AP subpoenas2

City Revises Subpoenas, Removes Request For Sermons

Since the story caught wildfire and continues to ricochet across the internet, the City of Houston has decided to revise the HERO Subpoena request.  Here’s more from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

Mayor Annise Parker on Friday followed through on her pledge to narrow the scope of subpoenas sent to local pastors who led opposition to the city’s equal rights ordinance earlier this year.

Though the subpoena’s new wording removes any mention of “sermons” — a reference that created a firestorm among Christian conservative groups and politicians, including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who accused Parker of trying “to silence the church” — the mayor acknowledged the new subpoenas do not explicitly preclude sermons from being produced.

“We don’t need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston, and it was never the intention of the city of Houston to intrude on any matters of faith or to get between a pastor and their parishioners,” Parker said. “We don’t want their sermons, we want the instructions on the petition process. That’s always what we wanted and, again, they knew that’s what we wanted because that’s the subject of the lawsuit.”

As readers know, the subpoenas became the quick subject of national news, rising up through the Conservative blogosphere, and landing major fodder for every media outlet from Fox News to Time magazine.  And yes of course, Texas Leftist was also reeled in hook, line and sinker.

Further into the press conference, Mayor Parker reveals to ABC 13 reporter Miya Shay that she doesn’t regret the city’s actions

Miya Shay: “Mayor do you think you would’ve bothered to change the language if not for all of the attention?”

Mayor Parker: No, we wouldn’t have.  They knew what we wanted. [...] There was nothing inappropriate with their request, but it was worded in a way that allowed misinterpretation.  But no, we wouldn’t have weighed in if it hadn’t been brought to our attention.

Attorney Feldman also commented that the other side broke protocol in an effort to gain press attention.

Feldman:  In the normal discovery process… if the other side has a problem your discovery request, before you file a motion to quash, you are supposed to confer about the issue.  Had they done that in this case… they could have told us they had an issue with this request, and we would’ve agreed.  But they decided to make it a media circus.

From watching the press conference,  it seems pretty clear that the issue has caused a fair amount of stress for the Mayor’s office, due to the heinous amount of hate mail it has likely generated.  Parker was very direct with her responses, and probably just wants the saga to be over. In the end though, it is much better that the City revise and clarify the subpoenas so as not to mislead people assuming sinister intentions.

Firestorm aside, the most important aspect of these cases is yet to come.  The actual trial to determine if there will ever be a HERO referendum takes place in January.  Just remember that as was seen this week, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is still needed, and in fact laws like it need to be expanded to citizens across the state.  Kudos to the Mayor and the City Attorney on fulfilling a promise they made earlier in the week.  For the sake of all Houstonians, let’s try to move forward from this misstep.

Check out the press conference below…

 

Luis Lopez2

TLCQ 2014: HD 132 Endorsement

With the recent construction of the Grand Parkway segment linking Katy and Cypress, the West Harris County area, apportioned as Texas House District 132, is a community destined for rapid growth and diversification. It is home to Katy ISD and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD… two of the largest school districts in the state, and both of which have been burdened by the massive, Republican-led 2011 education cuts, while bursting with more young minds to educate than ever before.  Residents in this area have traditionally favored Conservative leadership, but as the area grows, new populations and new challenges have created space for more political diversity as well.  What the area needs most is common-sense representation in Austin that can see multiple perspectives and work with them all, but still remain focused on the realities facing their constituents.

Presumed front-runner Mike Schofield is seasoned veteran of Texas Republican Party line politics.  On his campaign website, he professes that HD 132 “needs legislators that will put the needs of taxpayers first, and place principle above political gain.” But his actual record does not live true to these ideals.  Instead, he boasts about authoring the divisive Texas Voter ID law, and being a close adviser to Governor Perry… all indications that for Mr. Schofield, it’s politics that come first.

But the people of HD 132 have a better choice in this election… Democrat Luis Lopez.  Born in Mexico, Luis remembers well the struggles of working just to make ends meet, and knows that better government representation could make a huge difference in the lives Texans, especially those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.  Despite his early struggles, Luis overcame them through good educational opportunities and hard work.  After graduating from Lamar University, he is now a father, accountant, small business owner and public servant.  He put himself through high school and college working construction jobs in the Beaumont area.

Amassing such a rich life experience, it’s no wonder that a young man in his mid-twenties feels such a call to service.  Mr. Lopez believes strongly that proper government investment and stewardship are critical to the future of HD 132.  In his own life, he saw clearly the value of a good education, and wants those same opportunities not only for his young daughter, but for all the students in the district. Lopez truly lives the future of Texas. Mike Schofield on the other hand, continues to champion missteps of the past.

It is time for a new direction in West Harris County… a direction pointed towards its future.  The pick for HD 132 is Luis Lopez.

Wendy Davis Fighter

Screw the DMN: Vote For Wendy!

For years now, the Dallas Morning News has been a trusted source for news coverage analysis across the state of Texas. The work of their staff reporters is often praised for sound knowledge and journalistic integrity.

The editorial board on the other hand? Well, let’s just say they seem to be suffering from a momentary lapse in judgement. Much to this reader’s surprise, the Dallas Morning News has endorsed Greg Abbott for Governor of Texas.

Or wait a minute, let me be perfectly clear… The Dallas Morning News has endorsed their hope of a “new” Greg Abbott, because the guy they talk about in this piece doesn’t actually exist. And instead of actually comparing the real records of either candidate, they appear to have sided with Abbott because they are afraid of what a Davis win would do to the state’s political climate…

Texas Republicans’ hard-right swing in recent years is troubling. Too many Texans feel alienated by a ruling party that seems indifferent, for example, to the plight of the working poor, the uninsured or youths caught through no fault of their own in immigration limbo.

As governor, Abbott must be a moderating influence and guide a realignment of his party. He has outlined plans that could advance that effort. Where Davis would be likely to encounter ideological battles at every turn, Abbott has the best chance to inspire legislative progress.

Davis has fought valiantly. But for all her progressive promise, and alignment with this newspaper on many issues, Texas cannot afford to provoke the kind of partisan stalemate her victory would probably bring, much like the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington. As much as Texas needs to counterbalance its GOP hard-liners, we fear Davis would only invigorate them.

Interesting argument against Davis there, but they’ve forgotten to mention one thing.  Greg Abbott is FAR from the center of his party on any ideological scale.  While he may have a warm demeanor, envious hairline and camera-friendly smile, he hasn’t shown any indication that he would do the things DMN hopes for.  Given that this endorsement shows that the editorial board is in serious need of some education, who better to accomplish that than Texpatriate blogger and actual University of Texas student Noah M. Horwitz.  Here is an excerpt from his opinion article in The Daily Texan

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, has demonstrated time and again that he is not ready for primetime. He has failed at his current job, prioritizing political grandstanding over the real work necessary to be an effective steward of the state. He maintains illogical and extreme political positions on a plethora of issues, namely those of special importance to students. Most importantly, despite feel-good ads and insincere debate performances, Abbott truly shows no signs of moving back toward the middle if elected. Make no mistake: An Abbott administration would be a dream come true for right-wingers. For all these reasons, I simply cannot recommend a vote for the Republican in good faith.

For the past 12 years, Abbott has served as attorney general of Texas. Historically a low-key post, it has been best known in recent years as serving as the main vehicle for going after deadbeat parents delinquent on their child support, as well as representing the state in lawsuits. These suits historically have been unifying exercises where the attorney general seeks justice on behalf of Texans. A major example was when a former officeholder, Dan Morales, secured more than $17 billion in a settlement against big tobacco companies. But ever since the creation of the tea party five years ago, Abbott has appeared content with using the office as his personal soapbox. Filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, Abbott brags about his wasteful litigiousness in office, saying his typical day consists of waking up, suing the president and going home.

Unfortunately, Abbott shows no signs of reforming this lacking governing strategy if elected. Stump speeches, TV ads and debate performances show Abbott’s almost pathological obsession with harping on the perceived failures of President Barack Obama rather than focusing on why people should elect Abbott and not his opponent.

On the issues, Abbott does no better. He opposes a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy,even in cases of rape and incest. He continues to harmfully defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, even after it has been ruled unconstitutional. Recently, he even made the absurd claim that banning same-sex marriage could reduce the number of children born out of wedlock. Such outdated political positions fly in the face of shifting public opinion and should not be supported.

(Check out the full article here, and be sure to also visit Horwitz’s work at Texpatriate)

 

Nor can the DMN editorial board be bothered, apparently, to read their own paper. Had they scrolled back through a few recent articles from their staff, they could a learn lot about Greg Abbott’s actual record of governance. Maybe they would have caught the piece where James Drew exposed Abbott’s merciless crusade in search of non-existent voter fraud, which resulted in an armed police raid of innocent Houstonians… guns, bullet-proof vests, unlawful destruction of property and all… only to drop the charges after decimating the organization’s ability to operate.  Using the police to bully and scare innocent citizens?? I guess that’s inspiring legislative progress, if you’re a mob boss.

And then there are all of the positions where we simply don’t know how far Greg “Boss” Abbott is willing to go.  When he says he is Pro-Life, does that mean that he would try to ban all forms of contraception?  Given his incredibly vague statements on the matter, that is a very open question.   Do Texans really want to elect a Governor that wants to ban all forms of birth control, and severely limit women’s healthcare??

But thankfully in this election, there is a real choice.  Texans don’t need an insider mob boss leading our state… we need a fighter.  And that fighter is Wendy Davis.  Though she may be best known for her 2013 filibuster to protect women’s healthcare, she also filibustered the horrendous 2011 budget cuts to state educational institutions.  At that time, Wendy said real teachers would lose their jobs, real classrooms would be over-burdened and real students would lose valuable time, resources and programs… all of this was proven to be true.

Wendy is also fighting for Texas families across the state with no access to healthcare because state leaders, including Boss Abbott, have refused any form federal healthcare expansion funds. As a result, Texas is losing out on $136 billion dollars that would not only give millions of Texans access to vital healthcare options and help lower the current cost burdens on our hospitals, but fuel.  By sending our federal tax dollars to Washington and refusing to act, we’re funding better healthcare for other states.  Davis knows that  there is a bi-partisan coalition forming in the state that supports doing what is best for all Texans.    As Governor, this is something that she can achieve.

I’m sure that the Dallas Morning News editorial board means well with this endorsement.  But instead of looking at the Greg Abbott that they hope to create, they need to see Greg Abbott for who he really is.  And then they, like you, need to vote for Wendy Davis.  Make no mistake Texas… it’s all on the line for 2014.

Articles like this one today are an important reminder that sometimes just your vote is not enough.  On this Blog Action Day, Texas Leftist is proud to endorse Senator Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas.  If you needed any more convincing, just take another look at the information above.

Wendy really can win this election, but she needs your help to get it done.  Give to the campaign and help elect Wendy Davis as the next Governor of Texas.  Now is the time when your donation dollars and volunteer hours make the most difference for 2014.  Please share this post on social media and help spread the word with the hashtag #GiveToWendy.  To make a donation, click the image below.

Give To Wendy

14 million voters

Voting 101: We’re Registered… Now VOTE!!

The official state numbers are in, and they’re not lying:  more Texas residents are registered to vote in 2014 than ever before in the state’s history, as confirmed by Secretary of State Nandita Berry. This shatters previous totals, including those experienced in recent Presidential elections. Here’s more from the Houston Chronicle

More than 14 millions Texans have registered to vote in the November elections, the secretary of state’s office announced Thursday, calling the number a record high.

The total marks an increase of 2.8 percent since the most recent presidential contest and 5.7 percent since the last time candidates for governor were on the ballot.

More attention than usual is being paid to voter registration this year. Groups such as Battleground Texas have been working to “expand the electorate” to make the state competitive for Democrats.

Oct. 6 was the last day to register to vote. Early voting begins Monday for the elections on Nov. 4.

As written previously, the astonishing increase is due mostly to the hard work of groups like Battleground Texas, the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), Mi Familia Vota and Democratic Party affiliates.  With a statewide number reaching this high, there is no question that the voter registration strategy worked better than anyone expected.  With a huge crop of new and “unlikely” voters registered, statewide races are now well within reach by Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte and other Democratic candidates.

Historic registration is important, but it won’t be an historic November 4th election unless we have historic turnout.  That means YOU must vote to make history happen.  Here’s what you need to know to get ready and vote… 

 

1) Vote Early!!  In person Early Voting runs from October 20th to October 31st.  Unlike voting on Election Day where you must show up at your designated precinct, for Early Voting you can go to any site within your county of registration.  You can visit your County Elections Website to find out information about Early Voting locations.  Seriously, this is the election where Texas can make history, but it we need YOUR VOTE to make it happen. Get it in early!

2) Spread the word!  This time, it really is different.  If you’ve never talked to your friends or family about voting before, 2014 is the time to start and get them engaged in the subject.  No matter the outcome, Texas government is going to experience significant changes as a result of this election.  Make your voice heard, and tell a friend!

3) Bring a Photo ID.  Despite what you may have heard in the last couple of days, an approved Photo ID will be required to vote for the 2014 elections.  Here is the list of acceptable forms of Photo ID.  If you’re a college or high school student, please note that you cannot vote with a student ID.  Make sure to bring these with you to vote.  With Texas’ stringent new voter ID now in full effect, it is more important than ever for those of us with an ID to exercise our right to vote.  We cannot overturn the law, or make it more sensible until the right politicians are elected to lead the change.

4) Volunteer.  Whatever you care about, this election is going to affect you in the future as a Texas resident.  If you have never volunteered to help a campaign before, please consider working a few shifts between now and Election Day.  This is when our time, talents and contributions matter the most.  If you support Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte and would like to volunteer, check out Battleground Texas or the Texas Democratic Party  to get started.

 

The nation could be in for a real shocker on election night, but it cannot happen without your help.  This is your chance to be a definitive part of Texas history.  Don’t sit it out.

If you have any further questions about voting for your area, call the Texas Voter Hotline at 1-844-TXVOTES.

VOTE!!!

Annise Parker HERO pastors

Houston Subpoenas Sermons From Anti-HERO Clergy

In more big news about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, the city is taking an interesting new turn in its case.  Here’s more on the perplexing news from Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle

Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists who have sued the city.

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

City attorneys issued subpoenas last month as part of the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

The subpoenas were issued to pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance: Dave Welch, Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida, Khanh Huynh and Steve Riggle. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization known for its role in defending same-sex marriage bans, filed a motion Monday on behalf of the pastors seeking to quash the subpoenas, and in a press announcement called it a “witch hunt.”

The city’s lawyers will face a high bar for proving the information in the sermons is essential to their case, said Charles Rhodes, a South Texas College of Law professor. The pastors are not named parties in the suit, and the “Church Autonomy Doctrine” offers fairly broad protections for internal church deliberations, he said.

When asked about the decision to subpoena the sermons in her weekly press conference, Mayor Parker immediately distanced herself from the decision, saying she knew nothing about it…

One word in a very long legal document which I know nothing about and would never have read, and I’m villified coast to coast… it’s a normal day at the office for me.  But you’re going to have to ask the City Attorney that question.

[...]

There’s no question that the wording was overly broad… It should be clarified and will be clarified.  People are rightly concerned if a government entity tries to inhibit, in any way, religious speech.  That is not the intent.

Attorney Feldman later responded, and basically echoed the Mayor’s words.  Both chalk it up to a document that they never read before issue, trusting pro bono lawyers not employed by the city to construct the subpoena.

This is what the Mayor said on Wednesday morning. But it seems in direct contradiction to what the Mayor tweeted on Tuesday night, saying the sermons are “fair game” and giving further fuel to the media firestorm…

One needs only to look at the process by which the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was passed to see that both sides were treated with fairness and respect, even when they didn’t always deserve it.  So many in the news media seem to be rushing to the defense of the Houston Area Pastor Council, but failing to mention all of the lies and deceitful practices that they have carried out.  Just because these pastors claim to be men and women of the cloth does not mean that they are always doing God’s work.  They are the ones spreading hate and division, and deserve to be appropriately scrutinized for their actions.

But appropriate scrutiny can be well exercised without having to subpoena sermons shared with their congregations, as Feldman already stated in the press conference.  Much of that information has already been compiled by those working to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, and does not need to be extended to direct sacred practices.

Many of the people feigning complete and total outrage against the Mayor are the ones that have hated her since day one.  That’s not going to change anytime soon.  But what can change is that the city makes sure that in its effort to defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, they do not isolate the many religious groups within the law’s broad community of support.  The subpoena was cause for legitimate concern, and now that Parker and Feldman have promised to redact the wording to exclude sermons, leave the issue where it is, and make sure that they correct it.  Just like in May, it’s time to practice dignity and common sense on both sides.

Texpatriate and Off the Kuff have more.

 

(photo credit:  Houston Chronicle)

TX GLBT

LGBT Discrimination in Houston Yellow Cab

In a city as large and diverse as Houston, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in one’s own pace of life, and very easy to not be involved in local politics.  That is until local politics gets involved with you in the form of discrimination, malicious activity or an accident.  As ABC 13 reports, this is what happened to one couple enjoying a night on the town…

Travis Player and his partner, Andres Orozco, were dropped off Several blocks from their home in the Museum District recently.

“We thought he was joking until he actually pulled over,” Player said.

A cab ride home from F Bar took the fun out of Sunday Funday for them.

“We gave each other a kiss and he told us to get out of the car,” Player said.

The couple says a Yellow Cab driver kicked them out of his cab after the two started kissing, keeping it PG, in the back seat.

“The man just turns back to us and tells us that he doesn’t give gay people rides,” Orozco said. “And he proceeds to tell us we’re going to hell for being gay.”

In response to our questions, Yellow Cab sent us a statement:

“Yellow Cab immediately investigated this allegation of discrimination, including talking to the independent contractor driver. the driver stated that he would have taken the same actions if it was a man and a woman in the taxicab. Evidently, the driver was overly sensitive to passengers kissing. Yellow Cab does not have a policy about passengers showing affection in taxicabs. in fact, we encourage kissing in our taxicabs.”

“The sad reality is that it is completely legal,” said GLBT community advocate Noel Freeman.

Freeman says in the last six months, he’s heard 4 other similar stories: gay couples getting kicked out of Yellow Cab taxis, for being affectionate.

“There are no laws in the state of Texas that protect people from discrimination in public accommodations like cabs. So someone can be kicked out of a cab because they’re gay, black, because they’re a woman,” Freeman said.

The whole incident serves as a stark reminder why laws like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance are so important.  Were the HERO law in effect today, people like Travis Player and Andres Orozco would have a direct local channel to file a complaint against that cab driver for discrimination within public accommodations.  Changing the law also decreases the incidents of discrimination because people know it’s against the law to discriminate, and they know that doing so could result in them being fined or losing their position.

Yet forces in the city of Houston are still fighting tooth and nail to destroy HERO, based on erroneous information.  For this couple’s sake, and all the other citizens of Houston, let’s hope they do not prevail.

This November, Annise Parker and none of the City Council members that passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance are on the ballot.  But if you care about equality throughout the state of Texas, make sure to vote for pro-equality candidates like Leticia Van de Putte, Wendy Davis, David Rosen and others.  The only way to protect all Texans from discriminatory incidents like this one is to put people in office that care about ALL Texans.

 

 

Coryell County courthouse

Texoblogosphere: Week of October 13th

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the advance of marriage equality and looks forward to the day when it comes to our state as we bring you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff published his interview with Mike Collier, Democratic candidate for Comptroller.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos wants to make sure Texas women voters remember in November. TX Greg Abbott’s War on Poor Women is Real and it is Mean.

So there was this ad about a guy in a wheelchair on teevee last week. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks that people observing Texas politics that don’t live in Texas just don’t get it.

As crunch time arrives, Texas Leftist wants voters to know just how far out in the political fringe we have to put Republican Dan Patrick. So far out, this week he started running against Rick Perry. Plus, don’t miss my interview with the only sensible candidate in the Lt. Gov. race, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Of all the bad GOP statewide candidates, and there are many to choose from, Ken Paxton may be the worst, GOP AG Candidate Ken Paxton’s Legal Predicament, Will He Be indicted?

Vote this November with CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme if you want Latinas treated with dignity, people of African descent given life-saving efforts when ill, and Texas women to have proper health services.

Neil at Blog About Our Failing Money Owned Political System wrote about the two ebola cases in the United States. BAOFMOPS is one of many worthy pages to review at NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Unfair Park tallies the cost of assuaging irrational fears about Ebola.

Mark Phariss, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to overturn Texas’ ban on same sex marriage, urges the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to schedule oral arguments in that case already.

Nonsequiteuse reminds us that sneakers are made for blockwalking as well as filibustering. Pink is optional.

Christopher Hooks provides another example of Breitbart Texas being stark raving loony.

The Lunch Tray wrote a piece for the New York Times on the ongoing school lunch wars.

The TSTA Blog highlights another education cutter seeking to get back into office.

Greg Wythe teases his return with a promised look at how the early vote is going.

Mustafa Tameez condemns Dan Patrick’s “irresponsible” border ad.

Juanita speaks as a person with disabilities about that Wendy Davis ad.

Finally, the TPA congratulates Grits for Breakfast on its tenth anniversary of blogging.

Coryell County courthouse

 

Coyell County Courthouse in Gatesville, Texas (photo credit: Kevin Stewart on Flickr)

A Voice for the Rest of Texas