Category Archives: Texas Politics

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)

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 NeilAquino.com.

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.

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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:  GLAAD.org)

Perry Uses Border Surge As Political Pawn

What began as a mostly fringe narrative from the Right has finally slithered into all corners of American politics.  Yesterday in a show of ultimate egotism, Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to take that flawed narrative to new heights by sending 1,000 National Guard troops to the border.  Here’s the story from the Los Angeles Times

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced plans Monday to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the state’s border with Mexico, faulting federal officials for “empty promises” in dealing with an influx of Central American children and families.

“There can be no national security without border security, and Texans have paid too high a price for the federal government’s failure to secure our border,” the Republican governor said during an Austin briefing with other state leaders.

Perry said the Guard will provide support over the next month to Operation Strong Safety, the state-funded border surge he declared last month. The state operation, which includes sending state troopers to the border to assist local law enforcement, costs $1.3 million a week; the combined operation will cost more than $17 million a month. It’s unclear how it will be funded, Perry said.

So if the reasoning behind Operation Strong Safety and the National Guard troops is to “assist local law enforcement”, it’s reasonable to think that demand for the militarization is coming from local law enforcement.  But that reasoning is completely false.  Local sheriffs, municipal police chiefs and other officials are actually asking for the exact opposite.  Need proof?  From Marfa Public Radio, reporter Travis Bubenik recently spoke with Jeff Davis County Sheriff and Chairman of the Border Sheriff’s Coalition Rick McIvor…

Governor Rick Perry has announced his plan to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border in response to the recent influx of Central American migrants.

Perry says the troops are needed to protect against threats from Mexican cartels and other criminals, but the Chairman of the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition says it’s an unnecessary move.

Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor spoke with us about Perry’s plan.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to infiltrate the area with a lot of troops,” McIvor says. “I think you put a lot of fear into the people that live in the area.”

McIvor says the $12 million-a-month price tag for the deployment isn’t a wise use of money for dealing with a humanitarian crisis. That’s a sentiment echoed by border county officials who have already questioned the effectiveness of a Department of Public Safety (DPS) surge launched also by Perry last month.

Since then, tensions have risen between the DPS and border sheriffs, with local law enforcement saying they want a seat at the planning table for border surges, and a say in how the money is spent.

“It’s a negative impact and negative direction they’re taking by not talking to the individual who represents the people,” McIvor says.

On Monday, Perry dismissed claims that the immigration surge has not impacted crime along the border.

Officials in McAllen recently testified that they haven’t seen a rise in crime alongside the influx of unaccompanied minors and families. When questioned about those accounts, Perry said they “may not fulfill the full vision of what’s going on the border.”

So despite mounting evidence that there is no connection between these families fleeing persecution and any type of dangerous criminal activity, the Texas Governor has chosen to waste taxpayer dollars just to scare people.

Rick Perry is sending these troops to the Border for one reason… Rick Perry.  He is using the nation’s recent focus on South Texas as a foothold to resurrect his aspirations of running for President.  For someone so concerned with increases in crime across his state, he sure felt secure enough to parade his strong-arm stances across Iowa this weekend.  If you’re counting, this is the Texas Governor’s fourth visit to the Hawkeye state in 8 months.  Up north, Perry was quick to stoke the fires of fear with fabrications about terrorists, murderers and rapists pouring into the country.  And again, he does this in direct contradiction to his state’s local officials.

For other Texas politicians, the worst thing one can do now is to get lured into Perry’s web of fear-mongering.  Such is the case for State Senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who committed a monumental flip-flop on the issue, now calling for additional law enforcement to help “secure” the situation on the Rio Grande.

Even if Governor Perry is far too gone for reasonable solutions, Democrats have to hope and expect more from Davis.  Just a while ago, she called for President Obama to make a trip to the border and speak with people living through these issues on the ground.  It’s time for Davis to take her own advice and speak with the hard-working local enforcement in South Texas.  If done, she may discover them singing a very different tune from Perry’s war song.

Be sure to consult more smart analysis from Dos Centavos, Brains and Eggs, Texpatriate and Off the Kuff.

 

 

 

 

San Antonio Council Chooses Interim Mayor

Appointed by Council, the great city of San Antonio has a new Mayor.  Here’s the breaking news story from KENS channel 5

City Council has chosen Ivy Taylor as the new interim mayor….

Taylor is the city’s first black woman mayor. She started her career in Housing and Community Development Department and Neighborhood Action Department. Taylor joined District 2 as a councilwoman in 2009. Taylor also boasts a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning and has a Bachelor’s from Yale.

The vote came down to the 10 council members at Tuesday’s meeting. Mayor Julian Castro is headed to Washington D.C. to begin his job as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Thursday.

Taylor’s tenure as Mayor commenced immediately following Secretary Designate Castro’s resignation, both of which occurred in today’s meeting of City Council.

Today’s appointment is likely to cause concern in the city’s LGBT community, as Ivy Taylor was one of three City Council members that voted against the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance in 2013.

District 2’s former Council member also announced that she has no plans to run for Mayor in 2015.  This being the case, it’s unlikely that Taylor would try to re-fight old battles, which should give the LGBT community some measure of comfort.  Sans an incumbent or a clear front-runner, the race promises to be exciting.  But for now, it’s time to hope for the best, and look forward to some great municipal politics in 2015.