Texas House budget includes anti-gay measure, leaves out needed funds for AIDS drug program

Rep. Garnet Coleman

The Texas House approved a budget Sunday that includes massive cuts to public education, Medicaid and, well, just about everything else. The House budget, which now goes to the Senate, would trim $23 billion from current state and federal spending over the next two years. Democrats in the House, who are outnumbered 2-to-1, say the cuts will have disastrous effects on key services.

As we noted the other day, the House budget includes an amendment that would require public colleges and universities in Texas with LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount, dollar for dollar, on centers promoting “traditional and family values.” The amdendment from Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, passed by a margin of 110-24.

The House budget does not include any additional money for the Texas HIV Medication Program, which will need $19.2 million more over the next two years to meet increased demand. The HIV Medication Program provides life-sustaining medication to 14,000 low-income people with HIV/AIDS. Last week, a Senate budget panel recommended providing the additional money. The Senate’s version of the budget is expected to include $10 billion more than the House, and the two measures will then have to be reconciled. As one lawmaker put it, “Thank God for the Senate.”

After the jump is the reaction to the budget of Democratic State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who called the budget “shameful.” Incidentally, Coleman proposed an amendment to the budget that would have required school districts to report incidents of harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The amendment failed by a vote of 97-49.

Writes Coleman of the final House budget: “I voted ‘no’ on this bill because in my 20 years as a state legislator, I’ve never seen a budget so devastating to children and seniors. All we’ve done today is move around the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks.”

—  John Wright

Texas House OKs measure requiring schools with LGBT resource centers to spend equal amount on centers for ‘family and traditional values’

Wayne Christian

Public colleges and universities in Texas with LGBT resource centers would have to spend an equal amount on centers promoting “family and traditional values,” under a budget amendment approved by the House late Friday.

The amendment from State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, passed by a vote of 110-24. From The Dallas Morning News:

While many members in the chamber cracked jokes and guffawed, the amendment’s author, Rep. Wayne Christian, said the University of Texas, Texas A&M and “some other schools” have centers promoting “alternative sexual practices.”

“I’m not treading on their rights to that, to teach alternative sexual behavior,” said Christian, R-Center. But he said they must match it, dollar for dollar, with advocating heterosexual, “traditional values.”

Meanwhile, the House defeated a proposed budget amendment that would have required school districts to report incidents of harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The amendment from Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, was defeated by a vote of 97-49.

—  John Wright

Gay-baiting as a distraction from real issues

Jim Schutze at The Dallas Observer has a good piece up today about politicians using issues like immigration, abortion and gay rights to distract voters from real problems, such as Texas’ current budget shortfall and — more generally — how badly rich people in the U.S. are screwing everyone else over. Here’s an excerpt:

So it’s like this: We ask, “Mr. Governor, what are you going to about the huge deficit that’s going to screw up our kids’ schools and toss our grandparents out in the street and mess up the whole state?”

And he says, “LOOK OVER THERE! A MEXICAN!”

It’s not just Perry. It’s all of the Republicans now. Ask state Sen. Florence Shapiro what she’s going to do to protect colleges and universities from the shortfall. She’ll start talking about how we need “voter ID”

“LOOK! LOOK! A MEXICAN TRYING TO VOTE!”

And if that doesn’t work, the Republicans will point toward San Francisco and say, “LOOK! LOOK! TWO GUYS KISSING!”

Or, “LOOK! LOOK! A SLUT GETTING AN ABORTION.”

In reading Schutze’s piece, we couldn’t help being reminded of this George Carlin bit, so we figured we’d go ahead and share it too:

—  John Wright