Abbott argues equal protection as a right to discriminate

Posted on 30 Jul 2014 at 12:02pm
Texas AG Greg Abbott

Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott

In his brief filed Monday with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas marriage case, Attorney General Greg Abbott used the Equal Protection Clause to argue for discrimination.

Earlier this year, a U.S. District court in San Antonio threw out the Texas marriage amendment on the basis of due process and equal protection guaranteed in the U.S. and Texas constitutions.

“This does not require a state to confer equal treatment on things that are truly different from one another in relevant respects, and the district court did not deny that opposite-sex unions are the only type of human relationship that is biologically capable of producing children,” Abbott wrote.

In other words, equal protection protects Abbott’s right to discriminate. Special rights should only be given to couples seen as capable of reproducing and not to those couples adopting the kids whose reproducing parents aren’t taking care of them.

He dismissed the idea that opposite-sex couples may marry who may not have children by saying rational basis “allows states to enact over-inclusive or under-inclusive laws” and that “rational-basis review does not require a state to produce evidence that a law will achieve its objectives.”

So Texas’ argument to defend discrimination is that that state may discriminate because gay and straight are different and if the argument for straight marriage is procreation, Texas can make laws favoring procreation even if they don’t work.

Abbott dismisses calling gays and lesbians a “suspect class” that should be protected because “The political influence of the gay-rights movement has only grown since the time of the many court decisions rejecting suspect-class status.”

In other words, rather than protecting everyone’s rights equally, it’s OK to discriminate against gays and lesbians now because we’re actually politically stronger than we used to be.

Abbott also dismisses due process — the entire concept.

“There is also no stopping point to this abstraction maneuver. If courts and litigants can create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage by defining it as part of a more general ‘right to marry,’ then any conduct that has been traditionally prohibited can become a constitutional right simply by redefining it at a higher level of abstraction — perhaps as part of a ‘right to be let alone’ or a ‘freedom not to conform,’” he wrote.

Abbott’s brief is a rehash of arguments put forth in 20 other cases that other states have lost and the conservative Fifth Circuit is just likely to buy it. He even quotes from Bowers v. Hardwick in his brief. That case was overturned by Lawrence v. Texas. He might as well have quoted from the Dred Scott decision.


1 killed, 1 injured in break-in in Fort Worth

Posted on 29 Jul 2014 at 4:51pm
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Miguel Angel Hernandez

Dallas Voice has learned that a member of Celebration Community Church was killed and another was severely injured by a man who broke into their home on Fort Worth’s west side early Sunday morning.

According to reports in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, James Bowling, 56, was killed when he and Don Keaton, 82, confronted the intruder, identified by police as Miguel Angel Hernandez, 29.

According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s website, Bowling was strangled to death. The Medical Examiner places his time of death at 3:06 a.m.

Police said Keaton suffered multiple blunt force injuries and that both men suffered chemical burns that could have resulted from Hernandez throwing drain cleaner on him. They said Keaton may have suffered permanent damage to his eyes from the cleaner.

Celebration Community Church Pastor Carol West said that Keaton and Bowling had been members of her church for “at least 15 or 16 years” and were both active in “quite a few aspects of our church’s ministry.”

“They were both wonderful, loving men. Just good, good men, very good-hearted,” West said Tuesday. “This attack was just so random. It is really scary for a lot of people in our congregation that it was so random and so violent.”

Police believe Hernandez chose Keaton and Bowling’s home at random. Patrol officers found him sitting in his own truck, naked, two houses down, according to Star-Telegram reports. Police said he took off his bloody clothes and left them in the yard of Keaton and Bowling’s home, but left the keys to his vehicle in he pocket of his pants in the yard.

Hernandez was treated for multiple cuts, apparently incurred when he jumped through a window to escape the house, and booked into the Mansfield Jail. He was already wanted on outstanding warrants, including one for a parole violation on a sexual assault charge from 2010 for failing to register as a sex offender, and on a warrant for insufficient bail on a pending DWI charge. He has been convicted in Tarrant County on charges of assault with bodily injury and failure to identify, as well as DWI and sexual assault.


Abbott a no-show at petition drop

Posted on 29 Jul 2014 at 10:54am

AG delivery2Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Texas governor, was a no-show Monday when Equality Texas dropped off nearly 5,200 petitions demanding Gov. Rick Perry and Abbott drop their defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

“Despite the plans prearranged last week in which a staff member would meet us in the lobby and take possession of the petitions, the Attorney General’s office said they would only accept the petitions if they were mailed via an acceptable ground carrier,” wrote Chuck Smith in an e-mail.

Instead of giving up, the group headed to the nearby UPS store and mailed them. They’re expected to arrive today.

The action comes after the Feb.26 ruling earlier this year finding Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Despite growing support for same-sex marriage both in Texas and nationwide, Abbott and Perry appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit of Appeals.

Abbott filed that appeal Monday, arguing that Texas was within its constitutional right to ban same-sex marriage.”Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals to the same extent that recognizing opposite-sex marriage does,” the brief reads. “That is enough to supply a rational basis for Texas’s marriage laws.”

Birds of a feather stick together.


North Carolina AG will no longer defend marriage law, SC will, WV might

Posted on 29 Jul 2014 at 10:23am
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

In reaction to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declared Virginia’s marriage ban unconstitutional, three other states in the circuit announced three different plans for their states.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) announced that he will no longer legally enforce his state’s ban on marriage equality.

“Our attorneys have vigorously defended North Carolina marriage law, which is their job,” Cooper said, according the Raleigh Herald Sun. “But today we know our law almost surely will be overturned as well. Simply put, it is time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

He didn’t say if he will stop county clerks from issuing licenses and, so far, none have announced they will.

Several religious groups, including United Church of Christ and Reform Judaism, filed suit against North Carolina claiming its ban on same-sex marriage violates their freedom of religion.

In South Carolina, Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) announced he will continue to defend and enforce the state’s ban on marriage equality.

The office of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) announced, “West Virginia’s case remains pending, so … marriage laws are still in effect as enacted by the Legislature.”

The announcement said the office “is reviewing the decision and will withhold comment until the decision is final.”

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear arguments on Aug. 6 for Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The 7th Circuit court of Appeals in Chicago is set for arguments on Aug. 26, and the 9th Circuit in San Francisco for Sept. 8. The 10th Circuit in Denver overturned Utah’s ban in June.


UPDATE: Appeals court throws out Virginia marriage ban

Posted on 28 Jul 2014 at 4:28pm

Ted OlsonThe 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Virginia’s marriage ban, upholding a lower court ruling. This is the third appeals court ruling on same-sex marriage. The 10th Circuit threw out Oklahoma’s marriage ban earlier this month and that court did the same with Utah’s marriage ban earlier this year.

The Virginia ruling was a 2-1 decision.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws,” the judges wrote in the majority opinion.

The winning attorneys in the case were David Boies and Ted Olson, who represented same-sex couples in California’s Prop 8 case decided by the Supreme Court last year.

“Today’s decision sends a message that everyone deserves the dignity and protection that only comes with marriage,” said ACLU’s James Esseks.

“This news is thrilling,” Lambda Legal’s Greg Nevins said. “We argued that barring Virginia same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional and harms families and the court agreed. With this ruling, all of Virginia’s same-sex couples are one step closer to the freedom to marry.”

This ruling may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. More on the ruling from The Washington Post.


2014 Pride parade grand marshals named

Posted on 28 Jul 2014 at 11:52am
grand marshals

The 2014 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade grand marshals are Rafael McDonnell, left, and the Rev. Carol West

With nearly 1,600 votes cast by the community, the Rev. Carol West and Rafael McDaniel have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2014 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

West is the pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth. She was called in 1998 by the then 35-member congregation to lead the church which now has grown to more than 500 members. In 2010, West was named winner of the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

McDonnell is communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center. He worked 16 years in broadcast news, including seven years as an assignment editor for Fox 4 News in Dallas. In May 2008, became the first person to hold the job of communications manager for the center.

Watch for more about this year’s grand marshals in the Friday, Aug. 1 issue of Dallas Voice.


Michele Bachmann: Gays want to legally marry multiple partners and rape children

Posted on 25 Jul 2014 at 4:23pm
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Michele Bachmann

Failed Republican presidential candidate and right-wing nutjob Michele Bachman was back at it this week, warning on the conservative Christian radio talk show “Faith and Liberty” that gays and lesbians are gaining ground in our efforts to enact hate speech laws that promote “tyranny” and intolerance of any dissenting points of view, to enact laws allowing polygamy and to abolish age of consent laws so that we can freely “prey on” children sexually.

Bachmann also proudly displayed her ignorance of history with this claim: “For all of the thousands of years of recorded human history, about 5,000 years, there is no instance of any culture, nation or tribe ever having as the established standard for marriage anything other than between man and woman. It may have been multiple women and a man, it may have been something like that, but it was always between men and women.”

Right Wing Watch has this audio clip of the interview:


Alaska Supreme Court rules in favor of survivor benefits for same-sex spouses

Posted on 25 Jul 2014 at 3:51pm
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Kerry Fadely, left, and Deborah Harris

The Alaska Supreme Court, issuing its decision today in the case of Harris V. Millenium Hotel, ruled unanimously that the same-sex partner of a person killed on the job should have access to the protection of the state’s workers’ compensation law.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of Deborah Harris, whose wife, Kerry Fadely, worked at the Millenium Hotel in Anchorage and who was shot and killed by a disgruntled former employee in 2011. Fadely was employed as the food and beverage manager at the Millennium Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. An employee who had been fired days earlier returned to the hotel with a pistol, asked for Fadely, and shot her multiple times.

Alaska’s workers’ compensation law requires employers — or their insurance companies — to pay survivor benefits to the surviving spouses of workers who died from work-related injuries. Before today’s ruling, same-sex couples were categorically denied survivor benefits because Alaska does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.

Read the Alaska Supreme Court ruling here.

Read about the case here.


UPDATE: Liebbe placed on leave for investigating boss

Posted on 25 Jul 2014 at 12:41pm

Jeremy Liebbe

Jeremy Liebbe, the gay D.I.S.D. administrator placed on leave last week, had been investigating his boss in the human resources department for lying about her criminal background on her job application, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Liebbe’s investigation began after learning Tonya Sadler Grayson, an executive director in the human resources department, served 12 months’ probation for misdemeanor charges when she was 19.

Grayson said it was a misunderstanding on her part. “When I read the questions on the application, I believed that my situation did not apply,” Grayson said in an email sent to DMN. “Upon notification, I fully disclosed the misdemeanor from when I was 19 years old to the district prior to my employment.”

The district’s human resources chief Carmen Darville defended Grayson in a email to the human resources staff on late Thursday, saying the issue was resolved. “Employees may disclose background information verbally or on their job application. When Tonya was made aware of the misdemeanor…she shared with me details of the incident.”

Peter Schulte, Liebbe’s lawyer, said his client had not been told why he was on leave. “I have asked repeatedly to be told what the allegations are,” Schulte said. “This causes me great concern with the integrity of the investigation.”

A source familiar with the investigation said a superior who often butted heads with Liebbe conducted the investigation without prior notice. The DMN added that private investigations are common in the district.


Medrano hosting block party Saturday

Posted on 25 Jul 2014 at 11:14am

Councilman Adam Medrano

Dallas’s District 2 City Councilman Adam Medrano and the Love Field Neighborhood Assocation are hosting a Community Tour Block Party for area residents from 6-8 p.m. Saturday in the 2400 block of Sheridan Street.

There will be free drinks and hot dogs, and entertainment provided by the Northwest Police Station, plus an appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog.

For information call Medrano’s council assistant, Monica Huerta, at 214-670-4048.