So there’s politics, and then there’s policy, both of which can be easily become lightning rods if infused with the right social issues.
For many in the Republican party, such a calculus has been made about many issues today. They know that for many of their voters, there is either a serious lack of understanding about LGBT issues, or just a blatant attempt to ignore them altogether. They also know that fearful, long disproven stereotypes are still enough to motivate a large part of their base to go and vote. It also allows an “easy way out” of actually having to debate substantive issues, or come up with policy solutions. Basically, inflame the base, keep them scared and they’ll pay attention to the actual job that they’re doing.
Sadly, it is Transgender Texans that continue to be cast as the political scapegoats of the day. Who knows how much state leaders like Governor Abbott or Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick actually believe of all the falsehoods they spout, but it is unlikely that they care about that. As long as their voters stay scared and uninformed, they stay in office.
With all of this in the atmosphere of the Special Session, one brave Texan set out to prove a point at the capitol, with none other than the Governor as her assistant. Here’s more on that from Kylie Madry of the Dallas Morning News…
A transgender San Antonio woman went to Gov. Greg Abbott’s re-election campaign announcement last week with one mission: to pose for a photo with him.
Ashley Smith, 45, accomplished that and then shared the image on social media with the caption: “How will the Potty Police know I’m transgender if the Governor doesn’t?”
Soon, the post, which Smith said was intended to raise awareness about opposition to a proposed “bathroom ban,” took off and went viral.
Smith said she hoped the photo helps educate others about the transgender community. “We’re just regular folks,” she said Monday. “We’re teachers, doctors and police officers in the community.”
Her photo with the governor shows “how ridiculous this legislation is and how it can’t be enforced,” Smith said.
Ridiculous as these Bathroom Bills may be, they can still cause real harm to the Transgender community, and the overall Texas economy. Anyone that has followed similar sagas from other states would know that this is a hugely expensive mistake.
But has that ever stopped Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the past? If Texans ever want to end this cycle, there’s one sure fire way to do it.
Let’s hope for no results on this movement. And either way, Democrats need to do all they can to try and make some progress in 2018.
By this point in the Obama Presidency, one thing is clear… the legacy of our nation’s 44th President is not being debated in the halls Congress, but in the halls of our nation’s highest courts. Such was the case with the President’s landmark legislative achievement– the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and again the case in last year’s historic rulingwhich brought Marriage Equality of to all 50 states.
And yesterday, it was revealed that one more cornerstone move by the Obama Administration will also get its day at the Supreme Court. From Amy Howe of SCOTUS blog, here are the details…
In the summer of 2014, efforts to pass new laws to overhaul the country’s immigration system seemed to be on a slow road to nowhere. In remarks at the White House on June 30 , President Barack Obama announced that then-House Speaker John Boehner had told him that Republicans would “block a vote on immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year.” Arguing that “Americans can’t wait forever” for Republicans to act on immigration, Obama indicated that he planned to go it alone.
And he did. In November of that year, Obama announced a new policy that would allow undocumented immigrants who can meet two criteria – they have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (also known as “Green Card holders”) and they have been in the United States at least since January 2010 – to apply for a program that would allow them to stay in the country for three years and work here legally.
The policy, which could allow as many as four million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, never went into effect. Instead, Texas and twenty-five other states went to federal court to try to block it. So far, they have been successful: a federal trial judge issued an order to keep the policy from going into effect, and a federal appeals court upheld that ruling.
The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to weigh in, and today the Justices agreed to do so. This means that the Court will almost certainly hear oral arguments in the case in late April, with a decision expected in late June – just as the 2016 presidential campaign, in which immigration has already played a major role, really starts to heat up.
Given how bonkers the race for the White House has been so far, “heat up” doesn’t even begin to describe what could occur with this new drama thrown into the mix.
But even accepting the drama, the court’s decision to hear this case is beyond critical. Congress has simply refused to take any action towards Comprehensive Immigration Reform, even as American families continue to be torn apart by the deportation of their loved ones. Instead of doing what is best for the nation, Republicans in particular (though plenty of Democrats share the shame of this issue as well) have chosen to take the “easy way out”– blame President Obama for everything wrong with the system, and avoid the issue as long as possible.
One other essential point, the case states are waging against Obama’s Immigration Action Plan is in itself something of a long, overly politicized farce. For starters, Texas has been begging the Supreme Court to not weigh in on the matter. Eventhough they (we?? UGH) are lead plaintiffs in the case, they would rather keep the issue in legal limbo than actually get any answers that would help real Texas families figure out what to do.
Secondly, the states’ argument is is inherently unequal. They are essentially petitioning for the Executive Branch to do its job less well. The whole reason that an Immigration Action Plan is needed is because the United States cannot deport all of the undocumented persons within its borders at any given time. This creates the absolute necessity for prioritization. The states themselves would never do this. If Greg Abbott announced today that he was going to fill every pothole that existed in the state of Texas within 24 hours, people would laugh off his words because the task is simply not possible. Yet in their petition, they are asking the Federal government to sustain a system that is just as senseless. By rejecting these prioritization policies by the Obama Administration these states are asking for the courts to let our communities be less safe, to continue to orphan more American citizens by tearing their families apart, and to not seek and remove dangerous criminals from our streets.
Third, a central point of the state case again boils down to resources. Admittedly, this is a valid argument in many respects, as it is state and local government that ultimately must implement this Federal policy, and would bear the cost of processing the deferred action requests. But the question to ask here is whether or not this presents an “undue burden to the state. For all of the time that it takes to enact a DACA or DAPA request, how much time and money is being saved by not having to enact the expensive and often tragic processes of deportation? If our communities are ultimately safer and better by bringing people out in the open, do those temporary inconveniences bear better results in the end? While these questions are still up for debate, many legal scholars consider the Obama Administration’s case for the plan to be very strong.
For all of the above reasons and more, let’s hope that the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case will lead to a common-sense result.
Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos says the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board perfectly describes Greg Abbott’s stand on Syrian immigrants. “Never one to hesitate when he sees an opportunity to pander to the nativists and the narrow-minded among us, Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday became one of 11 Republican governors (as of this writing) to declare his state would shut the door on Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris.” Shaw writes Greg Abbott Brings Out the Worst in Texas. Again.
There may be some lessons for Democrats to learn from Louisiana, where they elected a Democratic governor on Saturday, but PDiddie at Brains and Eggs suspects the biggest one is “Run the Bluest Dog you can find against the worst Republican you can find”. And that’s just a tired recipe for the same failed election results in Texas over the past twenty years.
Neil at All People Have Value said the value of everyday life is a good foundation for a broad movement demanding that our everyday work and relationships be given proper regard. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s big decision on June 26th, most of what Texans have been hearing on the news is rightly about marriage. Even if some counties across the state continue to hold-out, the general trend is that they will eventually fall in line and comply with federal law. At present, 115 counties across the Lone Star State are now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. They have come to this decision even in spite of grandiose promises from Attorney General Ken Paxton stating that counties *can* continue to refuse licenses to same-sex couples… as long as they are cool with risking a mountain of potential litigation.
While Paxton continues his quest for fantasy adjudication, other agencies across the state are moving forward. Effective today, Texas Public Employees can now receive benefits for their same-sex spouses. Here’s the story from Tom Benning of the Dallas Morning News…
AUSTIN — The state bureaucracy is moving forward to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, even as statewide elected leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have lambasted the landmark ruling.
Starting Wednesday — less than a week after the decision — the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System will extend benefits to spouses of gay and lesbian employees.
That means the list of employers providing same-sex partner benefits will include the state’s largest: the state itself.
The tangible developments highlight a divide between political rhetoric and practical reality on the emotional issue.
“Honestly, for the first time today I walked onto campus and I felt equal,” said Lisa Moore, an English professor at UT who had pushed for same-sex benefits. “I felt like I was being paid the same as a heterosexual employee.”
Employees in the ERS system (Employees Retirement System of Texas) have already been notified that spouses can receive benefits starting today if they were legally married before June 26th. If they are recently married, their partners can receive benefits within 30 days of the employee filing.
So if you didn’t catch the irony here, Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton are encouraging county officials to basically ignore the ruling, yet they are doing nothing to prevent large state agencies from compliance. What’s the word here… hypocrisy?
In any event, it’s good that some state leaders see the writing on the wall. For the hundreds of thousands of public employees across Texas, and especially the tens of thousands that are directly affected, today is yet again equality day.
So enjoy, and make sure to get your wives and husbands signed up!!
SocraticGadfly, reading about a new study that claims classical psychological conditioning during sleep can reduce racist tendencies, has two thoughts: it’s either too good to be true, or, if it has real and lasting change, it’s probably got an element of Clockwork Orange.
On her long road seeking the Presidency, one of Hillary Clinton’s greatest challenges will be to re-create the infamous Coalition of 2008. This week at Houston’s Texas Southern University, she worked hard to mend some fences, and shared some important views on Voting Rights.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Texas Watch celebrated its victories from the legislative session.
Grits can’t wait to see if the state’s new junk science writ will be interpreted broadly or not.
The Texas Election Law Blog asks if our government is supposed to represent everyone, or just everyone who is allowed to vote.
As previously discussed, the opposition by city and county leaders to Texas-style Big Government has formed.
Launched just this week, the group Local Control Texas has already proven to be quite the diverse group. Whether Liberal or Conservative, urban or rural, all have united because they recognize that recent actions by Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and many Austin Lawmakers are harmful to Texas communities. They’re keeping an updated list of the staggering number intrusive bills already filed during the 84th session.
Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, Speaker Straus and
We are writing to urge you to limit state government interference with local government policymaking, especially when it comes to quality of life policies. Communities around this state have to balance competing interests, and drawing from different perspectives and values they have arrived at different policies on issues as diverse as single-use bag pollution, heritage trees, oil and gas production, historic preservation, smoking in public places, sexually oriented businesses, payday lending and vagrancy. In most of these cases, the state has offered little to no assistance in alleviating the challenge that municipalities face. We ask that you refrain from hindering local governments’ abilities to serve the interests of their residents by pre-empting possible solutions on these issues.
We, the undersigned, do not all agree on any particular policy on any of these issues, but we are united in a firm opposition to any attempt by the Legislature or Governor to tell our respective communities how we should deal with these issues. In each of these cases local governments and our neighborhoods are shouldering these burdens with little to no help from the state government.
The group encourages all supporters to email their state legislators, and join the cause. With now fully-organized opposition to these brazen moves, it will be difficult for Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick to turn a blind eye to the issue of local control.
And umm, just for the record, not a single one of these bills was filed by a Democrat.