Articles written by out of state pundits mostly show they have no idea how Texas politics works

Posted on 14 May 2015 at 3:56pm

CapitolOn my Facebook page, I asked friends to stop sending me articles written by out-of-state pundits about what’s going on in the Texas Legislature. They don’t understand how the our legislature works.

Here’s an example of a New York writer who has no clue what’s going on behind the scenes this week in the Texas Capitol:

“Any of the more than 20 anti-LGBT bills that get out of committee in either legislative chamber — and a few have — will easily pass in the Republican-dominated conservative legislature and be signed into law by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott,” Michangelo Signorile wrote in Huffington Post yesterday (Wednesday, May 13). That story was the bold banner headline in the Gay Voices section.

Actually, one bill got out of committee and onto the House agenda. Several got committee hearings. A few passed out of committee. One made it to the House floor. ONE.

The other 20 are dead. D-E-A-D.

That one bill that made it to the House floor must pass by tonight or it, too, is D-E-A-D dead. After that, we need to watch out for insidious amendments.

Rep. Celia Israel, backed by the entire Democratic caucus, is trying to kill HB 4105. Equality Texas and former Rep. Glenn Maxey are working closely with her today. They’ll use a number of maneuvers and tactics. No need to tip anyone’s hand. But the idea that any bill that gets out of committee will “easily pass in the Republican-dominated conservative legislature” is nonsense.

If that bill passes, it will only be after as much effort on the part of LGBT opponents as the work being done by LGBT advocates.

And if the law passes, it’s so unconstitutional, it will never go into effect.

The law attempts to protect Texas from having to obey a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. Well, if you have to throw out some red meat to the tea party, you might as well toss them this one — the most outrageous bill they could come up with, even if it’s completely illegal.

If it comes to this, the question that the Supreme Court will hear will be whether a state can opt out of a Supreme Court ruling by simply passing a law. The LGBT-rights issue behind it won’t even be a factor.

Signorile concludes his story by saying, “What we have in Texas is a five-alarm fire ready to engulf its LGBT citizens and threaten their rights for years to come.”

In Texas, we’re even more anxious about the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage than people in 37 marriage equality states — but wow. I’m about to be engulfed in flames, huh? Maybe Obama should invade the state and put us under U.S. law.


UPDATE: Child welfare religious discrimination amendment pulled but bill remains

Posted on 14 May 2015 at 11:45am

Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney.

An amendment to an agency’s sunset bill deemed harmful by various LGBT advocacy groups was pulled by its author.

Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, attached the amendment to HB 2433 by Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Mesquite. Similar to his HB 3864, it would have allowed child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBT people as well as those of other faiths, interfaith couples and anyone else to whom a provider objects for religious reasons

HB 3864, however, is still scheduled for a floor vote.

According to the ACLU of Texas, that would weaken the state’s child welfare system by potentially further shrinking the pool of qualified parents who can provide a safe, loving home for children.

Despite the fact that reparative — or conversion — therapy been resoundingly discredited by most health care professionals, Sanford’s amendment would authorize child welfare service providers to force LGBT minors into such programs to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

HB 3495 by Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, which would bar the practice, has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Other measure targeting LGBT Texans has already passed key hurdles in the Legislature. Today is the last day HB 4105, which would bar public officials from granting or recognizing marriage licenses for same-sex couples even if the Supreme Court overturns the state’s ban on such unions, qualifies for a House. If it fails to receive a vote before midnight it will be considered dead according to House rules.

SB 2065, which deals with clergy performing marriage ceremonies, passed the Senate this week on 21-10 vote. Its companion bill, HB 3567, also by Rep. Sanford, scheduled for a House vote today.


H4PJ and DCYD plan trip to Islamic Center

Posted on 14 May 2015 at 10:28am

Islamic Center IrvingTwo groups had the same idea so they’re visiting together. After the attack in Garland, Hope for Peace and Justice and Dallas County Young Democrats wanted to show solidarity with the local Muslim community so they decided to visit the Islamic Center in Irving.

Hope for Peace and Justice also planned the visit as part of its exploration of other faith traditions.

Dallas County Young Democrats wanted to show solidarity after Irving passed an anti-Islamic ordinance that prohibits Sharia Law from being implemented in the city.

After the 11 a.m. service at Cathedral of Hope, people will go out to lunch before heading over to Irving. Anyone interested in visiting the Islamic Center can meet at the church and join the group for lunch or meet in Irving at 2:15 p.m.

Islamic Center of Irving, 2555 Esters Road, Irving at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 17.


Eureka Springs votes for equality

Posted on 13 May 2015 at 11:04am

Eureka SpringsBy almost a 3-to-1 margin, voters in Eureka Springs, Ark. voted to uphold the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance passed by the city council in February, according to the Eureka Springs Independent.

The ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The chamber of commerce president campaigned for repeal and was fired from his position.

The Arkansas legislature passed a state law that would prevent cities from protecting its citizens with nondiscrimination ordinances and goes into effect in July.


UNT looking for participants for Gray Pride study

Posted on 13 May 2015 at 10:11am

UNTUniversity of North Texas’ Center for Psychosocial Health Research is looking for 120 more participants in its Project Gray Pride.

A research study, which examines health and psychosocial issues in LGBT folks 50+ years old, is looking for participants. The study is intended to advance research on health and quality of life of the aging LGBT community (50+ years), an under-represented group in current research.

We hope to identify needs for the community in the areas of mental health, healthcare, social services, and legislation. All information we collect is kept strictly confidential, and the results of our study are only published/presented in aggregate.

Participants in the study meet with research assistants from UNT’s Center for Psychosocial Health Research. Participants will meet team members in public places appropriate for the task that are geographically convenient to participants.

You don’t necessarily have to go up to Denton to participate. Resource Center is providing use of their meeting rooms to conduct surveys. Surveys are conducted in person on a laptop, which usually takes about an hour and a half to complete. All participants receive a $25 cash incentive for their participation.

If you are interested in participating, please contact: Bart Poché, Center for Psychosocial Health Research, University of North Texas. 972-333-3407.


Quinones named new chef at Kitchen LTO

Posted on 13 May 2015 at 9:34am

Anastacia Quinones

Anastacia Quinones, the former chef at Komali, won the polling among supporters of Casie Caldwell’s Kitchen LTO in Trinity Groves to become the fifth person to lead the stage there with her twist on Mexican cuisine.

The current chef, Blythe Beck, had two four-month terms leading the “permanent pop-up” concept, but Quinones will actually be on board for a full six-month stint, running June 2 through December.

At the same time, artist Crimson Shults was selected as the winning artist, whose work will establish the decor in the restaurant.

Beck’s last night there will be the end of May.


UPDATE: Needle exchange pilot program bill passes House

Posted on 12 May 2015 at 8:18pm

texas-capitolThe Texas House voted overwhelmingly today (Tuesday, May 12) to support a pilot needle exchange program aimed at slowing the spread of HIV and other diseases in select Texas counties.

HB 65 by Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, passed on a bipartisan 92-37 vote with 2 representatives voting present. The program would create test sites for an anonymous exchanges in Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Neuces, Travis and Webb Counties.

“These Needle Exchange Programs have proven successful throughout the nation and have recently been enacted in Kentucky and Indiana. Charitable and faith based organizations have tried establishing these programs in Texas for years, and it is about time the government allows these organizations to help their communities without fear of arrest or government interference,” McClendon said in a statement to the Voice.

The bill would not use state money to establish the program, instead relying on not for profit groups to take on the efforts without fear of prosecution.

When Legacy Community Health’s Januari Leo learned it pass today, she said she was floored. “It was unexpected. We had been following other bills,” she said by phone. Having followed the fight for needle exchange bills in their various iterations since 2003.

The bill has faced an uphill climb in the Legislature in the past. Leo said the bill nearly passed in the 2009 session. Last session right wing groups used it as bait to defeat many of its supporters in the House and Senate. Losing key Republican support left advocates thinking it was all but dead.

Like Leo, Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell was surprised. He also welcomed the vote. “This is a welcome move by the House to create this pilot program. We’ve seen elsewhere that needle exchanges are effective to reduce the spread of communicable diseases like HIV. It’s a common sense policy and good for public health. I hope it finds support in the state senate.”

The bill’s future in the state senate is uncertain following the defeat last year of its chief Republican supporter former State Sen. Bob Deuell of Greenville by Sen. Bob Hall. The bill had no Senate companion this year.

To Stephen Pace of AIDS Interfaith Network, even if it just won in the House, the time for a needle exchange is still long overdue. “We need needle exchanges in the arsenal. It is part of the comprehensive approach to HIV. The struggle is really about judgment about drug use, not HIV prevention – and we have been involved in the struggle for 30 years,” AIDS Interfaith’s Steven Pace wrote via text message. ”It’s time for Texas to get on board with all the real ways of doing HIV prevention.”


Rachel Potter takes on the hypocrites with ‘Jesus and Jezebel’

Posted on 12 May 2015 at 3:41pm
Screen shot 2015-05-12 at 3.30.18 PM

Rachel Potter

A lot of folks think that country-western music is still a stronghold of homophobia, and in some ways, it might be.

But not completely. I mean, way back in the 1990s, C&W superstar Garth Brooks was speaking out for LGBT folks in his song “We Shall Be Free.” He also appeared at the Equality Rocks held in conjunction with the 2000 LGBT march on Washington. In recent years, C&W stars Chely Wright and Ty Herndon have come out. And then there are queens of country, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, who have both been vocal in their support for LGBT equality.

And you can add an up-and-coming star to that list, too. Rachel Potter has just released a new song and video called “Jesus and Jezebel,” in which she explores not only her personal issues with her Southern Baptist upbringing, but calls out  church folk for their less-than-loving ways toward LGBT people.

Potter tells ETOnline: “”I think that country music listeners are becoming more and more open minded every day, as is the rest of the country. I think a lot of people may misconstrue the song to say I don’t believe in what the bible says or like, ‘gay sex for everybody’ but that’s not what I’m trying to say, and I’ll make that as clear as possible. All I’m trying to say is that I think Jesus loves us all the same.”


Fashion Optical celebrating new collections with style

Posted on 12 May 2015 at 2:10pm
Kandy Cayne

Kandy Cayne

Fashion Optical, the eyewear shop at 3430 Oak Lawn Ave., is announcing the arrival of five new eyewear collections with a grand Spring Launch Party Friday, May 15, from 7-10 p.m. at the store.

The event will include performances by Kandy Cayne, Nicole O’Hara Munro and Jade Summers, the music of The Brick DJ Brandon Moses and an exhibit of cutting-edge artwork by Zachariah B. Adams.

Admission is free. But seating is limited and reservations are required. So go here by Wednesday, May 13 to reserve your seat.


God hath wrought floods, earthquakes and tornadoes because she’s pissed

Posted on 12 May 2015 at 1:26pm

Angela Hunt Hill BridgeHave you wondered why earthquakes are occurring regularly in Dallas County, but they’re not happening in the city of Dallas?

Let me see if I can explain it in terms that people who watch The 700 Club or attend Prestonwood Baptist Church can understand.

God is pissed at all this anti-gay legislation and is sending a message.

So earthquakes have hit Irving, which recently passed an anti-Sharia Law ordinance; Farmers Branch, which has been trying for years to get rid of its Hispanic population by passing ordinances allowing landlords not to rent to them; and University Park, which is, well, just a red hole surrounded by a sea of Dallas blue.

But, please note, no earthquakes have hit the city of Dallas.

Oh, we feel them. I was home a few weeks ago when one of the bigger quakes hit Irving and it felt like a car crashed into my building. But I realized what it was and just said, “God must be pissed at Irving again.”

While the Texas Legislature spends its time debating a bill to stop state and county officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, God destroyed a town in the middle of right-wing East Texas, nearly wiping it off the map with a tornado.

How did the Legislature respond? Not even a short break in their serious anti-gay deliberations to send the town some aid.

Better than the response in early April to super-sized hail. After some severe hailstorms, the Senate passed a bill that would limit insurance claims for hail damage, limit the time to file a claim and increase penalties for inflating claims. After all, if your house is hit by hail, it’s your own damn fault.

And what’s with all the rain?

Here in Dallas, the rain has served as a reminder that it’s not a good idea to put a highway in a river. But the flood waters have mostly just stayed between the levees until they’re safely out of Dallas where they’ve flooded homes across our red counties to the south. Gee, sorry that’s happened Ellis and Navarro counties, but we tried to warn you. Go to church this Sunday and maybe your pastor will explain to you that God doesn’t like homophobia.

Unfortunately, more torrential rain is predicted for later in the week after the Love Your Neighbor Unless He’s Gay bill passes.

Why is all this happening?

Because God is pissed.