Rep. Jessica Farrar files bill to remove sodomy law from Texas Penal Code

Posted on 25 Feb 2013 at 2:12pm
Rep. Jessica Farrar

State Rep. Jessica Farrar

Houston Democrat Jessica Farrar has filed HB 1701 to remove Texas’ “homosexual conduct” law from the Texas Penal Code.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court finding the law unconstitutional in the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, the law remains on the books as a misdemeanor offense, even though it is not enforceable.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who has filed the bill every session since the law was found unconstitutional, said he planned to file the legislation again this year.

State Sen. Jose Rodriquez, D-El Paso, filed the companion bill, SB 538, earlier this month. It has been assigned to the State Affairs Committee.

“There is absolutely no justification for this antiquated and unconstitutional provision to remain on the books,” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said. “It is past time for this relic of the past to be repealed from the Texas Penal Code.”

Read the full release below.

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Racist, anti-gay bill would allow college student groups to decide membership

Posted on 22 Feb 2013 at 1:41pm
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State Rep. Matt Krause

Conservative freshman state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, has filed a bill that discriminates against people based on race, gender and sexual orientation.

HB 360 would deny state funding to colleges and universities, including private institutions, that require a “student organization, including a religious student organization, to allow any student enrolled at the institution to participate in the organization, regardless of the student’s beliefs or status, including race, gender, and sexual orientation.”

The bill states that colleges requiring a religious organization to accept any member regardless of “status or beliefs” violates the First Amendment, “including the rights of free exercise of religion and of freedom of association.”

When asked what the bill’s purpose was, Elliott Griffin, Krause’s chief of staff, said the bill was currently being redrafted to be more narrow. He said he would discuss it more after the language was final.

Krause is perhaps best known in the LGBT community as the Liberty Counsel attorney who defended Fort Worth student Dakota Ary after he was suspended for making anti-gay remarks in class.

Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said the legislation could possibly apply to a faith-based organization at a private university that wants to limit membership to straight white men. He said the bill is so offensive it likely won’t go anywhere.

“It’s pretty much offensive across the board,” Smith said. “I think that piece of legislation is dead on arrival. It’s an equal opportunity offender.”

This week’s Equality Texas’ legislative update focuses on the other anti-gay bill filed this session by Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster. His bill would penalize school districts who offer domestic partner benefits to its employees.

Watch the video below.

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Is ‘Sodomites’ the new ‘queer’?

Posted on 22 Feb 2013 at 1:37pm

Unnatural SinAs we reported in today’s Dallas Voice, Montana is one of four states including Texas that still has its gay-only sodomy law on the books. Apparently, some Montana legislators are attempting to clean up the penal code too.

State Rep. Ellie Boldman Hill posted on her Facebook page a photo, right, of some reading material every legislator received, called The Truth About Homosexuals — 21st Century Sodomites. Hill wrote:

Here’s what all Montana legislators received in their Capitol mailboxes today. There are no words for what is going on up here. — at Montana State Capitol.

Time Magazine named Hill one of their “40 Under 40” and he Missoula Independent named her that city’s best activist three years in a row. But in the Montana House, she’s facing the same opposition that Rep. Garnet Coleman and Sen. Jose Rodriguez will encounter in the Texas Legislature.

Sodomites. I haven’t heard that stupid, mistranslated (yes, I speak Hebrew and that word is mistranslated) word used seriously in years. But every time the right wing loses another argument, they come up with something new. Sodomite seems to be their latest fad and expect to hear it more.

Earlier this week, Right Wing Watch reported Vision America’s Rick Scarborough delivered a guest sermon at at a New Jersey church and said sodomite should be used in place of gay. “They’re not gay … that’s a twist into the words,” Scarborough said. “It won’t be long until we’ll be calling pedophiles ‘happy people.’”

On Monday and Tuesday, Scarborough will be spreading his love in Austin. Monday he’ll be at a private reception with Gov. Rick Perry, who coincidentally has been accused over the years of being a sodomite himself, and on Tuesday at a pro-life march and rally.

Queer used to be a bad word. A terrible insult. Maybe we should appropriate the word sodomite in the same way.

Watch a clip from Scarborough’s sermon below.

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WATCH: Talkin’ Tebow on CW33, WFAA

Posted on 22 Feb 2013 at 1:17pm
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Me and WFAA’s Brad Watson at Dallas Voice HQ.

I’m a University of Florida alum and a Dallas resident, so perhaps it was meant to be: I went on both the CW33 and WFAA-TV this week to discuss Tim Tebow’s planned — then canceled — visit to First Baptist Church of Dallas. My main talking point was relatively simple: First Baptist + Robert Jeffress = HATE. Watch both clips below, and read our story from today’s Voice here. Go Gators!

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Obama administration official Fred Hochberg to speak at Chamber dinner

Posted on 22 Feb 2013 at 11:54am
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Fred Hochberg

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce has announced that Export-Import Bank Chairman and President Fred Hochberg will be the keynote speaker at the group’s 8th annual Business Excellence Awards Dinner.

Hochberg is the first openly gay president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank and the highest-ranking gay person in the Obama administration. President Bill Clinton appointed him to head the Small Business Administration in 1998.

When President Barack Obama tapped Hochberg to head the Export-Import Bank, he was serving on the board of the Human Rights Campaign. He served as chair of HRC.

His partner, Tom Healy, is a poet and a director of arts programs at Columbia University. He was appointed by Obama to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and became its chairman.

As head of the Export-Import Bank, Chairman Hochberg plays an essential role in Obama’s plan to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Under his leadership, the the Export-Import Bank set export finance records in 2012 for a fourth year in a row in a number of areas including an increase of 16.5 percent in authorizations for minority- and woman-owned businesses.

“The Business Excellence Awards Dinner recognizes ‘the best of who we are as business and community leaders’” said Ron Watterson, chairman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber Board of Directors. “Chairman Hochberg’s body of work in business, philanthropy and public service embodies the spirit of the Business Excellence Awards and the Chamber.”

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Anti-bill would cut funding for TX school districts that offer DP benefits

Posted on 21 Feb 2013 at 11:40am
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Rep. Drew Springer posted the above flier on his Facebook promoting his bill to cut funding for school districts that offer benefits to domestic partners.

 

A Republican state representative from Cooke County wants to cut funding for school districts in Texas that offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Last year, the Pflugerville school district became the first in the state to offer DP benefits, extending them to both gay and straight domestic partners.

Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, on Wednesday filed House Bill 1568, which would reduce a school district’s healthcare funding by 7.5 percent if they offer DP benefits to anyone other than an employee or a dependent of an employee.

“Our tax-dollars are for educating kids, not for enacting policies that attempt to get the state to recognize homosexual relationships,” Springer said in a release. “To think Pflugerville has sued the state for more funding, while at the same time bankrolling a lifestyle most Texans do not agree with is quite disturbing to me.”

Jonathan Saenz, president of the anti-gay group Texas Values, said: “This bill is a clear message to every Texas school district, if they mess with the Texas Constitution, it will cost them, dearly.”

Springer’s release says those who have questions about the bill should call him at 512-463-0526 or email him at Drew.Springer@house.state.tx.us for more information. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Read Springer’s full press release below.

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UPDATE: Group responds to Laura Bush’s request to be removed from ad

Posted on 21 Feb 2013 at 11:02am
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An ad featuring quotes from the Respect for Marriage Coalition’s video in The Washington Post on Feb. 20, 2013.

Former first lady Laura Bush is upset that an interview clip of her is being used in a marriage equality campaign.

Bush is featured in a Respect for Marriage Coalition video released Wednesday alongside clips from President Barack Obama, former vice president Dick Cheney and former secretary of state Colin Powell.

“When couples are committed to each other and love each they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has,” Bush says in the clip from a 2010 interview with Larry King where she endorsed gay marriage, explaining that it is something she and her husband disagree about.

But Bush apparently didn’t like her interview being used in the clip, according to her spokeswoman, who told the Dallas Morning News that she “did not approve of her inclusion in this advertisement nor is she associated with the group that made the ad in any way.”

Bush has requested that she be removed from the video, as well as further campaign materials like an ad in yesterday’s Washington Post, see above.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition responded that it was sorry Bush didn’t want to be included and the campaign will continue to include more leaders in the future.

“We used public comments for this ad from American leaders who have expressed support for civil marriage,” the organization said in an email. “We appreciate Mrs. Bush’s previous comments but are sorry she didn’t want to be included in an ad. The ad launched a public education campaign that will now move to new and different voices that reflect the depth and breadth of our support.”

Watch both the video and Bush’s interview with King below.

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BREAKING: Tebow cancels appearance at First Baptist Church of Dallas

Posted on 21 Feb 2013 at 9:45am

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Christian quarterback Tim Tebow announced this morning via Twitter that he was canceling his visit to First Baptist Church of Dallas “due to new information that has been brought to my attention.”

Perhaps that new information was how anti-gay First Baptists’ Pastor Robert Jeffress is, if anyone didn’t already know. Tebow was scheduled to share a “message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love,” but the athlete was criticized for agreeing to speak at such an anti-gay church.

A petition started on Change.org requested he cancel and affirm his inclusive views of the everyone, including the LGBT community.

First Baptist released a statement that said media reports had “grossly misrepresented past comments” by Jeffress. After his cancellation, they released a statement that the church was “saddened that Mr. Tebow felt pressure to back out of his long-planned commitment.”

“Mr. Tebow called Dr. Jeffress Wednesday evening saying that for personal and professional reasons he needed to avoid controversy at this time but would like to come to First Baptist Dallas to speak at a future date,” the statement reads in part. “More important, contrary to editorializing in the media, Dr.  Jeffress shares a message of hope, not hate; salvation, not judgment; and a Gospel of God’s love, grace and new beginnings available to all.”

Read the full statement below.

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Gay Fort Worth couple refused space for wedding reception ‘because of God’

Posted on 20 Feb 2013 at 10:29pm

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Fort Worth couple Ben Allen and Justin Hudgins say a local party facility refused to rent them space for a wedding reception because they’re gay. Allen and Hudgins plan to marry in Mexico in April and wanted to book space for a reception when they get back, according to NBCDFW.com:

The owner of the All Occasion Party Place told Ben Allen and Justin Hudgins that she would not rent to them because they are gay, they said.

After learning they are gay, she said in an email to them that: “… it is because of God that I will not be a part in your reception and I know he loves you but not what you are doing.”

“It almost felt like a sucker-punch to the face,” Allen said.

“Initially, I didn’t know how to respond, so I called Justin immediately and told him what happened,” he said. “I was kind of floored a bit. I thought, in today’s day and age, for someone to deny you simply because you date someone of the same sex, it doesn’t really make sense to me.”

All Occasion Party Place, in Southeast Tarrant County between Rendon and Mansfield, has a Fort Worth street address but reportedly is just outside city limits, meaning it isn’t subject to Cowtown’s ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

Watch the report below.

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Resource Center asks LGBT community to contact DART board members

Posted on 20 Feb 2013 at 5:38pm

DART

Six DART board members have expressed their intention to vote in favor of domestic partner benefits for the agency’s gay and lesbian employees.

Five members voted in favor last week during an administrative committee meeting, passing the measure on to the full board. The board needs eight votes to pass the measure. It will meet Feb. 26 to discuss the issue and could vote as its next meeting March 12.

Rafael McDonnell with Resource Center Dallas said he’s encouraging the LGBT community to contact board members to tell them to vote for the DP benefits, as well as push for them to implement them immediately.

The proposed plan would extend the benefits to same- and opposite-sex couples no later than January 2014. But McDonnell said the agency is self-insured and could implement them as soon as a vote approves them.

“We’re close,” McDonnell said about the votes. “I feel really good about this, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Former DART police officer Andrew Moss, who started a Change.org petition in July to urge the agency to add domestic partner benefits, said he’s glad the process is moving quickly. Moss’ husband still works for DART and could add him to his plan if the benefits are approved. His COBRA coverage ended in December, so he said he’d like the board to add the benefits before January.

“I would love for them to do it immediately just in the interest of fairness and equality,” he said, adding that the change would help a lot of people. “This doesn’t just benefit me.”

Contact information for DART board members can be found here.

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