Whatever happened to the ‘friendly skies’?

Posted on 14 Apr 2017 at 7:35am

Taking a look back at some of the airlines’ slogans that no longer ring true



David WebbNot so long ago, airlines portrayed air travel as fun and adventuresome — a big party in the sky. To bolster that image, the airlines adopted appropriate slogans in the 1940s to attract new passengers.

And for several decades, it was fun. But that’s all changed.

Considering what air travel has become — unpredictable, frustrating and even dangerous — I thought it might be fun to recall some of those slogans from days gone by. Based on personal experience, these slogans are jokes at best. Unless you are sitting in first class, your trip will likely be uncomfortable and anything but fun.

Going in alphabetical order, the first that comes to mind would be American Airlines. A few of the corporation’s slogans over the years were: “We’re American Airlines, doing what we do best;” “Fly the American Way,” and “We know why you fly. We’re American Airlines.”

The truth is, from what I hear from travel professionals, that American Airlines has become infamous for mechanical problems and the flight delays. Too few planes in the air to accommodate passengers during peak travel times. If one breaks down, everybody suffers.

Many of the American Airlines employees appear on the verge of a nervous breakdown every time a new event occurs. A six-hour delay caused me to miss a cruise ship in San Diego, and I left a lot of stressed-out ticket agents in my wake that day. If that’s the best, I sure don’t want to see the worst.

The now-defunct Braniff Airlines had a great slogan: “When you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Actually, I always loved flying back and forth to New York on Braniff, but that was decades ago. I guess all that catering to the passengers helped put them out of business.
British Airways’ promotions promise, “We’ll take more care of you,” and that seemed to be the case when I flew to London and Paris. Free cocktails flowed generously, and the flights were comfortable.

Then there is Delta: “We love to fly, and it shows;” “Delta is ready when you are,” and “You’ll love the way we fly.” Wrong, again. I didn’t like it much at all.

Because the airline charges for checked baggage these days, there is never enough room for all the carry-on bags in the overhead bins. About halfway through boarding, the remaining passengers are ordered to check their bags. Confusion, disagreements and flight delays seem to be the norm.

On my way to Barcelona, I had to change planes in Atlanta, and I didn’t think we would ever take off, but I allowed an extra day to catch my cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

To make matters worse, a traveling companion flew to Spain in a first-class pod that reclined into a bed. She arrived fresh and cheerful while I was a wreck.

And there was the flight I boarded for a trip to Southeast Asia on the also now-defunct Northwest Airlines. Their mottos were “Now you’re flying smart,” and “Some people just know how to fly.”

After an unscheduled layover in Tokyo and stops in San Francisco and Detroit on the return before finally getting back to Dallas, because of employee strikes, I felt anything but smart. My bags arrived in Dallas on another plane two days before I did.

Finally, we have United Airlines, which made the news recently after flight attendants had a doctor thrown off a plane to make room for a United employee. The doctor got beat up in the process.
United’s slogan? “Fly the friendly skies.”

I had my own experience with United in Athens last summer. A ticket agent told me the flight was overbooked, and I didn’t have a seat. I asked how that could be possible when I bought the ticket six months earlier.

She wound up calling me “rude,” but she got me on the plane. In fact, she again told me I was rude when she handed me the boarding pass. But at least she didn’t beat me up, and she appeared perfectly capable and willing to do just that.

So unless you can afford to fly first class, don’t trust any of those slogans. They really don’t move their tail for you like Continental Airlines promised in the 1970s.

David Webb is a veteran journalist with more than three decades of experience, including a stint as a staff reporter for Dallas Voice. He now lives on Cedar Creek Lake and writes for publications nationwide.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 14, 2017.


Gay men sent to ‘concentration camps’ in Chechnya

Posted on 13 Apr 2017 at 1:03pm

The city of Grozny in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Authorities have sent gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic to secret prisons that have been described as “concentration camps. (Photo by Alexxx1979; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Michael K. Lavers | Washington Blade
Courtesy of National Gay Media Association

A Russian LGBT advocacy group on Monday confirmed a report that gay men in Chechnya have been sent to secret prisons.

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, on April 4 reported gay men have been sent to the prisons — which reports have described as “concentration camps” — in the semi-autonomous Russian republic. It said one of them is located near Argun, a town that is roughly 12 miles east of the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Novaya Gazeta said authorities beat the men and tortured them with electric shocks.

The newspaper published pictures of two men who had bruises on their knees and buttocks. Novaya Gazeta said at least three men died inside the prisons.

The newspaper reported the family of one of the men who was arrested “had to urgently” sell their apartment and property to “saved their loved ones.” Gay men were also reportedly forced to leave Chechnya.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm that there is kind of a prison next to one Chechen city where homosexual men are detained,” Svetlana Zakharova of the Russian LGBT Network told the Washington Blade on Monday in response to the Novaya Gazeta article.

Novaya Gazeta on April 1 reported Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 men in “connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” The Russian newspaper said at least three of the men who were arrested were later killed.

The Russian LGBT Network has established a hotline that Chechens who feel threatened by the arrests can call anonymously. Zakharova told the Blade her organization has received more than 20 requests “for help.”

“The number of requests is growing,” she said. “We have already evacuated some people.”

Rex Tillerson urged to ‘speak out forcefully’ against arrests

The State Department last week described the arrests as “troubling” in a statement it sent to the Blade. It also urged the Russian government to investigate them.

A spokesperson for the Russian government has said the arrests are “a question of law enforcement agencies.” Ali Karimov, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, told a Russian government news agency in a statement that it is “impossible to prosecute those who are not in the republic.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to travel to Moscow on Tuesday.

Human Rights First and the Human Rights Campaign have both urged him to publicly condemn the arrests while in the Russian capital. OutRight Action International has also called upon international institutions and foreign governments “to pressure Russian authorities to intervene to immediately stop the abuse.”

“The Kremlin has dismissed these reports, saying that those who were suffering could ‘file official complaints and go to court,’ avenues that are highly unlikely to yield positive results in a region without a strong track record in the rule of law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a letter he sent to Tillerson on April 4. “I therefore write to urge you to make clear to your Russian counterparts that such lawless detentions, arrests, torture and murders are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Human Rights First has launched a petition that urges Tillerson to “speak out forcibly against these horrific human rights abuses during his upcoming visit.”

“The State Department has called on Russia to investigate these abuses, but Secretary of State Tillerson can do more,” wrote Human Rights First in an email it sent to supporters on Monday. “As he travels to Russia this week, he should publicly demand that the Russian government bring the perpetrators of these horrific acts to justice.”

“The United States must remain a beacon of hope and freedom — but it cannot do so if our leaders are silent in the face of gross human rights violations,” it added.

A State Department spokesperson on Monday declined to comment on the Novaya Gazeta report that Chechen authorities have sent gay men to “concentration camps.” The spokesperson instead referred the Blade to a statement that Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner released on April 7.

“We are increasingly concerned about the situation in the Republic of Chechnya, where there have been numerous credible reports indicating the detention of at least 100 men on the basis of their sexual orientation,” said Toner. “Some reports indicate many of those arrested have been tortured, in some cases leading to death. We categorically condemn the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis.”

“We are deeply disturbed by recent public statements by Chechen authorities that condone and incite violence against LGBTI persons,” he added. “We urge Russian federal authorities to speak out against such practices, take steps to ensure the release of anyone wrongfully detained, conduct an independent and credible investigation into these, reports and hold any perpetrators responsible.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade.


An unexpected moment on ‘Survivor’ sets the transphere ablaze

Posted on 13 Apr 2017 at 8:48am

Truth be told, I haven’t watched Survivor in years, though I did see the season with Jeff Varner. Varner is back for this season of repeat contestants, apparently, and last night — spoiler alert! — he was voted off by acclamation (no secret vote) when he asked a fellow contestant, Zeke Smith, “Why haven’t you told people you’re transgender?” It was something nobody seemed to know … certainly not the 8 million people who do still watch Survivor.

Varner, who is gay, initially defended himself by saying being in the closet that way was proof of deception and he was just trying to save himself — hey, all’s fair right? But the castaways turned on him like a collective snake, chastising Varner for the low blow of outing someone who was not himself ready to come out. During the closing confessional, he tearfully apologized, and Zeke has even written about the experience (remember, the show was filmed months ago in private). Sadly, it wasn’t much more of a teaching moment, as the moral outrage was quickly replaced by game play. Maybe the thoughtful reflection will come next week.


Take Back Oak Lawn: Man who confessed to attack in Oak Lawn is in the gayborhood

Posted on 12 Apr 2017 at 7:59pm

Timothy Box

Take Back Oak Lawn, the community-based organization founded in the wake of a string of violent attacks on gay men in the Oak Lawn area dating back to early September 2015, has posted an alert on Facebook warning that a man who has admitted to participating in at least one of the attacks is believed to be in the gayborhood today.

The man, identified as 40-year-old Timothy Box, reportedly told several witnesses that he participated in at least one of the attacks, and just today told a victim of one of the attacks that he (Box) was one of the attackers.

“Given the nature of the confession and [Box’s] pattern of violent criminal history spanning decades, Take Back Oak Lawn considers this man VERY DANGEROUS … . The attack he admitted to was very violent in nature and caused serious personal injury,” according to the Take Back Oak Lawn Facebook page.

Box is a white man, about 5’8″. Take Back Oak Lawn urged anyone who sees him in the Oak Lawn area to “call and report him as a suspicious person.”



New project tracks events affecting LGBT people around the world

Posted on 12 Apr 2017 at 4:04pm

The fountain at SUNY Albany that remains frozen 10 months of the year

I just got a press release from my college that they’re “hoping to do something about the plight of LGBTQ+ persons on a global scale.”

UAlbany — also known as SUNY Albany or State University of New York at Albany when I attended, or New York State College for Teachers at Albany when Harvey Milk attended, but should be known by its original name when it was founded in 1844, Albany Normal School, because the school is anything but normal — teamed up with a New York company Nowigence to create the new project.

So UAlbany is working with Nowigence to launch UAlbany LGBTQ+ Activity Tracker to gather data globally “and over time to map a pattern of positive and negative events concerning the LGBTQ+ population.”

From the press release:

The UAlbany LGBTQ+ News Activity Tracker was developed to track events (such as protests, violence, and efforts at legislation and protection) related to the LGBTQ+ community in various newspaper articles and media outlets worldwide. The tracker gathers data globally and over time to map a pattern of positive and negative activity trends concerning the LGBTQ+ population.

The tracker provides people around the world with a one-site stop where they can see the daily activity by governmental and non-governmental actors (reported by newspapers), both positive and negative related to the LGBTQ+ community from protests to repression and violence to protection.

The laws vary widely from nation to nation, and for LGBTQ+ individuals traveling to countries where rights are restricted, they may endanger their lives unknowingly. Through its proprietary monitoring system, Nowigence can provide real-time, useful data to help keep people safe.

It does this by monitoring more than 60,000 public and private sources, delivering focused and meaningful data. Far more than a news service, Nowigence seeks to significantly change market intelligence from an abstract, subjective and fragmented guessing game, into a clear, objective, evidence based science supporting strategic and tactical decision-making.

The project is headed by Victor Asal, co-author of the book, Legal Path Dependence and the Long Arm of the Religious State: Sodomy Provisions and Gay Rights Across Nations and Over Time, which examines how and why countries enact laws that criminalize same-sex activities and how countries change these laws.

And a couple of notes about SUNY Albany: Yes, we’ve always had an identity crisis and alumni never adopt the current name of the school. The school always touts that our most famous alums are two gay men — Harvey Milk and Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked. And what do Harvey Milk and I have in common? In addition to both going to Albany, we both moved from Albany to Dallas. (Harvey hated Dallas, though, and left after about six months).


AP Briefs: Gay basher sentenced; churches fight denominations over LGBT issues; more

Posted on 12 Apr 2017 at 3:17pm

Here are a few briefs from the Associated Press:


Gay basher sentenced in Idaho

Convicted gay basher Kelly Schneider

BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho man has been sentenced 28 years in prison for his role in the death of a gay man.

Third District Judge Thomas J. Ryan sentenced 23-year-old Kelly Schneider on Monday, April 10. In January, Schneider pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in state court in the death of 49-year-old Steven Nelson.

Schneider has also pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime. He will be sentenced for that charge on April 26. The hate-crime charge was filed in federal court because Idaho doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity in its malicious harassment law.

According to court documents, Schneider acknowledged he lured Nelson to a remote area and used steel-toed boots to kick Nelson 20 to 30 times while Nelson begged for his life. Nelson was left alone in the isolated wilderness area and died after finding help at a home about half-mile away.


Church facing excommunication over anti-LGBT stance

CALVERT CITY, Ky. — A Presbyterian congregation is facing excommunication and has been asked to vacate its church after a divergence with the national church on same-sex marriage.

The Paducah Sun reports that the First Presbyterian Church of Calvert City requested dismissal from its denomination following the changed description of marriage issued by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2015. In response, the Presbytery of Western Kentucky, which serves as the regional governing body, has asked the congregation to vacate the church by April 19.

Clerk of session Paul Ambler, whose wife is the pastor, said that the congregation supports civil rights but does not wish to bring secular practices into a church context.

Both sides have retained counsel, although no legal action has yet been filed.


Indonesian couple faces caning for gay sex

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Two men in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province each face up to 100 strokes of the cane after neighbors reported them to Islamic religious police for having gay sex.

Marzuki, the Shariah police’s chief investigator, said Saturday, April 8, that if found guilty, the men will be the first to be caned for gay sex under a new code implemented two years ago.

Residents in a neighborhood of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, reported the men, aged 23 and 20, to police on March 29, said Marzuki, who goes by a single name.

He said the men had “confessed” to being a gay couple and that this was supported by video footage taken by a resident that has been circulating online. It shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practice Shariah law, which was a concession made by the national government in 2006 to end a years-long war with separatists. A Shariah code implemented two years ago allows up to 100 lashes for morality offenses including gay sex. Caning is also a punishment for adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers.

Marzuki said residents in Banda Aceh’s Rukoh neighborhood were suspicious of the two men because they often seemed to be intimate, and had set out to catch them having sex.

“Based on our investigation, testimony of witnesses and evidence, we can prove that they violated Islamic Shariah law and we can take them to court,” Marzuki said.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but a judicial review being considered by the Constitutional Court is seeking to criminalize sex outside marriage and sex between people of the same gender.


Nebraska Supreme Court slams anti-LGBT foster, adoption policies

OMAHA, Neb. — The Nebraska Supreme Court says a former state policy banning same-sex couples from serving as foster parents or adopting wards of the state was akin to hanging a “Whites Only” sign on a hiring-office door.

The court on April 7 ruled that a judge’s 2015 ruling striking down the policy will stand.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by three same-sex couples in 2013. A judge ruled in the couples’ favor, declaring as unconstitutional the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services policy.

The state’s high court rejected state attorneys’ arguments that Lancaster County District Judge John Colburn’s finding should be reversed because DHHS had quietly stopped enforcing the ban in 2012, making the matter moot.

Its ruling slammed the 1995 administrative policy, which remained on the agency’s website until February 2015, as evidence “that `heterosexuals only’ need apply to be foster parents.”

“It is legally indistinguishable from a sign reading `Whites Only’ on the hiring-office door,” Justice John Wright wrote.

The court also upheld an order for the state to pay nearly $174,000 in plaintiffs’ legal fees.

“There are tens of thousands of LGBT people who call the Cornhusker State home and thousands of Nebraska children in need of a foster care placement,” said Danielle Conrad, executive director of the Nebraska American Civil Liberties Union, which was among the groups representing the couples.

“This victory means that Nebraska’s motto of `Equality before the Law’ rings out more truly for all in our state.”

Asked why the state appealed if it wasn’t seeking to reinstate the ban, the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office replied in a written statement that “there were legitimate jurisdictional questions that needed to be considered by the court. The court has ruled.” It did not elaborate.


N.C. church kicks out Scouts for accepting trans members

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — North Carolina church leaders have told a Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack they’re no longer welcome to use their facilities as a home base after the Boy Scouts of America decided in January to allow transgender boys.

The Charlotte Observer reports Coddle Creek Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Mooresville booted both Troop 169 and Pack 169. Mooresville is about 25 miles north of Charlotte.

Pastor Andrew Shoger issued a statement saying that after 10 years, the church decided it “cannot partner with an organization that embraces what God’s Word clearly labels as sin.”

Shoger said the church would let the troops stay until they could find a new home.

The North Carolina Values Coalition has lobbied churches to abandon their Boy Scout troops for “faith friendly alternatives.”


911 service improving in Dallas

Posted on 12 Apr 2017 at 11:40am

With the exception of early Saturday morning, April 8, when all of the city’s sirens went off at midnight, response time for 911 calls has improved.

My 911 call in March that remained unanswered for 20 minutes and resulted in the death of my husband happened on a Monday night.

On Monday, April 10, 911 call takers answered 5,769 calls. Of those 94.95 percent were answered within 10 seconds. The average call answer time was 2 seconds.

From City Manager A.C. Broadnax, here are other call response times:

Sunday, April 9: 911 call takers answered 6,185 calls for service. The service level was 87.26 percent and the average call answer time was 00:04 seconds. Several incidents resulted in multiple calls; major incidents included the Mega March, multiple accidents and random gunfire calls.

Saturday, April 8: The emergency siren malfunction that occurred on first watch impacted the entire day’s service level. The siren malfunction resulted in 4,413 calls received from 11:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. There were several 15-minute intervals with high call volume — 578, 677, 797, 702 and 493 calls received. (Typical call volume during these intervals is 70 to 90 calls). Hang-ups were printed and calls were returned by other communications employees so call takers could answer live calls faster. The longest hold time was 6:05 between midnight and 12:15.

911 call takers answered 9,996 calls for service. The service level was 55.15 percent. Average call answer time was 0.52 seconds. Multiple major incidents occurred on third watch, including shootings and a major freeway accident with an overturned vehicle.

Friday, April 7: We did not experience any call spikes. 911 call takers answered 6,150 calls for service. The service level was 96.80 percent and the average call answer time was 0.01 seconds. No phone issues.


N.C. Republicans defy SCOTUS with bill outlawing marriage equality

Posted on 11 Apr 2017 at 10:10pm

North Carolina State Rep. Larry Pittman

Disappointed that HB 2 has been repealed (not really) and the NCAA is no longer boycotting their state, and worried that they might lose the title of biggest state legislator assholes in the country (I mean, we do have Dan Patrick and his Tea Baggers here in Texas), North Carolina Republican have introduced a bill that would outlaw same-sex marriage in North Carolina and refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Via HB 780, the state would declare that the federal government is not legally authorized to regulate marriage, according to WRAL.com. That would leave the state’s 2012 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in effect.

Apparently, the Supreme Court severely overstepped its bounds with the Obergefell marriage equality ruling in June 2015. But no worries, the North Carolina GOP is here to set them straight. North Carolina doesn’t have to pay any attention to that silly SCOTUS ruling on marriage because that ruling “exceeds the authority of the Court relative to the decree of Almighty God that ‘a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24, ESV) and abrogates the clear meaning and understanding of marriage in all societies throughout prior history.”

(“In all societies throughout prior history”? I think they forgot to read some of their history books.)

The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep. Larry Pittman, Christian minister from Cabarrus who refused to comment on the bill he introduced. Rep. Michael Speciale from Craven is the second sponsor. He first tried to deny that SB 780 would outlaw marriage equality, then said  that since the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage remains in place lawmakers should “do something about it.”

Speciale then refused to say what that something might be and refused an interview request because reporters misrepresented his positions in other stories.

Pittman and Speciale have filed similarly ridiculous bills in previous legislative sessions, claiming that the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives the state authority to refuse “to recognize or comply with federal laws or decisions state leaders deem excessive or unconstitutional,” WRAL noted.

There are at least a few voices of reason in North Carolina. Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the North Carolina ACLU, called SB 780 a “half-baked legal theor[y],” and pointed out that marriage equality is “the law of the land in North Carolina and the entire nation.”

“This bill is absurd, unconstitutional and further proof that some North Carolina legislators remain committed to discriminating against LGBT people and their families,” Gillooly said in a statement. “North Carolina lawmakers cannot defy the U.S. Supreme Court based on their extreme personal views.”


Homophobic so-called pastor convicted on child molestation charges

Posted on 11 Apr 2017 at 4:04pm

Kenneth Adkins

You know what they say about karma: She is a bitch. And today karma bitch-slapped so-called pastor Kenneth Adkins smack across his face.

Adkins, of Brunswick, Ga., gained notoriety last June 13, the day after 49 people were murdered and more than 50 others wounded in the attack on Orlando LGBT bar Pulse, when he tweeted: “been through so much with the Jacksonville homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!”

The next day Adkins claimed that his tweet wasn’t referring to those killed and wounded at Pulse, but instead to the LGBT community of Jacksonville, Fla., and others in that city who were advocating for the expansion of the city’s nondiscrimination laws to include protections for LGBT people. (Adkins had served as a panelist the previous December when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry convened community forums to discuss LGBT people to the anti-discrimination law in Jacksonville.)

Of course, the “they got what they deserved” tweet came on the heels of a string of other anti-LGBT tweets by Adkins earlier that day, including one that declared: “Dear Gays, Go sit down somewhere. I know y’all want some special attention; yall are sinners who need Jesus. This was an attack on America.”

And the next day, Adkins sent Curry an email claiming the “they got what they deserved” tweet was “strictly meant for the Jacksonville group that has made my life a living hell since I served on the panel and opposed the HERO.” He added that he and his family “are the victims here when you understand what I have had to endure for standing up for the Church during the discussions.”

What the fuck ever.

As it turns out, Kenneth Adkins isn’t just a hater, he is a child molester, too.

Last August, just two months after his hateful tweets about the Pulse victims, Adkins was arrested on charges that he molested a boy and a girl at his church, both aged 15 at the time, in 2010.

It’s a sordid and convoluted tale, with the young man — now a specialist in the Army, stationed at Fort Leavenworth — coming forward last year to tell authorities that Adkins liked to watch him and his then-girlfriend have sex in the church office, at the beach and in Adkins’ car. Adkins and his attorney claimed the young man — who married another man last summer — was just trying to get back at Adkins for the things he said about the victims of the Pulse massacre, and for a loan the young man took out for Adkins and which Adkins never fully repaid.

Adkins’ trial started Monday, April 3. Today (Tuesday, April 11), the jury took about an hour to return a guilty verdict on all eight charges. His sentencing is set for April 25 and Adkins, now 57 and with a prior record of other crimes, faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.

Adkins’ attorney will be filing a motion for a new trial. And since the young woman in this story has steadfastly denied that any of the things the young man alleges ever happened, Adkins may get his new trial and he may eventually be acquitted.

And Adkins has also claimed to have a change of heart about LGBT people, telling a reporter for the Florida Times-Union just before the trial started that he now believes that everyone, including LGBT people, should be treated with dignity. He told the reporter, “I realized what I was doing was so anti-Bible — which was not loving people for who they are.”

Again, what the fuck ever.

For now, despite his claims of innocence and a change of heart, despite his appeals, he remains a convicted child molester. And karma continues to smile.


‘Religious refusal’ one step closer to passing the Senate

Posted on 11 Apr 2017 at 2:42pm

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller

The Texas Senate, which has already approved Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s ridiculous and discriminatory bathroom bill — SB 6 — today (Tuesday April 11) approved, on second reading, SB 522, which would allow Texas county clerks and other public officials and employees the right not to issue a marriage license or conduct, as part of their official civil responsibilities, a marriage ceremony to which they have religious objections.

The bill, introduced by Granbury Republican Brian Birdwell, still must pass the Senate on third reading before being sent to the House.

While the bill was obviously intended to let right-wing county clerks and other right-wing public officials defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling on marriage equality, as the Texas Freedom Network pointed out last month, the measure “would allow public officials to discriminate against virtually anyone.”

Today, TFN President Kathy Miller issued this statement after the Senate vote:

“The Senate under Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s leadership has clearly become the center of intolerance and discrimination in Texas government. … [The Senate] today said it has no problem with public officials picking and choosing which taxpayers they will serve. This bill opens the door to taxpayer-funded discrimination against virtually anyone who doesn’t meet a public official’s personal moral standards. That means same-sex couples, divorced people, women who have children outside of marriage and many others could be treated like second-class citizens by the very people whose salaries they pay with their tax dollars. That’s discrimination, not religious freedom.”

Miller noted there are 17 so-called “religious refusal” bills that have been filed in this legislative session.

Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, issued this statement:

“Religious liberty is an organizing principle of American democracy and the birthright of every Texan. Our constitution and state laws already protect that right. Redefining religious liberty will allow people to take advantage and claim that their religion gives them the right to ignore existing laws or not perform the duties of their job. SB 522 promotes taxpayer-funded discrimination and would allow for unequal treatment under the law. In the end, this is not about religious liberty; it’s about discrimination. A clerk or government official should not be exempted from their duties simply because they do not share another person’s religious belief.”

Today’s vote was 21-10. I haven’t found a breakdown yet telling who voted how, but at least one Democrat voted for the bill.