Greg Abbott: LGBT Texans Aren’t Stable Enough For Marriage

Marriage in most families is a momentous occasion, and for those that choose to walk down the aisle, it marks the beginning of a new life for the wedded couple.  Marriages form a backbone of not only family history, but American history as well.  But for LGBT Texans that treasured history is being not only prevented, but destroyed by the state’s Big Government Attorney General.  As revealed this week, Greg Abbott has decided to be a roadblock to equality yet again, filing an appeal to the recent ruling that struck down the state’s marriage ban.  Here’s the information directly from the full text of the Attorney General’s filing

Texas’s marriage laws are rooted in a basic reality of human life: procreation requires a male and a female.  Two people of the same sex cannot, by themselves procreate.  All the Equal Protection Clause requires is that Texas’s marriage be rationally related to a legitimate state interest.  Texas’s marriage laws easily satisfy that standard.  The state’s recognition and encouragement of opposite sex marriages increases the likelihood that naturally procreative couples will produce children, and that they will do so in the context of stable, long-lasting relationships.  By encouraging the formation of opposite sex marriages, the State seeks not only to encourage procreation but also to minimize the societal costs of procreation outside of stable, lasting marriages.

Curious how the Attorney General, and Republican candidate for Governor keeps bringing up this point about stability.  Clearly Abbott doesn’t think that LGBT Texans are “stable enough” to handle meaningful relationships.  Of course, as the Houston Chronicle points out, these are the very same flawed arguments that have been rejected several times in other Appeals courts…

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and pro-gay marriage activists were surprised Abbott led with the “responsible procreation” argument since it has been rejected in the 10th and 4th Circuit Courts.

“It hasn’t succeeded very often because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and it doesn’t really comport with what most of us think about marriage,” said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “(State law) doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be reasonable.”

Any outcome in the 5th Circuit would be a win for the gay marriage movement, said Steve Rudner of Equality Texas.

If the court upholds Judge Garcia’s ruling overturning the ban, it will bolster LGBT activists’ case. If it becomes the first appeals court to toss out such a ruling, creating a circuit court split, it could put the Texas case on a fast-track to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Whether or not this ridiculous appeal is part of some meticulously orchestrated plot to entice the Supreme Court, or if it’s just the Attorney General’s blunt ignorance on display, only time will tell.  But one thing we can be sure of:  Greg Abbott is no friend of the LGBT community, or of any kind of equality for the state of Texas.  He has shown time after time that he doesn’t support women’s rights, property rights, or even the rights to obtain vital information.  This latest infringement on the rights of Texans should not be ignored.  If you care about personal freedom for anyone in any capacity, please do NOT vote for Greg  “Big Government” Abbott this November.

(image credit:  Texas Democratic Party)

RE TribTalk: Houston Vehicles for Hire

This post is in response to a recent Texas Tribune article by Noah M. Horwitz.  Please read his post on the Trib site for background.  In summation, his editorial is arguing against the proposed changes to Houston’s Chapter 46, the rules governing Vehicles for Hire, if those rules are not evenly applied among existing taxi companies and newer model companies like Uber and Lyft.  Horwitz presents a sound argument for equal treatment under the laws that govern vehicles for hire. But the argument still deserves further examination.

As a Houstonian that has used taxi service and often been dissatisfied with it, I cannot call my personal opinion “an outright lie”. That opinion was formulated by challenging experiences with taxi service in Houston. A specific instance being when I requested a cab in Downtown to take me to Montrose, and the driver arrived to pick me up. Before he allowed me into the vehicle, he asked me “are you going to Bush airport?”, and when I replied with my location, he sped off. Many other residents have had similar experiences with discrimination from taxi drivers. Of course it’s somewhat unfair to judge the actions of one individual against the whole, but if these are indeed multiplied, then it can become a real problem.

I also have to question the central point of equality in regards to a preferred client base. It is true that Uber and Lyft shift their pricing with more frequency than taxis, but it’s also true that patrons have other options like public transit. By the same measures which say that Uber and Lyft discriminate against seniors and the disabled, does that also mean that services like MetroLift and Harris County Transit discriminate against everyone but seniors and the disabled?  While no one is arguing that all have a right to fair and equal transportation options, one could argue that it’s not necessarily Uber or Lyft’s place to provide those services.

To the specific comment “Uber and Lyft reserve the right to not pick up everyone, effectively disenfranchising those in poor neighborhoods”, it’s important to draw a distinction here between the two companies. Lyft vehicles are currently operating in most areas of the city, and give drivers no such preferential information, at least not officially. As their business model dictates and more drivers have come online, the Lyft service area has expanded. At its infancy in Houston, Lyft only operated inside the loop, but within a month drivers began working at the airport, and now cover many additional areas  inside the Beltway.  I wouldn’t suppose to define just which areas of the city are “poor”, but by reports from customers, Lyft drivers have been seen regularly in neighborhoods from Pleasantville and Montrose to River Oaks and Acres Homes.  While Houston area taxi companies have an established service area that has developed over decades, it stands to reason that newer business models be given a provisional period to figure out what works best for them.

Also unlike Uber corporate, Lyft has not openly defied city regulations by going ahead and charging for rides, but still operates on a “suggested donation” basis.

After yet another delay by City Council today, it’s become quite clear that this is a contentious battle.  But as technology adapts to a rapidly changing society, law needs to catch up and confront the business activities that are already going forward.  Houstonians have invested billions of dollars to expand the city’s public transit options.  While the massive gaps in things like insurance coverage and fair access need to be discussed, that is not necessarily a reason to halt operations of Uber and Lyft.  These businesses deserve a chance in Houston, and if demand is any indication, that is what they will get from City Council.

(Photo credit:  Texas Tribune)

Texoblogosphere: Week of July 28th

The Texas Progressive Alliance prioritizes due process over expediency as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is happy to hear that there will be exit polls in Texas this year.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson, an interesting reaction to a sexual assault conviction in Williamson County, The Case Of Greg Kelley.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos notes that while John Cornyn rails against doing nothing about the Texas/Mexico border crisis, Mr. Cornyn and Ted Cruz have not advanced one name for nomination to the six current federal judicial vacancies in the state. John Cornyn Rails Against Political Malpractices While He Practices the Same.

Texas statewide candidates have been separated at birth from their fraternal twins: Junior Samples and Jim Hogan, Archie Bunker and Sid Miller, Glenn Hegar and Jethro Bodine, Greg Abbott and Dr. Strangelove. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs admits that once you stop laughing, it’s a kind of a scary thought that these guys stand even the slightest chance of getting elected.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows that Republicans blow smoke when they’re not blowing hate. What we really need are solutions to problems for the flood of immigrant children.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about the need for modern Victory Gardens to combat climate change and all the toxic food we are offered each day. All People Have Value is part of

It’s no surprise to Texas Leftist that Marriage Equality makes economic sense for the Lone Star State. But thanks to a new report from the Williams Institute, we finally have numbers to show just how much business Texas is losing.


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

Lone Star Q examines the impact of LGBT donors on Wendy Davis’ fundraising.

The Bloggess explains what feminism is all about, and why feminists are (in a good way!) like sharks and bees.

Equality Texas calls on AG Greg Abbott to drop the appeal of the ruling that struck down Texas’ ban on same sex marriage.

SciGuy thinks it’s time we consider going back to the moon instead of going to Mars.

Beyond Bones tells us what Jurassic Park got right – and wrong – about dinosaur anatomy.

Todo Texas points out the cost of Austin’s longstanding “gentleman’s agreement” on minority representation on City Council.

Juanita comments on Louie Gohmert’s national prominence.

Lone Star Ma has an easy and inexpensive way for anyone with a little compassion to help the young refugees from Central America.

Texas AG’s Office Turns Away Marriage Equality Petition

For a candidate that touts government transparency as a virtue, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s offices sure don’t practice what they preach.  First, it’s hiding dangerous chemical locations from Texas families, and now as it turns out, you can’t even bring a petition down to the AG’s office.  Here’s the story on that from Ryan Hoppe of Texas Public Radio

Same-sex families and gay-rights groups have filed a petition with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office, requesting requesting that they stop enforcing Texas’ ban on same-sex marriages.

Lauren Zurbrügg, development manager of Equality Texas, was one of those who showed up to drop off the 5,000-signature petition.

We’re standing here because unfortunately the attorney general’s office has refused to receive hand-delivered mail of any kind, including these signatures, despite that we confirmed with the AG’s office on Friday that we would be able to hand-deliver these signatures,” Zurbrügg said.

The attorney general’s office told the group it only receives mail through common mail carriers like FedEx.

This is not a policy that is listed anywhere on the Attorney General’s website.  Was it created out of thin air just to discriminate against today’s petitioners?  Who in Abbott’s office went back on their word to Equality Texas?  Our distinguished AG needs to find out the answers here, because he can be sure that Texans are going to keep asking.  Whether one agrees with the premise of the petition or not, all state residents deserve the right to petition their government in person, the same way opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance did just weeks ago.

Perhaps Abbott did this in hopes of avoiding an extensive news cycle?  If that’s the case it didn’t work, and will serve to aid in the cause for marriage equality in Texas.

Texas Faith Communities Respond On Border

Though it’s been a true disappointment to see how Texas’ highest elected officials are handling the situation on the border, it’s good to see that their opinions are not shared by all.  Faith communities across the state are putting politics aside, and galvanizing resources to help with the humanitarian crisis.  Here’s more from the Dallas Morning News

Across North Texas, across political divides and theological differences, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews and others in the local faith community are stepping up with assistance for the children who have crossed the border illegally without a parent. Congregations moved by the plight of the children are finding practical ways to help, even as governments and politicians argue and scramble over solutions.

“It’s a beautiful illustration of loving thy neighbor,” said the Rev. Linda Roby, an associate minister at First Methodist, patting packets of pajamas.

The pastor called the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley in Pharr to channel her congregation’s enthusiasm. With a short list of needs, donations poured in from inside and outside the congregation. A banner was unfurled this week to draw attention to the relief effort: Amo a los Niños. Love the Children, it says.

“This is not a political statement,” said Roby, who regularly runs a missionary trip to Costa Rica, which has also seen an influx of children seeking asylum. “It’s a humanitarian statement.”

Like North Texas, faith communities in Southeast Texas are also finding ways to help distressed families.  Besides basic supplies like food, clothing and shelter, other great needs facing refugee families are a severe backlog to hear immigration court cases, and a lack of legal representation.  To the first issue, the Obama Administration has begun to appoint temporary judges to address the over 350,000 pending cases.  Churches are helping to combat the second need by  hosting immigration law training sessions for attorneys interested in providing voluntary legal services.  One such training will be held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church Houston on August 9th, so click the link to find out more about it.

For another perspective on the border situation, here’s an excerpt from a special joint letter signed by the Texas United Methodist Bishops.  The letter has been shared in churches across the state…

We do not understand all that these children have experienced in their home countries or in their arduous journey to our borders. We do know that their plight breaks the heart of God. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of the global community. Many come seeking to survive. They all need our compassion and care. At a time of concern about a struggling economy and national security, it is easy to give in to fear and to let that fear, rather than God’s heart, shape our hearts and our response. ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.’ (II Timothy 1:7). As followers of Christ, we have the power and wisdom of God to care for these unaccompanied children.

While the political apparatus has faltered, Texas’ faith communities have taken the lead to care for the distressed on our border.   Hopefully the politicians will do the right things soon enough.

For more information on how you can help in your area, visit the Texas Interfaith Center’s response page.


By Banning Same-Sex Marriage, Texas Losing Out On Big Business


Weddings touch all of our lives at one point or another.  If you’re single, you’ve probably attended at least one, or have even been a part of the wedding party.  And if you’re volunteer or staff member in a faith community, then you’ve probably been to more weddings than you can possibly count.  For all of these reasons, it makes perfect sense to assess weddings for their personal impacts on those involved, but also for their economic impacts in society.  Wedding planners, jewelers, photographers, musicians, florists, caterers, event halls and sacred spaces all play key roles in these traditions.  The more weddings that take place, the more money is invested across the local economy.

For all of these reasons, it should be no surprise that the prohibition of same-sex marriage in Texas is actually hindering the state’s economy.  Here are the findings from Equality Texas

The Williams Institute released a report today that marriage for same-sex couples in Texas would add $181.6 million to the state and local economy over a three-year period. The report predicts that 23,000 Texas couples would marry, spending an average of more than $6,000 per wedding. Up to 1,500 jobs would be created in the state.

“Overall these numbers seem, if anything, conservative for the long run,” said Dr. Daniel S. Hamermesh, Professor in Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, and Sue Killam Professor in the Foundation of Economics, University of Texas at Austin. “Further, marriage for same-sex couples allows couples to be better off – creating what economists call a ‘marital surplus’ which provides an even greater economic benefit.”

The Williams Institute utilized state-level data, as well as the 2010 U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, to conservatively estimate the impact of extending marriage to same-sex couples in Texas.

“The Williams Institute report affirms that the freedom to marry is good for business in Texas,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Allowing gay couples to marry here would give an economic boost to caterers, florists, event venues, and others who make a living through wedding planning.

The above just talks about a couple’s wedding day, but the benefits go far beyond that.  Married couples contribute more in overall tax revenue (via better retirement investments, larger goods purchases like houses/cars and saving), and cost less to taxpayers because they rely less on things like government healthcare, dependent housing, home health aides and Social Security. If one believes in being a fiscal conservative then they should also believe in marriage equality.  It just makes sense.

It’s also worth remembering just how close the Lone Star State is to having full marriage equality.  The only reason same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Texas today is because Republican Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott filed an emergency stay to stop couples from getting married.  If Democrats were to win the races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, things in Texas might be very different.  He’s on the ballot this November, so you have a chance to tell him directly what you think of that decision.

(image credit:

Music Musings: Weird Al Mandates ‘Fun’ to Number 1

I was going start this post by waxing poetic about the eccentric genius that is Weird Al Yankovic and his over 30 years of dedicated musical satire, but ‘Never mind I give up’. Tis far better to start off with a series of Word Crimes, and then just Segway into an excerpt from Billboard.  If you’ve read my blog, you’re probably used to my run-on sentences anyway…

After more than 30 years on the charts, comedian-singer “Weird Al” Yankovic earns his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as “Mandatory Fun” debuts atop the list. The album is the first comedy set to top the chart since 1963, and logs the largest sales week for a comedy album since 1994.

“Mandatory Fun” was released July 15 through Way Moby and RCA Records, and sold 104,000 copies in the week ending July 20, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It was promoted by a well-receiveddaily viral video campaign that launched Monday, July 14. Starting with his parody of Pharrell’s “Happy,” Yankovic released eight music videos for the album through the week on various sites, like The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Nerdist, College Humor and YouTube.

“Mandatory” is the first comedy album to top the Billboard 200 since Allan Sherman’s “My Son, the Nut” spent eight weeks at No. 1 beginning on the chart dated Aug. 31, 1963. A couple of comedy sets came close since then, including Steve Martin’s No. 2-peaking “A Wild and Crazy Guy” back in 1978 and a pair of No. 2 Cheech & Chong titles in the early 1970s.

Besides the ‘Happy’ parody, Yankovic also does his own unique versions of the Iggy Azalea hit ‘Fancy’, ‘Royals’ by Lorde and a host of other chart-toppers.

But behind all of the fun is also some serious business.  For the album, Weird Al deployed a novel marketing and production strategy. Here’s more on that from the New York Times

Because RCA did not provide any production budget, Mr. Yankovic said, the videos were paid for by various partner sites that brought their own audiences, like Nerdist, Funny or Die and College Humor. The gambit worked. Mr. Yankovic’s web stats exploded. On Wikipedia, for example, his profile has drawn 575,000 views so far this month, according to the music data-tracking firm Next Big Sound. On Spotify, Mr. Yankovic’s music was streamed 3,282,937 times around the world last week, up 785 percent from the week before.

In an era where record companies allocate a dwindling pool of resources and face immense pressure just to break even, Weird Al’s sponsorship model is one that has been quickly noticed.  So kudos to Mr. Yankovic for standing out and perhaps paving a new way for ‘serious artists’ to follow as well. This week, it is definitely he who has the last laugh.

Check out the video for Word Crimes below.