Tag Archives: Lone Star Q

New Campaign For Marriage Equality Targets Texas

Over the last couple of years, marriage equality has spread across the United States like wildfire.  At present, it is the law of the land in 33 states and the District of Columbia.  A clear majority of United States citizens now live in states where same-sex couples can legally marry.

But not Texas.  Not yet.

With a sweeping record of victories under their belt, one national equality organization has now set its sights on Texas to try and advance the cause.  Here’s more about the Texas for Marriage campaign from Lone Star Q

The national group Freedom to Marry plans to spend $200,000 on the campaign launched Tuesday, in advance of oral arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January in a federal lawsuit challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage bans.

The campaign will be led by Ward Curtin, three-time deputy campaign manager to Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Mark McKinnon, a former advisor to President George W. Bush.

“Nearly every state and federal court from last year on, more than 50 – with judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents and governors – has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and moving the country forward,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said. “Texas families should not be left behind. Government has no business interfering in important freedoms like who Texans marry, and no business putting obstacles in the path of families and employers trying to do the right thing. Our new campaign will show that Texans are ready for the freedom to marry, and so is America.”

In addition to a website unveiled Tuesday, TxForMarriage.org, the campaign will feature statewide TV ads, townhall meetings and a Republican-led effort by young conservatives.

“Gay marriage was barely a blip on the radar this past election cycle in Texas, as it was in the rest of the country,” McKinnon said. “That’s because discrimination doesn’t sell like it used to — and because Texans from all walks of life, from big cities to small towns, believe strongly in freedom and family. Supporting gay couples marrying is squarely in line with these Texas values.”

The group’s coordinated approach combines the personal stories of LGBT Texans with a strong case for why marriage equality makes sense for state business leaders.  All valid reasons that will hopefully strengthen the state’s growing coalition in support of equal marriage rights.

This is a strong start, but as Texas for Marriage moves forward, let’s hope that they do not leave out other important voices in this argument… the religious community itself.  Perhaps it is likely that the group wants to maintain a direct posture that steers clear of religion in all of its forms.  A large part of existing arguments for marriage equality stem from the view that it is strictly a secular institution from the government’s standpoint, and therefore leaves religious entities to make their own decisions about how to view same-sex marriage.

But it’s still important to recognize that many religious entities do support marriage equality, and as such, those voices continue to be noticeably absent from the conversation in Texas.   Dynamic congregations across the state are now supporting equality, some at similar rates to society at large.  Even if the push for marriage is mostly about government recognition, the religious community can still be of great use to change hearts, minds and overall public opinion.

At any rate, let’s hope the new push merits some results.

Texoblogosphere: Week of October 6th

The Texas Progressive Alliance implores you to get a flu shot since the flu is a much bigger threat than ebola as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff began his series of interviews with statewide candidates by talking to Sam Houston, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and at Daily Kos is very pleased that Wendy Davis rightfully hammered Greg Abbott for the culture of corruption that pervades Austin. TX Davis hammers Abbott on Austin’s pervasive culture of corruption.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The question remains, is something like the Texas Enterprise Fund scandal enough to get voters to change their mind about Greg Abbott and the GOP? If not then what would it take?

William Rivers Pitt wrote “an open letter to his Democratic spammer“. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs commiserates.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote an art review of the fish cleaning station at the Texas City Dike. APHV is one of many pages worthy of review at NeilAquino.com.


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

Scott Braddock shows the evidence of who’s behind some recent wingnut-on-wingnut violence. Be sure your popcorn popper is in good order, this one looks like a gift that will keep on giving.

Lone Star Q is happy to report that Dallas City Council has voted week to ban discrimination against transgender city employees.

The Lunch Tray took a stand for citizen journalism.

Hair Balls explains what pot has to do with the Harris County DA race this year.

Char Miller eulogizes his colleague John Donahue, a “gracious force for good” in San Antonio.

Nancy Sims posits her grand unification theory of Houston Mayoral elections.

The Texas Election Law Blog assesses the GAO report on how long it took to vote in 2012.

Texas Wtach wants you to understand the impact of the Texas law that shields the medical industry from accountability.

BOR points to HD94 as a below-the-radar race to watch.

Nonsequiteuse connects the dots from racing for the cure to racing for Governor.


(Featured image is the Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall, Texas.  Photo credit:  Lone Star Historian)

Texas’ Top Anti-Gay Lobbyist Possibly Motivated by Personal Vendetta

Texas is known for being a Conservative state, but recent moves against the LGBT community have seemed to defy Conservative principles, and look more like open discrimination.  There may be a common connection for why GOP lawmakers are ramping up the hate rhetoric.  Here’s the story from Lone Star Q

Mere months before Jonathan Saenz became president of the anti-gay group Texas Values, his wife left him for another woman, according to Hays County district court records obtained by Lone Star Q.

The revelation could help explain Saenz’s seemingly abrupt transformation from socially conservative lobbyist to homophobic firebrand.

Saenz, a devout Catholic, has been a right-wing operative in Texas for many years — working on abortion and religious liberty cases as a staff attorney for the Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute as far back as 2005.

However, it wasn’t until recently that Saenz emerged as one of the state’s best-known — and most extreme — anti-LGBT voices.

Court records indicate that Saenz’s ex-wife […] is a member of the LGBT community who was dating another woman when she filed for divorce from Saenz in August 2011.

In early 2012, with their divorce still pending, Saenz would take the helm of Texas Values after the organization spun off from the Liberty Legal Institute, where he’d risen to chief lobbyist.

With Saenz as president, Texas Values has led the charge against not only same-sex marriage, but also passage of LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in San Antonio and Houston. In fighting the ordinances, Saenz has often repeated the debunked right-wing myth that sexual predators would use the laws to prey on women and children in bathrooms.

Saenz helped push an amendment to the 2014 Texas GOP platform endorsing the discredited practice of gay conversion therapy. In media interviews, Saenz has stated that same-sex marriagewill lead to polygamy and people marrying their stepchildren, and suggested that gay activists want to put Christians in concentration camps. Last week, Texas Values filed an amicus curiae brief calling on a federal appeals court to overturn a district judge’s decision striking down the state’s marriage bans.

The information obtained by Lone Star Q is public record, as any divorce decree would be.  John Wright, the author of the article and editor of Lone Star Q, has received criticism for revealing such personal details about Saenz’s family, especially in regard to the naming of the activist’s wife, and the former couple’s children.  Though I salute the work done by Wright on this story, I too believe that it is never acceptable to involve innocent family members in the matter, as they cannot and should not be held responsible for actions solely attributed to Mr. Saenz.  Texas Leftist has chosen to redact names where appropriate.

But for the issue at hand, this research is proving an important piece to understand the possible motivations behind Saenz’s work, and the drastic turn he and his Texas Values organization have taken against Texans. If someone’s personal event causes such a behavioral shift that it leads them to persecute an entire community, that community then has the right to defend itself by exposing knowledge of said events.  His personal vendetta, no matter how painful, cannot be used to harm people who have done nothing wrong.

And harm is what is being caused here.   The very same untruths that Jonathan Saenz fights for are the ones used to justify discrimination, bullying, gay bashing, and a whole host of other atrocities.  Texas is too great a state to continue to openly and proudly sanction these hate-filled beliefs. Hopefully this November, Texans will realize that they don’t have to listen to Jonathan Saenz, and instead choose to vote for politicians that stand on the side of equality.  

HERO Opponents File Suit Against City of Houston

Here’s the story from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

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.

(Steven Hotze.  photo credit:  Death and Taxes mag

Abbott Files “Emergency” Stay To Stop Marriage Equality Case

Chances are when someone says the word “emergency” to you, some of the images that may cross your mind are those of an ambulance or fire truck speeding to save someone in danger. Or perhaps the loud sound of alarm bells at a school being threatened by a storm.

But apparently to Gubernatorial Candidate Greg Abbott, the threat of wedding bells and divorce court constitutes an emergency of the utmost importance. This week after a District Judge moved to hear the case of a lesbian couple seeking a divorce, Attorney General Abbott raced to put an emergency stay on the decision. Here’s more from Lone Star Q

Warning of the possibility of same-sex marriages and “legal chaos,” Attorney General Greg Abbott has convinced a Texas appeals court to halt a San Antonio judge’s decision striking down the state’s marriage bans.

State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe ruled Tuesday that a lesbian couple’s divorce and child custody case could proceed, citing a federal judge’s ruling in February declaring Texas’ marriage bans unconstitutional.

However, the Austin American-Statesman reports that Abbott requested an emergency stay from the 4th District Court of Appeals, warning “to avoid the legal chaos that would follow if the trial court’s broadly worded ruling is mistakenly interpreted as authorization for the creation or recognition of same-sex marriages in Bexar County or throughout the state.”

The 4th Court of Appeals granted the stay on Thursday.

Abbott, a Republican who’s running for governor, is defending the state’s marriage bans against three federal lawsuits, from same-sex couples, including the one in which U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in favor of marriage equality in February. Abbott is appealing Garcia’s decision, which was also stayed, to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It’s an interesting window into the mind of Abbott and his anti-equality colleagues. Challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage ban would result in legal chaos, but cutting billions of dollars from Texas’ schoolchildren is no big deal? He’s also not in a big rush to provide a pathway for millions of Texans to access life-saving healthcare either. Both of those problems seem much more chaotic than a few people that want to marry who they love, or be granted a divorce.

Back to the chaos point, isn’t it time to drop all of the fire and brimstone rhetoric around marriage equality anyway? Calamity has yet to erupt in any of the 17 states that now grant same-sex marriages, and there’s no reason to assume the Lone Star State would be different. When are Conservatives going to stop sounding the alarm on this? Pretty soon, no one will believe them anyway.


Texoblogosphere: week of April 14th

The Texas Progressive Alliance honors the legacy of LBJ and the continuing struggle for civil rights as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the Republican statewide slate and is unimpressed.

Bay Area Houston says the Texas State Troopers Association has issued an Amber Alert for MIA Greg Abbott.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos is perplexed over Greg Abbott’s disappearing acts. Is he hiding from his white nationalist educational adviser who believes women and minorities are intellectually inferior to men like him? Or is he hiding because he wants standardized testing for four year old children? Where is Greg Abbott?

Horwitz at Texpatriate looks at the most recent head count on Houston’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance, and asks “who’s lying” on the issue.

Texas Progressive Alliance bloggers Stace Medellin (DosCentavos.net) and Charles Kuffner (OffTheKuff.com) will be panelist on Politics Done Right on KPFT discussing the delegitimized news media, blogging, and crowdsourcing the news. – EgbertoWillies.com.

Texas Leftist is glad to see the community organize to strengthen Houston’s planned Non-Discrimination Ordinance. But for all the work being done, does it even matter if the Mayor refuses to budge?

The Texas Renewal Project, a conclave of evangelical pastors, met in Austin last week and decided that the fires of Hell are just about to consume us all because of gay marriage and non-discrimination ordinances and things like that. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says that if God is really that homophobic, then he’ll take a pass, thanks.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson on Perry’s latest corporate scheme. It may not be illegal, but what’s going on here is is inherently incompatible with democracy. It just seems wrong that the governor of Texas is allowed to gallivant around the world to do the bidding for corporations. While he continues to deny health care to those who need it.

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

Lone Star Ma reminds us that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The Lunch Tray laments the trend of giving students junk food “treat bags” during standardized testing periods.

Lone Star Q updates us on failed former Senate candidate and sportscaster Craig James.

Jason Stanford mocks conservative victimhood.

Texas Watch lauds the tort system for its power to hold corporations accountable.

Beer, TX notes that the big beer distributors will be standing fast against any further attempts to level the playing field for craft brewers.

The Rivard Report documents efforts to make San Antonio’s Fiesta parade more sustainable.

Offcite notes Houston’s first Sunday street closing in the Heights to encourage pedestrian traffic was born in the rain, which did not seem to discourage participation much.

Grits wonders who is advising Rick Perry on the issue of prison rape.

Houston GLBT Caucus Calls Out Council on NDO

In contemporary times, it’s difficult to win any election without endorsements. Short of spending a fortune on TV ads, they are often the best way to get a candidate’s name out to the voters. But as any candidate is well aware, endorsements typically have to be earned through a record of service and a rigorous screening process.

For Houston and Harris County, one of the most important endorsements that a political candidate can earn is that of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. The Caucus endorsement means additional votes, and has been the difference between victory and defeat in several local races. So it’s no surprise that most of the municipal candidates for office, both Democrat and Republican, seek this most esteemed prize.

Yesterday, the GLBT Caucus redefined the brewing debate over Houston’s coming Human Rights Ordinance. Though Mayor Parker made a firm pledge to pass a Human Rights Ordinance in her recent State of the City speech, the planned legislation, to the disappointment of many in progressive community, does not extend to private employment because it wouldn’t have the votes to pass Council. But judging from the GLBT Caucus’ 2013 candidate questionnaire, those votes should already be locked down. Eleven Council Members promised to support a comprehensive Non-Discrimination Ordinance during the Caucus screening process, and now that organization is calling them out on that promise.

Posted on the group’s Facebook page, the Caucus confirms that Council Members Jerry Davis, Ellen Cohen, Dwight Boykins, Ed Gonzalez, Robert Gallegos, Mike Laster, Larry Green, Steven Costello, David W. Robinson, C. O. Bradford and Jack Christie all pledged public support for a comprehensive Non-Discrimination Ordinance.

Eleven votes (presumably twelve including the Mayor) out of a Sixteen-member Council is certainly enough to pass the ordinance, with more potential votes lining up. Noah M. Horwitz of Texpatriate did some legwork on this, and even spoke to CM Bradford directly for a most interesting response. I called Council Member Michael Kubosh’s office, and here is what a staff member had to say…

“Council Member Kubosh is against discrimination in all forms, and is looking forward to seeing the proposed ordinance.”

Even with this cautious response from a staff member, sources close to Texas Leftist say that Council Member Kubosh would be likely to support a Non-Discrimination Ordinance that extends to private employment. Said source worked with Kubosh on this issue prior to his election to City Council, and has spoken with him recently as well.

Of course there is no record of Kubosh’s stance, as he did not seek the GLBT Caucus endorsement. But for the Council Members that did, they deserve to be held to their word. Some questions still remain here… What about the other side? Who in the Business community is pressuring Council to not pass the ordinance? Why do they want to support discrimination, and more importantly, why is their voice on the issue loud enough to counter the voices of citizens?

Those answers need to be discovered. Lone Star Q has much more on the topic.