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In A Stunning Display Of Hypocrisy, Sen. Ted Cruz Targets District Of Columbia's LGBT Protections


Sen. Ted Cruz frequently rails against federal overreach and is a staunch defender of the right of states to ban same-sex marriage. 

However, Cruz now wants Congress to dictate how Washington, D.C., regulates LGBT and reproductive rights.

Cruz has introduced what are known as disapproval resolutions seeking to undo two laws passed by the D.C. Council last year. One of the laws would prevent employers from taking action against employees who use birth control or seek an abortion, while the other would remove a religious exemption to the district's LGBT protections.   

Senator Lankford Official Portrait - CopyAs hypocritical as they may be, Cruz's resolutions aren't going anywhere. In order to pass, they'd need approval from both chambers of Congress as well as President Barack Obama's signature. Rather, they appear to be more political posturing from Cruz as he prepares for a likely 2016 presidential campaign. 

The Washington Post reports: 

Although rarely successful at stopping D.C. laws, the resolutions are often more effective politically, giving members of Congress legislative records to build bona fides with constituent groups that feel strongly about the District’s often liberal stances on social issues. ... 

Freshman Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who co-introduced the measures, issued a statement Wednesday saying “what the D.C. Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for D.C. residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance.”

Cruz declined to comment on the resolutions, but Lankford told WaPo the resolutions are in line with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year in the Hobby Lobby case. In seeking to undo the laws, Cruz and Lankford have the support of anti-LGBT hate groups including the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council. 

Kimberly Perry, head of D.C. Vote, told WaPo the resolutions go against the very principles Cruz and Lankford normally champion, such as states' rights and local control:   

“Senators Cruz and Lankford’s move to disapprove a local District law is absurd and hypocritical,” Perry said. “They are now guilty of the same federal overreach they often criticize in others.”

Perry called on “every other member of Congress to step up and see this for exactly what it is — un-American and un-democratic.”

Coincidentally, Cruz appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers this week and explained his opposition to same-sex marriage: 

"Listen, I'm a constitutionalist," Cruz said. "For over 200 years, marriage has been a question for the states. Now, personally I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman, but if you want to change the marriage laws, the way to do it constitutionally is to convince your fellow citizens, go to the state legislature and change it. It shouldn't be the federal government or unelected judges imposing their own definition of marriage." 

Watch the clip, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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Texas Attorney General Wants To Prevent Gay Workers From Caring For Sick Spouses


Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (above with Sen. Ted Cruz) doesn't want gay employees to be able to take time off from work to care for their ailing spouses.

Paxton, a tea partier, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration over a new rule extending the Family & Medical Leave Act to same-sex couples who live in states that don't recognize their marriages. 

Paxton is also advising state agencies — which employ 310,000 people — not to follow the new FMLA rule. 

“This lawsuit is about defending the sovereignty of our state, and we will continue to protect Texas from the unlawful overreach of the federal government," Paxton said in a statement. "The newly revised definition of ‘spouse’ under the FMLA is in direct violation of state and federal laws and U.S. Constitution. Texans have clearly defined the institution of marriage in our state, and attempts by the Obama Administration to disregard the will of our citizens through the use of new federal rules is unconstitutional and an affront to the foundations of federalism.”

Some background from The Washington Blade

After the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, the Obama administration sought to extend the federal benefits of marriage to the furthest extent possible under the law.

But FMLA by regulation looked to the state of residence, not the state of celebration, to determine whether a couple is married, so for a time married same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states were ineligible for benefits under that law, which enables an individual to take time off from work to care for a spouse.

The new rule, made final by the Labor Department last month and set to take effect March 27, changes the regulatory framework to ensure these benefits are available to married same-sex couples regardless of their state of residence. 

It's worth noting that the FMLA doesn't require employers to give workers paid time off to care for sick spouses. It merely guarantees their health insurance will continue and grants them 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year "to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition." 

Paxton's lawsuit seeks to prevent the new rule from taking effect not only in Texas, but in all 12 states where same-sex marriage is still banned. However, because the lawsuit is based on the marriage bans, it would be presumably be nullified if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes them down. 

Paxton also recently sought to void the marriage of a 30-year lesbian couple, one of whom has ovarian cancer. 

Daniel Williams, legislative director for Equality Texas, told The Texas Tribune: “I think there are a lot of people who would like to know why the attorney general cares if loving, committed couples are recognized as loving, committed couples."

Read the full complaint, AFTER THE JUMP... 

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


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. 

Texas National Guard Says If Gay Couples Were Denied Benefits, It Was A Mistake


Three gay military couples allege that the Texas National Guard refused to process benefits for them last week.

However, a spokeswoman for Texas Military Forces, the official name for the state's National Guard, told Towleroad the organization's policy is to process benefits for all married couples. Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor said if the same-sex couples were turned away, it was a mistake.  

Back in 2013, the Texas National Guard agreed to begin processing benefits for married same-sex couples, after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military to treat all married couples equally, pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. Officials in Texas, Oklahoma and several other states had taken the position that processing the benefits applications from gay spouses would violate state laws prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages. 

The states eventually backed down under pressure from the Department of Defense and LGBT groups including Lambda Legal, which represented Alicia Butler and 1st Lt. Judith Chedville, above. However, the American Military Partner Association reported today that three same-sex couples were unable to sign up for benefits last week: 

On Friday, March 13, 2015, three same-sex military couples were denied assistance by the federal military identification card enrollment center at Camp Mabry, the headquarters of the Texas Military Forces, near Austin, Texas. All three couples were told by the center’s employee that they would not be provided service because their marriages were not recognized by the state of Texas, regardless of the fact they were seeking federal military benefits.

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) strongly condemned the blatant discrimination in a letter to the Adjutant General of the Texas Military Forces, Major General Berry, outlining the situation that occurred and calling for an immediate investigation and clarification.

AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack issued the following statement today: “We are disappointed and outraged over the humiliating and discriminatory treatment these military families endured while simply trying to enroll in the federal benefits to which they are entitled. This issue was raised and, we thought, resolved over a year ago when the Secretary of Defense had to direct the Texas forces to comply with military policy. It’s also further evidence of why sexual orientation should be protected under the Department of Defense non-discrimination policy and equal opportunity program. No service member or military spouse should be treated this way.”

MacGregor, the National Guard spokeswoman, said officials received the group's letter this morning and were looking into the matter today.

"That is not our policy to not process," MacGregor said. "Clearly this has been a mistake that we're trying to clarify. If it happened, it was an error on our part. It was not intentional. That's what we're trying to get to the bottom of right now."

MacGregor said due to sequestration, the National Guard's benefits processing department has been reduced from six employees to one. The one remaining employee has had medical issues, so someone's been filling in for them. 

"Right now because of the cutbacks in our ID section, it has created problems with a lot of folks, honestly, not just same-sex couples," MacGregor said.  

Read the AMPA's full letter to General Berry, AFTER THE JUMP ...   

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Texas Anti-gay Activist Rails Against 'Counterfeit' Marriages for 'Militant Homosexuals' in Promo for Roy Moore's Visit: VIDEO


In a video promoting an upcoming rally featuring Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, anti-gay Texas activist Dr. Steve Hotze says same-sex marriage is "counterfeit," "fake" and "a lie" — and that state lawmakers are under attack from "militant homosexuals." 

Peter LaBarbera at Americans For Truth About Homosexuality reposted the video from Houston's Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, who is organizing the "Defense of the Texas Marriage Amendment Rally" at the Capitol on March 23.

In the video, Hotze says it's time to "draw a line in the sand" and "join our army to protect Biblical marriage":

"We have over 100 elected State Officials who are sponsoring this event. They are coming under attack by militant homosexuals. That is why Christians and conservatives must have a show of force to let these legislators know that we support them. ... 

"A fierce battle for the soul of Texas has begun.The liberals and their pro-homosexual allies want to force Texans to redefine marriage and accept ‘homosexual mirage’ as morally right.

"The idea that homosexuals could be married is a ‘mirage.’ It is contrary to God’s moral order. It’s a counterfeit. It’s fake. It’s a lie. The homosexuals and their supporters are using the liberal federal judges to redefine marriage against the will of the people in Texas and across America, which will force Texans to grant public approval and acceptance of homosexual activity. This will lead to homosexual behavior being taught to school children."

Moore.RoyHotze has become well known for his recent lawsuit against Obamacare. But he also has a long history of anti-gay activism. In 1985, Hotze sponsored the "Straight Slate," a group of eight City Council candidates who ran on an anti-gay platform — including a mayoral candidate who wanted to "shoot the queers." In 2009, Hotze sent out mailers attacking then-mayoral candidate Annise Parker over her sexuality. In a Republican Party fundraising letter last year, Hotze referred to gays as "sodomites."

“Our Founding Fathers would be furious to find out that the Constitution was being interpreted to allow sodomites to marry,” he wrote.

In a post earlier this year endorsing legislation that would revoke the salaries of county clerks who issue same-sex marriage licenses, Hotze wrote

“If the Texas Marriage Amendment is overturned permanently, then every Texas citizen, every church and business would be coerced and compelled to recognize and affirm homosexuality and other deviant sexual relationships as morally and legally equivalent to marriage. If this occurs then anyone who speaks out against homosexuality and deviant sexual relationships will be prosecuted for hate speech and hate crimes, violating the Constitutional rights of the majority to their freedom of speech and freedom of religion. ...

“Texas is the last bastion of Christian and conservative thought, power and action in the nation. If Texas were to fall, then America would be lost to the socialists and the secular humanists. We must shift the momentum in the battle for the heart of America and lead a Christian and conservative offensive that will spread across America and defeat Obama and his pro-homosexual, socialist allies.”

Next Monday's anti-gay rally will coincidentally take place on the same day as Equality Texas' Family Advocacy Day. However, Equality Texas representatives say no counterprotest is planned and they will instead host an ice cream social during the rally.  

Watch Hotze's video promoting the rally, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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Texas Lawmaker Cites 'Moral Standard,' 'Bestiality' In Defending Unconstitutional Sodomy Ban


Texas' unconstitutional sodomy law shouldn't be removed from the books because it upholds a "moral standard" and "can even cover bestiality," according to one state lawmaker.

GOP Rep. James White (above) is the author of a bill that would remove Texas' unconstitutional hair-braiding regulations from the books. In light of White's hair-braiding repeal bill, Lauren McGaughy of San Antonio's Express-News posed a fair question: Why not also remove another unconstitutional law, the sodomy ban, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003? 

White's response was rather troubling: 

“Absolutely, there is a difference,” said Rep. James White, R-Hillister, who has filed a bill to do away with the braiding statute but wants to keep a similarly illegal law that criminalizes homosexual sex.

The braiding regulation, he said, “was a way of disenfranchising them out of the marketplace. I don’t necessarily think this was the case with sodomy.” ... 

White explained the discrepancy this way: Opposing homosexuality is akin to “a community coming together and having a moral standard, per se, as opposed to using the regulatory environment to disenfranchise people.”

“Obviously, sodomy covers a lot of instances. It can even cover bestiality and there are a lot of public health standards and even decency standards,” he added.

In addition to being offensive, White's statements are false. The sodomy law doesn't include bestiality. Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code merely states that, "A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." The code defines "deviate sexual intercourse" as "any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person" or "the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object."

In fact, bestiality (or "zoophilia") isn't even outlawed in Texas. (For an interesting but outdated comparison between bestiality laws and same-sex marriage bans, go here.) 

Bills have been filed to remove Texas' sodomy law from the books in every legislative session since the high court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, but they've never even made it to the floor of either the House or Senate. This year's effort likely won't be any different in a Republican-dominated Legislature where as many as 19 anti-LGBT bills have been filed. Texas is one of 13 states with sodomy bans still on the books, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

From the Express-News:

“By leaving this provision in the law it’s insulting to Texans in the (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender) community,” said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who has filed legislation to do away with the statute. “It’s inconsistent, bordering on hypocritical to say one should remove something that’s been struck down … and not remove other statutes and language that has been struck down.”


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