Category Archives: Equality

Citizens, Texas Business Leaders Unite to Stop SB6

If you live in Houston, this week’s news might seem a lot like awkward deja vu from 2015.  Thanks to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Lois Kolkhorst, and other Texas Conservatives emboldened by the 2015 defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and 2016 elections, held hearings on the blatantly discriminatory Senate Bill 6.

The Lieutenant Governor has chosen to move the bill forward in the Senate despite clear opposition from Speaker Joe Straus over in the Texas House.  But despite this fact, the hearings went forward.

Throughout the day, hundreds of citizens from all across the state came to speak at the hearing on SB6, with the overwhelming majority speaking in opposition to the bill despite the committee’s best efforts to make it appear otherwise.  The groundswell of supporters simply didn’t show up.

If you ask Texas Business leaders, many of them have already decided that SB6 is bad for the bottom line.  From Keep Texas Open, here is the list of reasons that the state’s top business leaders would rather #StopSB6…

Discriminatory legislation threatens our economy. By passing SB 6 (the so-called “bathroom bill”) and other discriminatory legislation, Texas could lose billions of dollars in GDP, a critical loss of revenue that would profoundly threaten the state’s ability to fund education, transportation and other essential services. And thousands of jobs could be lost, according to the Texas Association of Business’ economic impact study.

Discriminatory legislation threatens Texas’ travel and tourism industry. Texas receives $68.7 billion in travel spending, which generates $6.2 billion in state and local taxes. Over 1 million jobs are supported by travel, 648,000 direct and 488,000 indirect. This vibrant industry, the second largest in our state, would suffer declines similar to those experienced by other states if Texas loses its reputation as a welcoming destination for all visitors.

Discriminatory legislation also creates costly operational and legal headaches. When proposed legislation creates confusion about whom an employee must serve and whom that employee can turn away, it creates operational chaos—and legal expense—for all Texas businesses. We are in business to serve everyone, and to employ talented people from all walks of life. We need Texas to reflect that commitment to inclusion.

Additionally, discriminatory legislation negatively impacts our ability to recruit top talent, especially among Millennials, who overwhelmingly support non-discrimination protections and seek to live in states that reflect the diversity and inclusion they value. We are in a battle for globally competitive talent, and our ability to successfully recruit and retain our future workforce of Millennial talent is critical to our long-term economic prosperity.

Despite over 250 testimonies imploring the Senate to vote against discrimination, and the FACT that in 40 years of history where the transgender community has been protected to use restrooms of their choice a transgender person has NEVER assaulted someone else in a restroom, the hearing finally came to an end, and the Senate did as expected and moved the bill forward from committee.

But as John C. Moritz via the Corpus Christi Caller Times reports, the big show vote may not have produced the results Patrick and Kolkhorst wanted from their House colleagues.

AUSTIN – As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick accelerated his mobilization of social conservatives to push the controversial “bathroom bill” to the Senate floor, his counterpart in the Texas House went out of his way Tuesday to show the measure faces high hurdles in the Legislature’s lower chamber.

“Clearly, I’m not a fan of the bill they are discussing,” Speaker Joe Straus told reporters behind the House chamber.

[…]

Straus, a moderate Republican now in his fifth term leading the House, attempted to illustrate his point by noting that the House Public Education Committee was getting ready to tackle the thorny topic of making adjustments to the school finance system while the Appropriations Committee continued work the state budget.

Given that the Texas Legislature only meets on a biennial basis, it’s good to know that at least one leader in Austin values the time and money used to get ACTUAL business done for the Lone Star State.  Let’s hope that commitment stays and Senate Bill 6 can be sent where it belongs…

 

If I had to guess, the first bathroom you ever used was probably a unisex bathroom.  It’s called the one IN YOUR HOUSE.  

In 2016, An “Historic” RNC Convention

Right, Left or Center, at least one aspect of this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio can certainly be agreed upon… it was a fascinating series of events.

At its most basic level, we can all be thankful that the convention was successful– there were no major acts of violence or dangerous disruption, and hopefully everyone that participated will have a safe a journey home.  Whether one agrees with the politics or not, all Americans can be proud that this year’s RNC was kept safe.

But of course, being safe and feeling safe are often two very different emotions.  As Elle Magazine’s Melissa Harris-Perry shares, the RNC didn’t

Every night this week in Cleveland, the energy has waned as the hour progressed. By the time media left the Arena at 11 p.m., the building was only half full. Tonight was different. Mr Trump’s speech brought delegates and their energy to a late night crescendo. Chants we heard all week increased in fervor, volume, intensity, and frequency—” Build that wall!” “Lock her Up!” “U-S-A!”

The police presence we experienced all week was more visible than ever.

It occurred to me 30 minutes into Mr. Trump’s speech that when he finished we would be facing the classic problem of large venue events, say, concerts for example: everyone was going to leave at the same time. This would be the first time all week when we would all be streaming out at ounce. Trump supporters, fearing immigrants and criminals and hoarse from chanting about walls and locks would be in tight quarters with the liberal media liars. Team Trump is stoked by the discourse of the speech.

Keep in mind, RNCers had just undergone a week of hotel induced sleeplessness, long meetings, late nights, and cocktail parties. Then, throw in the protestors we would all have to pass as we left the zone of the arena.

Suddenly I was viscerally afraid.

Compared to any other Republican National Convention in recent memory, and certainly in the 21st century, 2016 seemed one for the books in terms of blatant vitriol, at least the kind that was caught on camera.  It’s also true that Ms. Perry’s identity as an African-American woman proved to be much more the exception than the rule for this year’s RNC.  Per The Washington Post, of the 2,472 convention delegates in attendance, just 18 of those were African-American… an historic low not seen in nearly century.  And of course, this is against the backdrop of country which is more diverse than ever before.  All season long, the Trump organization and the GOP have boasted about the monumental “growth” of the party… more primary voters than ever before, and historic voter registration numbers.  That may be true, but it isn’t the same growth that is occurring in the rest of America.

Even the moments that could be considered true “brights spots” contained noticeable shade. Peter Thiel, Billionaire businessman and believed to be the first ever openly gay male to speak at a National GOP Convention gave a rousing speech showing himself proud to be gay and a Republican.  But in virtually the same breath, he also throws transgender Americans under the bus by undervaluing their most fundamental rights.  To his question, “who cares?” about bathrooms??  The same people which shared that room with him and worked tirelessly to repeal Pro-Equality legislation certainly do.  Indeed it must be nice to be a Billionaire who also happens to be gay.

But thanks to some careful, and historic planning by Fairness USA, some of Thiel’s hateful messaging was countered. The groundbreaking TV ad, which debuted on Fox News, allows the American public to finally see the Transgender equality issue from the other side.  In my opinion, this is the kind of history which is long overdue.

So as Texas Leftist predicted one year ago, RNC 2016 is now in the books, and Donald Trump has claimed his place as the Retrumplican…  err I mean Republican Party’s new leader.  Between you and me, the DNC 2016 can’t come fast enough.

RNC

Pride Houston To Hold Vigil for Orlando Shooting Victims

As Americans are still learning about the tragedy that befell an Orlando, Florida nightclub, LGBT communities across the nation are organizing to mourn the victims, and call for action.

From the Inbox, here’s a notification from Pride Houston…

Tonight we stand in solidarity against hate in any form. Tonight we stand together in strength to show that fear will not win. Tonight we stand in silence as we mourn the lives lost in the senseless act of terrorism in Orlando.

We stand with our allies, friends, families and loved ones.

Join us for a candlelight vigil to grieve those LGBT people and allies lost in the attack.

We Stand In Love

Tonight, June 13, 2016 – 6:00pm
The Montrose Center
401 Branard St, Houston, Texas 77006

Organized by:

Pride Houston
The Montrose Center
Legacy Community Health

 

So if you’re in Houston, here’s an opportunity to stand with the community in Orlando. But even beyond the shows of support, it’s high time that we call for actions that can prevent and abate the ‘easy access’ to such weapons of slaughter. Why do people that have been placed on the FBI terror watch list even have such access to purchase guns? It’s a question worth asking, and an action worth taking so these types of tragedies don’t continue.

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Jenifer Rene Pool Wins Primary for Harris County Commissioner

With a heated Presidential Election in our midst, it is sometimes tough to keep up with important news surrounding other races.  This is particularly the case in a state like Texas, which focuses so heavily on Republican/ Conservative media to start.  But the March 1st Primary did prove to be an historic one for Progressives as well.

With over 78 percent of the vote, local politician Jenifer Rene Pool has garnered a decisive win in her Primary Race for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3.  The victory makes Pool the First Transgender Candidate to win an election in the entire state of Texas, and one of a precious few openly transgender candidates to have won elections across the United States.  She now moves on to face incumbent Republican Steve Radack in the November 8th General Election.  (For more information on the history of Transgender Elected Officials and candidates, see the 2015 Report by the LGBTQ Representation and Rights Initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, prepared by Logan S. Casey and Andrew Reynolds).

Prior to Election Day, Pool had earned many high profile endorsements from the Houston Chronicle, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and a host of other influential organizations.

Directly from Ms. Pool, here are some comments on this truly historic win…

I was gratified last night for the tremendous show of support.  I am truly thankful that voters recognize me as a leader who can address the many serious issues facing Harris County, from our growing population to our copious infrastructure needs.  I look forward to the campaign and General Election so we can build a better Harris County where it matters.

Pool has run previously for Houston City Council.  Though she did garner over 17,000 votes in 2013, she did not move to the run-off for that election.  However this week Ms. Pool was able to garner votes from over 24,000 Texans.  In what is always assumed to be a very Conservative state, this victory is decisively Progressive.

Congratulations Jenifer!!

Jenifer Rene Pool Winner

U.S. Pastor’s Council’s Next Anti-Equality Stop: Dallas

Back in August, before any votes in the November elections were cast, Texas Leftist had a prediction.  Or maybe better to just call it an observation…

The “Vote NO!” arena has already been tested, and victorious.  Last fall, theUS Pastor Council produced a battle to defeat the Non-Discrimination Ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and won that battle with 53 percent of the vote.  Repeal 119 was one of the “test markets” for persecution of local non-discrimination ordinances across the United States.  Make no mistake… this is a national fight against equal rights, with Houston currently taking center stage.

If anyone had even the slightest doubt that the fight for Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance wasn’t an indicator of battles to come, this week should put those doubts to rest.  Empowered by the spoils of victory, the Equality opponents have revealed their next target.

Here’s the story from Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle…

Fresh off defeating Houston’s equal rights ordinance by stoking fears about men using women’s restrooms, local conservative activists are looking to take the battle to Dallas.

The Dallas City Council this week updated its non-discrimination law to more explicitly include protections for transgender residents, a move that already is sparking much the same opposition rhetoric that engulfed Houston’s law.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has blasted Houston’s ordinance, quickly jumped into the fray, issuing a statement: “This ludicrous ordinance, like the one in Houston, reveals officials who are totally out of touch with Texas values.”

In Houston, conservative activist Jared Woodfill said the same core group that helped defeat the ordinance here 61 percent to 39 percent will deploy similar tactics in Dallas and seek to force a repeal referendum. Woodfill’s group will help collect signatures, send letters to Dallas City Council and organize with local conservatives.

Woodfill and fellow conservatives hammered a message in Houston that the gender identity provision of the equal rights law would allegedly allow men to use women’s restrooms. Though supporters of the law said that was false and tried to broaden the conversation to include the 14 other classes protected in housing, employment and public accommodations, opponents’ tactics won out.

Though Driessen chooses to focus on Jared Woodfill, the former Harris County GOP chair who has found new political relevance through the Anti-Equality movement, it’s important to note that the real muscle in this fight lies with the Houston Area/Texas/U.S. Pastor Council, or whatever they choose to call themselves on a particular day.  Woodfill certainly offers a public face and some political contacts, but the money to fund these hateful and hate-filled campaigns is being raised by USPC congregants and their world-wide network of supporters.  And thanks to a perilous court decision by the Fifth Circuit giving churches license to do whatever they want in politics without consequence or sanction, the hate campaign is about to reach levels previously unforseen.

From the assessment of most political analysts, defeating equality measures in Dallas would be a much tougher fight than what occurred in Houston.  For one thing, the city has had transgender protections since 2002, and in all that time there have been zero incidents of malicious activity in restrooms like the LIES the opposition have described.

Because, you know… a LIE is STILL a LIE.  No matter how many ways you present it.

It’s also important to remember some basic facts about Dallas when compared to Houston.  Though the two metropolitan areas are of similar size, actual city boundaries are quite different.  Where Houston’s city limits sprawl across much of the metro, Dallas is half the size and walled in by some of the country’s largest and most powerful suburbs.  It would be like taking the city of Houston, and chopping off several of the most conservative strongholds.

But all of the logic, reasoning and truth talking… well, we already know how much the other side cares about that.  Dallas needs to know that in the reality of today’s pathetic voter turnout, anything is possible.

Y’all get ready for a fight.

Off the Kuff has more.

Dallas CC

Greg Abbott Opposes Houston Prop1, Forgets Minor Detail

Is it a surprise that Texas Governor Greg Abbott is opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance?  Not exactly, especially given his long record of being against LGBT Texans, equality in general and local control for cities.

But in his effort to stoke the flames of fear and falsehood, our esteemed Governor left out one small detail about the irony of his opposition to Houston Prop 1… his current place of residence.

Like the Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Abbott happens to reside in Austin, Texas… you know, the same city that has had comprehensive Non-Discrimination protections for its citizens since 2004.  Before being elected to his current position, Abbott served as Attorney General to the State of Texas

So umm, if the Governor and his family have resided safely in Austin for over a decade (assuming during that time that they also used restroom facilities), then why is it such an atrocity for Houston to implement similar Equal Protections?

Anytime you’d like to respond Governor, I am all ears.

Abbott Lies