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Texas Lawmakers May Have Set A Record For The Most Anti-LGBT Bills In The History Of Any State

Cake

Jon Stewart was dead on last night when he said Texas lawmakers are munching on some serious hate cake

The Texas Observer reports today that they've now apparently set a record for the most anti-LGBT legislation in the history of any state. 

At least 20 anti-LGBT measures were introduced prior to last week's filing deadline. That's more than what is believed to be the previous record of 16 in Oklahoma this year. 

But in the Sooner State, 15 of those bills have already died, and LGBT advocates in Texas say they're confident they'll have similar results. 

From the Observer

EqTxDaniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas, said the group is “well-positioned” to defeat every piece of anti-LGBT legislation. Williams called it the worst session for LGBT rights since 2005—when the state’s marriage amendment passed and a proposal to ban gay foster parents was defeated on the House floor.

“What’s different about this Legislature than 2005 is that Texas, like most of the nation, has evolved on LGBT issues, and that mainstream voice is emerging and is being heard in the Texas Legislature,” Williams said. “It damages the Texas brand, and I think that’s why you’re seeing so many business voices get involved. … We also know how this process works better than our opposition does.”

Bell.CecilThe anti-LGBT legislation in Texas ranges from proposals targeting same-sex marriage, to religious freedom "license to discriminate" amendments, to bans on local LGBT protections, to bills that would criminalize transgender bathroom use.

GOP Rep. Cecil Bell (right), who's leading the charge with four anti-LGBT bills, told the Observer

“Unfortunately, I think it gets couched as ‘anti.’ It’s not about ‘anti.’ It’s about being pro-states’ rights. It’s about being pro-traditional values,” Bell said. “We’re seeing the results of a federal court system that doesn’t seem to be respecting the rights, the sovereignty, of the states and of the people. Because of that, you see the state legislatures pushing back.”

Pena.GilbertAnd GOP Rep. Gilbert Pena (right), the author of two of the four transgender bathroom criminalization bills, said this:

“This bill really is trying to establish the students’ rights to privacy,” said Rep. Gilbert Pena (R-Pasadena), who wants to make schools liable for damages if they allow transgender students to use restrooms based on how they identify. “How many girls in our high schools are going to be willing to allow some transgender male into their bathroom? Would you allow that for your daughter? I would not allow it for my daughter.”

Apparently, Pena doesn't quite understand the concept of transgender, since his bill would actually require transgender males to use the restroom alongside his daughter. 

Ahh, Texas. 


Find Out If Your Mayor Signed The Supreme Court Brief In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage

Rawlings.Mike

Hundreds of mayors from across the country have signed an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Freedom to Marry reports: 

Mayors-for-the-Freedom-to-MarryThree years after its launch in 2012, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry today signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to end marriage discrimination nationwide. The brief includes 226 individually named mayors as well as 40 cities across the country, from towns as small as Thompson, North Dakota, to the five largest cities in the nation, as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

“We launched Mayors for the Freedom to Marry three years ago because mayors are closest to their constituents and communities and singularly able to make the case that marriage makes for stronger families and a more vibrant economy,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. “We’re very proud of the 700 mayors who have been a part of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry over the three years of this campaign. This brief demonstrates the diversity of leaders across the country who know that America is ready for the freedom to marry and want the Supreme Court to bring our country to national resolution.”

Perhaps most notable among mayors who signed the brief is Mike Rawlings of Dallas (above), who created a firestorm in 2012 when he refused to sign the pledge to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Rawlings also later scuttled a City Council vote on a marriage equality resolution. But The Dallas Morning News reports that Rawlings has finally evolved to the point of taking a public stand on the issue: 

“I am not a big fan of signing toothless pledges because I don’t find them very significant,” Rawlings said. “But this is significant and I feel like I am speaking for hundreds of thousands of citizens of Dallas, Texas. I wanted to make sure the Supreme Court knows that there is mayor in Texas, and in one of the top 10 cities in the country, that feels that the city of Dallas will be better off (with gay marriage.)” ...

“This is a personal issue for me,” Rawlings said. “I have so many friends in the LGBT community and this is really a moment of truth for them and for me. I am so proud not only to be rooting for this case to succeed, but also to be actively petitioning the Supreme Court on their behalf.”

(On a side note, as the reporter who broke the story about Rawlings' refusal to sign the pledge, and relentlessly hounded him for years afterward, I called him on his cell phone this morning to personally thank him.) 

According to Freedom to Marry, other key signers of the brief include: 

Mayor Michael Duggan of Detroit, MI; Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati, OH; Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, OH; Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego; Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles; Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia; Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore; Mayor Mayor Karyn Hippen of Thompson, ND; Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, AL; and Mayor Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, TN

Read the full amicus brief and find out if your mayor signed on by scrolling to the bottom, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Find Out If Your Mayor Signed The Supreme Court Brief In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage" »


TX Pastor Robert Jeffress: Christians Being Forced To Bake Gay Wedding Cakes Is A Sign Of The Antichrist - AUDIO

Jeffress2

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, says acceptance of homosexuality is paving the way for the Antichrist. 

Appearing Monday on The Janet Mefferd show, a nationally syndicated Christian radio show, Jeffress said same-sex marriage and the "persecution of Christians" are among signs the world is experiencing "labor pains" before the second coming of Jesus. Other signs include the popularity of the book and movie Fifty Shades Of Grey, which Jeffress calls "Fifty Shades of Perversion." 

Many of these views reportedly are detailed in Jeffress' new book, Countdown to the Apocalypse: Why ISIS and Ebola Are Only the Beginning.

The Christian Post reports: 

CountdownAlthough Jeffress also cited the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria, he said that the increasing acceptance of gay marriage and homosexuality is as much an indicator of the sign of the Antichrist's nearing arrival.

He added that society has become too intolerant of the values and beliefs that Christians hold, and too frequently Christians are punished and criticized for maintaining their belief and acting upon their faith. He explained that the persecution of Christians who speak up for their faith is further laying down the path for the Antichrist to "martyr" Christians once he arrives. 

"What is happening is that we are becoming desensitized to the persecution of Christians just not globally, but also in our Country. The fact is that we are being told that Christians who refuse to serve a wedding cake to a gay couple, that they are extremists, its OK to take their livelihood and shut down their business," Jeffress said. "I believe that we are getting desensitized to that, which will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist, to persecute and martyr Christians without any repercussions what-so-ever."

Of course, hateful anti-LGBT rhetoric is nothing new for Jeffress, who began his legacy of homophobia when he led a campaign to remove gay-themed books from the public library in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1998. 

Since then, he has said that gays lead "a miserable lifestyle," that homosexuality leads to pedophilia, and that gay rights will lead to "the inevitable implosion of our country." 

Jeffress has also said President Barack Obama is paving the way for the Antichrist, defended "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson's anti-gay remarks, and compared homosexuality to plugging a TV into the wrong outlet and "blowing it to smithereens." 

In fact, Jeffress is so bad that not even Tim Tebow would speak at his church. 

You can listed to Jeffress' full interview here. Listen to clips about same-sex marriage and "Fifty Shades of Grey" via Right Wing Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "TX Pastor Robert Jeffress: Christians Being Forced To Bake Gay Wedding Cakes Is A Sign Of The Antichrist - AUDIO" »


Straight Cop Tells Dallas Pension Board To 'Grow The Nuts God Gave A Gnat,' Recognize Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Officer

The other day we reported that a Dallas pension board voted to recognize same-sex marriages for the purpose of providing equal pension benefits to gay employees. However, that decision applies only to civilian employees, and on Thursday the city's Police and Fire Pension Board voted to delay a decision on whether to recognize same-sex marriages. 

Thursday's meeting reportedly grew heated at times, with one police officer telling the pension board to "grow the nuts that God gave a gnat and do it." 

WFAA-TV reports: 

Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 10.19The hours of squabbling and litany of failed attempts to spur the board to action stirred the police and fire personnel in the audience to speak out. Ernest Sherman (right) with Dallas police rose and shouted at the trustees.

"I have no dog in this hunt," Sherman yelled. "But, by God, you're a [expletive] police officer. So is she. So is she. They have the same right as you! Period!"

"You will vote today as a board, up or down," Sherman continued, pointing at board members. "Grow the [expletive] that God gave a knat and do it!"

The board didn't heed Sherman's advice. Instead, members essentially opted to put off the matter until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue of same-sex marriage. The Dallas Morning News reports: 

KingstonInterim administrator Don Rohan said it “appears to be imminent” that same-sex marriage will be legalized by the Supreme Court and recommended that the board should just wait on the decision. The majority of board members agreed.

“It has long been the consensus of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System board of directors that the same-sex spouses of our members should be eligible for survivor benefits. That has never been a question,” Board Chairman George Tomasovic said in a written statement. “The only concern the board has on this issue is the legality of providing those benefits since Texas law does not recognize same-sex marriages. Fortunately, the legal landscape on this issue appears to be changing.” ... 

The meeting got heated. Council member Philip Kingston (right) asked Rohan to “pipe down” at one point, causing Rohan to snap back at him. The two had several other heated exchanges. Rohan later asked rhetorically if he was a child, and Griggs answered “yes,” prompting some profanity from Rohan in the midst of cross-talk.

More from WFAA-TV on the squabbling:  

Trustee Dan Wojcik appealed for calm.

"We are talking about a matter of a few months here," he said. "I do not see any hurry to go ahead and vote on this at this time."

Kingston, who was visibly angry throughout the meeting, lashed out during the discussion. "We keep saying 'wait,'" he said. "I think they're tired of waiting." ... 

Trustee Samuel Fryer from Dallas Fire-Rescue, who voted against extending benefits in favor of waiting until the High Court makes a decision, seemed to apologize for his position.

"I know what it's like to not be able to go to the same restaurant as you guys go to," said Fryer, who is black. "I lived that [...] More power to you once these legalities are over."

"It's discrimination," said Bronda Davis, a Dallas police officer who spoke from the audience after witnessing the heated discussion. "It's cut and dried. We deserve the same benefits that all our men and women in blue and the fire department have. It's just equal."

Watch WFAA-TV's report, including Sherman's outburst, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Straight Cop Tells Dallas Pension Board To 'Grow The Nuts God Gave A Gnat,' Recognize Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Gay Texas Couples Ask 5th Circuit To Allow Same-Sex Marriages Immediately

DeLeon

Yesterday we reported that same-sex couples in Missouri and South Dakota had asked federal judges to allow marriages to begin immediately in those states. 

Now attorneys for two same-sex couples in Texas, including Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman (above) have done the same. 

Like the Missouri and South Dakota motions, the Texas filing relies on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week to allow same-sex marriages to begin in Alabama

The Texas Observer reports: 

LaneIf the 5th Circuit doesn't lift the stay for all same-sex couples, the motion asks that it be lifted for the limited purpose of establishing the parental rights of plaintiff Cleopatra DeLeon, whose wife, Nicole Dimetman, is expecting a child in March.

The motion cites the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to halt same-sex marriages in both Alabama and Florida, after federal district judges struck down bans in those states. The high court will hear appeals in April from four states where same-sex marriage bans were upheld. ... 

Neel Lane (right), an attorney for the couples, said in a statement he remains confident the 5th Circuit will rule in favor of marriage equality.

"But same-sex marriages are proceeding across the South and Southwest, while Texas remains the most populous state where gays and lesbians are deprived of that right," Lane said. "Today we urge the Fifth Circuit to remedy that omission immediately.”

The Texas motion includes powerful arguments in favor of lifting the stay at least for DeLeon, outlining the many steps the couple would have to go through for her to adopt their expected daughter, and explaining that if something happens to Dimetman during childbirth, she may never be able to do so. 

"If Dimetman is otherwise incapacitated, DeLeon’s right and ability to care for the child will be far from assured, as she will not have parental rights unless and until the adoption is completed. Thus, DeLeon may not be able to rock the baby to sleep; she may not be able to comfort the baby when he or she is upset; she may not be able to direct the baby’s medical care. Adoption takes time, and if something happens to Dimetman, time will not be a luxury that DeLeon and the baby have."

Last February, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia struck down Texas' marriage ban as unconstitutional, but stayed his decision pending the state's appeal to the 5th Circuit, which heard oral arguments last month. 

Observers believe a 5th Circuit panel is likely to rule in favor of marriage equality, but it's unclear whether it will do so before the Supreme Court addresses the issue. The high court will hear appeals in April from four states where marriage bans were upheld.

In December, Judge Garcia denied a motion to lift the stay in Texas — but that was before the Supreme Court allowed marriages to begin in Alabama and Florida. 

Read the full motion, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Gay Texas Couples Ask 5th Circuit To Allow Same-Sex Marriages Immediately" »


Dallas To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

DP_splash-bridge

After three hours of debate, a Dallas pension board voted Tuesday to recognize the same-sex marriages of city employees — contingent on approval from the City Council and the city attorney. 

Despite a lack of leadership on the issue from Mayor Mike Rawlings, the board voted 6-0 to approve the compromise between members who wanted to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, and those who felt the decision should be left up to voters. 

The city attorney and City Council are expected to sign off, paving the way for Dallas to join Austin, Fort Worth, Houston and Plano in recognizing same-sex marriages and providing equal retirement benefits to the spouses of gay employees. 

The Dallas Morning News reports: 

Again and again, different variations of the effort to include same-sex marriages in spousal benefits failed in deadlocked votes. Then, after three hours of discussion and some harsh words, a deal was struck. ... 

Dallas’ two pension boards — the Employees’ Retirement Fund and the Police and Fire Pension Board — have been among the last city entities to extend same-sex benefits, after the City Council passed a resolution nearly a year ago calling for LGBT equality in all city operations. ... 

The pension boards have grappled with what they say is a legal gray area between a Texas ban on gay marriage and a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring the Internal Revenue Service to recognize same-sex marriages from any state, regardless of where the couple lives.

A federal district judge struck down Texas' marriage ban last year, but stayed his decision pending the state's appeal to the 5th Circuit, which heard oral arguments last month. 

In Houston, anti-LGBT activists sued the city and Mayor Annise Parker over her decision to recognize employees' out-of-state same-sex marriages. But that lawsuit is on hold pending the outcome of the Texas marriage case. 

Tuesday's vote would provide equal pension benefits to gay civilian employees in Dallas, but not police or firefighters. The city's Police and Fire Pension Board is scheduled to discuss the issue Thursday. 


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