U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson issues statement on Syrian refugees

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Today, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson the following statement in response to the Syrian refugee crisis:

“As a result of horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, France and Beirut, Lebanon last week, many elected officials in the United States are demanding that we stop admitting refugees fleeing Syria. While this rhetoric is disheartening and disappointing, we are facing a global refugee crisis that requires a global response. With 60 million people displaced, the United States must do its part to help protect and resettle vulnerable families and children who are fleeing violence and persecution.

“In Dallas, we have always shown our compassion to those who seek safety. I refuse to slam the door on a small fraction of the world’s Syrian refugees. In fact, 184 Syrian refugees have already been placed in Texas and we will certainly welcome more. While we must continue to ensure that screening procedures are able to properly vet those seeking political asylum in this country. I refuse to turn my back on the children and families who are fleeing the atrocities in their homeland and that is not the answer to defeating terrorism. Instead, we must show compassion by promoting peace and diplomacy.”

—  Tammye Nash

Women and the 19th Amendment

Eddie Bernice JohnsonBy Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

On August 26th our nation pauses to acknowledge the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment to our country’s Constitution, giving women the right to vote, became law in the United States. The struggle to secure the right to vote for women in America began in in the late 1800s when groups of women called “suffragists” demanded that women should have the same rights as men.

In 1848, large numbers of women convened at the very first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Male activists such as Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist, were present and urged the women to protest and fight for their rights.

One of the organizations that emerged from the Seneca Falls Convention was the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, it organized marches and protest demonstrations throughout the country. Its leaders took their cause all the way to the United States Supreme Court which refused in 1875 to rule that women had a constitutional right to vote.

In the early 1900’s groups of women joined picket lines at the White House, and even went to prison after they were charged with breaking the law by voting, although they were barred from doing so. In prison some women went on hunger strikes and continued to support the national women’s group formed after the Seneca Falls convention, which by then had formed chapters in numerous states across the country.

In addition to voting rights, women also fought for equal treatment in divorce settlements, disputes over property and wages. Women’s groups continued to pressure federal and state officials for equality. At the time, the only female member of the Congress was Representative Jeanette Rankin from Montana.

Public opinion began to support the efforts of women to secure equal rights. The 19th amendment was introduced in Congress in 1918. Two years later it was ratified by the states. It reads, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The ratification of the 19th amendment brought radical changes in American politics. Women became actively engaged in elections after years of civil disobedience, protest marches and political involvement. Slowly, the number of women elected to political office began to climb. This would not have occurred but for the passage of the 19th amendment.

I am certain that the women who began the fight for equal rights more than one hundred years ago would be delighted that in today’s Congress there are 84 women in the House, and 20 in the Senate. They would also be pleased to see that women serve in the some of the most important positions in our federal government and in our states, and that there have been a number of women who have run for the presidency.

I believe that the passage of the 19th amendment has led to great progress in our country. It enabled a class of people that had been excluded from the voting process to exercise the right to vote, one of the most basic and fundamental rights that we have as Americans.

I will continue to fight for the rights of all women in our country because many have yet to experience the full benefits of the American dream.

—  David Taffet

Eddie Bernice Johnson congratulates the community on marriage equality

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents most of Oak Lawn, sent the following statement in recognition of the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding marriage equality:

Equality for all Americans is of the utmost importance, and after a long fought battle across the nation and throughout the federal judicial system, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that committed couples, regardless of sexual orientation, have a Constitutional right to marry.

As we celebrate this great victory during LGBT Pride Month, we also remember that LGBT Americans have fought for the equality of all Americans, and each year during the month of June, we recognize their contributions and accomplishments in the fight for full equality.

On Friday, our nation made history with this ruling. But, there is still much to be done as we continue the fight for the extension of full protection under the law to every American, including those in the LGBT community. Moving forward, I will continue my commitment to fight against discriminatory laws and practices that impede an individual’s freedom.

—  David Taffet

Parkland names garden after Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

EBJ Garden

Portion of gardens at new Parkland Hospital named after Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson as seen from a patient room taken earlier this year (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)


Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and David Krause

The new garden surrounding the Parkland Women and Infants Specialty Health (WISH) Center was named for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson at a ceremony held last weekend.

“Congresswoman Johnson has helped to make Dallas what it is today,” said Debbie Dudley Branson, a local Dallas attorney and chair of the Parkland Board of Managers. “The Parkland community is grateful to you for your lifetime commitment to public health. Your name will forever be associated with one of the finest public hospitals in the country.”

Parkland Foundation President and CEO David Krause said, “Congresswoman Johnson has been a steadfast advocate for Parkland, and I am delighted that the promenade is being named for her.”

Healthcare has always been a priority to Johnson. She is trained as a nurse and began her career working at the V.A. Hospital in Dallas. As a state senator, she crafted the first HIV legislation in Texas.

“I am both proud and humbled to be recognized by the naming of such a beautiful space that will be used to provide a place of serenity to the women and children who will be the work they do here, and this is an extraordinary honor,” Johnson said.

The largest hospital in Dallas County, Parkland had more than one million patient visits last year. The new Parkland Hospital is scheduled to open Aug. 20 in Dallas’ medical district. It will be an 865-bed facility.

—  David Taffet

Local and national LGBT reaction to South Carolina mass murder

Senator Clementa Pinckney

Sen. Clementa Pinckney

Locally and nationally, people in the LGBT community and allies are horrified by the murder of nine black men and women inside their church in Charleston, S.C.

Eric Folkerth, Northaven Unitred Methodist Church:

Once again. Another angry white man with a gun. This is not acceptable. It’s being called a hate crime already. So don’t slam me for saying that racial hatred is still a cancer we must confront. WHITE PEOPLE must confront it. It’s OUR problem. It’s OUR cancer. Prayers for these members of our Methodist family. And shock and grief.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson:

I am shocked and saddened to hear of the disheartening news regarding last night’s shooting in Charleston, S.C. My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors and loved ones of the victims of this tragedy at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church. Among the victims was the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, pastor of the church and a dynamic state senator. A faithful public servant, his impact on parishioners is purely evident today as members of the Charleston community band together in solidarity.

I stand in solidarity with the church congregation, the friends and family of those affected and the community of Charleston during this very difficult time. There is absolutely no place for this level of hatred against peaceful worshipers in a religious sanctuary. Though we can find solace in the perpetrator’s recent capture, it is my hope that justice for this heinous crime be swift.

For generations, this church has been a beacon of hope for African-Americans who have endured years of racial strife in South Carolina. I am confident that this resilient community will come together once again to overcome this senseless tragedy.

Equality Florida:

Equality Florida stands today in mourning and in outrage at the murders of nine people inside their historic African-American church on Wednesday evening. It is a hate crime that has shocked the nation and claimed the lives of six women and three men, including state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Our hearts go out to their families, friends and the entire community reeling from this brutal act of terror.

It’s impossible to make sense of such a “hateful and deranged” crime, as Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. put it. But we must note the connection between the deed and the hateful ideas that are said to have motivated it.

The alleged gunman sat through an hour of Bible study before opening fire. And when he ignored the pleas of his intended victims and reloaded his gun, he said, according to a witness. “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

 It is not enough to condemn the actions of a lone gunman; we must also confront the rancid, racist ideology at the heart of this crime. Not everyone who holds his apparent beliefs commits these horrific acts, but we must challenge those views that nourish the kind of moral depravity that led to this slaughter. #BlackLivesMatter

Jerame Davis, Pride at Work:

The horrendous crime that took the lives of nine African-Americans at the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday is heart wrenching. In moments like these, words often fail, but we must speak out when senseless, racist violence takes innocent lives. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

There is no justice that will bring back these nine people nor salve the grief of the surviving family members. The racist motivation of this murderer is another stark reminder that we must speak up and out to declare that #BlackLivesMatter. We will not rest until every corner of our country has heard that message and takes it to heart.

It is disgusting and deplorable that some are painting this act of hatred as anything other than racially motivated. The Emmanuel AME church is a symbol of black liberation and the killer was explicit about his motivation — even going so far as to tell a survivor he spared her so she could tell others what happened. Those who try to paint this as anti-Christian violence are deplorably engaging in whitewashing the truth of the matter to perpetuate a false narrative.

The violence, the racism, and the denial all must end. We are better than this.

Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights:

There are moments when a headline is too much to comprehend. This is such a moment. The nightmare shooting and murder in Charleston of nine black African-American parishioners in a hate fueled racially motivated attack leaves us bereft and sick. There are really no words. We grieve for the families and for our country. We know our nation cannot go on like this and yet, here we are. Will enough ever be enough? Until we are willing to address race and entrenched racism in this country, the headlines will continue.

—  David Taffet

Know your rights; make your vote count

U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Special Contributor


Unlike any other time in American history, it is important for all eligible citizens to exercise their right to vote on Nov. 4.

Recently, there has been significant dialogue regarding which party will control the House and the Senate in Washington. These conversations highlight a very real point: This election is critical to the future of minorities and middle-class Americans.

Voter engagement is crucial.

In minority communities, there is a common misconception that voter turnout is only important during presidential elections. But adhering to this school of thought could result in more than a decade of financial and political oppression.

It is not enough to see massive voter turnout in 2016; the same level of voter turnout must occur on Nov. 4.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, America’s first African-American president, the Republican Party has become the “Obstructionist” Party. During the current Congress, the GOP has done everything in its power to ensure the ineffective operation of our federal government. For example, in 2013 the Republican Party caused a government shutdown.

Now, with the help of the U.S.  Supreme Court, the Obstructionist Party has shifted its efforts to implementing new voter ID laws and unconstitutional “poll taxes” that block the votes of approximately 600,000 eligible voters in Texas.

The new Texas voter ID law lists state driver’s licenses, voter identification certificates, state ID cards, concealed gun permits, military IDs, citizenship certificates and passports as the only forms of permissible voter identification.

Student ID cards, issued by the state’s colleges and universities, and other forms of government identification, including a voter registration card, are not acceptable forms of ID under the law.

The ability to utilize concealed gun licenses as a form of acceptable voter identification highlights the reality that these new laws were created to favor a specific demographic, while disenfranchising others. Why would a state deliberately violate the civil rights of millions of its residents?

Research shows that if African-Americans and Latinos successfully turned out to vote, many so-called red states would become blue.

A Congress controlled by Democrats would guarantee a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. This would occur during the first 100 days of a new Congress.

Additionally, increased access to early childhood education would become a reality, and the Equal Pay Act, which ensures that women earn the same wages as their male counterparts, would go into effect.

But none of these vital changes will occur without proper voter education and participation.

To be prepared for the Nov. 4 election, I encourage all voters to prepare themselves by visiting www.sos.state.tx.us to confirm their registration status. Voters can also visit www.votetexasgov to learn their correct polling places, and know their rights.

Do not allow yourself to be denied your right to vote based on technicalities. Educate yourself and vote on Nov. 4 to strengthen our democracy.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson represents Texas’ 30th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. She is a longtime ally of the LGBT community.

—  Tammye Nash

Only seven Texans receive perfect score in HRC Congressional scorecard

TexasThe Human Rights Campaign today, Oct. 9 released its Congressional Scorecard measuring support for LGBT equality in the 113th Congress. Only seven of Texas’ 38-member delegation received perfect scores, even as results show record gains in support for LGBT equality.

Members of Congress were scored based on their votes and co-sponsorships of pieces of legislation that are key indicators of support for LGBT equality, and for the first time ever, their public support for marriage equality, according to a statement provided by HRC.

“We stand at a critical juncture in our fight for full LGBT equality,” said Chad Griffin, president of HRC. “While we’ve made tremendous progress in gaining support from our elected officials in Congress, we certainly still have much to accomplish.”

His statement could not be more true, especially within the Texas delegation.

Of Texas’ 36 House representatives and two senators, only seven House Democrats received a 100 percent score. They are Reps. Al Green, Beto O’Rourke, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett, along with Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.

Other Texas Democrats had mixed scores: Rubén Hinojosa, 89 percent; Pete Gallego, Henry Cuellar and Gene Green, 68 percent; Filemon Vela, 84 percent. Gallego represents the only congressional swing district in Texas.

In the Republican camp, five Republicans received 30 percent: Louie Gohmert (no, really), Ted Poe, John Culberson, Pete Olson and Steve Stockman, who lost a primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn earlier this year. Cornyn, by the way, scored zero while his colleague in the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz, scored 20 percent.

To the North Texans looking at this list, unless you live in Johnson or Veasey’s district, your congressperson scored zero. A difference of 100 percent — 100 percent.

No other member of the local delegation even got brownie points for saying “gay.” That includes: Reps. Joe Barton, Michael Burgess, Kay Granger, Ralph Hall, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, Pete Sessions and Roger Williams.

(Don’t know who represents you? Click here and type in your info.)

Want to change that? Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 20 and runs through Friday, Oct. 31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.

—  James Russell

Local members of Congress sign letter opposing anti-LGBT Russian law

Official Photo_Rep Marc Veasey

Rep. Marc Veasey

North Texas Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Marc Veasey are among 83 members of Congress who’ve signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to ensure the safety of LGBT athletes, coaches, staff, fans and reporters attending the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

The letter refers to a law by signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 30 under which public acknowledgement of one’s sexual orientation or support for LGBT rights, including displays of symbols such as a rainbow flag or HRC logo, can result in arrest and 15 days in jail.

The concern is over an announcement the law would be enforced during the Olympics.

Two other Texas congressmen also signed the letter — Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and Rep. Al Green, D-Houston.

Noticeably absent from the list were Houston’s Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who always scores high on HRC Congressional rankings and newcomers Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who worked for partner benefits while serving on the El Paso City Council, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, who won his seat with strong LGBT support in San Antonio.

The members of Congress are concerned with the rising wave of anti-gay activity in Russia including violent hate crimes and laws banning Pride parades for 100 years and limiting adoption of Russian children by people from countries that allow same-sex marriage.

Kerry has a long record of supporting the LGBT community. He was one of just 14 Senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. Last week, in a speech at the embassy in London, he announced the U.S. would treat visa applications from married same-sex couples the same as opposite-sex couples.

Other signs of international protest of the new anti-gay law include a boycott of Russian alcohol. The New York City United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association called on all bars, cafes, taverns and restaurants to ban all Russian-made food and alcohol. Locally, some bars have joined in a boycott of Stoli vodka.

The Canadian government issued a travel advisory on travel to Russia. Over the weekend, two Canadian Olympic athletes marched in Vancouver’s Pride parade to show support for the LGBT community in opposition to the law.

The Sochi games are seven months away.

Below is the full text of the letter:

—  David Taffet

LGBT advocates say federal ENDA to be introduced in Congress on Thursday

ENDA Houston 4The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is expected to be reintroduced in both chambers of Congress on Thursday.

The bill would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT advocates have been reviewing the legislation the past few months to revise language for small companies and religious entities that would be exempt. However, the changes are not expected to be in the introduced bill, the Washington Blade reports.

In the last session, 40 senators and 171 representatives signed as co-sponsors to the bill. More are expected this session, especially since an increasing number of senators have come out for marriage equality. Dallas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson was a co-sponsor last session, and freshman Reps. Marc Veasey and Beto O’Rourke are expected to support the legislation.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, told the Blade the organization wanted the legislation advanced quickly and hoped to time a vote in the Senate with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in two marriage equality cases.

“After the Supreme Court rules in the Windsor marriage case, many right-wingers are going to denounce marriage equality for same-sex couples, but claim that they don’t believe in discrimination against LGBT Americans,” Almeida said. “That’s the time when we should call some of those bluffs by putting ENDA on the Senate floor and letting all 100 senators go on the record about whether hardworking Americans should get fired just because of who they are or who they love.”

In Texas, a bill to prohibit statewide job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender expression had a hearing in the Senate, but was left pending in committee.

The House versions of the bill, HB 238 by San Antonio Rep. Mike Villarreal and HB 1146 Dallas Democrat Eric Johnson, have hearings scheduled Wednesday in the Economic and Small Business Development Committee.

—  Dallasvoice

2 TX lawmakers join call for executive order protecting LGBT workers

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

On Wednesday, 110 members of Congress — including Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Al Green of Houston — sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their nondiscrimination policies.

Johnson and Green were the only Texas representatives who signed the letter.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth said the letter had not gotten to their office or the congressman would have added his name. She added that when ENDA is introduced this session, his name will be on it as a co-sponsor.

The letter indicates that 43 percent of gays and lesbians and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination.

“Our request begins with a simple premise,” the letter said. “It is unacceptable that it remains legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In February, 37 senators sent Obama a similar letter.

The executive order would expand one signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, which has been expanded several times to include contractors and subcontractors doing more than $10,000 in business with the federal government. Categories currently covered are race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

While an executive order does not replace a comprehensive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, it would cover everyone but it would extend nondiscrimination protections to more than 16 million workers.

Some states have enacted workplace protections, but it remains legal to fire employees for their sexual orientation in 29 states and for their gender identity in 34 states including Texas.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama said he would sign such an order. Since then he has backed off that pledge saying he would prefer the legislative solution of ENDA.

—  David Taffet