Operation Jade Helm begins and the crazies … I mean our governor … is on alert

WalMart-250x169Happy first day of Operation Jade Helm, the military operation in which Texas will be taken over by the United States. According to sources, maps in the White House already show Texas as part of the United States.

The crazies are out all over the country this week. But who can blame them? I mean, gay marriage.

In South Carolina, April Lee Yates, 51, started a disturbance in a restaurant and was asked to pay her bill and leave. She said Jesus would pay the bill for her. Jesus never showed up. The woman went to jail.

A Tennessee woman was arrested at a gas station for printing her own money, because she read on the Internet Obama made it legal. Pamela Downs, 45, printed the $5 bill on her home printer and glued the top and bottom together. Police found a $100 bill in her purse and another $30,000 in her apartment.

Donald Trump had to remove a tweet from his Twitter feed because it showed him with soldiers. Upon closer inspection, those soldiers were in Nazi SS uniforms.

In Bastrop, “citizen volunteers” are on patrol, wary of Operation Jade Helm 15. Bastrop County is the county east of Travis County. Obviously, Bastrop is a good staging area to take over Texas, because from Bastrop, U.S. troops can easily overtake Austin.

Oh, wait, no they can’t. None of Austin’s highways are complete and the city is in a constant state of gridlock.

So far, no reports yet of Texans being placed in Walmarts that have been converted to FEMA camps, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised daily briefings on Jade Helm through the summer.

—  David Taffet

Texas Supreme Court rules against state in same sex divorce case; Abbott “disappointed”

Angelique Naylor

Angelique Naylor

In a 5-3 decision released this morning (Friday, June 19) the Texas Supreme Court agreed with an appeals court the state had no vested interest in a case affecting an Austin lesbian couple seeking divorce.

Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly wed in 2004. Naylor, who had a child and ran a business with Daly, filed for divorce in Travis County in 2010. The couple had already settled many issues out of court. But to address remaining legal issues, they sought an appeals court judgment addressing various under their divorce.

However Gov. Greg Abbott, then state attorney general, argued because Texas not acknowledge same-sex marriages, the divorce was therefore nullified. Despite the last ditch efforts, the court declined to acknowledge the state’s appeal.

Abbott, in a statement called the ruling disappointing and even a mistake.

“The Court mistakenly relied on a technicality to allow this divorce to proceed. Importantly, the Court did not address the Texas Constitution’s definition of marriage,” he said. “The Texas Constitution continues to stand as the governing law for marriage in the State of Texas. The State and all political subdivisions in Texas remain prohibited by the Texas Constitution from giving effect to a same-sex marriage or any document recognizing one—including the divorce decree in this case.”

The ruling has no impact on the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. That decision was stayed and that case is awaiting an opinion before the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

—  James Russell

Abbott signs Pastor Protection Act, reasserting rights that have been reasserted

Abbott.GregGovernor Greg Abbott today signed SB 2065, otherwise known as “the Pastor Protection Act” protecting clergy members from performing marriage ceremonies that violate sincerely held religious beliefs. The bill, by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls and Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, was filed before an anticipated Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality late this month.

Under the First Amendment clergy members are already protected from performing marriages they may oppose — including same-sex marriages.

Abbott hosted the signing ceremony at the Texas Governor’s Mansion and was joined by members of the legislature who were instrumental in the passage of this legislation, as well as members from the clergy across Texas.

“Freedom of religion is the most sacred of our rights and our freedom to worship is secured by the Constitution,” Abbott said in a statement. “Religious leaders in the State of Texas must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that religious freedom is beyond the reach of government or coercion by the courts. Today I am proud to sign into law SB 2065 — the Pastor Protection Act — to ensure that clergy in Texas cannot be forced to violate their religious beliefs.”

Despite the record-breaking number of bills targeting the LGBT community filed this session, only SB 2065 received a floor vote. Initially Equality Texas and others initially opposed the bill over concerns that clergy members who also serve in government roles could deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However they dropped their opposition after Rep. Sanford clarified it only applies only to clergy in that official capacity.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, called the law necessary.

“With today’s signing of SB 2065, Texas took a small but important step to further protect the religious freedom of clergy in the face of increasing hostility toward people of faith in all walks of life,” he said in a statement.

But to Paxton and others, the bill is not enough. Recently some social conservative leaders called for a special session to address same-sex marriage. Abbott indicated he would not call any special session.

“We now have much more work to do to ensure that all Texans can practice their faith and, among other things, recognize traditional marriage without being punished, harassed or discriminated against for their beliefs,” Paxton said, taking a swipe at the governor.

“Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides, the people of Texas and its leadership must not sit idly by in the face of hostility and harassment at the hands of a small but loud chorus of activists and the few corporate cronies cowed by them who denounce Texans simply for standing in defense of traditional marriage,” he added.

If not a special session on marriage, then perhaps Paxton is instead mulling another avenue: the 2018 GOP primary.

—  James Russell

Cathie cried: Abbott will not convene special session on marriage


Clearly Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams needs a good gay hair dresser.

Put the flaming chariots back in the barn: Gov. Greg Abbott told a radio show today he will not convene a special session on same-sex marriage.

“I do not anticipate any special session,” the Republican told News Radio 1200 WOAI.  “They got their job done on time, and don’t require any overtime.”

That’s despite the calls from numerous social conservatives to do just that in a letter delivered to the governor last week. The signatories – including Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams, Conservative Republicans of Texas’ Steve Hotze, Texas Values’ Jonathan Saenz and others – requested the governor call the session ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Legal observers anticipate the decision would either legalize it nationwide or require states to recognize marriages performed out-of-state.

“Throughout his career, Governor Abbott has been a strong advocate for pro-family and pro-life issues.  We are confident that he will work to protect the choice of 76 percent of Texans who voted for the Marriage Amendment in the Texas Constitution,” Hotze said in a statement.

They were motivated to call the session following the House’s failure to pass HB 4105, The Preservation of State Sovereignty and Marriage Act, by Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia. Despite having the support of the majority of House Republicans, the bill died after failing to receive a floor vote.

Under Texas law only the governor may call a special session. But opponents to same-sex marriage aren’t done yet.

Think of the children should two loving individuals be allowed to marry:

“This issue is not about equality, it is about redefining marriage which would lead to individuals, families, churches, schools and businesses being forced to accept, affirm and celebrate those who practice homosexuality.  It would be mandated that children be taught in the schools that homosexuality is normal and healthy.  They would be encouraged to experiment with homosexuality, so that they could be easily recruited into the homosexual lifestyle. The homosexuals are intent on creating a sexual revolution that will bring moral anarchy to our society,” Hotze said.

Judging by the vitriol, it’s widely anticipated the right-wingnuts will bring out their pitchforks and burning effigies following the Supreme Court’s ruling; that is if the burning chariots of the Apocalypse don’t beat them to it.

—  James Russell

Even Rick Perry thinks Greg Abbott is a dumbass


Gov. Greg Abbott wearing his tinfoil hat

You know you’ve sunk to a new low when Woody Allen calls you a child molester, when Bill Cosby calls you a rapist or when Rick Perry points out that you’re a dumbass.

According to a Dallas local newspaper that endorsed Greg Abbott for governor — I don’t want to embarrass the Dallas Morning News by mentioning them by name — former Gov. Rick Perry said Abbott went too far in questioning U.S. military exercises in Texas.

Last week, Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor U.S. military operations in Texas. The exercise, dubbed “Jade Helm 15,” is taking place in Texas and several other states and has anti-Obama conspiracy theorists going wild.

Apparently Abbott thinks if things get out of hand, the Texas State Guard can control things.

Perry called the U.S. military “trustworthy” and said Abbott “went too far.”

President Barack Obama should call Abbott and ask him if he’d like the U.S. to move its bases out of Texas. Closing Fort Hood would devastate the Central Texas economy and any state would proudly house an installation of that size.

Fort Hood is the largest U.S. Army base in the country. I’m not military strategist but I’m just kinda wondering here if that just may be one of the reasons military exercises are taking place in Texas.

—  David Taffet

See? You can be a more embarrassingly stupid governor than Rick Perry


Greg Abbott pandering in front of the 11 Commandments monument at the state Capitol

The U.S. military is conducting regular military exercises in South Texas. That, of course, led to the conspiracy theorists gathering at town hall meetings and worrying that Obama was invading Texas and confiscating our guns. The exercise is dubbed “Jade Helm 15.”

Rather than ignore the people wearing tin foil hats, Gov. Greg Abbott is making a name for himself nationally by addressing the controversy and protecting the state from being overrun by putting the Texas State Guard on standby.

Progress Texas ran five headlines, including a plea from the newspaper that endorsed him, The Dallas Morning News: “Please don’t feed the conspiracy theorists, Gov. Abbott.”

Well, since Progress Texas ran its piece, the story has caught on across the country.

“U.S. military says it isn’t invading Texas, but Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t taking any chances,” reads the headline in The Birmingham News. Embarrassing when an Alabama newspaper is making fun of Texas.

Wait, it gets better. By the time Abbott gets through with his term, we won’t be able to proudly proclaim, “Thank God for Mississippi.”

Here’s a quote I got from Abbott about how he’s protecting the state (It’s embarrassingly from the Biloxi Sun-Herald. Yes, even Mississippi is in on the fun, but who can blame them?):

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

Daily Beast headline: Texas Guv Surrenders to Conspiracy Nuts

Salon: Right-wing lunatics think the military is planning to invade Texas

Dallas Morning News: Ex-GOP lawmaker blisters Abbott for ‘pandering to idiots’ over military exercise

Wait, you endorsed him, right?

Well, Abbott has set the tone. It should be a fun four years covering him and his antics. You ever think you’d be saying these words? “Remember the good old days when Rick Perry was governor?”

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Judge won’t lift stay in Texas gay marriage case

GayTexasFlagA federal judge has declined to allow Texas same-sex couples to marry before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on the case.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio declared Texas’ same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in February. But he stayed the ruling anticipating an appeal by Texas officials. Then–Attorney General and now Governor-elect Greg Abbott, a Republican, filed an appeal.

The Fifth Circuit has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 9 for the Texas case as well as for Mississippi and Louisiana.



—  James Russell

Oral arguments set in Texas and Louisiana marriage cases

Attorney General Greg Abbott

Atty. Gen Greg Abbott pandering in front of the 11 Commandments monument at the Texas Capitol. Yes, I know there are 10, but look closely at the monument and you’ll find 11 listed, which makes this among my favorite fake religion monuments.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear the Texas and Louisiana marriage equality cases on Jan. 5.

In September, Judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana became the first federal district court judge to uphold a state’s marriage ban since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year.

Texas’s marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional by San Antonio District Judge Orlando Garcia in DeLeon v. Perry. His decision is stayed pending appeal.

In his appeal, Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott resorted to using the “pedophile, incest and marrying farm animals” defense. Because underpopulation has been a worldwide plague, Abbott uses the responsible procreation defense that’s been thrown out by court after court.

What we found most interesting was his inclusion of a story from Dallas Voice written by Anna Waugh about a case from Fort Worth that is still pending before a trial court. Two Fort Worth men who claim they are heterosexual would like to get married in Texas.

From the brief (pages 23-24):

Not all persons who wish to marry a same-sex partner will have a homosexual orientation. The plaintiffs in McNosky v. Perry, No. 1:13-CV-00631-SS (W.D. Tex.), have publicly admitted that they have a heterosexual orientation and plan to marry each other as a statement of solidarity with same-sex couples. See Anna Waugh, Tarrant County Marriage


—  David Taffet

Voting early with and nearly falling on Wendy Davis

I nearly fell on Sen. Wendy Davis at a press event this morning (see: second photo, sixth row). I was taking photos for the gallery below of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, who was in Fort Worth to cast her vote on the first day of early voting. Of all the reporters, photojournalists and broadcast journalists there, clearly the staff writer at the LGBT publication would be the one to cause a scene.

I’d also like to apologize the Fox 4 News cameraman for bumping him multiple times.

Here are some photos of the rally in front of the Griffin Sub-Courthouse in southeast Fort Worth and from the press conference after she voted. Reporters were not allowed into the polling site.

If you see me at your voting location in the next few weeks, beware. I may fall on you.

Photos and text by James Russell.

—  James Russell

Abbott wants to reduce out-of-wedlock births so he’s against same-sex marriage

Texas AG Greg AbbottAtty. Gen. Greg Abbott filed a new brief in the Texas marriage case that the Fifth Circuit decided to fast-track. His main argument is that the state doesn’t have to prove same-sex marriage will hurt opposite-sex marriage, just that opposite-sex marriage is better.

“Second, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society.”

So how’s that channeling going for you Greg?

Here are some stats from the Centers for Disease Control website for teen births, ages 15 to 19 in 2010, the latest year for which I found a state-by-state comparison.

The overall U.S. birth rate is 34.3 per 1,000 teens ages 15–19 in 2010, the latest year available on the Centers for Disease Control website.

But that number is not equally distributed across the country.

In Massachusetts, the rate is 17.1 per thousand and in Texas it’s 52.2 per thousand. That’s more than three times the teen pregnancy rate in traditional values Texas than in marriage-equality Massachusetts.

Massachusetts, the first marriage-equality state, legalized same-sex marriage in 2003.

In his fight against marriage equality, Abbott said the State is interested in “reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births.” That hasn’t happened.

Let’s compare a few other states to Texas. In civil union state No. 1 that became marriage equality state No. 2, the Vermont teen birth rate is 17.9 per thousand.

Another early marriage equality adopter was Iowa. That’s state’s teen birth rate is 28.6 per thousand, still below the national average.

Comparing Texas to other large states, New York has a rate of 22.6 per thousand and California has a rate of 31.5 per thousand. Both now have marriage equality but didn’t in 2010, the year of these stats.

Texas isn’t in last place, however. Once again, Texans can proudly say “Thank God for Mississippi,” with its 55.0 rate. Arkansas and New Mexico teens are both breeding at faster rates than Texas teens as well.

These are just teen birth rates and marriage equality may have absolutely nothing to do with it. So either Abbott’s argument collapses because marriage equality is irrelevant to unwed teen birth rates or marriage equality actually encourages teens not to get pregnant.

—  David Taffet