Annise Parker addresses the great Texas War on Fonts

Posted on 01 Apr 2015 at 4:40pm

“There’s been a lot of media coverage lately about potentially discriminatory actions by various states. Earlier today I understand that the GLO in Texas announced it would no longer permit the use of Comic Sans font. Although the move was described as limiting the use of juvenile typeface, everyone should recognize this for what it is: it is a purely partisan act designed to limit transparency, reduce liberty, and limit access. We need to look no further than George P. Bush’s suggestion that the agency use Times New Roman. There’s a subtext there that I want everybody to understand. However, in the true spirit of open governance, today I am directing an immediate and expeditious review of all font typefaces used by City departments. The City of Houston will ensure that none of its citizens are exposed to the perils of disenfranchisement and that they can use any typeface they so desire.” Mayor Annise Parker

Posted by Annise Parker, Office of the Mayor | City of Houston on Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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House takes $3 million from AIDS prevention funding for abstinence because, yeah, that works

Posted on 01 Apr 2015 at 4:22pm
about-Stuart

Yes, he’s a medical doctor

The Texas House of Representatives voted 97 to 47 to move $3 million in AIDS prevention money to abstinence-only education, according to the Texas Tribune.

The amendment was proposed by first-term Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman. During debate over the proposal, we found out that Spitzer was a virgin when he married his wife at age 29, and she’s the only woman he’s had sex with. He didn’t specify if he ever had sex with a man.

Coming to his defense was Scott Turner, R-Frisco, who said we can never have enough abstinence education money. Turner challenged Rep. Joe Strauss for the Speaker of the House position and after losing, berated House members for not voting for him.

Spitzer was challenged by Democrats who questioned if he knew how sexually transmitted diseases were spread and who asked what his definition of sex was.

Oh, and Spitzer is a doctor, so if you live down in the Cedar Creek Lake area, you may want to make a note a find a different doctor.

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The costs of Indiana’s RFRA

Posted on 01 Apr 2015 at 2:10pm
Laura Durso

Laura E. Durso

Backlash over the passage of the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” signed into law in Indiana last week by Gov. Mike Pence, could cost the Hoosier state as much as $250 million in economic activity — and counting — according to analysis done by the Center for American Progress.

Laura E. Durso, director of CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project, said in a statement released today (Wednesday, April 1), that, in just a few days, Indiana’s “license to discriminate against LGBT Americans” has managed to put about a quarter of a billion dollars at risk for the Indiana economy.

That number is based on the business activities and events that have already either publicly declared their intention to pull business from the state, or have publicly said they are considering pulling events.

That number “will only climb as long as state officials insist on disingenuously using religious freedom as a ruse to discriminate against LGBT Americans,” Durso continued. “A broad coalition of businesses, faith communities and organizations have taken a stand against this law. It is time for officials in Indiana and the roughly 30 other states where LGBT discrimination is legal to take notice.

“You cannot be pro-business and pro-discrimination at the same time,” Durso said.

This is CAP’s list of dollars lost due to the new law:
• Angie’s List: $40 million
• American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, conference: $500,000

Those at risk, according to CAP, are:
• Big Ten football, 2016–2021: $96 million ($16 million per year)
• Big Ten men’s basketball, 2020: $8 million
• Big Ten women’s basketball, 2017–2021: $10 million ($2 million per year)
• NCAA Men’s Final Four, 2021: $71 million
• NCAA Women’s Final Four, 2016: $25 million
• Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 2017 General Assembly: $5.9 million

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Bush announces agencywide ban on Comic Sans

Posted on 01 Apr 2015 at 11:47am

Typeface will be removed from all agency computers

(AUSTIN, Texas) — In tandem with his plan to foster technological innovation at the Texas General Land Office, Commissioner George P. Bush today announced an agencywide ban on the use of the font Comic Sans in all agency documents and correspondence.

George_P._Bush

George P. Bush

The ban, effective immediately, follows a series of steps taken by Commissioner Bush to ensure agency employees present themselves in a professional manner at all times.

The use of Comic Sans in any state of Texas business is an aesthetic tragedy of the highest degree,” said GLO Publications Director Chris Elam. “Texans who conduct business with the GLO can be confident that their eyesight will no longer be assaulted by this unsophisticated font choice.”

GLO employees have been advised that the Publications Division staff is on standby to assist with any typeface emergencies within the agency. “Current agencywide substitute font recommendations are Helvetica, Times New Roman, or even Arial,” Elam said. “Any of the standard ones really. Except Papyrus. It’s terribad.”

Though the Texas General Land Office is the first government agency in the country to enact such a sweeping ban, it joins many established organizations, such as Ban Comic Sans (bancomicsans.com) and Comic Sans Criminal (comicsanscriminal.com), in expressing its disapproval of this juvenile typeface. 

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BREAKING: Hutchinson won’t sign Arkansas ‘religious freedom’ bill

Posted on 01 Apr 2015 at 11:25am
Screen shot 2015-04-01 at 11.24.21 AM

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced that he will not sign the “religious freedom” bill passed by lawmakers in his state last night, saying that he will instead send the measure back to the state Legislature for changes to make sure that it mirrors a federal law already in place, CNN is reporting.

Hutchinson said he made his decision because he wants Arkansas to be “known as a state that does not discriminate but understands tolerance.”

He also said he is considering issuing an executive order than bans discrimination in the state’s workforce.

Hutchinson had initially said he would sign the religious freedom bill into law. His change of heart came following the firestorm that has erupted over a similar bill signed into law last week by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and after the CEO of WalMart, Arkansas’ largest business, issued a statement urging Hutchinson to veto the bill.

Hutchinson said, “The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions. It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue.”

CNN notes that Hutchinson said his own son, signed a petition urging him not to sign the bill.

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Indiana Repubs admit anti-LGBT discrimination is legal

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 5:08pm


Despite Gov. Mike Pence’s insistence that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is all about protecting religious freedom and not about discriminating against folks, two Indiana lawmakers have admitted that even without the RFRA, businesses in their state can legally post “no gays allowed” signs.

Raw Story reports that Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, acknowledged that because the state has no law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, such discrimination is legal in most parts of the state.

The admission came during the two lawmakers’ press conference  during which they said they plan to “clarify” that the RFRA doesn’t allow businesses and individuals to deny service to LGBT people on religious grounds. But one reporter pointed out glaring lack of protections:

“You guys have said repeatedly that we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against anyone, but if you just ignore the existence of this law, can’t we already do that now? Can’t so-and-so in Richmond put a sign up and say ‘No Gays Allowed?’” the reporter asked. “That’s not against the law, correct?”

Bosma admitted that unless the local community has a local ordinance protecting LGBTs such discrimination would, indeed, be allowed, and when pressed further by the reporter, he admitted that most areas of the state have no such ordinances.

The fact of the matter is, the same is true in Texas. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a town or county that has passed a non-discrimination ordinance prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination, if you are LGBT, you have no protections because there is no statewide nondiscrimination law that includes LGBTs. AND, even worse, Republicans have introduced bills in this current legislative session to negate such local ordinances that already exist and prohibit the passage of any such local ordinances in the future.

Maybe folks need to boycott our state, too. Maybe then the Republicans will pull their heads out of their asses.

Watch the Raw Story video above.

And in more Indiana RFRA news, Duke University — whose men’s basketball team is headed to Indianapolis for the Final Four — has joined the NCAA in speaking out against the law, according to Human Rights Campaign.

Duke, the University of Kentucky, Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin are headed to Indianapolis this weekend for the final three March Madness tournament games, including the championship game. Wisconsin and Michigan State both released statements relating to the passage of the bill but Duke is the only Final Four contender to publicly come out against RFRA.

Michael Schoenfeld , Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations said in a statement issued Monday (March 30), that “Duke University continues to stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal and inclusive world, and we deplore any effort to legislate bias and discrimination. We share the NCAA’s concern about the potential impact of the new law, and will be vigilant to ensure that our student-athletes, supporters, and indeed all citizens and visitors are treated fairly and with respect.”

 

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Trans Day of Visibility is a day of celebration

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 4:37pm

trans flagToday (March 31) is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Trans activist Monica Roberts writes on her TransGriot blog, “We need to remind you cispeeps that we are not only are we part of the diverse mosaic of human life, our humanity is not up for discussion. You WILL accept us as the men and women of trans experience we are, and we will not tolerate any attempts to dehumanize us or strip us of human rights coverage.

Human Rights Campaign writes on its blog, “to celebrate the courage it takes to live openly and authentically, while also recognizing the leadership of transgender and gender nonconforming trailblazers who have led the charge in the fight for equality.”

Trans Student Educational Resources celebrates the day by writing, “Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day to be empowered and get the recognition we deserve.”

Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan, created Transgender Day of Visibility “to focus on all the good things in the trans community, instead of just remembering those who were lost,” according to TransGriot.

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NASCAR condemns Indiana’s RFRA

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 4:10pm

In most people’s minds, “NASCAR” means “redneck.” And if that’s true, then Indiana is WAY behind the times with its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law last week by Gov. Mike Pence, because even NASCAR is condemning the law.

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 4.01.31 PMNASCAR, the second most-viewed sports franchise, next only to the NFL, today (Tuesday, March 31) issued a strongly worded statement against the law — which is “important for a sport almost synonymous with Indianapolis,” TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com noted (Indianapolis Motor Speedway, anyone?).

Brett Jewkes, senior vice president and chief communications officer for the racing organization, said, “NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.

“For 105 years the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has engaged millions who want to celebrate the true spirit of American racing. IMS will continue to warmly welcome all who share our enthusiasm for motorsports — employees, participants and fans,” Jewkes said.

Pence — who has steadfastly maintained the law is intended to protect religious freedom and not to discriminate against anyone — today called for follow-up legislation to “clarify” the RFRA. I guess that means he wants a bill that specifically says it is alright for so-called “Christians” to discriminate against LGBTs (or anyone else who offends their religious sensibilities), but it’s not ok for anyone to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against Christians; I mean, after all, that IS what he the the Indiana lawmakers meant when they passed the RFRA, right?

Other businesses and governmental entities to come out against Indiana’s RFRA include Starbucks (which issued this statement Monday, March 30: “We join with others opposing any state or federal legislation that permits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and encourage policymakers everywhere to embrace equality”) and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (who on Monday signed an executive order forbidding state-funded travel to Indiana, saying his administration is “sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated”).

Check CNN Money for a list of other businesses, etc., who have spoken out against the bill, and what they said.

 

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Advocates who will argue in Supreme Court marriage equality cases announced

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 1:32pm
Mary-Bonauto

Mary L. Bonauto is one of two advocates chosen to argue marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court in April.

Mary L. Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier will argue for the plaintiffs in the marriage equality cases being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 28, according to Lambda Legal.

Bonauto will argue the 14th Amendment requires a state to grant marriage licenses to a same-sex couple. Hallward-Driemeier will argue the 14th Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage performed out-of-state.

Bonauto successfully argued for marriage equality before the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2003. Currently she serves as civil project director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a LGBT group based in Boston.

Hallward-Driemeier previously served as assistant to the solicitor general in the Justice Department, and provided pro bono representation in a number of other LGBT rights cases.

“I’m humbled to be standing up for the petitioners from Kentucky and Michigan who seek the freedom to marry,” said Bonauto in a statement provided by Lambda Legal. “The road that we’ve all traveled to get here has been built by so many people who believe that marriage is a fundamental right for all people. I believe the court will give us a fair hearing, and I look forward to the day when all LGBT Americans will be able to marry the person they love.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights praised the choices in a joint statement. “Mary Bonauto crafted and argued the case that made Massachusetts the first state with full marriage equality and she won the first rulings in federal court that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. As the legal team and advocates who have brought our community and our nation to this historic moment, we are proud to stand behind Mary and Doug, with all of our clients and all of the same-sex couples in this country who seek the freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected,” according to the statement.

“It is an incredible honor to represent these devoted couples, who have already been lawfully married and established new families, in arguing to vindicate their right to have the states respect their marriages,” Hallward-Driemeier said in the Lambda Legal statement. “The plaintiffs in these cases reflect the broad array of couples, from those together for three decades to those just starting young families, and the many instances in which married couples must cross state lines to work for a new employer, give birth at the nearest hospital, or seek out new opportunities. These couples deserve the same respect and stability that states grant other married couples and their families throughout every phase of life.”

The cases before the court are Kentucky’s Bourke v Beshear and Love v Beshear, Michigan’s Deboer v Snyder, Ohio’s Henry v Hodges and Obergefell v Hodges and Tennessee’s Tanco v Haslam.

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Dallas County signs onto DACA amicus brief

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 1:05pm
Commissioners

Dallas County Commissioners Court

Dallas County commissioners voted today (Tuesday, March 31) to sign onto an amicus brief today supporting the U.S. government’s position on DACA, the deferred action for childhood arrivals that President Barack Obama initiated by executive order.

County Judge Clay Jenkins said Dallas County ranks as one of the top five counties nationally in number of people who may potentially benefit from the program. Taken as a whole, the DFW area ranks first in number of people who benefit compared to any county.

DACA permits undocumented immigrants who came into the U.S. as children before a certain date to stay and work in the country legally. The lawsuit was brought by Texas with support of about half the states.

Houston, El Paso and Travis County have already signed onto the brief. About 50 city and county governments including New York City have already signed onto the brief. Jenkins said he expected about 100 signatures before the brief is submitted to the court.

The motion passed by a 4-1 margin. Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the court’s only Republican member, objected at first because the commission had not seen the brief in its final form. Jenkins countered that briefs always change up until the time of their submission.

Cantrell then objected saying immigration should be debated in Congress and called DACA an “extreme overreach by the president.” He said with 254 counties in Texas, only three were signing the brief.

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