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Texas Pastors Compare Gay Marriage To Bestiality, Pedophilia at Senate Committee Hearing: VIDEO


A Texas Senate committee hearing turned into an anti-gay hatefest on Monday.  

As we told you last week, state legislators are considering a bill designed to protect clergy and churches from being forced to participate in same-sex weddings.

Pro-LGBT groups including Equality Texas and the ACLU of Texas have said that as long as the bill is crafted narrowly enough, they'd be wiling to support it. However, at the conclusion of Monday's hearing, the author of the Senate version of the bill rejected an amendment proposed by the two groups.

This was after dozens of pastors testified in support of the bill, with some comparing same-sex marriage to adultery, bestiality, domestic abuse, pedophilia and polygamy. Anti-LGBT witnesses also accused gay couples in other states of "bullying," "bigotry" and "hate crimes" for allegedly trying to force pastors to perform their weddings. 

"Where are we going to stop with this?" said Bruce Engleman (above left), pastor of the Baptist Temple in Fort Worth. "Let's just get to the chase. Where's it going to stop? I heard of a woman in Florida that married a dog. Am I going to have to perform a wedding ceremony for an animal and a human being? And how can we say, 'Well, we have to marry certain people against our convictions,' and then tell a Mormon who's a fundamental [sic] Mormon, 'Well, we can't marry you because you want to marry two women'? Where is this going to stop? We see as evangelical Christians all over America, our rights are begin stripped every day, and nobody's standing up for our rights, except for a few of you senators, and I appreciate that."

David Joiner (above right), pastor of LifeSprings Church, said same-sex marriage is not marriage because it violates natural law, turns a moral wrong into a civil right, and offends God. Joiner then proclaimed, "I'm not a homophobia [sic]." 

"Over the years I believe we've heard of people that want and tried to pass pedophilia," Joiner said. "That's what's in their heart. They bring it up because that's where they lean toward. Just think if it passed one day, and they said, 'Well, you have to marry this 16-year-old boy to this guy' or whatever. We need to take a stand because the moral — they're trying to get it to the gay, we know that, but like I said we preach about love, and nobody would want that for their child for the most part, so we don't want to see a stepping stone for them to get this to pass and then to move on to stuff like that." 

Beverly Roberts, area director of Concerned Women for America, said that same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal are trying to force pastors to perform their weddings. 

"Should we not consider these to be hate crimes? Are these not instances of targeted bigotry? Are these couples not engaging in the same bullying tactics they profess to deplore? Why are they attacking a minister when they don't even need him to perform their marriage? So again I ask you, who are the bullies, the bigots and the haters?"

The Senate committee advanced the bill in a 5-1 vote. It now goes to the full Senate. An identical bill was approved by a House committee last week. 

Watch testimony from Engleman, Joiner and Roberts, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Hilarious Video of Texas Councilman Leaving Mic On While Heading to the Bathroom Goes Viral - WATCH


The Chicago Sun-Times would like to kindly remind you to please turn off any recording devices you may have on your persons while heading to the bathroom:

The good news for one city councilman in Georgetown, Texas: Few people were in attendance at a meeting last week when he excused himself to go to the bathroom and left his microphone on, broadcasting his experience to the council chamber.

The bad news: Hundreds of thousands of people have seen and heard what he did, thanks to a video of the council meeting.

Even worse news: Based on the time between him flushing the toilet and how he returned only seconds later, it appears he didn’t wash his hands.

Watch the video, which includes Mayor Pro Tem Rachael Jonrowe's hilarious reaction after the "streaming" audio starts broadcasting through the chamber speakers, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Hilarious Video of Texas Councilman Leaving Mic On While Heading to the Bathroom Goes Viral - WATCH" »

Vice President Joe Biden Tells LGBT Leaders, 'This Is No Time To Let Up' - AUDIO


If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of nationwide marriage equality in June, Obergefell v. Hodges will be remembered alongside the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, according to Vice President Joe Biden. 

Biden made the statement Saturday night during his keynote speech at the Gill Foundation's annual OutGiving Dinner in Dallas, which was also attended by attorney Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, who argued for the Obergefell plaintiffs at the high court last week. 

"If the court does the right thing, this is going to be as consequential, and Mary [Bonauto] is going to be as remembered as Brown versus school board and Thurgood Marshall, it's that fundamental," Biden said, referring to the NAACP's lead counsel in Brown, which ended state-sponsored segregation. 

Biden credited the LGBT community for the dramatic cultural shift of the last decade, pointing out that in 2004, 11 states passed same-sex marriage bans when President George W. Bush was re-elected. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states that are home to 224 million Americans, Biden said. 

"It's because so many of you, men and women in this room of character and consequence, were willing to step forward early, risking your positions, risking in some cases your physical security. You stepped up and you spoke out," Biden said. "You've changed the basic politics of this nation, because of all that you've done."

But there is still work to do, Biden said, noting that polls show nine in 10 Americans believe it's already illegal to discriminate against LGBT workers, when in fact only 22 states have banned it — which he said "shocks the conscience." He added that 15,000 LGBT youth are homeless, largely because of family rejection, and that LGBT students are twice as likely to be bullied in school. 

Biden said after he recently came out in favor of banning gay conversion therapy, he received 790,000 emails.   

"Folks, the American people are with us," he said. "The momentum is with us. This is no time to let up." 

Listen to audio of Biden's remarks, beginning at the 41:00 minute mark, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Vice President Joe Biden Tells LGBT Leaders, 'This Is No Time To Let Up' - AUDIO" »

LGBT Advocates In Texas May Back Marriage Bill Championed By Anti-Gay Hate Groups


In an extreme example of how politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows, LGBT advocates in Texas say they're prepared to endorse legislation championed by two anti-gay hate groups. 

Representatives from Equality Texas and the ACLU of Texas say as long as it's narrowly written, they're likely to support a bill protecting pastors and churches from being forced to participate in same-sex weddings. 

The bill is being pushed by the Texas Pastor Council and Texas Values, two prominent anti-LGBT groups. A few weeks ago, the Pastor Council brought in dozens of religious leaders to testify in support of the bill. (Executive Director Dave Welch is shown addressing the pastors on the Capitol steps above.) 

Of course, pastors and churches are already protected from being forced to participate in same-sex weddings under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

The Texas Observer reports: 

Aclutx“It’s my job here at the ACLU to protect religious liberty, and if the bill is really about religious liberty, we’re going to come out in favor of it,” said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas. “There’s not a single example of any clergy being forced to perform a wedding that they don’t believe is consistent with their faith, but nevertheless we agree with the principle.”

Robertson said other states have enacted similar protections in conjunction with marriage equality legislation or nondiscrimination laws. Texas is one of only 13 states where same-sex marriage is still banned, but the U.S. Supreme Court is widely expected to change that next month.

“There’s a reason that we can all get together on this bill,” Robertson said. “It’s a principle we all agree on, and people can take comfort in the fact that their personal faith traditions are not going to be threatened. There’s room for both religious liberty and equality. We have a big Constitution.”

This same issue came to the fore this week when anti-gay U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia erroneously suggested during oral arguments that pastors could be forced to perform same-sex weddings if the court rules in favor of nationwide marriage equality. GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush later repeated Scalia's claim. 

The Texas Pastor Council's Welch told the Observer he isn't surprised LGBT groups are prepared to support the bill, acknowledging it's redundant with existing constitutional protections.

Welch said his group will continue to push other "religious freedom" legislation that would establish a license to discriminate against LGBT people. More than 20 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in Texas this year. But most are stalled amid opposition from business leaders, including the Texas Association of Business, which is the state's powerful chamber of commerce. 

From the Observer

“Some of the Republican leadership are going to have to face the music if they don’t stand up for the principles upon which they were elected,” Welch said. “If they’re going to cater to the profit-at-all-cost corporate greed of the Texas Association of Business, which is basically standing on an empty platform of deception, they’ll ultimately lose the next election. … If Apple is going to pull out of Texas because we’re going to defend our religious freedom that has produced the same climate that brought them here to begin with, then frankly, move back to California.”

LGBT Group Will Donate Over $50,000 To Boy Scouts If Group Lifts Ban On Gay Adult Leaders: VIDEO


A pro-LGBT group has raised more than $50,000 to donate to the Boy Scouts of America if the organization ends its ban on gay adult leaders. 

Scouts for Equality launched its campaign on the crowdfunding site Challeng.org last week, calling on President Bob Gates and the Boy Scouts to lift the organization's ban on gay adults during its national meeting later this month. 

"If they meet this challenge and vote to end their ban on gay adults, the proceeds from this campaign will be donated straight to the Boy Scouts of America. But if they don't vote down the ban, your donation won't be processed," Scouts for Equality Executive Director Zach Wahls says in a video promoting the campaign. 

"When I was growing up in the Boy Scout, my moms taught me that being gay ha nothing to do with your ability to live by the promises of the Scout law," Wahls says. 

The campaign, which began with a $10,000 pledge from Scouts for Equality, had raised $53,285 by Friday morning. 

The BSA lifted its ban on gay youth in 2013 but continues to bar gay adult leaders. However, the Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts recently hired an openly gay man to serve as youth leader. Meanwhile, the New York attorney general's office has launched an investigation into whether the Boy Scouts' employment practices violate the state's ban on anti-gay discrimination

Watch Scouts for Equality's video promoting the Challeng.org campaign, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Poll Shows Majority Of Houston-Area Residents Back Marriage Equality For 1st Time


A week after Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance finally took effect, a new survey shows a majority of residents in the nation's largest solidly red metropolitan area now support marriage equality. 

Houston is the nation's fourth-largest city, but the survey covers three counties that account for most of the nation's fifth-largest metropolitan area. All three counties — Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery — were swept by Republicans in November 2014 elections. 

Parker.AnniseThe region covered by the survey also includes the district of anti-gay GOP state Rep. Cecil Bell, who's filed multiple bills seeking to undermine a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. Of course, Houston is also home to out lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, who married her longtime partner in California last year. 

Rice University's 34th Annual Kinder Houston Area Survey, released Thursday, found that 51 percent of Houston-area residents now believe, "Marriages between homosexuals should be given the same legal status as heterosexual marriages.” That's up from 35 percent in 2004. 

Meanwhile, 52 percent of those surveyed now believe homosexuality is morally acceptable, up from just 21 percent in 1997 — which happens to be the same year Parker was first elected to the City Council.  

From the survey

Meanwhile, on virtually all the relevant questions asked over the years, support for gay rights has increased consistently. In alternating years, for example, the survey participants were asked about the statement, "Marriages between homosexuals should be given the same legal status as heterosexual marriages." The numbers in agreement reached a majority of 51 percent in this year's survey — up from 43 percent in 2009, 37 percent in 2001 and 31 percent in 1993. 

Similarly, as we reported last year, the percent who were in favor of homosexuals being legally permitted to adopt children grew from 17 percent in 1991, to 29 percent in 2000, to 38 percent in 2004, to 43 percent in 2012, and to 51 percent in 2014. The number of area residents who consider homosexuality to be "morally acceptable" also has grown consistently, from 21 percent in 1997, to 31 percent in 2005, to 45 percent in 2011 and to 52 percent in this year's survey. 

Recent polls show that anywhere between 42 percent and 48 percent of Texas voters now support marriage equality. However, most state and federal lawmakers represent gerrymandered districts in which Republican primary voters, who are significantly more conservative, determine the outcome of elections.


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