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Out Lesbian Lawmaker Fights Back Against Texas GOP's Endorsement of 'Ex-Gay Therapy'

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Out lesbian state Rep. Celia Israel says she was "infuriated" when the Texas GOP added a plank endorsing "ex-gay therapy" to its platform last year. 

On Friday, Israel responded by introducing a bill that would ban the so-called therapy for minors. The bill is going nowhere in the right-wing Texas Legislature, but Israel said it's an important symbolic response to the Republican Party's anti-gay hatred — which has been further evidenced by more than 15 anti-LGBT bills filed in the current session. 

The Texas Observer reports: 

"I don’t think that they recognize how hurtful these kinds of things can be,” Israel said. “To suggest that some young kid that happens to be gay is less than normal is very hurtful and harmful and dangerous, and I think I put myself back in those years when I was first discovering who I was. … I felt strongly about introducing a bill that was a counter to that, to say, ‘We don’t need fixing. We just need your love.'”

Pickup.David_David Pickup, a licensed counselor who practices "ex-gay therapy" in Dallas — where he put up a billboard recently — said this of the proposed ban:  

“It results in further abuse of children because it doesn’t let them become who they actually are,” Pickup said. “It also takes away any possibility at all of children who are sexually abused by same-sex pedophiles from getting any help whatsoever to reduce or eliminate homosexual feelings that are caused by that.”

Thus far, only California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have banned "ex-gay therapy" for minors, but several other states are considering it. Equality Texas, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign issued a joint release applauding Israel's bill:   

“Time and again we see the psychological wreckage from so-called conversion therapy and it has to stop,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Even onetime champions of this dangerous technique have changed their minds as the evidence piles up that such ‘therapy’ doesn’t work and, worse, is dangerous.  Rep. Israel’s leadership here is welcome and puts the wellbeing of children first.” ... 

“No child should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “These harmful practices are based on the false claim that being LGBT is a mental illness that should be cured, using fear and shame to tell young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention."

“Today, more than ever, it is clear that LGBT youth and their families need accurate information about the dangers of these unscientific and unethical practices, and this bill is a powerful educational tool. For the first time in history, laws like this are shining a light on an issue that has remained in the shadows for too long,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames.  


University Of Texas Gets First LGBTQ Sorority, Which Is Apparently Still Very Much Needed

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On Thursday, we told you about allegations that a fraternity at the University of Texas allegedly bans “interracial dating”, Mexicans and “fagetry." And last year, another fraternity at UT was suspended by the school for anti-gay discrimination.  

Perhaps that helps explain the need for UT's newly formed colony of Gamma Rho Lambda, the LGBTQ-inclusive national sorority, which was launched this semester. The Daily Texan student newspaper reported this week: 

GRLThe sorority aims to combat issues regarding the status of queer women in mainstream society and within the LGBT community, Lauren Ferguson, president of the colony and art history and English senior, said. As part of the three-semester colonization process, the organization’s leaders recruited nine members this semester for the Alpha class and will start taking pledges in the fall.

Founding members hope the colony will create a space to improve the quality of dialogue between the LGBT community and social conservatives, according to neuroscience and psychology senior Shelby Dax Fisher-Garibay, the sorority’s new member mother — a type of recruitment leader.

”I think the biggest thing we can do is education,” Fisher-Garibay said. “If we are educated about what the [conservative] opinions are and the best responses to those arguments, then, hopefully, we can bring a more educational dialogue to the table instead of just hateful banter back and forth.”

In addition to educating social conservatives, the Gamma Rho Lambda chapter will work to combat transphobia within the LGBTQ community: 

“There are a lot of really awesome women’s or LGBT organizations [on campus], but they are either really specifically for, say, LGBT women of color or they are non-trans-inclusive,” Ferguson said. “One of the tenants of [Gamma Rho Lambda] is that no one is excluded, and the only requirement is that you identify as a woman. A lot of the feminism movement and the LGBT community does not want to include trans-women into the queer spectrum because there is a lot of transphobia within [those communities] as well.”

UT has had a chapter of the LGBTQ fraternity Delta Lambda Phi since 2008. The Gamma Rho Lambda chapter will be one of 17 chapters and colonies nationwide, according to the sorority's website.  

Sadly, the Gamma Rho Lambda colony has already received hate mail. And representatives from the school's fraternity and sorority councils didn't respond to The Daily Texan's requests for comment. 

From KEYE-TV's report on the Gamma Rho Lambda colony: 

“We're still having issues on campus with racism. It's easy to think we live in a society where issues like that aren't the norm, but they kind of still are,” says Lauren Ferguson. The women say feedback on campus has been more positive than negative, but they know their new sorority will face challenges. “Unfortunately that's the nature of the beast, but that just goes to show how necessary we still are,” she adds.

The women say feedback on campus has been more positive than negative, but they know their new sorority will face challenges.

“Unfortunately that's the nature of the beast, but that just goes to show how necessary we still are,” she adds.

Watch KEYE-TV's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "University Of Texas Gets First LGBTQ Sorority, Which Is Apparently Still Very Much Needed" »


Anti-Gay Texas Lawmaker Cecil Bell Jr. Files 3rd Bill Targeting Same-Sex Marriage

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Needless to say, there are plenty of homophobic lawmakers in the Texas Legislature. But GOP Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. is making a name for himself as perhaps the biggest of them all. 

Bell on Thursday filed his third anti-gay marriage bill of the current legislative session. 

House Bill 3602 aims to protect "conscientous objectors" from being punished for refusing to provide services to LGBT people based on their "sincerely held religious beliefs." More specifically, HB 3602 appears designed to allow government employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

According to the bill, a conscientous objector is someone who believes marriage is or should be recognized as only the union of one man and one woman; that sexual relations should be exclusively reserved to a marriage of only one man and one woman; or that gender or gender identity is or should be determined by the predominant chromosomal sex. 

From HB 3602: 

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While HB 3602 may be designed to allow employees to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses, its consequences would go far beyond that. It would protect business owners who refuse to serve LGBT people from being punished under local nondiscrimination laws. It could allow police or paramedics to refuse to protect or treat LGBT people with no consequences. A government employee could even presumably refuse to issue a marriage license to a straight couple who's had premarital sex. Of course, the bill is totally unconstitutional, but Bell apparently hasn't read that document. 

Previously, Bell filed legislation that would revoke the salaries of county clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and to make marriage licenses the responsibility of the secretary of state so that county clerks don't issue them to same-sex couples. 

HB 3602 is at least the 14th piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the Texas Legislature this year, which is by far a record. Thankfully, the filing deadline is today, so the onslaught is almost over. 

Also, did we mention that Bell likes cake? We mean he really loves it.  

 


Texas Democrats Deliver Gay Wedding Cakes To Bigoted Lawmakers Who Pulled Cake-Cutting Stunt

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Last month, anti-gay bigots in the Texas Legislature celebrated the 10th anniversary of the state's marriage amendment by slicing a symbolic wedding cake during "Texas Faith and Family Day" at the Capitol. 

The Austin-American Statesman reported: 

Cake[Lt. Gov. Dan] Patrick’s speech was followed by the cutting of two symbolic wedding cakes to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of a Texas constitutional amendment that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, was called forward to slice into one of the cakes in recognition of his House Bill 623, which would withhold the pay of county clerks and government employees who issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

“My family’s been in Texas since 1852,” Bell said after the forum. “What has always been normal for us, we’re suddenly being told it’s not normal, that those things that are our traditional values, somehow they are wrong.”

On Wednesday, the Texas Democratic Party responded by delivering gay wedding cakes — accompanied by cards saying "LOVE IS LOVE" — to the offices of several of the legislators who participated in the cake-cutting stunt. From a fundraising page for the event, "Send a slice of love"

Cake2We’ve identified each of the people cutting into this offensive cake -- Rep. Stuart Spitzer, Rep. Mark Keough, Rep. Molly White, Rep. Scott Turner, Sen. Charles Perry, Rep. Cecil Bell, Sen. Brian Birdwell, and, of course, Sen. Donna Campbell.

We want to send these officials a clear message that Texans stand up for the freedom and the right to marry who you love. So we’re going to send several of the people in this picture a slice of love -- cakes that show that, in Texas, love is love. 

No matter how low Texas Republicans get when showcasing their disrespect for basic civil rights like the freedom to marry, we will never stop pushing back.

These cakes are a fun way to show your support for marriage equality in Texas and send a powerful message to Texas Republicans that Texans deserve the freedom to marry who they love.

No word on whether the Texas Department of Public Safety will now issue a warning about gay wedding cakes.

In any case, the next symbolic showdown in the battle over same-sex marriage in Texas comes March 23, when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore visits the Capitol on the same day as Equality Texas' Family Advocacy Day

Stay tuned. 


Texas Bill Would Create $2,000 Bounty for Turning in Transgender Students Found in Bathrooms

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A Texas lawmaker has filed a bill that would prohibit schools from allowing transgender students to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identity. 

HB 2801, from GOP state Rep. Gilbert Pena (above), is similar to a bill that passed the Kentucky Senate last week. 

Under Pena's proposal, school districts would be required to adopt policies saying "only persons of the same biological sex may be present at the same time in any bathroom, locker room, or shower facility in a building owned by the district."

Schools could provide "reasonable alternate" facilities if students assert they are transgender and parents sign off on it. But districts could be held liable for $2,000 in exemplary damages — plus actual damages, court costs and attorneys fees — if employees knowingly allow transgender students to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identity. In other words, the bill would place a bounty on the heads of transgender students, offering rewards to peers who report them for going to the bathroom. 

Pena's bill is the third anti-transgender bathroom bill introduced in Texas this year. Two other proposals would make it a crime for transgender people to use restrooms or similar facilities in accordance with their gender identity. Last week, the Texas Department of Public Safety sent a warning to lawmakers after the author of those bills, GOP Rep. Debbie Riddle, allegedly received a glitter bomb in the mail

The transgender bathroom bills are among at least 11 anti-LGBT measures that have been introduced in the current Texas Legislature.

That's right, folks, everything's bigger in Texas — including backlash against same-sex marriage.  

Read the full text of Pena's bill, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Texas Bill Would Create $2,000 Bounty for Turning in Transgender Students Found in Bathrooms" »


Insane Anti-Muslim Texas Lawmaker Files Anti-Gay Bill Hoping to Block Future Same-Sex Marriages

White.Cruz

Last month we told you about Texas GOP state Rep. Molly White (shown above with Sen. Ted Cruz), who posted an Islamophobic rant to mark Muslim lobby day at the Capitol. 

WhiteFlag“Today is Texas Muslim Capital day in Austin," White wrote on her Facebook page. "The House is in recess until Monday. Most Members including myself are back in District. I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office.”

We also told you that Equality Texas responded to White's rant by delivering a gay Pride flag to her office (right). 

"There are many flags that celebrate the diversity and unity of TX," Equality Texas wrote on Twitter. "We decided to help build Rep White's collection."

Apparently, the group's attempt to educate White about diversity didn't work. Last week, White filed a bill that seeks to uphold Texas' ban on same-sex marriage regardless of any federal court ruling to the contrary. From White's HB 2555

Bill

White's bill is at least the fourth anti-gay marriage bill filed in the current Texas legislative session. As we mentioned last week, if and when a federal court brings marriage equality to Texas, expect an Alabama-style fight.  

UPDATE: White has also filed a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service on religious grounds. Read the full text of HB 2553 here


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