Ted Cruz Attacks Marriage Equality, Same-Sex Spousal Benefits

Ted Cruz may like to talk about the freedom of letting Americans live life as they wish, but it’s about as far from the reality of his viewpoint as the sun is from Pluto.  In what the Human Rights Campaign has already referred to as a ‘shameful’ move, Senator Cruz has introduced legislation that could stop the marriage equality movement cold in its tracks.

Here’s the scoop from David Ferguson of Raw Story

Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced an anti-same-sex marriage bill that would strip federal marriage benefits from same-sex couples living in states where only mixed-gender marriages are recognized.

According to David Badash at the New Civil Rights Movement, Cruz’s State Marriage Defense Act will also give anti-same-sex marriage states the right to nullify the marriages of same-sex couples living within their borders, should the Supreme Court find that such couples ultimately do not have the same right to marry as other U.S. citizens.


Currently, couples living in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage can travel to other states to be legally married and thereby receive federal benefits on taxes, retirement and other matters.

Cruz hopes to put a stop to that. He is also hoping to reverse the gains made by same-sex marriage advocates on the federal level when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned in 2013.

While true that such heinous legislation has virtually no chance of passage as long as President Obama maintains the White House, it is still important to not that Cruz is so far to the fringe right that he is willing to harm thousands of LGBT couples just to win votes.

And to be clear, Cruz staking his claims against marriage equality may win support from people on the fringe, but it won’t do him any favors as a potential 2016 Presidential candidate.  Most mainstream Republicans are coming around to the idea that marriage equality should be the standard in all 50 states, just like Democrats and Independents.  A recent Pew research study found that 61 percent of Republicans 29 and younger support full marriage equality, and over 40 percent of those aged 30 to 49 have the same viewpoint.  Trying to stifle the rights of committed, loving couples is not a popular position to hold.

As the Texas Senator rushes to get on the losing side of these issues, let’s hope other members of his party do not follow suit.


Houston METRO Approves FINAL Reimagining Map

This week,  METRO’s long-awaited public transit overhaul now leaves the imagination, and becomes reality.

On Wednesday, the METRO Board voted unanimously to approve the System Reimagining plan, a comprehensive re-design of all of the region’s local bus routes, and released the organization’s soon-to-be new system map. After months of planning, community feedback and a bevy of changes, Board members felt the new map was a best case scenario to serve the Houston region’s growing public transit needs.

The new map carries noticeable differences from METRO’s original draft plan. Chief among them is the complete absence of Flex Zones… removed after substantial push-back from residents in Northeast Houston.  At the same time, plans to dramatically improve and increase services in under-served areas like densely-populated Gulfton will move ahead.

As one Board member pointed out, a vote on Reimagining is a big step forward, but more remain.

“Adopting this map does not end the continuous process of adjusting routes” said Metro Board member Christof Spieler.   “As the region changes, we will keep needing to adjust.  [The new plan] is a much easier system to expand than the system we have right now.  When you start with a simple grid, it’s a whole lot easier to extend.”

Besides basic route adjustments, much work remains to be done to get the project off of the ground.  METRO is now faced with the daunting task of launching a massive education campaign about the new routes and new connections that they hope riders will utilize.

METRO’s target for implementation of the new routes is August of 2015, though no firm date was decided as part of this week’s resolution.

So what can riders expect from this new system?  Here are some initial thoughts…

1) Expect more buses and more transfers.  Many of the new routes will be shorter and more direct, which means the bus should run faster.  But it also decreases the likelihood of one bus hitting lots of diverse locations.

2) Wait time per bus should decrease. The goal of Reimagining is to have a system where riders don’t have to spend all day waiting on the bus.  Other cities have managed to achieve this with many of the changes METRO outlines in this plan, so hopefully that will be the net result for Houston as well.

3) Easier, faster access to popular destinations.  The new bus routes will not only provide faster service, but open a wide variety of places reachable by public transit.  With direct, frequent connections between areas like Montrose and the Heights or the Galleria and Northwest mall, riders will have more options for commerce, entertainment, education and employment.


After this week, Houston’s bus system will literally never be the same.  But hopefully those changes will be of great benefit to a growing city and region.  Check out the interactive map, a side-by-side comparison of the old and new route maps, and full details of the new routes for yourself. Share your impressions in the comments below.

Houston On The Go has more thoughts on this momentous occasion.



The new METRO local bus network, via the System Reimagining page.


Texoblogosphere: Week of February 9th

The Texas Progressive Alliance will be more than happy to never hear the word “sequestration” again as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff provides his four part Mayoral manifesto for the 2015 election in Houston.

Letters from Texas turns the blog over to Russ Tidwell for an update on redistricting litigation and the question the judges in San Antonio will be ruling on.

light seeker at Texas Kaos takes Fox “News” to task for its fear mongering, distortion and misrepresentation. The Fear and Hate Chronicles.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson: It’s amazing to me how little Texans care if corporations waste their money. Privatization Corruption Is Common In Texas.

The games people play with money when they are our elected representatives in Austin gets more disgusting by the legislative session. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs really thinks there’s got to be a better way to run state government than with the wheels greased by the lobbyists.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Larry Taylor is so encrusted in the Republican bubble he brags about giving the insurance industry perks at the expense of Texans.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about the rip current warning sign on the beach in Galveston. Sometimes we do have to swim against the tide. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.


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

Lone Star Ma puts out a call to action to oppose the so-called Teacher’s Protection Act, H.B. 868.

Cherise Rohr-Allegrini catalogs the latest measles outbreak and proselytizes for vaccinations.

Charlotte Vaughan Coyle stands, as a Christian, a person of faith, and a pastor, with her Muslim neighbors and all people who work for justice, peace and reconciliation.

The TSTA Blog calls vouchers “a tuition break at your expense”.

Cody Pogue reviews “Building a Better Teacher”.

Concerned Citizens reports from the first Mayoral debate in San Antonio.

Asbel Smith

(Photo of the historic Asbel Smith building in Galveston, Texas.  Credit:  Wikimedia commons)

Music Musings: Madonna Conquers in Living For Love

With a career spanning across 4 decades and a name known in every country on the globe, there is no living artist that can claim the accomplishments of Madonna.  She has over 300 million in record sales to her credit (the highest selling female artist of all time), numerous major awards and won the hearts and minds of fans in multiple generations.

But for all that she has achieved in the past, Madonna’s greatest gift is that she seems to stay forever in that cutting edge time frame between the present and future of pop music. Her latest effort Rebel Heart is proving to be trendsetter once again.  In the new lead single Living For Love, we find the songstress striking a perfect balance between her best vocals from the 80s and 90s combined with agressive EDM dance beats of today.  It is her best work since the well-acclaimed 1999 album Ray of Light.

She is set to perform the single live at the 2015 Grammy Awards this Sunday night. From first impressions, it seems that Rebel Heart will conquer the world as Madonna has for decades now.  Watch the new music video for Living For Love  below.


Reviving the Shotgun House in Houston, and Beyond

It’s one of the oldest home forms in the United States of America, but for most Houstonians, the shotgun house (or some may say rowhouses) has earned a negative connotation.  After decades of neglect, many shotgun homes have fallen into disrepair, and some are being rapidly bulldozed to make way for new contemporary development.

But as a new architectural exhibit at Rice University unveils, the shotgun home is finding new possibilities in the micro living movement.  Here’s the story from OffCite

Rice Gallery’s newest installation, SHOTGUN, offers a view into how density and civic space have been addressed in the past with shotgun-style houses, and how architects are breaking down and reassembling these ideas with an eye to the future.

The installation is the culmination of a course taught at Rice’s architecture program by faculty member Jesús Vassallo and visiting architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima, principals of the internationally celebrated architecture studio Atelier Bow-Wow in Tokyo, whose work is centered on dense, urban environments. Five shotgun structures, framed with local yellow pine, merge to form a star. Visitors enter and find in each wing a different, engrossing exploration into row houses.


Vernacular, compact, urban design, much like row house construction, is at the heart of Atelier Bow-Wow’s work. They have made a practice of studying and celebrating overlooked urban spaces that have been built between other buildings, sometimes with creative and impromptu solutions to light, drainage, storage, and access. For their small, endearing size and quirky nature, they have named these spaces Pet Architecture, evident throughout Tokyo as well as in Bow-Wow’s machiya designs.

Also of note both in row house design and in Atelier Bow-Wow’s theories of behaviorology, micro public space, and void metabolism is shared space. As row houses were built side-by-side on extremely small plots of land, there was little open space other than the shared yard in the back. This space was eventually shared by all the row houses on the block and became by default a shared community space — a place for neighbors to talk, play, eat, and be together.

The Rice exhibit is not the first group to see tremendous potential in these versatile spaces.  Now in its 22nd year, Project Row Houses presents innovative artistic and educational programming in the city’s Third Ward community. Located in a string of shotgun homes, Project Row Houses has redefined how these spaces are used for and in their surroundings.

With their small urban footprint, and ability to be built on virtually any lot size, it’s no surprise that these homes are seeing renewed interest as more and more Millennials seek out new, inventive living spaces.  Though oddly enough,  the shotgun home space if utilized properly, could become something of a middle ground between the budding tiny house movement and current trends of multi-story townhome developments. Though not on the radar yet for most realtors, many predict the the current wave of interest in shotgun houses will only continue to grow.

Would you ever consider living in a shotgun house? Leave your answer in the comments.


A shotgun house with attached floor plan.  This is one of the original forms, with only the bathroom added for a modern upgrade.

Texoblogosphere: Week of February 2nd

The Texas Progressive Alliance believes that our government should be open and available to all as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff writes about opposition to the Plano Equal Rights Ordinance from transgender activists, who say it excludes their community.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos sounds the alarm bell on conservative lawmakers. When one touts one’s conservative credentials voters should never assume this means one is necessarily fiscally responsible, ethical or honest. Conservative Texas: Cronies, Crooks, No-Bid Contracts, No Oversight, Junk Science. But….

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Dan Patrick and the GOP are going to cut taxes, no matter what and Need Has Nothing To Do With It.

Bob Stein at Rice University’s Baker Institute handicapped the Houston mayor’s race much the same as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs did… two weeks ago.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled at the racism coming from Texas Republican Representatives to the US House and the Texas Legislature.

Politicians love to talk about the economic skills gap– where there are a lot of job opportunities out there, but not enough skilled workers to fill them. But thankfully as Texas Leftist learned, some Houston politicians are moving beyond the talk and working to actually address the issue. Plus, some big news for Texas musicians as we finally learn the fate of the Texas Music Office under Governor Abbott.


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

The TSTA Blog reminds us that “school choice” is not a choice for many families in Texas.

The Rivard Report predicts that driverless cars will not solve all of our traffic problems.

Texas Clean Air Matters urges the Legislature to restore clean air funding.

Keep Austin Wonky maps the decline of the capitol city’s bus service.

Minding Houston explains 1115 waivers.

Mark Phariss implores the citizens of Plano not to reject its equal rights ordinance. Nell Gaither, on the other hand, argues that it excludes the transgender community.

Newsdesk explains how open carry advocates shot themselves in the foot.

Scott Braddock highlights another controversy connected to Michael Quinn Sullivan.

Unfair Park reports that the city of Fort Worth has extended spousal benefits to same-sex spouses.


(Photo of the old Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond, Texas.)