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Texas County Judge Rules Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional

Guy_herman2Travis County, Texas Probate Judge Guy Herman has struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, The Austin Statesman reports:

Herman ruled as part of an estate fight in which Austin resident Sonemaly Phrasavath sought to have her eight-year relationship to Stella Powell deemed to have been a common-law marriage. Powell died last summer of colon cancer.

A call is out to Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to determine her plans in light of the ruling. DeBeauvoir has said in the past that she is ready to begin distributing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as allowed by the courts.

DeBeauvoir had also told Towleroad she was willing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, according to reporter Chuck Lindell, Travis County will not be issuing marriage licenses to LGBT couples just yet:

Texas' marriage ban was previously struck down by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, though that decision was stayed until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals could weigh in on the subject as it is considering a similar challenge to the ban. 

Developing...


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" »


Both Sides Claim Victory In Trial Over Houston LGBT Protections: VIDEO

HERO

Both sides are claiming victory after the jury reached a mixed verdict Friday in the trial over a petition to repeal Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance. 

But we won't know which side is right until the judge issues a final ruling about how many valid signatures are on the petition. And even then, the decision is likely to be appealed. 

The Houston Chronicle reports: 

The ruling is not final, and a judge will now consider the jury's findings about the work of more than 100 circulators of the petition that the city rejected last summer, citing overwhelming notary and signature-gatherer errors.

District Judge Robert Schaffer was not present for Friday's ruling after nearly six days of jury deliberation. Attorneys on both sides said he will now begin counting which signatures are valid to see if opponents have reached the needed 17,269-signature threshold. Schaffer retains wide legal discretion in what he deems valid.

The jury's ruling Friday will trigger a series of legal dominoes that, eventually, will yield a definitive answer: The judge will count the signatures, issue a decision on whether the petition is valid and then the case will almost certainly go to the appellate courts

Jurors determined there was widespread forgery on petition pages they reviewed, but no fraud. They also found that in many cases circulators failed to properly sign and subscribe petition pages.  

Geoffrey Harrison, the lead attorney for the city, told the Chronicle that supporters of the Equal Rights Ordinance should "be thrilled and dancing in their kitchen" about the verdict. Mayor Annise Parker, who authored the ordinance, issued this statement:  

Parker"I am very pleased with the jury’s verdict, and I expect the court will apply the law to the verdict and issue a final judgment confirming that the petition failed.  The City of Houston has had in place for over 100 years the same rules and legal requirements governing the referendum process to ensure fairness and avoid fraud, and the jury’s verdict confirms that the petitions did not meet the legal requirements. The plaintiffs are expected to appeal any outcome that is not in their favor.  That would be unfortunate for the City.  I believe that the majority of Houston wants this divisive fight to be over so that we are able to provide equal rights protections for all of our residents. The City is confident it will prevail."

But opponents of the ordinance were also claiming victory. Plaintiff Jared Woodfill, the former chair of the local GOP, sent out a press release under the headline, "Favorable Jury Verdict Should Result in Victory for Voters and Religious Liberty!"

Woodfill"Great news...the jury returned a verdict that should allow the people to vote on Mayor Parker's Unequal Rights Ordinance," Woodfill wrote. "Judge Robert Schaffer will now apply the ruling to the almost 55,000 individuals who signed the petition. I am confident he will conclude we had the requisite 17,269 signatures necessary for the people to vote on this issue."

The Texas Pastor Council, the anti-LGBT group that led the petition drive, also said it's confident the judge will determine there are enough valid signatures: 

The coalition of pastors and community leaders behind the historic referendum effort to repeal Mayor Annise Parker’s pro-LGBT so-called “Equal Rights Ordinance” and the corresponding lawsuit after Parker and her legal team invalidated the petitions, responded with faith, confidence and optimism to today’s jury verdict that was nearly a fifty/fifty split on questions they considered.

“The Mayor’s lawyers went to extraordinary lengths to discredit, demean, denigrate and disqualify as many petitions and signatures as possible. Thankfully, in spite of an incredible amount of detail presented and even oft repeated by the city’s attack team, our God has again raised His standard of justice,” stated Dr. F.N. Williams, lead plaintiff for the pastors of the No UNequal Rights Coalition and Senior Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church as well as President of Houston Ministers Against Crime. ...

“We are thankful that the God of justice stood with this David again against the Goliath of the machinery of city government in the hands of those like Annise Parker intent on serving her personal agenda even at the cost of voting rights of the people,” added Pastor Hernan Castano, an influential Hispanic pastor and network leader as well as one of the “Houston Five” subpoenaed by the Mayor.

Watch a report from KTRK-TV, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Both Sides Claim Victory In Trial Over Houston LGBT Protections: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Texas House Candidate Calls Opponent 'El Diablo' For Supporting LGBT Rights

Bernal

Last month we told you about Nunzio Previtera, the rabidly anti-LGBT Texas House candidate who says God didn't intend people to be gay. 

NunzioWith early voting now under way in his runoff against former Councilman Diego Bernal, who authored San Antonio's LGBT protections, Previtera (right) is at it again. This time, his supporters reportedly are distributing the hateful anti-gay flier shown above. 

OutInSA.com reports: 

A group of supporters of Republican candidate Nunzio Previtera, calling themselves Tejanos Against Politicos, is distributing a flyer to voters in Texas House District 123 that shows two men kissing and former City Councilman Diego Bernal, Previtera’s Democratic rival in the race, depicted as “El Diablo,” the devil.

The two men kissing, of course, are gay Marines Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells. So it seems that in addition to Bernal, Previtera's supporters are attacking all military servicemembers. 

But the worst part is that Previtera was endorsed this week by Texas Rebublican Gov. Greg Abbott. From OutInSA.com

Governor Greg Abbott rolled into San Antonio on February 11 to offer his endorsement of Nunzio Previtera, the Republican anti-LGBT candidate who’s running against Democrat Diego Bernal in the race for Texas House District 123.

The governor spoke to a group of about 150 people who gathered at a local pizzeria off Blanco Road saying, “We don’t need another Nancy Pelosi-type Democrat in Austin, we need Nunzio.”


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" »


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