Abbott wants to reduce out-of-wedlock births so he’s against same-sex marriage

Posted on 14 Oct 2014 at 2:23pm

Texas AG Greg AbbottAtty. Gen. Greg Abbott filed a new brief in the Texas marriage case that the Fifth Circuit decided to fast-track. His main argument is that the state doesn’t have to prove same-sex marriage will hurt opposite-sex marriage, just that opposite-sex marriage is better.

“Second, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society.”

So how’s that channeling going for you Greg?

Here are some stats from the Centers for Disease Control website for teen births, ages 15 to 19 in 2010, the latest year for which I found a state-by-state comparison.

The overall U.S. birth rate is 34.3 per 1,000 teens ages 15–19 in 2010, the latest year available on the Centers for Disease Control website.

But that number is not equally distributed across the country.

In Massachusetts, the rate is 17.1 per thousand and in Texas it’s 52.2 per thousand. That’s more than three times the teen pregnancy rate in traditional values Texas than in marriage-equality Massachusetts.

Massachusetts, the first marriage-equality state, legalized same-sex marriage in 2003.

In his fight against marriage equality, Abbott said the State is interested in “reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births.” That hasn’t happened.

Let’s compare a few other states to Texas. In civil union state No. 1 that became marriage equality state No. 2, the Vermont teen birth rate is 17.9 per thousand.

Another early marriage equality adopter was Iowa. That’s state’s teen birth rate is 28.6 per thousand, still below the national average.

Comparing Texas to other large states, New York has a rate of 22.6 per thousand and California has a rate of 31.5 per thousand. Both now have marriage equality but didn’t in 2010, the year of these stats.

Texas isn’t in last place, however. Once again, Texans can proudly say “Thank God for Mississippi,” with its 55.0 rate. Arkansas and New Mexico teens are both breeding at faster rates than Texas teens as well.

These are just teen birth rates and marriage equality may have absolutely nothing to do with it. So either Abbott’s argument collapses because marriage equality is irrelevant to unwed teen birth rates or marriage equality actually encourages teens not to get pregnant.


Texas marriage case fast-tracked by 5th Circuit

Posted on 14 Oct 2014 at 12:01pm

Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to fast-track its review of two  lawsuits challenging bans on legally recognizing same-sex marriages in Texas and Louisiana, according to numerous reports, including this one at

Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin, one of two gay couples challenging the ban in Texas, asked Monday that the appellate court expedite the cases because Dimetman is pregnant with the couple’s second child and they want their marriage legally recognized before the child — due next March — is born. De Leon gave birth to their first child and Dimetman had to complete a second-parent adoption to be legally recognized as that child’s parent. Unless the couple’s 2009 Massachusetts wedding is recognized in Texas before the second child is born, only Dimetman will be automatically recognized as the child’s legal parent, forcing De Leon to go through the lengthy and expensive second-parent adoption process.

De Leon and Dimetman along with Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano are the second couple in the Texas case. The two have been together for about 14 years but are waiting for Texas to legally recognize same-sex marriage before tying the knot. U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in February that the Texas gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

In the second case being reviewed by the 5th Circuit, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman on Sept. 3 upheld the Louisiana ban on same-sex marriage, the first federal judge to rule against marriage equality since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

Lambda Legal joined the case as council on Oct. 7.

Just three weeks after Feldman’s ruling, Judge Edward Rubin in Louisiana’s 15th Judicial District Court ruled, in the case Constanza and Brewer v. Caldwell, that the Louisiana marriage ban is unconstitutional.

So far, since the Windsor ruling last year, no federal appellate court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage bans. On Monday, Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals on seven cases from five states, leaving appellate decisions striking down bans from the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuit Courts in place. The 9th Circuit Court struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada the next day, and on Sunday, a federal judge in Alaska — which is part of the 9th Circuit — struck down that state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Appeals are also pending in the 6th and 11th Circuit Courts. Those two and the 5th Circuit are considered the most conservative in the country and the ones most likely to rule in favor of marriage bans.


NBC News ‘doctor’ violated quarantine

Posted on 14 Oct 2014 at 10:45am

Nancy Snyderman broke voluntary quarantine and endangered lives of others

I have no idea if NBC’s “Dr.” Nancy Snyderman or ABC’s “Dr.” Richard Besser have medical degrees. What I do know is they are part of the media hysteria about Ebola and — like the rest of our local and national media — are providing little valid information to the public. In Snyderman’s case, she endangered the lives of others.

After returning from a trip to Liberia, Snyderman and her team from NBC were placed under voluntary quarantine. Snyderman violated the quarantine and is now under mandatory quarantine.

There is absolutely nothing heroic about what she has done. She’s apologized for her reckless behavior, hoping to keep her broadcast job. After all, why should the public trust this “doctor” who endangered the lives of others.

You know who has behaved heroically? The family of Ebola victim Thomas Duncan. They were placed under orders, according to Dallas Health and Human Services Director Zach Thompson. Orders is a step below quarantine.

You know what this family did? They voluntarily complied with anything and everything the county has asked them to do. Yes, a 13-year-old has acted more maturely and responsibly during a period of great personal loss than NBC’s “doctor.”

While the Dallas family remains in isolation, they’ve passed a big hurdle. The incubation period for Ebola is two to 21 days, but the illness usually manifests itself in eight to 10 days of contact with the virus, according to several infectious disease specialists I’ve spoken to. They’ve made it past 10 days and hopefully will make through the full 21 days.

Meanwhile, Nina Pham, a nurse that tended to Duncan at Presbyterian Hospital and became infected, has received a transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the Fort Worth doctor who recovered from Ebola. The hope is that antibodies from his blood will prevent severe illness and even provide a cure.

That treatment seemed to have worked in two other Ebola cases. Brantly was not a blood type match for Duncan, so his blood could not be used.


Texas Voter ID law ruled unconstitutional. Here’s a breakdown on its impact.

Posted on 13 Oct 2014 at 11:35am

vote-buttonA federal district judge on Friday, Oct. 10, struck down Texas’ voter photo identification law, just 10 days before early voting in the state is to begin.

In her 140-plus-page decision, federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos called the law “a poll tax” and “discriminatory”  against African-Americans and Hispanics.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately appealed the decision, urging the Fifth Circuit to “resolve this matter quickly to avoid voter confusion in the upcoming election,” said Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the AG’s office.

Explaining his appeal, Abbott said he believed the sudden ruling could confuse voters and burden election administrators. “Voters need certainty when they go to the polls and having this decision come out just 10 days before early voting begins injects uncertainty so I’m asking a court of appeals to decide this before early voting begins a week from Monday,” he told KXAN.

In the meantime, the law’s opponents praised the decision.

“Now we must redouble our efforts to restore the Voting Rights Act and to ensure that every LGBTQ voter gets the opportunity to vote at the upcoming election,” said the Rev. Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of National LGBTQ Task Force.

Texas state. Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running against Abbott for governor, blasted Abbott’s appeal. “This is great news for democracy. I call on Attorney General Greg Abbott to drop his defense of a law that a court has now called a ‘poll tax’ and ‘discriminatory’ against African-Americans and Hispanics.”

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, agreed. “Abbott should do what’s best for all Texans instead of pushing his discriminatory political agenda that would disenfranchise eligible voters.”

While the judge believes the law discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics, the ruling impacts the transgender community as well.

According to the Williams Institute, a LGBT policy think tank, of the 25,000 eligible transgender voters in Texas, around 6,800, or 27%, do not have updated voter ID records.

Should the ruling be upheld, said Nell Gaither of the Trans Pride Initiative, “It makes it easier for transpeople to vote.” But she added that the transgender community still faces barriers most other voters do not.

Texas does not have a statewide law accommodating people who have transitioned from one gender to another; voters or would-be voters must rely on their county laws.

Chad Dunn, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs, told the Lone Star Project he believes Abbott will appeal to the Fifth Circuit and likely ask for the U.S. Supreme Court’s final say.

“To my knowledge, a law found to be intentionally discriminatory, after a full trial on the merits, has never been allowed to remain in effect,” Dunn said.


Marriage begins in Idaho, NC and judge throws out Alaska law

Posted on 13 Oct 2014 at 11:32am

Marriage-Equality-Bumper-Sticker-(7423)Marriage equality began Friday, Oct. 10, in Idaho and North Carolina and on Sunday, Oct. 12, a federal judge in Alaska threw out that state’s marriage discrimination law.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to place a permanent injunction on the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Idaho’s marriage law is discriminatory. Earlier in the week, the court place a temporary stay, but on Friday decided not to extend it. A county clerk in one county began issuing marriage licenses on Friday. The governor said counties should wait for an order from the Ninth Circuit.

A U.S. district judge in North Carolina ruled on Friday that marriage equality is neither a political nor moral issue, but a legal one and is a matter of settled law. At least one county clerk in that state  began issuing licenses on Friday. More are expected to begin issuing licenses this week.

The lawsuit was brought by United Church of Christ and Union for Reform Judaism. Both denominations believe in marriage equality and claimed religious discrimination because they can’t perform marriages.

On Sunday, an Alaska judge threw out that state’s marriage ban after hearing a marriage case on Friday.

In 1998, Alaska became the first state to put a ban on same-sex marriage into its constitution when the state came close to passing marriage equality. The governor said the state will appeal. No word yet on a stay or whether marriages can begin.

The decision puts Alaska in line with last week’s Ninth Circuit ruling on Nevada and Idaho throwing out the marriage bans in those states. Other states in the circuit include California, Oregon and Washington that already have marriage equality. Arizona and Montana, also in the circuit, have yet to be heard from.Nevada began issuing licenses on Thursday, Oct. 9. While prostitution has been legal in Nevada for years, marriage hasn’t been, so moral arguments against marriage from that state’s officials have been particularly ironic.If Kansas, Wyoming, West Virgina and South Carolina fall into line with their circuit courts, 35 states will have marriage equality. Meanwhile, Texas and Mississippi are battling to be last.


Judge rules Alaska marriage ban unconstitutional

Posted on 12 Oct 2014 at 6:36pm
Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 6.33.01 PM

Matt Hamby, left, and Chris Shelden, one of the five plaintiff couples in the lawsuit that has successfully challenged Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage

U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess has overturned Alaska’s ban on legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Burgess’ order, issued today (Sunday, Oct. 12) in the case Hamby v. Parnell, would allow same-sex couples to begin marrying for the first time in Alaska.

Burgess’ ruling comes less than a week after the Ninth Circuit Court upheld lower court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. Nevada state officials have chosen not to appeal the circuit court ruling, allowing couples to begin marrying there immediately. But U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a stay of the ruling, affecting Idaho only, after Idaho state officials asked for the stay.

The Ninth Circuit Court’s jurisdiction encompasses Alaska, as well.

Burgess said that Alaska law banning same-sex marriages there and refusing to recognize same-sex marriages from jurisdictions that do recognize them is “unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” according to a report in the Alaska Dispatch News.

Read Burgess’ ruling in its entirety here.


LGBT supporters canvass Oak Lawn for Davis on National Coming Out Day

Posted on 12 Oct 2014 at 9:33am

Several dozen people gathered at Oak Lawn Branch of the Dallas Public Library on Oct. 11 to canvass the neighborhood for gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. LGBT groups across Texas met to campaign at the same time to celebrate National Coming Out Day.

Lindsey Clark, a political field organizer for Human Rights Campaign sent to Texas to work with the Davis campaign, told the group the job is get people to make plans to early vote.

Early voting begins on Oct. 20 and runs through Oct. 31. The closest early voting locations to Oak Lawn are at the Dallas County Records Building downtown and Grauwyler Recreation Center on Harry Hines Boulevard. In Oak Cliff, early voting takes place at the Dallas County Sub-Courthouse on Beckley Avenue.


Keep off the Trinity Strand Trail: I found it! It’s mine!

Posted on 10 Oct 2014 at 12:05pm

Butterflies should become more common along the trail as more wildflowers grow

When I saw the yellow stripe painted down the middle of the new Trinity Strand Trail, I decided it was time to take my bike out and try it. While it’s still a work in progress, the trail’s a great place for a bike ride. Unlike the nearby, overcrowded Katherine Trail (Katy, to those of you who have a better relationship with her), I had the entire length of the Trinity Strand to myself.

At one point, I had to get off my bike and walk across an underpass where concrete has yet to be poured. Other places I had to steer around the debris on the trail.

Note to Councilman Adam Medrano: please get a street sweeper over to my new Trinity Strand Trail so I can ride it more comfortably. Hey, I don’t ask for much. If you’re going to build me my own bike trail, you can damn well keep it clean for me. Need I remind you, young man, this was one of your aunt’s pet projects. Don’t make me call Pauline on you.

The trail will eventually connect with the Katy Trail that separates Uptown from Oak Lawn. This trail wanders through the Design District. Currently, it begins at Oak Lawn Avenue and I-35. Ahh, the truck fumes! It wanders past our new office building. The “trail head” is across from our building. (See slideshow below).

The map on the trail head shows a loop. Pretty close, except it doesn’t make a loop. Maybe eventually it will. It runs along Turtle Creek, behind Mama’s Daughters Diner, across the creek from the Anatole Hotel and ends up on Farrington at Medical Center drives.

Unlike the Katy, this trail is actually not designed for big crowds. Several sharp turns require a bike rider to cross the yellow line. On the Katy, that would be deadly — and by sharp, I mean greater than 90 degree turns. But since the trail is virtually unused — so far — it’s great for speed without having to stop for any traffic crossings.

So stay off. Those sharp turns are dangerous. And Adam just won’t keep it clean. To hell with all that nature along the Trinity and those great views of downtown. You don’t want to use the Trinity Strand Trail.


Four arrested in burglary at Oak Lawn and Lemmon

Posted on 10 Oct 2014 at 12:00pm
Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 12.18.27 PM

Four suspects arrested in Oak Lawn burglary

Dallas police arrested four people after witnesses identified their car when they broke into Nail Works on Oak Lawn at Lemmon, according to the Dallas Police crime blog.

A witness called 9-1-1 when he heard glass breaking and turned to see two of the suspects kicking and hitting a window at Nail Works located at 3416 Oak Lawn Ave.

When the witness drove by, he observed two suspects inside the location by the cash register. The witness then saw the suspects leave the burglary location and get into a vehicle that had additional suspects. The witness was able to flag down officers as he was following the suspects and told the officers about the burglary and that the suspects were in the vehicle in front of the patrol car.

The car was stopped and officers arrested four people. During the investigation, two of the four suspects confessed and gave information about the additional burglaries that they had committed. The other robberies took place at Highland Park Animal Hospital on Central Expressway, Bassett Furniture on McKinney Avenue and another store in Richardson.


Davis Campaign to Hold “Out for Wendy” Day of Action Across Texas

Posted on 10 Oct 2014 at 10:32am

WDNCODThe Wendy Davis campaign will celebrate National Coming Out Day tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 11, with “Out for Wendy” canvassing events across the state.

Joining LGBT Texans will be Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Amber Davis, daughter of Wendy Davis, and other campaign surrogates.

Click here to RSVP.


WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Amber Davis, daughter of Wendy Davis

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Austin Coordinated Campaign Office

1910 E. MLK Boulevard

Austin, Texas 78702


WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Zac Petkanas, Communications Director for Wendy Davis for Governor Campaign

WHEN: 10:00 AM

WHERE: Oak Lawn Library

4100 Cedar Springs Road

Dallas, Texas 75219


WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Starbucks

2720 W. University Drive

Edinburg, Texas 78539

Fort Worth

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Libby Willis (Candidate for State Senate – District 10)

WHEN: 10:00 AM

WHERE: Davis Campaign Field Office

La Gran Plaza – Suite 1711

4200 S. Freeway

Fort Worth, Texas 76115


WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Houston Mayor Annise Parker

WHEN: 2:00 PM

WHERE: Matthiesen Law Firm

511 Lovett Boulevard

Houston, Texas 77004


WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Davis Campaign Field Office

1701 Jacaman Road, Suite 1

Laredo, Texas 78041

San Antonio

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 12:30 PM

WHERE: Sparky’s Pub

1416 N. Main Avenue

San Antonio, Texas 78212