Ken Paxton Tries to VOID Texas’ 1st Same-Sex Marriage

For our state’s top legal counsel, Ken Paxton sure seems to have some issues interpreting legal actions.

After an yesterday’s historic event which saw the first ever same-sex marriage in the state of Texas, it comes as no surprise that the Attorney General decided to move swiftly to prevent others from occurring, as that was to be expected.  But what Texans didn’t necessarily count on?  That the Attorney General would need to stretch the truth in order to even do that.

Here’s an official statement from the AG’s website regarding the events…

“The Court’s action upholds our state constitution and stays these rulings by activist judges in Travis County. The same-sex marriage license issued by the Travis County Clerk is void, just as any license issued in violation of state law would be. I will continue to defend the will of the people of Texas, who have defined marriage as between one man and one woman, against any judicial activism or overreach.”

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But there is a problem with Paxton’s finding here.  The Texas Supreme Court issued a stay to prevent any other same-sex marriages from occurring in the state.  However, they did not issue the stay in time to effect the marriage of Goodfriend and Bryant.  The injunctions requested affect any marriage attempts occurring from that point forward, with Writ of Mandamus pending…

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One doesn’t have to be a legal scholar to see the inherent issues with Paxton’s statement.  AG Ken Paxton cannot invalidate the couple’s marriage unless he takes them to court in a lawsuit. His declaration is certainly a bold move, but will easily be found erroneous in any higher court.

It’s also worth wondering why this is such a high priority in the first place.  Like Greg Abbott before him, Ken Paxton considers stopping loving couples from getting married as a priority of the highest order for the state… literally less than 48 hours from the initial Travis County judge’s ruling.  Yet “preventing same-sex marriage” isn’t listed anywhere on the Attorney General’s list of priorities.  Is the A.G.’s office acting as quickly to aid ailing veterans or to stop child abusers and murderers from roaming our streets as they have to stop Texans from marrying?  The immediate guess would be absolutely not.

The legal wrangling may be frustrating, but at least it has now begun for the state of Texas.  We can’t win the war without first fighting the battle.

 

 

Texas’ First Same-Sex Marriage Granted in Travis County

Today history is made in the state of Texas, as the first same-sex couple is officially granted a marriage license.  Here’s the scoop from the Austin-American Statesman

Two Austin women were legally married Thursday morning after a Travis County judge ordered the county clerk to issue a marriage license.

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, together almost 31 years, said their vows before Rabbi Kerry Baker while standing in front of the Travis County Clerk’s Office sign on Airport Boulevard.

The couple was denied a license in the same office building eight years ago.

But on Thursday morning, state District Judge David Wahlberg, petitioned by a lawyer for Goodfriend and Bryant, ordered Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to grant the couple a marriage license.

The ceremony was a mix of personal – with friends and their teenage daughters, Dawn and Ting, standing nearby – and public statement, with photos of their vows in front of the county sign.

The license was granted in the wake of earlier events this week, as Travis County Judge Guy Herman issued a ruling striking down the state marriage ban in the county, calling it a violation of Equal Protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.

At present, the marriage of Goodfriend and Bryant is no guarantee that other couples can get married just yet.  Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir stated that her office issued the marriage license solely in compliance with this specific court order.  But this is of course still an historic event for the Lone Star State, however it happened.  More petitions and legal challenges are sure to follow.

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(photo credit:  Statesman Video

Despite Stay, Houston Prepares For Immigration Action

For recent immigrant communities across the United States, what happened this week is an all-too familiar song and dance:  take two steps forward, and two steps back.  Just hours before President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration were set to take effect, they have encountered a judicial road block.  Here’s more from Michael D. Shear and Julia Preston of the New York Times

WASHINGTON — One day before hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants were to begin applying for work permits and legal protection, administration officials on Tuesday postponed President Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration indefinitely, saying they had no choice but to comply with a federal judge’s last-minute order halting the programs.

[…]

In a decision late Monday, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, ruled in favor of Texas and 25 other states that had challenged Mr. Obama’s immigration actions. The judge said that the administration’s programs would impose major burdens on states, unleashing illegal immigration and straining state budgets, and that the administration had not followed required procedures for changing federal rules.

Upon hearing news of Judge Hanen’s stay, Republican Congressional leaders across the country immediately championed the decision.  You know… those same Republican Congressional leaders that continue to criticize President Obama for trying to do something sensible about Immigration, but won’t lift a finger in Congress to pass comprehensive reform themselves.  If you’re thinking this whole situation screams of ultimate hypocrisy, you’d be correct.

Same goes for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, whom referred to the Obama Administration’s plan as “Executive Amnesty”.  As the Burnt Orange Report points out, it seems that the Governor would rather have Texas families torn apart than do something sensible.

But even with the temporary setback, Houston city leaders are working hard to ensure that the process of helping hundreds of thousands of people come out of the shadows can move forward as soon as possible.  Today after the weekly City Council Meeting, the Mayor unveiled new resources designed to help families stay up to date with the latest Immigration Action developments.  Here’s that information via the City of Houston press release…

Houston Mayor Annise Parker today announced the launch of a new informational website for immigrants who are interested in applying for citizenship or deferred action.  The new website is the product of a partnership between the City’s Department of Neighborhoods Office of International Communities (OIC) and the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC).  The partnership was established last December in response to President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

“We formed this partnership with one simple goal in mind—to make sure that Houston is prepared for the implementation of the President’s executive order,” said Mayor Parker.  “I am certain the recent court order delaying implementation of the President’s order will be temporary.  When it is lifted, Houstonians affected who will be able to take advantage of the President’s order need access to accurate information and a way to connect with reputable organizations that can help them.  With the launch of this new website, I’m pleased to report that Houston is ready.”

The website [www.citizenshipcorner.org] provides access to accurate, up-to-date information about applying for citizenship and new “deferred action” programs that offer the right to stay in the U.S. and work permits to eligible undocumented immigrants.  The site will help people find trusted community organizations for legal guidance and assistance.

“The new immigration policies will have a huge impact on our community,” said Wafa Abdin, Vice President of Immigration and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance, a member of HILSC. “We are the largest provider of low-cost legal services for immigrants in Houston. We are working with our colleagues in the Houston region to address the increased demand from immigrants seeking accurate information and legal assistance as pertains to the expanded DACA and the new DAPA program.”

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is of course a program that was initiated by the Obama administration in 2012. Under the new plan, DACA is set to be expanded, so more people will be eligible for protection from deportation and a 3 year work permit.

DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, is a new program that would grant the same work permits and protection from deportation to parents of American Citizens or DACA recipients.

It’s important to note that despite the judges’ claims, the DACA program has been incredibly successful in its first two years.  Over half a million work permits have already been granted, including some 88,000 for undocumented persons residing in Texas.  Free from the looming threat of deportation, DACA has improved the lives of its beneficiaries, whom no longer have to seek illegal routes of doing business within the United States.  The program of bringing more people out of the shadows is actually serving to make everyone safer.

And by the way, the “cost burdens” that everyone talks about from Immigration Action?  That’s false as well.  Each DACA recipient had to pay a $465 fee for the work permit, which brought over $250 million in additional revenue to the U.S. government.  That’s more money that can be used to actually make the country safer… not the other way around.

Thankfully, Houston sees the extreme benefit that these programs can provide to the region.  So visit www.citizenshipcorner.org and to stay up to date on the developments, and help stop the spread of misinformation.

Dos CentavosBrains and Eggs and Off the Kuff  have more on the judge’s injunction and basically unforgivable reactions from our esteemed GOP leaders.

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(Houston Mayor Annise Parker surrounded by Council Members and Immigration Advocates.  Photo credit:  HTV video)

Texoblogosphere: Week of February 16th

The Texas Progressive Alliance sends warm thoughts to everyone in the Northeast digging themselves out from snow again as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff reports on opposition to the proposed high speed rail line.

Libby Shaw, writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos, is appalled by efforts to pass an open carry law in Texas. What should Texans fear the most? ISIS or Open Carry?

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is tired of Republicans using hurtful, hateful tactics to appease their racist base and cause harm to the people in the Valley.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about the ongoing federal cover-up of a plot to kill members of Occupy Houston in 2011. Occupy Houston protestors were peaceful people. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The Texas GOP plans to give the wealthy in Texas a tax cut – no matter what. The cost will be high for everyone else, The Cost Of Tax Cuts.

Texas Leftist reports on the most significant changes to the Houston region’s public transit infrastructure since the creation of METRO. With System Reimagining now approved and the final route maps selected, transit in Texas’ largest city will never be the same again.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is coming to Denton this weekend, and Houston next week, as part of the kickoff to her bid for the presidency of the US. PDidddie at Brains and Eggs has the details.

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

Lone Star Ma calls on doctors to do a better job explaining the need for vaccinations.

Texas Vox would like you to tell President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline.

Jef Rouner and his five-year-old daughter encounter an open carry demonstration.

Purple City sees cultural undertones in the opposition to the proposed high speed rail line in Texas.

Texans Together reports on the State of Black Houston 2015.

Jeff Balke goes back to high school to explore when kids and faith collide.

The Great God Pan Is Dead laments the loss of two cultural icons.

Grits for Breakfast is encouraged by the possibility of grand jury reform.

Austin Contrarian demonstrates how street design can lead to major traffic problems.

 

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(As Texas Mardi Gras celebrations fade into Ash Wednesday hangovers, this week’s featured photo is of the brilliant Sacred Heart Church in Galveston, Texas.  Photo credit:  Jeff Antonelli on Pinterest)  

San Antonio’s Interim Mayor To Run for Full Term

San Antonio Mayor Ivy R. Taylor is really liking her new job.  So much so, that she wants to keep it.  The Interim Mayor despite being appointed last July in part because she promised not to seek the position, has had a change of mind.  Here’s more from Josh Baugh of the San Antonio Express-News

Mayor Ivy Taylor declared her candidacy for mayor Monday in an exclusive interview with the San Antonio Express-News.

Taylor, who was appointed mayor last summer by her council colleagues, said that she made the decision after significant thought and prayer and consultation with trusted advisers.

The mayor said she’s been “honored and excited, humbled” by leading the seventh-largest city in the U.S. since her July appointment.

“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be able to make an impact here,” she said. “And just after really thinking about it further, I realize how important that experience is that I have to bring to the table, that municipal-level experience.”

[…]

With less than three months until Election Day, she joins an already-crowded field of candidates.

That field includes former state Rep. Mike Villarreal, who has been campaigning since last summer; state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who entered the race in November after losing her bid for lieutenant governor; and former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, who gave up his county seat to challenge Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff in the 2014 Democratic primary.

The Mayor’s flip-flop in position may be offensive to some, but it’s far from unique for this race and unlikely to do any damage to her candidacy.  Former State Senator Leticia Van de Putte also originally stated that she would not run for Mayor during her campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

However Taylor’s opposition to the 2013 Non-Discrimination Ordinance could prove troublesome, in particular the comment she made stating that the struggles of the LGBT community “aren’t a Civil Rights issue.”  Given the strong positions of both Villarreal and Van de Putte with the Pro-Equality community, Taylor’s anti-LGBT sentiment could come back to haunt her in the Mayor’s race.  And for Equality advocates, now is the time to press Taylor and see if her views have also evolved on this subject.

With this newest entrant into the contest to lead Texas’ 2nd-largest city, equality has found its way back into the spotlight.  More to come on this.

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(Photo credit:  San Antonio Airport promotional video)

 

Music Musings: The Single Awareness Day Playlist

Single Awareness Day is a day for everyone out there without a special someone.  But who says that has to be so S.A.D. just because those three letters happen to be the day’s acronym?!?! Congrats to everyone who made it through Valentine’s Day 2015 sans sweetie. Here are my top anthems for all the single folk…

U Don’t Have To Call— Usher

Because when you’re single, the only person that sets your party schedule is YOU.

 

I’m Coming Out— Diana Ross

Just make sure that whatever the party, it better contain some hard-thumping Disco, and at least one saucy trombone solo.

 

 

Single Ladies— Beyonce

Oh yeah… And Beyonce, because B-E-Y-O-N-C-E!!!!

 

New Attitude— Patti LaBelle

One listen to the Patti LaBelle track will get even the grumpiest person in a better mood.

 

The Greatest Love of All— Whitney Houston

And of course the most incredible singles anthem ever. As the ever-wise RuPaul once said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”