Texas’ Three Amigos of the Apocalypse still fighting marriage equality


In Texas, AG Ken Paxton, left, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, center, and Gov. Greg Abbott took time off from trying to deny equality to transgender people to once again take up the banner against marriage equality.

It’s been almost a year and a half since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that is violates the U.S. Constitution to deny equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. This week, Texas’ top elected officials took time out from their ongoing battle to deny equal rights to transgender Texans and keep trans people from using the appropriate public restroom facilities (see here and here), to go back and once again take up the fight against marriage equality.

Ummm, Greg, Dan and Ken, hello! The Dark Ages called; they want their assholes back.


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent out a press release today announcing that he, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have filed a joint amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court “urging the court to recognize that the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement of a right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges does not resolve all constitutional issues relating same-sex marriage.”

They filed their brief in connection with a case now before the Texas Supreme Court, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks v. Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston, in which Pidgeon and Hicks, Houston taxpayers, sued the city of Houston claiming then-Mayor Annise Parker broke Texas law and violated the Texas Constitution — which was amended in 2005 to specifically ban legal recognition of same-sex marriage — when she extended spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees who had gotten married in jurisdictions that did legally recognize same-sex marriage.

The case when to trial and the district court issued an injunction preventing the city from extending those benefits until the case was ultimately decided. But then the U.S. Supreme Court — which, for those of you who might have spent too much time around Ken and Greg and Dan and don’t remember, still does trump the Texas Supreme Court — came out with the Obergefell decision. And the Pidgeon case became a moot point. Right?

Well, Ken and company don’t agree. They are saying, basically, that while they have to let the homos get married, they don’t have to actually treat them like straight married couples (you know, “real” married people). In essence, the Three Amigos of the Apocalypse are claiming that the city of Houston — and any other Texas city/town/whatever — cannot legally extend spousal benefits to the legal same-sex spouses of their employees because the Texas Constitution bans same-sex marriage, regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court and Constitution say,

Really. That’s what they are saying (from the “Summary of Argument” in the Three Amigos amicus brief): “By issuing its judgment in Obergefell, the Supreme Court effectively has required all States to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages from other states, and the purpose of this brief is not to contest or circumvent that requirement. But the existence of a federal court judgment obligating States to grant and recognize same-sex marriages does not automatically dictate the outcome of a case like this one, which raises a related but different constitutional question involving municipal employee benefits. … While the judgment in Obergefell is authoritative, Justice Kennedy’s lengthy opinion explaining that judgment is not an addendum to the federal constitution and should not be treated by state courts as if every word of it is the preemptive law of the United States.”

(You can read the whole brief here.)

The press release quotes Paxton as saying, “My office had the privilege of defending Texas’ marriage laws in Fifth Circuit. While the U.S. Supreme Court did recognize a right to same-sex marriage, there are a host of issues in that area of the law that remain unresolved. I applaud Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick for their leadership in asking that state courts give serious consideration to these weighty, unresolved questions.”

I should stop here to point out that the Texas Supreme Court has already refused to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal in this case. But the plaintiffs — and the Amigos — are demanding a rehearing. Obviously, Paxton and company have not yet spent enough taxpayer money on lawsuits endeavoring to deny civil rights to LGBT Texans.

Perhaps this is just another ploy by Paxton to try and distract people from the fact that he STILL FACES criminal charges of securities fraud and that his buddies on the Collin County Commissioners Court and in the Texas Legislature are trying to torpedo the prosecution in that case by getting the Commissioners Court to refuse to pay the special prosecutors that had to be hired. A judge had dismissed a federal civil lawsuit against Paxton for securities fraud, but the SEC has refilled those charges.

—  Tammye Nash

Petition to remove Lt. Gov Dan Patrick from office circulates

Rawlings and Patrick

Dan Patrick could only look on as Mayor Rawlings brought the city together

Petitions to remove Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick from office have been circulating, including this latest one on Change.org, posted in response to Patrick’s comments about the ambush of Dallas police officers.

The morning after the Orlando shootings, Patrick posted on his Twitter account, “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

While Patrick claims that tweet was not in response to the massacre or about the victims of the mass murder, he removed the tweet and never apologized to the victims’ families.

After the Dallas police shootings, Patrick blamed the demonstrators and called them hypocrites for running from the gun fire.

“All those protesters last night, they ran the other way, expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them,” Patrick said. “What hypocrites!”

Demonstrators were following police directions when they ran.

Patrick never blamed the shooter for the shooting.

During an event a Thanksgiving Square on Friday, just hours after the murder of five officers, Patrick attended but was not invited to speak. Instead, he stood directly behind each of the speakers who appealed for a sense of unity in the city.

—  David Taffet

Ken Paxton files injunction against federal guidances protecting trans students

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today (Wednesday, July 6) announced that Texas is leading a 13-state coalition asking for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of “Obama’s bathroom rules.”

“Obama’s bathroom rules” refer to a list of guidances issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice to help school districts avoid discriminating against transgender students. Paxton and other right-wingnuts — including Chief Protector of the Bathrooms Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — insist that those guidelines, along with Fort Worth Independent School District’s comprehensive policy for interacting and protecting transgender students, put women and children in danger by allowing men to use the same public restrooms and locker rooms as long as the men/boys are willing to declare that they feel like a woman/girl that day.

Federal officials have noted that school districts that insist on discriminating against transgender people risk losing federal money because such discrimination violates Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools. Federal officials and federal courts have already determined that “sex” in this case means gender and includes anti-trans discrimination.

Paxton said, in his press release, “The nation’s schools, and every place of employment, are now in the crosshairs of the Obama administration, which maintains it will punish those who do not comply with its orders. Schools are facing the potential loss of funding for simply exercising the authority to implement the policies that best protect their students. Every employer is now being threatened for not bowing to anyone that identifies as the opposite sex.”

The press release then goes on to explain that the Obama administration is “attempting to rewrite Congress’ use of the term ‘sex’ in multiple federal lawsuits to now include ‘gender identity.’ If successful this radical change simultaneously opens up all intimate areas within schools and workplaces to members of both sexes.”

Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, issued this statement in response to Paxton’s motion for an injunction:

“Equality Texas condemns Attorney General Ken Paxton’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of 1.4 million Americans who are transgender, and his choice today to target the most vulnerable segment of that population — transgender kids.

“Attorney General Ken Paxton has already wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, discriminated against his fellow Texans with taxpayer money, and deprived thousands of Texans of their dignity and respect in a losing effort opposing the freedom to marry. Now, the attorney general has determined to waste millions more in an obviously futile attempt to prevent our transgender citizens, and in particular transgender kids, from being afforded the most basic dignity to use the bathroom, despite the fact that the Fourth Circuit and various government agencies have made the law clear.

“His actions undermine federal protections for gay and transgender children. In particular, this injunction seeks to punish transgender students protected by Title IX and the U.S. Department of Education to harm Texans who have done nothing wrong.

“The actions being initiated today by Paxton will ultimately fail, just as they did with marriage equality. Attorney General Ken Paxton shows an obsession with discriminating against the LGBT community. Statements already made by Paxton demonstrated a shameful animus towards the transgender community, which will ultimately lead the Supreme Court to declare all laws unconstitutional which relegate members of the LGBT community to a second class status. The U.S. Constitution will never uphold blatant discrimination against our citizens.”

Following is a list of the 13 states filing for the injunction. The number in parenthesis following each state’s name denotes where, as of 2015, that state ranked, nationally, in terms of the quality of their educational systems:

Texas (31st); Alabama (39th), Arizona (48th), Georgia (35th), Kentucky (10th), Louisiana (43rd), Maine (20th), Mississippi (45th), Oklahoma (34th), Tennessee (28th), Utah (16th), West Virginia (46th) and Wisconsin (4th).

(These numbers are the School System Quality Ranking of each, according to a study conducted by WalletHub and based on “13 key metrics that range from student-teacher ratios to standardized-test scores to dropout rates.”)

And by the way, Ken Paxton is the same one facing has been charged with two first-degree and one third-degree felony counts of violating state securities laws, and similar state charges, too.

—  Tammye Nash

Donald Trump ALMOST out-does Dan Patrick on Twitter

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 2.08.33 PM

About 7 a.m. this morning (Sunday, June 12), just hours after people were killed and more than 50 others injured in a mass shooting inside an Orlando gay bar, Texas’ right-wing asshole lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, tweeted a Bible verse about “reaping what you sow.” He has since deleted it, I believe, but not before the whole world saw it.

And now, the man who would be king … uh, president, I mean … has almost outdone Patrick in the realm of tasteless, vulgar, hateful tweeting. Almost.

About noon CST, Trump tweeted: “Appreciate the congrats on being right about radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

As PoliticusUSA.com says: “There is something morally repulsive about anyone receiving congratulations on a day when over 100 innocent Americans were killed and wounded in an act of terror. Instead of thinking about the victims of this horrific attack, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is patting himself on the back.”

I still say that Dan Patrick’s tweet suggesting that the shooting was God’s vengeance on gays trumps Trump. But then there’s Pat Robertson to consider. He just came right out and declared that the shooting is God’s punishment on the country for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling a year ago on marriage equality.

—  Tammye Nash

As LGBT community mourns, Dan Patrick sends judgmental tweet

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A screen shot from Dan Patrick’s Twitter page this morning, Sunday, June 12, shortly before 7 am. The tweet about FWISD, just below the quote from Galatians, was tweeted Friday, June 10


Dan Patrick

As the details of a mass shooting inside a Florida gay bar continued to unfold Sunday morning, and the LGBT community — indeed, the country — mourned the more than 60 people killed or wounded in what officials are calling an act of terrorism, Texas’ right-wing lieutenant governor continued to prove what as an ass he is by posting a judgmental tweet that seems obviously tied to news of the attack.

“‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.’ Galations 6:7.”

The tweet was sent shortly before 7 a.m.

Thanks, Dan Patrick. As the rest of the country responds with shock, grief and sympathy, you have once again embarrased Texas with your hatefulness.

—  Tammye Nash

A matter of public safety: Dan Patrick continues the bathroom battle

Patrick for web

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, above, encouraged public schools to tell President Obama that they “reject his 30 pieces of silver,” and to ignore suggested federal guidelines for protecting transgender students. (Tammye Nash/ Dallas Voice)


Tammye Nash  |  Managing Editor


“This is a matter of public safety.”

That’s what Texas Values policy analyst Nicole Hudgens said this morning on Dallas’ Fox 4 News about the battle over bathrooms raging across the country, and right here in North Texas in the Fort Worth Independent School District.

And you know what, Nicole Hudgens is right. Only, not in the way she claims.

On Tuesday (May 10), Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick showed up in Fort Worth for a press conference condemning the comprehensive guidelines Superintendent Kent Scribner issued in late April explaining the process for implementing FWISD’s 2011 anti-bullying policy related to transgender students.

Early this morning (Friday, may 13), the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter offering guidance for schools nationwide on how, specifically, to prevent discrimination against transgender students. And Patrick, in Dallas for the Texas GOP Convention, hopped right up to hold another press conference in which he declared that the question of what bathroom or locker room transgender children are allowed to use at school is “the biggest issue facing families and schools since prayer was taken out of the schools.

(Point of fact, Lt. Governor: Prayer organized by faculty/staff in which all students are required to participate is not allowed in public schools, because it discriminates against those who have different religious beliefs from the majority. But no one has taken prayer out of schools. Student-led events with voluntary participation, like the See You at the Pole events, are certainly allowed. And go to any class on any test day, and I can guarantee someone there is praying!)

Patrick when on to declare that the letter — letter containing suggestions, not policy; but then, Dan Patrick doesn’t know the difference between a policy and a guideline, either — is “the most damaging domestic policy [President Obama] has put forth, and that’s saying something with this president” who enacted “Obamacare.”

Patrick ramped up the fear-mongering rhetoric even higher then, saying that the president is stealing food from the mouths of poor children since the federal dollars that could be withheld from schools that don’t protect transgender children is used primarily for free meal programs. The president is “attacking parents,” Patrick claimed, and forcing 14-year-old girls to shower with 14-year-old boys.

Patrick also noted that he’s telling all the school superintendents in Texas that the letter is not law, just “a recommendation with a threat,” and that they should ignore the letter from the U.S. Department of Education and not implement any of the suggestions. Don’t compromise, he told them, and don’t worry, those evils feds “are not coming and taking our children” on his watch.

The lieutenant governor urged Texas schools not to take “Obama’s 30 pieces of silver,” and not to let the president “blackmail” them. Just hold on until Donald Trump’s in the White House, because President Donald will know what to do!

Oh, and one more thing: The U.S. Department of Education sending a letter to schools with suggestions on how to protect transgender children is a government overreach and the federal government trying to meddle with local control. But Patrick descending on Fort Worth to insist that the local school district superintendent resign and the board repeal its anti-bullying policy is justified because these bathroom battles are “a state and a national issue.” And anyone who questioned the validity of him interjecting himself into FWISD business is a hypocrite.

He said more in his Friday morning press conference, but that’s the main gist of it: Federal over-reach … blahblahblah … coming for our children … blahblahblah … blackmail … blahblahblah … hypocrites … blahblahblah … and on and on.

But here’s the fact of it all: He is full of crap. So is Nicole Hudgens. Because as much as they and their ilk want to insist that this “isn’t about transgender people,” it is.

It’s totally about how a bunch of bigots don’t like transgender people because they don’t understand transgender people, and they don’t like the gays and lesbians anyway, and they are pissed off the homos can get married now but there’s nothing they can do about that because of the Supreme Court, so they are going after the trans people now because they are the easiest target.

They are trying to turn trans people into the big, scary, snarly monster in the closet — or in this case, in the bathroom — that’s just waiting for you to turn out the lights so they can come rushing out to rape their wives and eat their children. Why? Because when there is a monster, you have to have a monster-slayer, and people like Dan Patrick and Nicole Hudgens want people to think they are the heroes who will kill the monsters and keep them safe.

Except, in truth, they are the monsters.

But Nicole Hudgens, as I said at the outset, is right about one thing: This is a public safety issue. It’s about the safety of transgender people — men, women and children — who have, indeed, been and remain easy targets for discrimination, hatred and violence.

Take this stat, for instance, which Resource Center reminded me off this morning in a press release praising the letter from the Obama administration: According to the 2013 Texas School Climate Survey conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), 60 percent of students surveyed have experienced verbal harassment over their gender identity art school. And 23 percent of that harassment came from school staff members.

About one in eight — one in eight, people! — transgender students report having been physically assaulted at school, although most of the incidents went unreported because the students didn’t think anyone would take them seriously or do anything to protect them. And a national study conducted in 2007 indicated that more than half of all trans youth have attempted suicide at least once by the time they turn 20.

(Of course, Dan Patrick noted Tuesday that only about 1 percent of the FWISD students are transgender, implying that that’s not enough to warrant taking action to protect them.)

Nell Gaither over at Trans Pride Initiative today sent a statement praising the letter as well. And in her statement, she cited the 2011 study, “Injustice at Every Turn,” which found that nationwide, 78 percent of students expressing a trans identity or gender nonconformity in school face discrimination. Of those, 35 percent reported being assaulted, including 12 percent being sexually assaulted.

The rates in Texas, according to the study, are similar or higher: 85 percent experiencing harassment, 46 percent being physically assaulted and 9 percent experiencing sexual assault.

The study went on to note that trans and gender non-conforming adults have an overall lifetime attempted suicide rate of 41 percent, but that increases to 51 percent among those who have been harassed, 64 percent for those who were physically assaulted, and 68 percent for those who were sexually assaulted.

Last year, at least 21 transgender people were reported murdered in the United States. The actual number was likely much higher, because many such murders go unreported and/or the victims are misgendered in police and media reports.

From 2013 to the end of 2015, 53 transgender people were murdered, and not a single one was prosecuted or reported as a hate crime, according to a report by Human Rights Campaign.

Attempted suicide rates as high as 68 percent; 53 people murdered in two years. Yes, Nicole Hudgens, protections for transgender students are definitely a public safety issue. But it’s the safety of the transgender people that’s at risk, not yours.

It’s time you and Dan Patrick and all the self-involved and bigoted haters out there figure that out.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: Equality Texas board chair speaks outside FWISD


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Speaking in a press conference outside the Fort Worth ISD building shortly after 4 p.m., Equality Texas board chair Steve Rudner took Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to task for his attacks on Transgender issues.

Noting that the policy itself was approved in 2011, Rudner said, “The only news here is that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has chosen to pick on a group of already bullied kids. It’s shameful and despicable.”

Patrick is set to hold a press conference at FWISD offices at 5 p.m. just before the FWISD board meeting.

Dallas Voice will be at the meeting. Look for additional coverage.

—  David Taffet

Dan Patrick coming to Fort Worth to protest ISD’s trans guidelines


Dan Patrick is coming to save FWISD from the transgenders

Fairness Fort Worth was already asking for LGBT people and their allies turn for the Fort Worth ISD board meeting tonight (Tuesday, May 10) to show support for guidelines on how the district’s personnel and students are expected to interact with transgender students, faculty and staff, including guidelines on public bathroom use.

Now Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who issued a statement yesterday calling for FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner to resign for putting his personal political agenda ahead of the well-being of the district’s students — has announced he is coming to Fort Worth tonight to hold a press conference outside the school district’s administration building to, well, to say why his personal political agenda should be put ahead of the well-being of FWISD students. You know, this school district that Patrick has no children in, in a city where Patrick does not live.

There have been rumors that Glenn Beck, the right-wing radio host who also does not live in Fort Worth and does not have children in the district, will attend tonight’s meeting as well.

The guidelines, which have been under construction for about a year, are not new policy, but simply a more detailed explanation of existing policy. As such, they needed only Superintendent Kent Scribner’s signature to go into effect, rather than approval by the FWISD’s board.

Despite the uproar and Patrick’s call for Scribner to resign, FWISD School Board President Jacinto “Cinto” Ramos Jr. issued a statement Monday declaring the board’s support for Scribner:

“Mi querida gente. Rest assured, the safety of ALL children is our highest priority on the Board. We are completely capable of handling this in Fort Worth. We are applying the existing policy to make sure ALL children feel safe at school. We are here to look out for ALL children; not some, not most, but ALL children. ‪#‎AsiDerechito‬ con puro amor…no odio. ‪#‎WeGotThis‬.”

(Not sure about the translation, but I believe it says, basically, “We’re gonna do this right, with pure love, no hate.” The #WeGotThis is pretty obvious.)

Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson today re-issued the call for supporters to flood the board meeting tonight, and to wear red. But he also stressed the importance of supporters of Scribner and of the guidelines, behaving respectfully:

“If you are coming to the FWISD board meeting today we (LGBTQA community leaders) are asking people to please wear red, and we urge people to avoid letting agitators press our buttons. Some would like nothing more than to distract us. No thanks. Our kids come first. That includes those present tonight for athletic honors and also their teachers of the year who we rely upon. We want our message to be positive, clear and unequivocally grateful to Supt. Scribner and our trustees for true leadership. Our focus is to make sure ALL our students have equal and safe access to education with dignity. Please, help us keep our message clear and constructive and concise. Thank you all for making Cowtown proud!”



—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE:Vote now! Show support for FWISD’s trans guidelines



Screen shot 2016-05-10 at 11.43.05 AMUPDATE: New link to the story and the poll here. At 2:10, results stand at 64 percent in favor of allowing individuals to use facilities according to gender identity.


CBSDFW Channel 11 has a news story online right now about Dan Patrick’s plan to attend the Fort Worth Independent School District board meeting tonight to try and bully the district into rescinding the most comprehensive and fair set of guidelines on handling transgender issues in the schools that we’ve seen so far.

Included, down toward the bottom of the page, is a poll intending to gauge support for the guidelines vs. opposition. Right now, the support side is lagging by about 1 percent. So get on over there and let them know how you feel.


—  Tammye Nash

Texas Lege ends, now the fun begins; “bought and sold” series returns


The Texas Capitol, site of a future “American Horror Story” season.

After staving off the threats of ISIS at the border, struggling with the godlessness of pre-kindergarten education and failing to save the evil Speaker Who Doesn’t Believe in the Messiah, the 84th legislature’s snake charmers finally went back home yesterday.

On the bright side: Per the state’s Constitution, they passed a budget. And their mighty efforts to slash taxes resulted in successfully saving the average homeowner…$200-something in property taxes.

Just as important, they’ve stopped screwing with your lives! Any legislation harmful to the LGBT community was thwarted!

The bad part: They’re now back home. They’re among us.

In the 84th tussle to burn the biggest effigy, LGBT advocates can happily claim a number of wins. The Romeo and Juliet bill made it to the floor for a vote after receiving bipartisan support in committee; religious discrimination language targeting LGBT children and families was defeated; and county clerks will not be barred from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But your valiant warriors worked to assure us they did indeed accomplish something. Enough, in fact, that those accomplishments won’t fit on a post card: the Senate passed a last-ditch resolution re-asserting their support for “traditional marriage” (as in, between a man and a woman, at least in the daylight); they found more ways to regulate uteri; and of course they gutted serious ethics reform legislation.

With such great accomplishments, now it’s time to watch the little substance of this past session turn into campaign fodder — or for many Republican incumbents who’ve earned the tea Party’s ire, liabilities.

I can’t wait to write about upcoming election cycle. I’ll continue to follow the money, reviving my “Bought and sold” series on dark money, campaign finances and right-wing boogeymen.

Bring it, 2016.

Or, if strictly speaking in presidential elections, 1992.

—  James Russell