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NOH8 Photo Of 11-year-old Texan Targeted By Anti-Gay Bullies Goes Viral


Vanessa Tijerina-Arguelles posted the above photo of her 11-year-old son, Jesus "Jesse" Franco, on Facebook on Friday morning and marked it with the hashtag #NOH8.

Since being reposted by the NOH8 Campaign a few hours later, the photo has been shared more than 83,000 times on Facebook.

As you can see, Jesse is holding two signs saying although he's not gay, he's been the victim of anti-gay bullying at his school in Raymondville, Texas, near McAllen. School officials have refused to do anything to stop the bullying, and have in fact punished him for defending himself, according to Jesse's signs.

The signs read:


Jesse's mom, Tijerina-Arguelles, wrote the following when she originally posted the photo:

"My son is 11 years old. His school district is in a community that is a pro-bully, anti-victim community in EVERY aspect. Where victims should be of a concern (law enforcement, government, school district), and be protected. The latest insult was a gay slur, a shouted gay-bashing during lunch in the cafeteria, followed by ooohs. With faculty present. My son has a learning disability, he was caught off guard and unable to react. The bully who did this is a notorious bully, his mom is a nortorius bully. Both the mother and her son have cyber-bullied and gay bashed my boy. Enough is enough."

Tijerina-Arguelles told Towleroad on Saturday that she took the photo and posted it as a last resort before Jesse, who's in sixth grade, left for school on Friday morning.

"It was not because he did not want to go; it was because he was afraid if he fought back that he would be punished again, and they wouldn't care that he was defending himself," Tijerina-Arguelles said. "He has a learning disability. He is actually extremely bright. He just has trouble socially and with new concepts and surprising circumstances, such as being bully-ambushed."

Tijerina-Arguelles said Jesse had asked why his bullies were using gay slurs. She explained it was because he's different and they make assumptions. That's when Jesse said there should be a campaign to protect people against anti-gay bullying.

"I said, 'Oh honey, there are many, some have been around forever. The newest one is NOH8. Have you heard of it?' ... I logged online and showed him the campaign. He said, 'I bet no one in Raymondville knows about that.' I said: 'I bet you're right. You want people to know about that?' He nodded. And voila! We made it happen. He got there [to school] and only one girl knew what it was about. Teachers asked him, 'Is that gang related?' He said, 'No, I support gays and their rights.' So proud of my boy. Others took out markers and followed suit."

Many of those who've commented and shared the photo say they plan to contact the Raymondville school superintendent. Here's his info should you choose to join them:

Johnny I. Pineda

Houston Gay Pride Organizers Agree To Reschedule Parade To Avoid 'Juneteenth' Conflict: VIDEO


Under intense pressure from African-American LGBT leaders and others, Pride Houston Inc. agreed Thursday night to reschedule the 2015 parade to avoid a conflict with Juneteenth, a nationally recognized holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the US.

As Towleroad reported Thursday, Pride Houston board members initially refused to reschedule the parade in a letter to African-American LGBT activists earlier this week. But pressure continued to build, and even the statewide group Equality Texas issued a statement Thursday calling for the parade to be rescheduled. 

Houston's parade has traditionally been held on the last weekend of June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. However, this year the Pride Houston board decided to move the parade to the third weekend in June — to avoid any conflict with the Fourth of July holiday and to allow people from Houston to attend other Pride celebrations around the country.

But the new date, June 20, fell on the same weekend as Juneteenth (June 19), and black LGBT activists said the decision threatened to drive a wedge between the African-American and LGBT communities at a time when the city may soon vote on an Equal Rights Ordinance.

At a packed open forum Thursday night, speakers included black former City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones, an LGBT ally. From KPRC-TV:

Jones"It's really important because civil rights for all of us are trying to be set back," Jones said. "We need to stick together."

After a lot of pressure, the board of directors for Houston Pride Inc. announced the date of the Pride Parade will be switched back to June 27th.

"I'm satisfied with the date change," said [black LGBT activist] Ashton Woods. "That was the ultimate goal."

"We believe everyone here will be happy with that and look forward to moving forward," said Houston Pride Inc. President. Frankie Quinjano.

Despite the decision, reports suggest lingering tensions between Pride Houston leadership and some members of the LGBT community. Pride Houston board members were already under fire for their decision to move the parade downtown and out of the Montrose gayborhood. Black trans blogger Monica Roberts, who was a driving force behind the push to reschedule the parade, reacted to Thursday's decision

Now was that so hard? It wouldn't have been if you'd listened to the Black LGBT community and our allies when we first told you about the problematic date conflict to begin with. instead of blowing us off. ... We'll be watching to make sure you follow through on what you told that packed meeting room you'd do.

As it turns out, some Pride Houston board members had not even been aware of Juneteenth, which led Woods to tell KTRK-TV, "(The board) needs cultural sensitivity training."

To their credit, Pride Houston board members reportedly plan to establish a cultural diversity committee.

Watch reports from KPRC and KTRK, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Houston Gay Pride Organizers Agree To Reschedule Parade To Avoid 'Juneteenth' Conflict: VIDEO" »

Houston, We Have A Pride Problem


It's always a shame when a celebration that's supposed to bring the LGBT community together — Pride — ends up dividing us. Or perhaps it's just that Pride has a tendency to expose existing divisions, especially given that major corporate dollars are involved.

In any case, it's now happened in several of Texas' major cities over the last few years: in Austin, prior to the formation of QueerBomb in 2010; in Dallas, during a dress-code flap last year; and now in Houston, where black LGBT activists are outraged that next year's Pride parade is scheduled for the weekend of Juneteenth — a nationally recognized holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the US.

Last Month, when Pride Houston Inc. announced it was moving Texas' largest gay Pride parade downtown, saying it had outgrown the city's Montrose gayborhood, organizers were criticized for not soliciting community input prior to the decision.

Now, Pride Houston is facing an arguably much bigger PR problem: In addition to moving the parade downtown, they moved the parade up a week and away from the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion to eliminate any conflict with the July 4 holiday. But the new schedule also means that the Pride parade, set for Saturday, June 20, will directly conflict with Juneteenth, officially on June 19 but celebrated throughout the weekend.

Houston black transgender blogger Monica Roberts [pictured below] writes at TransGriot that Pride Houston's decision threatens to drive a wedge between the city's African-American and LGBT communities, whose relationship has already been strained by an ongoing fight over the city's Equal Rights Ordinance.

Monica robertsThey will see this as another slap in the face to the Houston Black community and I predict it will be spun by the haters as an attempt by the gay community to "hijack Juneteenth."
With this boneheaded decision, which is a sadly predictable one from an organizational board that is predominately mono-racial and insular in its thinking, PRIDE Houston has just unnecessarily set off some drama that will only inflame the homophobic animus elements of the Houston Black community have for the LGBT community.
It is an animus that Dave Welch, the sellout pastors of the Baptist Ministers Assn. of Houston and Vicinity will eagerly pour gasoline on as the Black LGBT community shakes its head and gets out of the middle of the coming public relations nightmare between these two groups.
Meanwhile the Texas Republican Party and conservative movement foot soldiers will be smiling as they observe their plan working to drive a wedge between key members of the Houston liberal progressive coalition in the African-American and LGBT communities.

Black LGBT leaders reportedly met with Pride Houston representatives on Oct. 22 to discuss the issue. This week, Pride Houston sent the black LGBT leaders a letter notifying them that the board had voted 6-2 to keep the June 20 date.

"There have been previous instances where the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration has fallen on the third weekend in June around the 20th of the month and similar requests were not made during those instances," Pride Houston President and CEO Frankie Quijano wrote in the letter. "Furthermore, a substantial amount has already been invested into the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration for its current date that would un-recoupable which can be crucial for any non-profit organization."

In a follow-up post, Roberts responds that Houston's Pride has never been held so close to Juneteenth, and she lists the dates of the parade going back to 1994. According to Roberts' post, the closest to Juneteenth the Pride parade has been held is June 23 — on three occasions.

Black LGBT activists and others are expected to again air their concerns during an open forum hosted by Houston Pride tonight starting at 7pm CT.

Here's hoping they can work it out.

[photo via twitter]

GOP Texas Lawmaker Wants To Enshrine 'License To Discriminate' Against Gays In State Constitution

A Tea Party Republican in Texas wants to enshrine a "license to discriminate" against LGBT people into the state Constitution.

CampbellState Sen. Donna Campbell filed a proposed constitutional amendment Monday that could allow business owners and government contractors to turn away gay people, or fire LGBT employees, under the guise of religious liberty. The amendment could also undermine LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances that have passed in all of Texas' major cities.

Campbell's proposed constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 10, states that government "may not burden an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief unless the government proves that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest."

SJR 10 goes on to say that a "burden" includes "indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, and denying access to facilities or programs."

PizerJenny Pizer (right), senior counsel at Lambda Legal, told Towleroad that in addition to undermining local nondiscrimination laws, she believes Campbell's proposal would open up government to all sorts of litigation from people who have religious objections to a wide variety of regulations.

"What it probably means is that the government's ability to challenge discrimination would be limited," Pizer said. "While she wants to permit religiously motivated discrimination against gay people, what about religiously motivated discrimination by one religion against another? What if the Jewish doctors decided to stop providing medical services to Christian fundamentalists? 

"It blows a hole in your nondiscrimination protections if people can ignore them for religious reasons," Pizer added. "It may be designed to trump local nondiscrimination protections, and that's a serious problem, but the bigger problem for government is the fact that it then becomes prohibitively expensive to enforce things like food safety law. What if somebody has a religious belief that requires them to make large bonfires in the backyard as part of a religious tradition, and you have dry, dangerous fire conditions? There are basic safety regulations. ... This is far-right grandstanding, but it's grandstanding with very serious potential implications for government."

Campbell, who's from the San Antonio area, strongly opposed that city's passage of an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance last year. In a letter to then-Mayor Julian Castro, Campbell wrote:

"San Antonio is an exceptional city in which every individual should feel welcome, and I believe that's the intent of the authors of the ordinance. However, by alienating a majority of Texans who believe in traditional marriage and values, it is having the opposite effect. San Antonio churches, families and businesses feel less welcome in their hometown as a result of this proposed ordinance, fearful that they may now be penalized or face costly lawsuits just for practicing their faith or expressing their opinion."

Campbell later told the Houston Chronicle

“Our Judeo-Christian values are under assault and I’m not going to let that stand. We have the right and religious freedom to express ourselves. When the government moves outside the proper bounds of the primary role, especially in order to legislate societal norms, they’re on shaky ground. Really it’s a few, just a few advocates, of tolerance. They are trying to criminalize faith and traditional values of the majority of Texans. Tolerance is going too far in this instance.”

Campbell introduced a similar measure two years ago, but it died in committee amid concerns that it would expand the right of Westboro Baptist Church to protest military funerals or even create a religious right to an abortion, according to Texas Monthly. Campbell's 2013 measure was backed by the anti-LGBT group Texas Values and opposed by Equality Texas. Daniel Williams, legislative specialist at Equality Texas, said Monday that Campbell's proposal would go far beyond an existing state statute.

“In 1999 Texas set the gold standard for protecting religious liberty with the passage of the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Williams said. “SJR 10 would gut the existing legislation.”

Earlier this year, amid national outcry, Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs, but a similar law later passed in Mississippi.

Texas cities with nondiscrimination ordinances that could be affected by Campbell's amendment include Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and San Antonio. Last year, the Houston City Council passed an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, but the ordinance is on hold pending a lawsuit from opponents.

At a recent anti-LGBT rally in Houston, opponents of the city's Equal Rights Ordinance donned T-shirts saying, "We reserve the right to refuse service to homosexuals."

In an online press release about the bill, Campbell tied it to the city of Houston's decision to subpoena pastor sermons as part of its defense against the lawsuit challenging the ordinance. From Campbell's press release:

The Restoring Religious Freedom Amendment reflects a swift and measured response after controversy erupted in Houston last month when the City attempted to subpoena pastors' sermons. Those subpoenas stirred protest from Texas churches and elicited strongly worded statements from Governor-Elect Greg Abbott, Attorney General-Elect Ken Paxton, and Senator Campbell.

"The resolution I filed today provides a necessary layer of protection from overreaching governments that engage in acts of prejudice meant to intimidate Texans of faith from expressing their deeply held religious beliefs," Senator Campbell said.

Ted Cruz Calls Net Neutrality 'Obamacare For The Internet' After Obama Announces Internet Freedom Plan


Republican Senator Ted Cruz tweeted a criticism of President Barack Obama's statement asking the FCC to classify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service and prevent content providers from paying for faster access to the internet, reports Gizmodo.

Internet service provider lobby group Broadband for America appears to share Cruz's sentiments in a statement today addressing Obama's comments. Honorary Co-Chairs former Senator John Sununu and former Representative Harold Ford Jr. released the following statement following the announcement from the White House.

Sununu and Ford Jr. stated:

"President Barack Obama's endorsement of 1930's era Title II classification would lead to unprecedented government interference in the Internet and would hurt consumers and innovation.  Further, for the President to issue this directive is a threat to the independence of the FCC itself.  By vastly expanding the regulatory bureaucracy over the Internet, the administration is turning its back on 20 years of bipartisan consensus that has allowed the Internet to flourish. The President's approach would threaten millions of jobs and a diverse array of stakeholders including, labor, civil-rights organization, and tech companies, who have long advocated for a far more restrained approach.

 "Further, the President's directive discredits US efforts to prevent countries like Russia and China from destroying the current international multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and replacing it with government regulatory control.  It is ironic that the President made his announcement while in China, which has long sought greater government control over the Internet and surely will be encouraged by the President's statement.  

"We urge FCC Chairman Wheeler to exercise his independent authority and reject this extreme proposal."

What Texas Senator Cruz and Broadband for America fail to realize is that President Obama's statements support the ability of the general public to access the Internet without paying a premium for faster service dubbed "Internet fast lanes" and load times that would otherwise bottleneck the Internet, creating a haves and haves-not system. Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, already voiced his distaste for "Internet Fastlanes," in a Washington Post article from September and Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor credited with coining the term "Net Neutrality," tweeted his support today of President Obama's statement on the matter.

It turns out that Texas Senator Ted Cruz has in the past accepted campaign funds from Comcast, which is the largest cable company and home Internet service provider in the U.S. Comcast also stands accused of committing Internet data discrimination against its users in the past that directly violates Net Neutrality guidelines. In this case Senator Cruz stands much to gain from lining Comcast's pockets with its users money.

A final vote on the fate of Net Neutrality is set to occur before the end of the year.

Family Research Council Files Brief with 5th Circuit in Same-Sex Marriage Case

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb078a2fbf970d-250wiAnti-choice and anti-gay marriage group Family Research Council has filed a brief in opposition of same-sex marriage with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

This is the latest news in the contentious, continuing battle over same-sex marriage in Louisiana, which most recently featured conflicting rulings in state courts.

You can check out the FRC's brief here, but as Joe. My. God. puts it, "The brief makes the usual tired arguments about procreation, incest, polygamy, and blah blah blah. There's nothing new to see here."

In fact, we may have to wait until the week of January 5 to see something truly new in the matter. (This is when the Fifth Circuit will hold a hearing to consider the legal standing gay marriage in Louisiana and Texas.)

Previously, the Fifth Circuit has said they will fast track oral arguments in the case — in deference to people with extenuating situations that make a decision especially urgent. We'll see what happens.


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