Wendy Davis honored by Stonewall Dems before heading back to Austin

State Sen. Wendy Davis addreses protesters at a rally in Austin Monday. (Texas Democratic Party via Facebook)

State Sen. Wendy Davis addreses protesters at a rally in Austin on Monday. (Texas Democratic Party via Facebook)

Thousands of opponents of anti-abortion legislation stormed the state Capitol Monday to protest Republican-backed legislation reintroduced during the Legislature’s second special session.

The legislation would ban abortions after 20 weeks and close the majority of abortion clinics in the state that provide women with other services.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has led the charge against the legislation since her 13-hour filibuster last week killed the legislation. Gov. Rick Perry then called a second special session to address abortion and transportation that started Monday.

Davis, who has been a champion for LGBT rights, was recognized for her hard work in Austin over the weekend at Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats’ Spring Extravaganza. About 150 people attended to hear Congressman Marc Veasey and state Rep. Chris Turner address key issues facing the state and nation.

Davis spoke briefly about her determination last week and the need to continue to fight in the weeks to come in the special session after she was presented with Tarrant Stonewall’s Hero Award.

Stonewall President Felipe Guttierez said the group voted on award recipients before Davis’ filibuster but said it demonstrated her commitment to her constituents and to Texas.

“I think it only added more to why she’s a champion for Senate District 10 and for women and our community,” he said.

Former Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Maxwell received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Lisa Thomas received the Member of the Year Award.

—  Anna Waugh

Reaching industrial-strength level of crazy

As right-wing anti-LGBT rhetoric  gets further ‘out there,’ we must step up to counter it

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association

 

Hardy Haberman
Flagging Left

I guess it wasn’t enough that the right-wing crazies tried to equate homosexuality with pedophilia, now they have come up with the argument that giving LGBT people equal rights is an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Funny, I never remember asking anyone to change their religion or to stop speaking, no matter how crazy they are.

I hold freedom of speech very near and dear to my heart. In fact it is one of my core values.

And religious freedom? Well you have the right to preach and believe anything you want, until you begin advocating violence against other citizens.

That is where the whole issue of LGBT rights breaks down for the far right. If they are not “free” to advocate outright physical assaults on LGBT Americans, they somehow feel it is impinging on their freedom.

Does this sound a lot like the anti-abortion crowd who advocate murdering doctors and blowing up clinics? Though they would be the first to deny it, they are cut from the same cloth.

Funny how these same folks are among the first to point fingers at all Muslims and cry “Terrorists!” In fact our friend from north of the border, Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma, has actually said that LGBT people are more dangerous than terrorists.

I really see all this as another attempt to re-frame the issue of LGBT rights by the right wing. They know that opinions in America are changing, and as a recent poll showed, even here in Texas an overwhelming majority of registered voters support expanded civil rights for LGBT Texans.

It is a rising tide and it scares them, and so they crank up the rhetoric.

Bryan Fischer, a mouthpiece of the American Family Association drove the point home with this gem delivered at the recent AFA-sponsored Values Voters Summit, attended by all of the main Republican presidential candidates:

“I believe we need a president who understands that just as Islam represents the greatest long-range threat to our liberty, so the homosexual agenda represents the greatest immediate threat to every freedom and right that is enshrined in the First Amendment. It’s a particular threat to religious liberty… .”

Now, if you have trouble understanding this strange equation, “LGBT rights = no religious liberty,” then let me explain the twisted logic.

The far right believes:

• We are a Christian nation, but only the fundamentalist, fire-breathing born-again variety of Christian.

• “Free speech” means “the right to attack, abuse and in general deny rights to anyone other than predominately white Christian Americans.” (See above for definition of “Christian.”)

• Limiting the ability to discriminate against LGBT people, particularly in areas that involve legal representation and equal rights, is a limit on free speech.

• Granting LGBT people equal legal rights “will end Western Civilization.” (That is a quote from Liberty Council’s Mat Staver.)

And so with this kind of logic it’s easy to see how we LGBT folks are such dangerous threats.

Now, take it a few steps further — which Bryan Fischer is more than willing to do — and go after the recent “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. Fischer’s vivid imagination comes up with this whopper:

“And so, I’m predicting that things are about to get very ugly in the United States military for people of faith. We are going to see principle-driven officers, one after another, are going to become victims of systematic hate crimes. This is going to be a pogrom; this is going to be virtual genocide, military genocide, career genocide for people of faith in the military, perpetrated by the homosexual lobby.”

Now we have indeed reached the level of “industrial-strength crazy,” and it’s time we take a stand against it.

First of all, the idea that the American Family Association (a recognized hate group) can actually somehow have a lock on what it means to be “people of faith” is beyond laughable. It’s time liberal, progressive Christians came out of the closet and began reclaiming the word “Christian,” before it is too late.

Secondly, the idea that all the major candidates for the GOP presidential race showed up at an event staged by a hate group should put to bed forever the idea that the Republican Party is a big tent, unless that tent is for a fundamentalist revival.

Third, it’s time we realized that not only are these folks nutty, they are dangerous, and though it is easy to laugh at them, we need to take them seriously.

To do otherwise is just plain crazy.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

What’s Brewing: Hearing today in suit over Perry’s day of prayer; parole fought for gay man’s killer

Several elected officials have joined the fight to keep Jon Buice behind bars for the 1991 hate crime murder of gay banker Paul Broussard, pictured.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A federal judge will hear arguments today in a lawsuit that seeks to bar Texas Gov. Rick Perry from promoting or participating in his anti-gay day of prayer on Aug. 6 in Houston. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics that contends the governor’s involvement in the event violates the separation of church and state. Meanwhile, it’s still unclear what Perry’s role will be in the day of prayer or whether he’ll speak at the gathering.

2. In any case, Gov. Perry appears to be sticking to his position that issues like marriage equality and abortion should be left up to the states under the 10th amendment. Perry said Wednesday that if Roe. v. Wade were overturned, he’d support allowing states to legalize abortion. Last week Perry said he’s “fine” with New York’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Both stances have landed him in hot water with social conservatives. “You either have to believe in the 10th amendment or you don’t,” Perry said. “You can’t believe in the 10th Amendment for a few issues and then something that doesn’t suit you, you say, ‘Well we really rather not have that state decide that.’”

3. Several elected officials from the Houston area have joined the fight to keep Jon Buice behind bars for the 1991 hate crime murder of gay banker Paul Broussard, The Houston Chronicle reports. Buice, who’s served 20 years of his 45-year sentence, was granted parole earlier this month and is set to be released sometime in October. But elected officials have joined Broussard’s mother, LGBT advocates and others in calling on parole commissioners to revisit their decision to release Buice. Those who’ve written letters to the the state parole board include Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, state Sens. John Whitmire and Rodney Ellis, and state Reps. Jessica Farrar and Garnet Coleman. To submit your own letter opposing Buice’s release, go here.

—  John Wright

‘Traditional values’ take a hit in the polls

HIGH AND LOW | Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, right, had the highest favorability ratings of possible Republican presidential candidates in a recent CNN poll. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, had the highest ‘unfavorability’ rating.

Percentage of people saying government should ‘promote traditional values’ drops below 50 percent for the 1st time

LISA KEEN | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

“Traditional values” didn’t do too well in the latest CNN poll of American adults.

For the first time in the 18 years since the question was first asked, the percentage of adults thinking that the government should “promote traditional values” has dropped below 50 percent.

Of the 1,015 adults surveyed between June 3 and 7, 46 percent said the government should promote traditional values, but 50 percent said government should “not favor any set of values.” Four percent had no opinion.

The survey results, which were released Sunday, June 12, had a margin of error of plus or minus three points.

Just last year, 53 percent of respondents said government should promote “traditional values” and, according to CNN, past polls have shown support as high as 59 percent (in October 2001 and January 1996).

But since the question was first asked, in 1993, responses have fluctuated dramatically.

In 2001, for instance, the question was asked in September and again in October. In September 2001, 53 percent said government should promote “traditional values”; in October, 59 percent said so.

The previous low point for traditional values came in September 2005, when only 50 percent of adults said government should promote them.

CNN did not explain what it meant by “traditional values,” but in political discourse, the phrase has emerged as code for “anti-gay.”

The right-wing Traditional Values Coalition defines traditional values as including the view that homosexuality is an abomination, but also includes views that are anti-abortion, pro-death penalty and pro-religion.

Some polls have asked questions concerning “traditional marriages,” usually seeking respondents’ views on allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Two years ago, Fox News asked, “Do you think straight people in your community who have traditional religious values are tolerant of gays and lesbians and their beliefs?”

Sixty-seven percent said they think straight people in their communities are “very tolerant” or “somewhat tolerant.”

CNN’s question was asked this year along with questions concerning Republican candidates for president, in a preview of CNN’s debate Monday night with seven GOP contenders.

CNN asked survey participants to express their opinions on 10 potential candidates. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has suggested he might run, had the highest favorability ranking.

Fifty-five percent of adults surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of Giuliani. He was followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 39 percent, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 34 percent.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin earned the highest “unfavorability” rating: 52 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of the former Alaska governor.

Palin was followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, of whom 44 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion.

Interestingly, the respondents also identified Palin as the Republican who represents values of Republicans.

The Democratic Party fared better than the Republican Party in the poll. While 55 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party; only 49 percent had a favorable view of the GOP.

© 2011 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Tweet of the Day

Mr. Cook, who describes himself as “a progressive Texan in a bad mood,” is of course referring to the fact that the House is expected to vote today on a bill that would require doctors to perform a sonogram before providing an abortion.

—  John Wright

Random graph: A history of the culture wars

According to this graph based on Google Books, the culture war over gay rights reached its peak in the mid-to-late 1990s, and has been gradually waning ever since. In fact, as Beliefnet notes, all three of these wars peaked sometime during the 1990s, but while abortion and feminism have leveled off, homosexuality continues its descent.

—  John Wright

Screw world peace. Miss New York is for the gays

Miss New York Claire Buffie

Claire Buffie was crowned Miss New York and will compete in the Miss America pageant. Her platform, “Straight for Equality: Let’s Talk,” makes her the first contestant to compete using an LGBT rights statement.

She won’t win. Miss New York never does. Not anymore.

The Miss America competition began in 1933. The first Miss New York to be crowned Miss America was Bess Myerson in 1945. She refused to change her name and sponsors pulled out because Myerson is Jewish. Miss America didn’t make that mistake again.

Thirty years later, Miss New York Tawny Godin became Miss America in 1975. During her reign, she admitted she smoked pot. The pageant couldn’t wait till that year was over. Honesty is definitely not a Miss America virtue and they didn’t make that mistake again.

Then in 1983, Vanessa Williams became the third and final Miss New York to become Miss America. Toward the end of her reign, nude pics emerged and the most talented winner in the pageant’s history also became its only titleholder to be forced out. Swimsuit competition aside, we know Miss America is definitely not about sex.

A year or two later, Miss New York was a student from my college. She said that the judges asked everyone else an insipid question whose answer could have been the well-rehearsed, “World peace.” Then they asked her, “What is your position on abortion?” Her answer might as well have been, “What the fuck?” She said she knew she was out of the competition before a word came out of her mouth.

And Miss New York will not win again. Ever.

Rarely, to make the competition not look rigged, a Miss New York makes it into the top 10. Once, a few years ago, even the top three. But really, isn’t Miss Mississippi so much safer?

So Buffie is really taking no chances when she makes LGBT rights her platform. In fact, she’s smart to set herself apart and use those New York-o-phobes at the pageant to her own advantage.

Myerson went on to a career as a game show panelist in the ’50s and ’60s and became New York’s Commissioner of Consumer Affairs. Godin married Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider and had something of a TV and film career herself. And Williams is most recently a Desperate Housewife. The three are among the most successful winners in the pageant’s history.

We love our bold allies and Buffie is the first contestant to ever take a stand for gay equality. We wish her luck.

—  David Taffet

Hate gay people? There’s an app for that

Pink News, Europe’s largest gay news service, reports that Apple has approved an anti-gay iPhone app:

The app is based on the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto released in 2009 by Christian and Catholic leaders which rails against the “erosion” of marriage.

Apple has given the app a 4+ rating, meaning that it contains “no objectionable content.”

The app asks users whether they agree with four statements on abortion and same-sex marriage and those who answer that they are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage are told that they are incorrect.

It also has links to read and sign up to the full declaration, which says that gay relationships are “immoral” and that same-sex marriages are equivalent to sanctioning incest.

Change.org has launched a petition calling on Apple to remove the app from the iTunes store. To sign the petition, go here. View more screenshots of the app at Good As You.


—  John Wright

Roberto Alonzo files insurance nondiscrimination measure; no anti-gay legislation reported yet

Rep. Roberto Alonzo

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, has filed one of the earliest pro-equality bills of the 2011 legislative session — and he didn’t even wait outside the clerk’s office for two days to do it.

Alonzo’s HB208, filed Monday, would add sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to the nondiscrimination provisions of the Texas Insurance Code, according to Equality Texas.

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said Wednesday morning that while there’s been a flood of legislation related to immigration and abortion, no anti-gay bills have been logged since the pre-filing period began Monday.

Some feel there is a danger of anti-gay attacks in the biennial session that begins in January, now that Republicans have a nearly two-thirds majority in the House, but Smith reiterated what he told us last week.

“It is untrue to assume that all Republicans are wingnut homophobes,” Smith said. “Some of them are, but I don’t know that there is a will certainly at the leadership level to gay-bash. I think their own polling numbers probably tell them what we see as well, which is that it doesn’t necessarily play well.”

—  John Wright

Laura Bush: It wasn’t my role to defend the gays

Laura Bush

Former first lady Laura Bush, who recently said she supports equality for same-sex couples, tells The Texas Tribune she didn’t speak out publicly about the issue while her husband was in office because she was not the elected official and it wasn’t her responsibility. In her recent book, Laura Bush said she asked George not to make gay marriage “a significant issue” and that she “could never have imagined what path this issue would take and where it would lead.” In the interview with the Tribune, she responds to criticism that she didn’t speak up publicly about the matter:

TT: … You found yourself back in the headlines not so long ago for taking positions on gay marriage and abortion that appeared to be at odds with your husband and with the GOP. What do you say to the critics who argue you had a responsibility to come forward sooner, or who suggest you maybe hid those opinions from view?

Bush: Well, I didn’t hide them from view. They were very well known from the first day George was elected, when Katie Couric asked me the question. I’m not elected. I was not elected. George is. He’s the one who’s elected. I was not the elected official. It was not my responsibility, I didn’t think, to speak out in ways to get in some sort of debate with him. I just didn’t see that as part of my role.

Apparently Bush still doesn’t see advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community as part of her role, because she ignored an invitation to attend Dallas’ gay Pride celebration this year. Meanwhile, despite her focus on education, Bush hasn’t said anything about the national teen bullying suicide crisis. Asked at the end of the TT interview about the governor’s race, Bush says, “Absolutely we’re supporting Gov. Perry.”

—  John Wright