As the results of the 2018 election are still being finalized, Texas Leftist is pretty sure that the Georgia Governor’s race will be remembered as one of the most important of this cycle. Though Democrat Stacey Abrams has ended her historic campaign, the work she does to combat Voter Suppression will have a lasting national impact.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
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 119was 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.
As election day fast approaches, the situation surrounding the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance continues to be complex. Showing no concern for perception, the State Supreme Court has jumped at the chance to heighten the drama. As Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle reports, the fact that City Council placed HERO on the ballot is not sufficient…
The Texas Supreme Court has again overruled Mayor Annise Parker’s administration in connection with the legal fight over her signature nondiscrimination ordinance, ruling Wednesday that the mayor and City Council erred in choosing the language that will appear on the November ballot when the ordinance faces possible repeal.
The justices, writing in “yet another mandamus proceeding concerning the City of Houston’s equal rights ordinance,” said the city charter is clear in requiring that voters be asked to vote for or against the ordinance. Parker had instead argued it was proper to vote for or against repealing the measure, and the council approved language with that approach Aug. 5.
“Though the ordinance is controversial, the law governing the City Council’s duties is clear. Our decision rests not on our views on the ordinance — a political issue the citizens of Houston must decide — but on the clear dictates of the City Charter,” the justices wrote. “The City Council must comply with its own laws regarding the handling of a referendum petition and any resulting election.”
Plaintiff and conservative activist Jared Woodfill said the original ballot language was “all about deception and trickery.” Woodfill noted that opponents have now sought and won two opinions on the ordinance at the state Supreme Court — the first essentially forcing a repeal or vote on the ordinance and now one on the actual ballot language.
“Deception and trickery” are an interesting choice of words from Mr. Woodfill. Given the ridiculous amount of time that he, the Houston Area Pastor Council and HERO opponents spend promoting the myth of predatory males lurking in a women’s restrooms, he’d seem to be an expert at both. They have lied about the non-discrimination ordinance every step of the way, and two Supreme Court rulings in their favor cannot change that as fact.
But unfortunately, what this latest ruling can do is force City Council to call a special meeting and review the ballot language before the August 24th deadline. As discussed previously, the ballot language is hugely important to HERO opponents because it allows them to deploy campaign tactics which have been successful in previous situations. It also means that all of the propaganda and information they’ve already produced against HERO does not have to be changed.
If there is any positive to be had, it’s that Houston Unites— the campaign launched to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, has now launched and is off to a great head start. Check back later this week for more information on the Houston Unites group.
Apparently the opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance cannot take “yes” for an answer. Even after Mayor Annise Parker already agreed that HERO will not be enforced until all matters are settled in court, the anti-equality group is not satisfied in the least. Here’s the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Morris with more…
Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance have asked the Texas Supreme Court to force the city secretary to certify the signatures on a petition they submitted seeking to trigger a repeal referendum on the law.
Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals denied a similar request on Aug. 15, ruling that the emergency writ of mandamus would have the same result as a favorable ruling in the pending lawsuit opponents filed against the city earlier this month. The plaintiffs, the judges wrote, could appeal after a ruling comes down at the trial court level.
Trial in that case is set for Jan. 19.
The new filing with the Supreme Court, turned in late Tuesday, is similar to the group of conservative pastors and activists’ previous requests. It seeks to have the court force the city to suspend enforcement of the ordinance, to put the ordinance to another vote of the City Council and, if the council does not repeal it, to put the issue before voters.
The case already scheduled for January is seeking a writ of mandamus— a court-ordered directive for the signatures to be certified, and therefore require a referendum. But the filing to the Texas Supreme Court asks for virtually the same thing, though both sides know the January trial is already pending.
Some may wonder… if the Mayor and the City are already giving HERO haters what they want by suspending enforcement of the ordinance, why is it necessary to keep crying for a court-ordered suspension? It’s proving to be not only a waste of time for our court system, but as Off the Kuff points out, is surely costing a mountain in legal fees.
The simple answer? Because politics.
For one thing, the recently ousted Jared Woodfill needs something to do, or else he risks losing all relevance with the political elite. Parker’s decision to preemptively suspend the law is a special thorn in the opponent’s side because it denies them any possible political win. If the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is not in effect, they don’t get to shout from the rooftops that their court order was able to suspend it. So instead they’re trying for the next best thing… a milk-toast version of victory via paper. In order to give their cause any hope, they are desperate for something to cling to.
It’s true that anything could happen with the Texas Supreme Court. They may choose to take the case and push HERO to a referendum. But even in that event, supporters are the law are ready for the fight… whether it takes place today, in January or years down the line.
See Texpatriate for more analysis on this, including a better explanation of the actual legalese.
Opponents of Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance sued Mayor Annise Parker late Tuesday after city officials rejected a petition the group had submitted hoping to force a repeal referendum in November.
Plaintiff and conservative activist Jared Woodfill said his group is asking a state district judge to declare that City Secretary Anna Russell followed her legal duty and verified a sufficient number of signatures to force a referendum before City Attorney David Feldman illegally inserted himself into the process.
“If he felt there were underlying problems with the petition then he, like us, has the right to file a lawsuit if he doesn’t agree with what the city secretary did,” Woodfill said. “Going in before she’s ever made the decision and influencing her is inappropriate, it’s illegal and we believe the court will agree with us and that folks will have their voices heard in November on this issue.”
Feldman declined to comment until he had seen a copy of the lawsuit, but earlier Tuesday disputed the idea that his involvement crossed any ethical or legal lines.
“The fact is, that given my role as defined by law, I’m supposed to give advice to city officials, whether they be elected, appointed or just employees,” he said. “That’s part of my role and the role of this department, so I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here in terms of our involvement.”
This move was to be expected, which is why Mayor Parker decided to delay the new ordinance while all of the legal battles are being worked out. Plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit were Ex-Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill, almost convicted criminal Steven Hotze, Pastor F.N. Williams Sr. and Pastor Max Miller. Noticeably absent from the plaintiff list was Pastor and Kendall Baker, whom has had his own trouble with the law. Rest assured, it ain’t no “family values” Brady Bunch.
UPDATE: Be sure to visit Lone Star Q for an excellent post on the lawsuit as well. Here is some critical information that they have published…
The lawsuit alleges that last Friday, City Secretary Anna Russell determined there were approximately 17,846 valid signatures on the petition, more than the 17,269 needed to qualify for the ballot. However, on Monday, Parker and City Attorney David Feldman held a press conference to announce that the petition contained only 15,249 valid signatures.
Given that there is a significant disagreement between the City Secretary’s numbers from Friday, and the announcement on Monday, this could certainly strengthen the plaintiff’s case in the lawsuit. Kudos to Lone Star Q for publishing not only this information, but including both the lawsuit and City Secretary’s official memo, dated Friday August 1st.
Harris County Republicans, led by the county’s GOP chairman, sued the City of Houston Tuesday over Mayor Annise Parker’s extension of health and life insurance benefits to all spouses of legally married employees, including same-sex couples in November.
“This is one of the most egregious acts by an elected official I’ve ever seen,” said Jared Woodfill, chairman the Harris County Republican party. Woodfill, is the lead lawyer on the lawsuit. “They just decided to, unilaterally, as a lame duck, thumb their nose at the will of the people and just spit on the U.S. Constitution.”
Woodfill said state District Judge Lisa Millard signed a temporary restraining order late Tuesday, putting the new policy on hold until the matter goes before a judge on Jan. 6.
The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday in state District court, alleges that the mechanism that Parker used to enact benefits for same-sex couples violates the Houston’s city charter, the state Defense of Marriage Act and the Texas Constitution.
Attorneys for the city said the lawsuit will likely be thrown out because the two men who filed it do not appear to have legal standing.
Lest we forget, this is Houston we’re talking about. In Texas? Sure… but we happen to be the 4th largest city in the United States, and in the 3rd largest County. Yet by filing this suit, the Harris County Republican Party… an organization which has openly LGBT members, have proven themselves to be nothing more than a bunch of anti-gay, back-water bigots. Heading into the 2014 elections, HCRP has decided to put their stamp firmly against LGBT equality.
Besides the shock factor, there’s another salient point to make. As Texpatriate points out, there is a rather unsightly problem with this particular ruling. For those that may not be aware, judges in the state of Texas are not only elected, but they are allowed to run with a partisan affiliation. Judge Millard is not only an assumed Conservative, but she is a card-carrying member of the Harris County Republican Party, having both donated to the organization and received support from them as well. Given that HCRP originated the lawsuit, is she doing the party’s bidding by ruling in their favor? I’m no legal scholar, but this alone seems to present a problem for Jared Woodfill and the County GOP. And by problem, I mean a likely countersuit.