Arizona SB1062 is Gone. What’s Next??

Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has spared her state a bitter set of legal battles by vetoing a controversial bill aimed at codifying discrimination under the guise of freedom of religion. It was a terrible piece of legislation, and everyone from the Progressive community to business leaders to even common-sense conservatives could see it was terrible a mile away. People are now celebrating the bill’s defeat, and claiming victory (forever!!) over discrimination.

But here’s the truth folks… SB 1062 is just a symptom of a much larger disease, and that disease can only be cured through the ballot box.

The real question should be: Why do we keep electing these people?? And by people, I don’t just mean Republicans, but anyone that chooses Legislate their narrow-minded beliefs as a substitute for reality. The “this I believe” caucus isn’t just in Arizona, but it’s a disease that has spread throughout every GOP-dominated legislature in this country. These lawmakers refuse to see our nation for what it really is… a diverse mosaic of peoples that will never agree on everything, especially a single set of morals and values. No matter how one chooses to live their personal lives, that choice cannot be enforced upon someone else successfully. The purpose of law is to solve issues, not create them. But for “this I believe” lawmakers, creating problems seems to be the only thing they are good at. Remember before the outrage of SB 1062, both houses of Arizona’s legislature had numerous hearings where people testified, warning them “This bill is discriminatory” “It will cause an uproar throughout the state”. They’re the ones that listened to all arguments for and against, and after (supposedly) weighing things carefully, STILL decided to vote for a ridiculous 2-page prejudice fest.

The central issue here is not the bill, it’s the lawmakers that are cruel enough to send this bill and ones like it to the Governor’s desk. They’ve done it before, and they will do it again.

As much as the populace would like for these lawmakers to learn their lessen, it’s just not going to happen. The only way to break the cycle of extremism in these legislatures (including the US Congress) is to vote the extremists out of office. It’s great that sanity won the battle on SB 1062, but the war can only be won at the ballot box. If you really care about equality, go educate yourself and vote for candidates that support your views.

Texoblogosphere: Week of February 24th

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks Ted Nugent is an appropriate spokesman for the modern Republican Party of Texas as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes the turnout issue for Democrats in 2014.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson on the Round Rock members of The Lege reporting to the local business lobby, while leaving out the issues that matter most to the people in their districts, Schwertner, Gonzales, & Dale Go To The Chamber.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled at Texas Republicans holding a faux hearing on women’s health care. Give it up. Republicans have waged a real war against women and their health care. You’re not fooling anyone.

It’s Ted Nugent’s (Texas Republican) party, and we just have to live with it, noted the Texas Observer — and excerpted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. But there were also problemas grandes para Dan Patrick last week.

Texpatriate endorses John Whitmire in the Democratic primary for State Senate District 15.

Neil at All People Have Value was prompted by a visit to Galveston to reflect that we can choose to view ourselves in life on the mainland, on an island or at sea. All People Have Value is part of

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

Robert Rivard argues that cities and counties are left trying to solve the problems caused by a generation of indifference from Texas’ state leadership.

Lone Star Q provides video of Wendy Davis discussing her support of same sex marriage to the Express News editorial board.

Concerned Citizens warns about the animus hiding behind religious exemptions.

Better Texas explains why a higher minimum wage is good for Texans.

Grits for Breakfast highlights the modern equivalent to the Dallas Buyers Club.

Nonsequiteuse gets to the heart of the Nugent/Abbott affair.

Greg Wythe continues his in depth look at how the voter ID law was enforced in the 2013 election in Harris County.

Burkablog celebrates what would have been Barbara Jordan’s 78th birthday.

Chris Quintero witnessed and videotaped two Austin Police Department officers detain and arrest a female jogger for jaywalking and not immediately identifying herself (see here for more).

And Swamplot makes us all feel old by taking a look at the house from Reality Bites, 20 years later.

Texas Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional!!

Directly from the Houston Chronicle

SAN ANTONIO – A federal judge in San Antonio on Wednesday declared Texas’ ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The Lone Star state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages is also unconstitutional, he ruled.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, however, also issued a stay, meaning the bans remain in effect for the time being.

Two gay couples have sued the state aiming to overturn the bans. One lesbian couple had to go to Massachusetts to get married, and they want Texas to recognize the union. A second couple had a courtship of 17 years and say they want to get married here in their home state.

Garcia ruled that the couples met the criteria for a preliminary injunction, including the likelihood of winning the suit.

Nationwide, seven states have struck down same-sex marriage bans, in whole or in part, in the past 65 days. But every state, including now Texas, has a stay in effect leaving the laws in place until the issue is visited by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After all of the rallies, speeches and services I’ve attended leading up to a day like this, it’s hard to not be somewhat emotional. Even as the old guard tries vociferously to push back, the march towards equality rolls on. This is a happy day, indeed.

Granted, marriage isn’t everything. Texas is still a state where too many people receive open and lawful discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s still a state where too many people can be fired based on who they love. But along the path to full equality, we have to stop and celebrate the victories that we achieve. For that, I am thankful.

To all of the wonderful engaged couples out there, it’s time to plan for your nuptials. Equality is coming to the Lone Star State!!

Arkansas: ACA ‘Private Option’ Still In Jeopardy

In 2013 Arkansas lawmakers made a solemn promise to the state’s people. They crafted a landmark compromise to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act, and bring life-saving healthcare options to hundreds of thousands of Arkansans. What resulted was Arkansas’ Private Option… a deal that that uses ACA money originally meant to expand Medicaid, but instead covers citizens through the health insurance marketplace.

Before the plan was enacted, I had my reservations about this plan over just using Medicaid… especially if it could be applied to other states like Texas. But after a few months in, one thing is clear. The Private Option is a rousing success. Over 100,000 people have enrolled in healthcare plans, reducing the state’s uninsured population by one fifth in just four short months. Enrollment has been surprisingly swift, with hundreds, if not thousands of new enrollees coming from every one of the state’s 75 counties. It doesn’t matter if the county is politically red or blue, everyone needs healthcare.

It’s not just the new enrollees that benefit. For Arkansans that were already receiving Medicare and Medicaid, the ACA and Private Option increased their quality of care by lowering costs of prescription medications for patients, and providing new benefits such as wellness visits, dental and optical care, and even partnership with fitness centers to promote wellness. With fewer uninsured patients to see, the expansion saves money for the state government and lessens the burden on hospitals. The more than $90 million dollars in savings will be used to give Arkansas families a tax cut. I am convinced that this is a model that would work well for larger states like Texas and Florida.

Sadly, all of these monumental achievements are in jeopardy. Though passed in the Senate, a faction of 27 Republican legislators in the Arkansas State House have voted repeatedly to not only kick those one hundred thousand people off of their health insurance, but also raise taxes for Arkansas families and businesses. The only word that can describe one’s reasoning for such a vote is lunacy. Here’s more from David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times

For some, politics come into play, but those in the hardcore opposition – the Ballingers and the Hendrens – have sincerely held reasons for that belief. I certainly do not think that they wish to kick 100,000 people off of coverage out of spite, or lack of care. They simply believe that the private option is bad public policy.

But the outcome of their preferred policy — ending the private option — is precisely to kick 100,000 people off of the coverage they’ve gained this year through the private option, and to ensure that around 100,000 more eligible people never gain that coverage at all. It’s time for opponents to own that.

If there was ever a time for public pressure at the Arkansas state capitol, that time is now. These greedy politicians need to know that the Private Option is literally a matter of life and death. People across the state are able to go to the doctor for the first time in years. They now have peace of mind that if they face some serious illness, their family won’t have to endure financial ruin just to care for them. Many people have the potential to live longer and healthier lives because of the grand bargain crafted Little Rock. For everyone in Arkansas, I sincerely hope this isn’t thrown away.

(photo credit: Arkansas Times)

TexWatch 2014: Vote in the Democratic Primaries!

First things first, an explanation…

Many readers may be wondering why Texas Leftist has been so mum on the 2014 Primary circuit. It’s due to a combination of factors… Some personal, and some professional. I wanted to sit back and see how the Primaries play out before endorsing particular candidates. I’m still learning about the statewide political landscape, so rather than dive in head-first like in the municipal elections, this is the decision I made for the primary cycle. Once the primary results come in, Texas Leftist will assume a more ‘active’ role, including sending candidate questionnaires to those that make it to the general election.

This decision was certainly NOT because I consider the primaries to be less important… they are absolutely crucial. For the Democrats, it’s even more important that you vote in this Primary election so that statewide political forces (Battleground Texas, etc.) can have a gauge of how their work is going. Remember that in general, a vote to support Democratic candidates is a vote to expand healthcare for our states poorest citizens, to actually invest in the education of our next generation, and to strive for equality of all Texans. These principles are likely to be part of Democratic Party platform.

There a few races however, that I will go ahead and endorse outright… Texas Leftist supports Wendy Davis for Governor, Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor and Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney. Recent comments made by Lloyd Oliver, Ogg’s opponent, denying the existence of domestic violence against women are inaccurate and misleading. As a result, I have to leave the fence on that race.

As much as it pains me to do so, there is also one anti-endorsement that must be made. Please DO NOT VOTE FOR KESHA ROGERS. She is a “LaRouche Democrat” that openly advocates for the impeachment of President Obama. Rogers is a danger to the entire Texas Democratic party. If any friends ask you about Rogers, tell them to not to voter for her under any circumstances.

Though not covered at Texas Leftist, I highly recommend the following sources to help guide your voting choices for the Democratic Primary…

The Off the Kuff 2014 Elections Page is information central for Houston-area politics. He has a fantastic breakdown of local races, and a few other contests from around the state.

Another trusted resource is the Texpatriate Blog. They have conducted several candidate interviews for the Primaries, kept up with all of the latest developments, and offer insightful analysis of each race and it’s broader implications.

Early Voting is underway now in counties across the Houston area. Please go VOTE!!

Greg Abbott: The Trouble with Ted Nugent

As the old saying goes, ‘You are the company you keep’.

The truth of the matter is that some of Attorney General Abbott’s company has openly admitted to having “affairs with several underage girls”. As Abbott knows by Texas law, those affairs would possibly qualify Ted Nugent as a rapist, a pedophile, or both. These are statements made by the extremist rocker and activist himself. As Christy Hoppe of the Dallas Morning News writes, he’s not denying any of his actions. It’s important to note that Mr. Nugent isn’t charged with a formal crime for these past actions, but it’s still worth noting that he takes ownership for them.

Perhaps it has been a long time since Greg Abbott’s law school days, but given that his job revolves around such critical theory, it might be time for a refresher. The term guilt by association is familiar to legal circles, and even used as a standard of conviction for some defendants. Sure the esteemed Attorney General would know that people whom are otherwise innocent are judged guilty of a crime just because they knowingly kept the company of the “true” criminal. Yet knowing all of this, the Abbott campaign chooses to defend Nugent and his vociferous support of the Second Amendment.

As one can guess, Texas Democrats are the ones leading the charge against Abbott. Here’s more from Christy Hoppe at the DMN…

Opponents pounced on the joint appearances, scheduled Tuesday morning at a Denton restaurant and later that afternoon at a Wichita Falls coffeehouse.

“Texans deserve better than a statewide officeholder and candidate running for governor who welcomes Ted Nugent and his repugnant comments,” said Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.

“I can’t help but recall the old saying, ‘Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are,’” Hinojosa said.

Grace Garcia, executive director of Annie’s List, which raises money for female Democratic candidates, called on Abbott to cancel the appearances.

Garcia said it was inappropriate for Abbott to appear with someone who has described feminists and female politicians as “varmints,” “fat pigs” and “dirty whores.”

“It’s a lie to say he’s on our side and then turn around and accept the support of someone so outspokenly anti-women like Ted Nugent,” she said.

Most politicians, while not cautious individuals in the least, have a tendency to immediately distance themselves from such atrocities. Many conservatives argue that Rick Perry was able to get elected with Ted Nugent practically by his side, and no one’s denying that as the truth. But after enduring the national embarrassment of Perry’s Presidential run and renewed strength from legislative combat, the Texas of 2014 isn’t going to stand for such malfeasance. Even Paul Burka, prominent columnist for the Texas Monthly chose to weigh in with this…

…here’s my message for Greg Abbott: This is totally repugnant, and it is astonishing to me that Abbott has not separated himself from Nugent. It should have been the first thing he did after Nugent’s rants. But no, Abbott is a hard man. He doesn’t give an inch.

It reveals Abbott, at the very least, as someone who doesn’t have acute political judgment. Nugent is political dynamite. He can blow sky high at a moments’ notice. And if Abbott truly believes that he needs Nugent to establish his 2nd Amendment credentials, as if they were in any doubt, then Abbott must believe that his own record doesn’t speak for itself. You can’t have it both ways. The likely next governor of Texas should be better than that.

On the last point, Burka and I agree. By actions like these, Abbott is proving that Texas’ next governor should be Wendy Davis. If Ted Nugent helps to also make that case, then so be it.

Texoblogosphere: Week of February 17th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is always ready for voting to begin as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff concluded his series of primary interviews with conversations featuring State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, and Ag Commissioner candidates Kinky Friedman and Hugh Fitzsimons.

Over two million Texas voters from the 2008 Democratic primary — and eight million who were registered to vote in 2012’s general election — have not shown up to cast a ballot. Texas is NOT a conservative state; it’s a non-voting state. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the details on what it will take for Texas to turn blue, and the numbers don’t offer much encouragement.

Horwitz at Texpatriate explains why Attorney General Greg Abbott pulled the ladder up behind him on other disabled Texans after receiving his thirty pieces of silver.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson shows how the Texas GOP, with Perry at the wheel, took the express lane to Crazy Town and the rest of Texas is along for the ride, It’s Going To Be A Huge Mess.

Neil at All People Have Value admired turtles and a fish seemingly doing well in not very clean water in Houston’s Buffalo Bayou. These creatures recall the fact that people not only can thrive in a rough environment, they can also shape surroundings for the better. All People Have Value is part of

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

Texas Clean Air Matters calls on the state to work with the EPA.

The Feminist Justice League shows some love for Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.

The Texas Green Report cheers a study showing Texas among the nation’s leaders in solar-related jobs.

Christopher Hooks wants Dan Patrick and Julian Castro to have that debate about immigration already.

Lone Star Q salutes outgoing Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns.

Mustafa Tameez analyzes NASA’s Tea Party Primary in CD36.

Battleground Texas had an amazingly successful event at Rice University for Wendy Davis.

And finally, the TPA congratulates Noel Freeman for a long awaited and much deserved second chance.