Trumpcare protest at Cornyn’s office on Wednesday

Posted on 27 Jun 2017 at 8:53am

Sen. John Cornyn’s office is in Providence Towers along the Tollway at Spring Valley Road

Protest organizer Kendall Kindred sent me the following message this morning:

Following today’s Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that 22 million Americans would lose their coverage if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) became law, pressure has been mounting on John Cornyn and the rest of the Senate to reject the bill.

On Wednesday, June 28th, a group of concerned North Texans will protest Cornyn’s Dallas office to remind him of the consequences of support for Trumpcare and to demand a “No” vote on this dangerous legislation.

A protest against Trumpcare will be held at noon on Wednesday outside Sen. John Cornyn’s North Dallas office at Providence Towers, 5001 Spring Valley Road.

Sen. Ted Cruz has already announced he opposes the bill.


California travel ban to Texas makes Dan Patrick proud

Posted on 26 Jun 2017 at 12:11pm

Patrick.DanIn response to the just-won’t-die bathroom bill and the Freedom to Serve Children Act that allows adoption agencies to not serve some children, California Gov. Jerry Brown banned state travel to Texas.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is wearing that as a badge of honor.

“The real story behind California’s recently announced ban on travel to Texas goes beyond the temporary prohibition of state employees being allowed to attend conferences and other events in our state. I say temporary because no one really believes that California state employees will never be allowed to travel to Texas again.” he wrote in an email sent to his supporters. Obviously, that’s why I’m on his distribution list.

“And no one believes that we in Texas are going to change our laws to suit liberal California and Governor Jerry ‘Moonbeam’ Brown. Instead, the travel ban is the latest chapter in a much bigger story,” he continued.

Now, Patrick is right. The story goes beyond bathrooms. California doesn’t like some of our recent corporate raids like Toyota’s current move to Plano. But the travel ban and others like it are supported by corporations that don’t discriminate and are prompted by the bathroom bill and other proposed anti-LGBT legislation.

“The same radical left that pushed the travel ban on the foster care legislation has also threatened to retaliate against Texas because of our passage of the Ban on Sanctuary Cities,” Patrick continues. “And, of course, retaliation and boycotts have been a theme of the opposition against the Texas Privacy Act — dismissively called the ‘bathroom bill’ by the left-wing media.”

Let’s be clear — once again — Texas has no sanctuary cities. Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a target of the sanctuary cities law, has said repeatedly, she has never refused a request by ICE. She, along with other city and county law enforcement officials across the state, have simply said they’re not going to become immigration police and do a federal job without federal or state funding for those positions that would be required to do that job.

And I don’t dismissively call it the bathroom bill. No one knows what the Texas Privacy Act is, but everyone knows what the bathroom bill is. OK, so I might be partially responsible for that because that’s what I call it in print and on the air.

Then Patrick spews some anti-left stuff about gun control and “assault on our liberty.” I’ll spare you.

But he concludes, “One last point. Despite what they say in the liberal media, the Foster Care Bill and the Texas Privacy Act do not discriminate against anyone. Every Texan is free to live their life as they choose. We are simply standing up for religious freedom and the common sense values held by the overwhelming majority of Texans. As your Lt Governor I can assure you I have no intention of kowtowing to the radical left and I will never quit fighting for our conservative values and principles.”

The Texas Privacy Act is the bathroom bill. I’m not sure how that law protects my privacy or what it has to do with religious freedom. In my synagogue (that meets in a church that shares the same values we have), we don’t care where you pee. Well, we don’t care as long as it’s in one of our bathrooms. In our religions, we all grew up in houses that have bathrooms shared by members of both sexes. And in our religions, we just go to the bathroom to go to the bathroom. I admit, I have no idea what people like Dan Patrick do in bathrooms and I’ve never had the opportunity to ask him.

The email is from Texans for Dan Patrick and is marked “pd pol ad.” One thing very odd thing about this email that I have to compliment Patrick on is there is absolutely no request for money.

Not this time, but last week I got a couple of emails from him that I particularly enjoyed and I’m passing the offers along. (Don’t say I never did anything for you, Dan).

Patrick’s selling this hat saying:

“Dan Patrick continues to stand up for Conservative Texas Values and special interest groups outside of Texas are not happy.

“The liberal mainstream media has labeled Dan Patrick Public Enemy #1.

“Show them that you STAND by people that STAND UP FOR YOU! Get this awesome camo hat today.”

Well, Dan, we don’t think of you as being important enough to be Public Enemy #1. The hat is free with a contribution of $30 or more. Get your hat here.

This offer I liked even more:


“I wanted to thank you for the support you have already shown my campaign. I am thrilled to have you as a member of my team, Patrick’s Patriots. Your knowledge and passion for the conservative cause will be key to the success of my campaign and the future of our great state.

“As a thank you, I wanted to give you the exclusive opportunity to be the first of your friends with our new Lapel Pin. For a monthly donation of $10, we will send you this exclusive pin.

“Let everyone know where you stand – God, Country and Texas.”

Purchase your pin here. As someone who has already shown Patrick’s campaign support, I’d get one but it only comes in the cross version. None with a star or a crescent. Guess I’ll have to settle for the camo hat.


Report estimates 547,000 same-sex married couples

Posted on 26 Jun 2017 at 11:18am

The Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank based at UCLA, reports that there are more than 547,000 same-sex couples that have married.

The number is an estimate since many places — like Dallas County — don’t keep track of the number of marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples.

According to Williams Institute, 390,000 couples were married before the Obergefell marriage equality ruling, issued two years ago today (June 26). Since the decision, another 157,000 couples have married.

The report also estimates the number of adults in the U.S. who identify as LGBT at 10.7 million. That number comes from the Gallup Daily Tracking Survey.

The number of married couples is extrapolated from the Gallup survey. “In U.S., 10.2 percent of LGBT adults now married to same-sex spouse,” Williams Institute reports in a footnote. Another footnote explains that divorces and deaths are not taken into account in its number. The 547,000 couples is the number of marriages that have taken place, not the number of married couples.

To the many couples that married on marriage equality day two years ago today: Happy Anniversary!


The good, the bad and the maybe

Posted on 26 Jun 2017 at 10:49am

SCOTUS rules in school funding, Arkansas birth certificate cases, agrees to hear appeal in Colorado wedding cake case


Lisa Keen | Keen News Service


Susan Sommer with Lambda Legal

The U.S. Supreme Court took dramatic action on three LGBT-related cases today (Monday, June 26), with results that could be described as bad, good and to-be-determined.

In a 7-to-2 decision, the court said Missouri could not exclude a nonprofit school from a state program just because the school is run by a church. LGBT activists had argued the school should be denied state funding because the school exercised its religious beliefs against homosexuality and against other religions in determining which children it would exclude.

But the majority of the court, including pro-LGBT moderates Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan, said the state’s denying funding to a school that “would have received [a state grant] but for the fact that Trinity Lutheran is a church” violates the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. The decision came in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer.

Lambda Legal had submitted a brief in the case, noting that the school’s policy allows discriminating against students and parents based on sexual orientation and even based on religion. So requiring the state to provide funds to the Lutheran school would have the effect of the state supporting discrimination based on sexual orientation and religion.

“When government provides aid to religious schools and other entities, it must do so with safeguards ensuring that these institutions neither discriminate based on religion nor use the funds to inculcate religion,” Lambda’s lawyers wrote.

That was the “bad” LGBT result. The “good” came in an unsigned (per curiam or “of a court in unanimous agreement”) decision that included three dissents (Neil Gorsuch, joined by Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito) who appeared to object only to the method of the decision, not the result. The decision reversed an opinion of the Arkansas Supreme Court that had held that a legal spouse’s name could be omitted from her child’s birth certificate if she was not the biological mother or her “husband.”

The court issued the ruling without having heard arguments in the case.

The Pavan v. Smith opinion noted, “As this Court explained in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Constitution entitles same-sex couples to civil marriage ‘on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.’” Obergefell was the 2015 decision that said states could not ban same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses the same as opposite-sex couples.

The Arkansas case involved two same-sex couples who used anonymous sperm donors to conceive their children. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court had in June 2015 struck down bans against same-sex couples marrying, the Arkansas health department refused to issue the children’s birth certificates with the names of both their parents. The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld that refusal.

“The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision, we conclude, denied married same-sex couples access to the ‘constellation of benefits that the Stat[e] ha[s] linked to marriage’,” noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. It noted that benefits such as birth certificates were among those the high court explicitly included in its Obergefell decision.

Susan Sommer, associate legal director for Lambda Legal, called the Pavan decision a win “for same-sex couples and their families across the nation.”

“The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision flew in the face of Obergefell, undermining the dignity and equality of LGBT families and the government’s obligation to protect children,” said Sommer. “It was also an outlier; every other state that had considered this question got it right and ruled in favor of treating LGBT families equally. The historic ruling in Obergefell explicitly tells us that the spouses of birth parents, regardless if they are of the same sex or different sex, must be listed on the birth certificates of their children. Obergefell is crystal clear: marriage is marriage, and equal is equal. We congratulate our colleagues at National Center for Lesbian Rights on this great victory.”

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court announced today it will review a lower court ruling in Masterpiece Cake v. Colorado, a case involving a baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, claiming it violated his religious beliefs.

Wedding cake baker Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., agreed to sell various baked goods to a same-sex couple, but not a wedding cake. Phillips claimed his religious beliefs opposed marriage for same-sex couples.

The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which agreed that Phillips had violated the state law barring sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations.

Phillips appealed through the state court system, which ruled against him. The Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. But the Alliance Defending Freedom took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

The ADF’s petition to the high court argued that Phillips’ Christian belief “compels him to use his artistic talents to promote only messages that align with his religious beliefs.”

By ordering Phillips to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, says ADF, Colorado is violating the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and “targets Phillips’ religious beliefs about marriage. … ”

James Essex, head of the ACLU’s national LGBT project, said, “The law is squarely on [the same-sex couple’s] side because when businesses are open to the public, they’re supposed to be open to everyone.”

“While the right to one’s religious beliefs is fundamental, a license to discriminate is not,” said Essex.

The case is similar to one out of New Mexico in 2013, Elane Photography v. Wilcox. In that case, the photographer, also represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, said her religious objections to homosexuality should trump the state’s interests in eradicating discrimination against LGBT people. She said the First Amendment guarantee to freedom of speech should protect her ability to express her beliefs.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the photographer’s appeal.

The Masterpiece Cake case will likely be heard in October.

© 2017 by Keen News Service




Arkansas birth certificate law overturned

Posted on 26 Jun 2017 at 10:30am

Supreme-Court-building-permissionThe U.S. Supreme court struck down an Arkansas law that treated same-sex parents differently than opposite-sex parents on birth certificates.

Arkansas law puts the name of a husband on a birth certificate, even if he is not the biological father. But Arkansas did not allow a non-biological same-sex spouse to be listed on the birth certificate. Two lesbian couple sued when one of the spouses in each couple was not allowed on the birth certificate.

The decision opens by quoting the Obergefell marriage equality decision: “The Constitution entitles same-sex couples to civil marriage ‘on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.’” The ruling comes on the second anniversary of the marriage equality decision.

Despite marriage equality being the law thanks to the court’s decision issued two years ago this week, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Thomas and Alito also opposed the Obergefell ruling. Gorsuch, who was appointed this year, was not on the court for the earlier decision. Chief Justice John Roberts opposed Obergefell, but sided with the rest of the court on placing the nonbiological parent on the birth certificate.

Arkansas’ state Supreme Court upheld state law reasoning it doesn’t violate equal protection to acknowledge biology. Interesting when creationists suddenly believe in science, huh? Especially when husbands who aren’t the biological father are recognized as a parent.

Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Wyoming also have laws that recognize non-biological fathers but ignore same-sex spouses and are affected by this court ruling.

Because of the state marriage equality ruling in Texas, both same-sex parents names have been placed on birth certificates in the state since shortly after Obergefell.


Join the discussion on Fair Park’s future

Posted on 23 Jun 2017 at 1:50pm

The city wants your feedback on the future of Fair Park. City officials are holding a meeting on Monday, June 26, to discuss management and use of the park.

Other city parks are under public-private management, including Lee Park, Dallas Heritage Village, The Dallas Zoo and the Arboretum. The zoo has thrived since control changed, and has recorded several record-breaking days this year, as well as opened new exhibits including the new rhino environment. The Arboretum has also expanded since coming out from under control of the Park Department.

The meeting takes place on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the women’s Building at Fair Park. Take the Green Line to Fair Park and the Women’s Building is right inside the gate to the left. For more information, call 972-716-0070.


Ted Cruz opposes Republican healthcare bill

Posted on 22 Jun 2017 at 2:54pm

Cruz.TedAfter Republicans released their healthcare proposal, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he opposed the bill. Also opposing the bill are Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Republicans can lose just two votes to pass a bill, unless they have any Democratic support.

In a statement, they said, “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

The Republican bill eliminates the individual mandate to have insurance and the requirement for employers with 50 or more employees to provide insurance. The bill phases out a number of benefits including an annual health exam and maternity care. Medicaid would drastically be reduced.

The bill keeps the pre-existing conditions policy and allows parents to cover their children until age 26.

The Senate bill maintains subsidies to buy health insurance through 2019 and then eliminates them.

The prohibition on lifetime limits remains, but states are allowed to change that.


Callahan and Kleinman nominated anti-LGBT bigot

Posted on 22 Jun 2017 at 10:49am

Councilmen Lee Kleinman and Rick Callahan are the ones who nominated anti-LGBT bigot Vonciel Jones Hill to the DART board, according to a city document.

Callahan has voted against the LGBT community before. He teamed with Hill to vote against extending the definition of spouse to include same-sex partners who have been legally married for purposes of pension benefits. That vote came months before the U.S. supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

Kleinman, on the other hand, has led a fight on both the Dallas city employees pension board and the Dallas Police and Firefighters pension board to include same-sex spouses for benefit purposes.

Hill is one of 14 nominees including five incumbents. There are no term limits for DART board members and Dallas appoints seven members to the 14-member board.


Anti-LGBT bigot nominated for DART board

Posted on 21 Jun 2017 at 4:22pm

Vonciel Jones Hill

Vonciel Jones Hill, who spent her eight years on the Dallas City Council opposing LGBT equality, has been nominated to the DART board.

One job of the city council is to welcome people to the city. It costs nothing and brings in revenue. However, for eight years, Hill refused to sign a letter welcoming visitors to the city to Dallas Pride. That event brings thousands of people to the Dallas each year. Those visits generate revenue for the city.

Here’s one of an annual series of stories about Hill being the only council member to refuse to sign a letter welcoming visitors to Pride.

Several months before marriage equality went nationwide in 2015, the Dallas City Council voted to change the definition of spouse for pension purposes. Same-sex spouses would be treated equally with opposite-sex spouses for pensions. Hill voted to deny pensions to same-sex spouses of retired city employees.

In 2013, Hill protested a Greater Than AIDS billboard placed in her district, an area that is among the highest in HIV infections in North Texas.

She protested the billboard presenting gay African-American men as acceptable and said “engaging in such conduct presents health risks.”

Her objections sparked protests outside Abounding Prosperity. County Health Director Zach Thompson did a good job of refuting her. Does she understand that some DART employees have HIV and will she begin discriminating against those employees? Is the city council looking for a new DART board member whose presence will spark protests?

Hill may be a quite competent attorney and talk to her about any other subject and she comes across as bright and engaged. But her bigotry against the LGBT community disqualifies her as a board member to DART, which many people in the LGBT community rely on.


8 finalists considered for DPD chief

Posted on 21 Jun 2017 at 12:23pm

Eight finalists will be interviewed for the position of Dallas Police Chief to replace David Brown. Three are DPD deputy or assistant chiefs. Another is from the North Texas area and four others are from across the country.

The candidates are:

· Malik Aziz, deputy chief, Dallas Police Department

· Carmen Best, deputy chief, Seattle Police Department

· Steven Dye, chief, Grand Prairie Police Department

· U. Renee Hall, deputy chief, Detroit Police Department

· Michel Moore, first assistant chief, Los Angeles Police Department

· Luther Reynolds, assistant chief, Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department

· Gary Tittle, assistant chief, Dallas Police Department

· Rick Watson, deputy chief, Dallas Police Department

The three-day interview process takes place in July and a candidate reception will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 10 that is open to the community.

Of those local chiefs on the list, Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman pointed out that Aziz has worked in the command center for years during the annual Pride parade. He called Aziz inclusive and said he has worked well with the LGBT community.