seems worthwhile to let the public know a bit more about Hotze. And, as it happens, I wrote an in-depth feature story about him and his politics more than 30 years ago.

Austin Citizens for Decency

Hotze was front and center in my first big political story. The piece I wrote for Third Coast magazine was published in January 1982. “Decency Ordained: Austin’s Anti-Gay Crusade,” focused on an initiative that was on the ballot that month as a result of a successful citizens petition drive. (Click on the title to access the story and a lengthy sidebar, “Conscience of a Conservative,” that provides deep insight into his origins and motivation.)

At the time, Hotze, then 31 years old, was leading an anti-gay group called Austin Citizens for Decency. By then he had already been a political mover and shaker for 14 years. At age 17, as a senior at St. Thomas High School in Houston, during the Vietnam War he led a patriotic rally that drew some 3,000 people and then-Governor John Connally as the featured speaker.

From the time he turned 19 Hotze continually fought against abortion and in 1969 successfully lobbied the Texas Legislature to ban the procedure—a ban that stuck until abortion was made legal as a result of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

The Austin Citizens for Decency proposal was to amend City of Austin fair-housing ordinances to state that “it shall not be unlawful to deny housing on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The initiative—which was the only thing on the January 16, 1982, ballot—drew 57,469 people to cast votes (nearly 29 percent of the 199,470 registered voters).

The measure was soundly defeated with 20,997 people voting in favor (37 percent) and 36,239 voting no (63 percent). To see the election results on the City Clerk’s website, click here.

2009 Houston mayoral race

After the drubbing Hotze’s initiative took in 1982, I didn’t hear anything about him until the Houston mayoral campaign of 2009, which in a runoff pitted Annise Parker against former Houston City Attorney Gene Locke. (After all, I was covering the news here in the three-county Austin metro area and not paying attention to what was happening elsewhere in the state.)


Suddenly Hotze—continuing the anti-gay crusade he started in Austin—was in the news again during that heated election campaign, railing against Parker for being a lesbian.

It was widely reported at the time that Hotze’s group, Conservative Republicans of Harris County, got $40,000 in contributions from members of Locke’s finance committee and “less than a week later, Hotze’s flyer was out endorsing Locke and repudiating Parker because she is gay.”

As it turned out, Parker won and Hotze’s efforts to bash gays again lost at the polls. Parker became the first openly gay mayor of the largest American city to ever have such a distinction. In 2011, Parker won a second term.

Now Hotze has raised his sights to take on the federal law initiated by President Barack Obama that was a signature achievement during his first term, and is now entering the initial stages of implementation.

Hotze, who worked his way through the University of Texas and went on to earn a medical degree, owns the Houston-based Hotze Health & Wellness Center, which provides alternative treatments for ailments including hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and bioidentical hormones. He also hosts a Monday-Thursday radio show on KSEV-AM 700, “Houston’s independent voice for conservative opinions.” (The station also airs State Senator Dan Patrick’s (R-Houston) live reports from the legislative session.)

This report was made possible by contributions to The Austin Bulldog, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. You can help to sustain  The Austin Bulldog’s coverage by making a tax-deductible contribution.

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