‘That was the day I withdrew’

Jim-Lovell

With the federal judge striking down the Texas Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage and civil unions, hopefully this is the beginning of the end of a sorry, hateful chapter in Texas history.

Who did this amendment help? You? Please tell me how. Didn’t your life continue as always? OK, so it helped politicians get money and votes, which was really the purpose of it and which adds to the sleaziness of it. They played the people of Texas like a violin and got more power as a result.

Who did this amendment hurt? Well, ME, for starters, and the hurt went way beyond the rights and protections denied to Bill and me. The day I went to vote against this amendment, my life changed profoundly.

I went to vote early, as I usually do. Normally, for a vote on constitution propositions, I am one of maybe five or 10 people to vote on that particular day. Not this day.

People were lined up out the door and around the corner — to vote against me. To make sure that I could not even have a civil union.

Please try to imagine the feeling, seeing such a line to vote against you, and knowing that many of your “friends” are in that line, people who trust you to teach their children are, nevertheless, in that line to make sure that you cannot have what they take for granted.

Worse yet — the many friends who were silent. I don’t know how they voted, and therefore, I didn’t know who my friends were.

That was the day I withdrew. I started eating lunch alone. I didn’t stay around and chat after meetings. Conversations became superficial. Fortunately, I had the support at home from a loving life partner, and I had an abundance of love and support from the amazing people of my church, Northaven United Methodist in Dallas. They helped me to learn to forgive, to see the people in that line as victims manipulated by greedy power seekers, manipulating them by stirring up fear. But it has been a years-long, unfinished process.

I am doing fine, but I wonder about those who did not have the support I had, especially the young ones. How many of them decided to just end it all? If they were in the same dark place as me, undoubtedly it happened. And listening to the debate still going on, I’m sure it is still happening.

So, I celebrate this judge’s decision. I hope it speeds the day when we can throw this hateful amendment in the trash heap of history, right along with Jim Crow and the Salem witch hunts, etc. etc. etc. (That heap is pretty big, isn’t it?) I hope it speeds the day when we become a society who cares for and values one another rather than beating down and stigmatizing one another.

— Jim Lovell on Facebook

Jim Lovell retired from the Plano ISD, and lives in France with his husband, Bill Stoner. They will be in Dallas this weekend to attend the marriage ceremony of Jack Evans and George Harris.

Related stories:

Texas ban on same-sex marriage ruled unconstitutional

By God, that’s where we’re going to get married

Marriage equality is fixin’ to come to Texas

It’s nice to hear someone say our marriage is valid

 

—  Steve Ramos

Davis calls on Abbott to stop defending same-sex marriage ban

Democratic Senators Wendy Davis and Royce West at a protest before the start of a special session of the Texas legislature in Austin, TexasSAN ANTONIO — Sen. Wendy Davis said Thursday  she supports same-sex marriage and that Attorney General Greg Abbott, her presumed general-election opponent in the race for governor, should stop defending the state’s ban, the Houston Chronicle reported.

“It’s my strong belief that when people love each other and are desirous of creating a committed relationship with each other that they should be allowed to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Davis told the Express-News editorial board.

Davis, D-Fort Worth, said she is “pleased” that the state’s constitutional definition of marriage, as being between a man and a woman, is under challenge in federal court.

“I think that what we see happening at the federal level in terms of constitutional interpretations on that provide some hope that it may be found unconstitutional,” she said.

The Republican attorney general’s office is defending the constitutional provision.

Asked if she would call on him to stop doing so — as she earlier called on Abbott this week to reach a settlement in a state school funding lawsuit — Davis said that “makes perfect sense. We’ve seen that happen.”

She cited such decisions by Virginia and Nevada.

“Obviously our AG has the capacity to do the same if he chooses to do so,” she said. Asked if she would call on him to do so, she said yes.

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch scoffed at Davis’ urging.

“Unlike Senator Davis’ positions on the issues, the Texas constitution is not subject to change on the latest whims of the day. Senator Davis’ comment suggesting the Attorney General not enforce the Constitution mimics an Obama-style approach to government, and Texans deserve better,” Hirsch said.

Davis, asked if she would push to repeal the state constitutional provision on gay marriage if elected governor, said, “I would certainly open up that conversation with the Legislature.

“I think it’s important, and I think that people across this country are evolving on that issue and moving in a direction that demonstrates support for it, so I think it is time to re-open that conversation and ask Texans where they are on it to see if that’s something that we might change legislatively if it doesn’t happen constitutionally,” she said.

—  Steve Ramos

Judge denied Abbott’s request to consolidate marriage equality cases

Texas AG Greg Abbott

Attorney General Greg Abbott

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia denied Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request to move the Texas marriage-equality case DeLeon v. Perry out of San Antonio and consolidate several cases in Austin.

The judge found that, while the two cases “share a common issue with the present lawsuit in that all Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of Defendants’ refusal to let them marry their same-sex partners, the three lawsuits differ in important respects.”

While some defendants want to marry in Texas, others want the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

Earlier this month, the Austin court hearing one of the cases also denied Abbott’s request to consolidate the cases.

“Furthermore, the Court finds Defendants have failed to establish that Austin is a more convenient venue for this case,” Garcia wrote.

He said that when the venue where the case would be transferred is not shown to be more convenient than that chosen by the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s choice of venue should be respected.

“The Plaintiffs in this case all reside in Texas, and can travel as easily to hearings in either Austin or San Antonio,” Garcia ruled. “Furthermore, the issues to be tried in this case are not unique to one locality. In fact, the statutory and constitutional provisions at issue in this case apply equally across the State of Texas, and the resolution of this case will have state-wide, not localized significance. Accordingly, there are no ‘localized interests’ served by transferring venue to Austin.”

Read full decision here.

—  David Taffet

Judge sets Feb. date to hear motion blocking Texas’ marriage amendment

Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss

Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss

A date has been set for two Texas couples challenging the state’s marriage amendment to appear in court to argue that a temporary injunction should be ordered, preventing state officials from enforcing the law.

Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia is set to hear arguments on Feb. 12.

Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano, joined by Austin couple Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman, are the plaintiffs in the case. Both couples met in San Antonio years ago, but while the lesbian couple later married out of state, they want their union recognized here, and Phariss and Holmes want to marry in Texas.

The attorney for the couples filed the motion last month and said they expect a favorable ruling regarding the injunction, but Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, listed as defendants in the case, could request proof that the law harms same-sex couples, delaying a ruling on the motion for a year or more.

—  Anna Waugh

Davis endorses SA nondiscrimination ordinance, gets Castro’s support

Wendy_Davis_Governor_Candidacy_Announcement_Podium_Copyright_2013_Patrick_Hoffman_All_Rights_Reserved

Sen. Wendy Davis announcing her bid for governor

State. Sen. Wendy Davis appeared in San Antonio on Monday for a campaign stop, during which she endorsed the city’s new nondiscrimination ordinance and was endorsed by Mayor Julian Castro.

Davis said she hoped the new ordinance in San Antonio would become commonplace throughout Texas. Fort Worth has a similar ordinance, which Davis voted for when she sat on the City Council.

“I hope that it becomes something that is commonplace,” Davis said. “I look forward to a Texas where we see that in every city in the state.”

Davis later told reporters that it’s “important that people be treated equally in the workplace, plain and simple.”

Her position is the opposite of Attorney General Greg Abbott, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. He threatened to file suit against the ordinance, claiming it violated freedom of religion. He dropped the suit when he couldn’t find any way discriminating against people was a religious right.

An Abbott spokesman reiterated his opposition to the nondiscrimination ordinance but also indicated opposition to some private companies adopting those policies.

“Both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions protect faith-based organizations from being coerced into employing persons in a way that would require them to violate their faith,” the spokesman told Texas Tribune.

Davis announced she was running for governor last week at a rally in Haltom City.

Filing for the primaries begins Nov. 9. The primary will be held in March.

—  David Taffet

Wendy Davis: I’m running!

Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 5.04.30 PMBefore speaking to hundreds of supporters Thursday afternoon, state Sen. Wendy Davis announced her intentions to run for governor in an email to media.

The Fort Worth Democrat later addressed the large group at Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City, where she graduated from high school.

“We’re here because we believe it’s time to give all Texans a voice in their future and in a place in Texas’ future,” Davis said amid chants of “Wendy, Wendy” from the crowd.

“We are all here because we love Texas and we it’s time for a leader who will put Texans first,” Davis said.

She touched on her education filibuster in 2011 that restored millions to public education and said every Texan deserves “the promise of a better tomorrow.”

“Texans deserve a leader who will protect this promise,” Davis said. “Texans deserve a leader who will keep it.”

While Democrats are eager for Davis to turn Texas blue, a new poll by Texas Lyceum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, shows half of voters haven’t decided whether to support her or Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s the favorite for the GOP nomination.

Of the voters who’ve made up their minds, Abbott leads Davis by 29 percent to 21 percent.

The poll surveyed 800 registered voters from Sept. 6-20. It has a plus or minus 3.47 percentage points.

Davis has been a longtime supporter of the LGBT community.

After her announcement, Abbott released a statement:

“Once again, Texas Democrats are attempting to conjure support for California-style candidates that try to sell Obama’s liberal agenda and go against what makes Texas great. Nonetheless, we welcome Senator Davis to the race, and look forward to presenting the clear differences and debating the important issues that will preserve the economic miracle in Texas.”

For more on the race, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  Anna Waugh

Wendy Davis to return to roots to announce her governor bid

State Sen. Wendy Davis addresses the crowd at the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats Spring Fundraising Kick-off Party in Fort Worth Wednesday, May 23. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Sen. Wendy Davis

State Sen. Wendy Davis plans to announce her future political plans next Thursday at Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City, where she graduated from high school.

Davis made the plans public in a media advisory Thursday evening, but didn’t say which office she’ll be running for — either her Senate District 10 seat or governor. But there was no need. Sources have been saying she’d run for the Democratic nomination since before she postponed an announcement when her father became ill.

And sources are again confirming that the senator, who shot to stardom after an 13-hour marathon filibuster this summer to block an abortion bill, will indeed run for governor.

The race, with Attorney General Greg Abbott running as the Republican favorite, is sure to be an ugly fight. Abbott has tirelessly fought against the LGBT community in situations like the two gay divorce cases now at the Texas Supreme Court and issued an opinion earlier this year that said he thought domestic partner benefits violated the state’s marriage amendment.

Davis, on the other hand, has been an LGBT champion, from voting for Fort Worth’s nondiscrimination ordinance when she served on the City Council to fighting for LGBT-specific protections in the state’s anti-bullying law in 2011.

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, who’s openly gay and took Davis’ council seat when she ran for the Senate, is a favorite to replace her again in the Senate.

Burns has said he will not comment on the race until Davis makes her plans official.

—  Anna Waugh

Texas Republican candidates give odd answers to prove they oppose the gays

Abbott.Greg

Attorney General Greg Abbott

A poll of top Republican candidates for statewide office in Texas found that all oppose LGBT rights. But their answers — and lack of answers in some areas — shows they might not really believe what they’re saying.

Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott was the only one to answer all of the questions, according to the Associated Press. All made it clear they oppose marriage equality, but many didn’t answer questions about employment nondiscrimination. Those that did said nondiscrimination infringes on religious freedom.

Abbott provided some of the more bizarre answers. Although he opposes employment nondiscrimination because of religious concerns, his answer reflected that religious groups are protected.

“Both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions protect faith-based organizations from being coerced into employing persons in a way that would require them to violate their faith,” he wrote.

So an employer like Cathedral of Hope is not required to hire someone who believes in discrimination against gay or transgender people, because that would conflict with their faith.

Another question showed that Abbott either has wrong information or actually doesn’t believe any of the crap that’s been coming out of his mouth.

“Do you believe that homosexuality is a disorder that requires treatment?” AP asked.

“I am not a doctor, a scientist or God,” Abbott wrote. “I cannot render judgment on a person’s sexuality. I can, however, refer you to the American Psychological Association on the matter.”

The APA hasn’t considered homosexuality a disorder since 1975 and more recently has issued a statement in favor of marriage equality. So either Abbott’s answer is that homosexuality is not a disorder or he thinks it is and thinks the APA supports his position. Or more likely, he knows what the APA says and knows most religious bigots don’t.

In some cases, candidates answered the question they wanted to answer without answering the question they were asked.

“Do you support equal civil rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens?” AP asked.

“Current statutes adequately address the issue of equality before the law and I would oppose laws that provide preferential treatments based on lifestyle choices,” Tom Pauken, candidate for governor wrote.

But he was asked about “equal civil rights.” He was not asked about “preferential treatments.” He’s right, of course, that those who choose a heterosexual lifestyle should not be given preferential treatments.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Abbott changes mind, unlikely to sue for right to discriminate in San Antonio

Texas AG Greg Abbott

Greg Abbott

UPDATE: Here is the response that came from the Attorney General’s office:

We will continue to review and monitor the ordinance.  I’ve attached the letter sent to Mayor Castro before the vote was taken.  The final ordinance did not include the most problematic language, which led to our response:

“We are pleased the city council heeded our advice and deleted this provision, which surely would have been grounds for a constitutional challenge to the ordinance.  We will continue to review the ordinance and monitor the situation.”

I have requested information on what will be monitored, how the AG views this ordinance differently than the Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin ordinances and why he threatened to sue after the ordinance passed without the offending language.

ORIGINAL POST: Attorney General Greg Abbott now says it is unlikely he will file suit against the San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance. As reported in Dallas Voice when the ordinance passed, the issues Abbott had with the law were removed before the final version went before the council.

Abbott’s office has not returned a call from Dallas Voice but a spokesman told Texas Tribune and other news outlets that the AG is unlikely to sue.

“We are pleased the city council heeded our advice and deleted this provision, which surely would have been grounds for a constitutional challenge to the ordinance,” Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the AG’s office, said in a statement.

Except the threat of a lawsuit came after the provisions preventing someone accused of discrimination from holding office or sitting on a board or commission were removed.

“We will continue to review the ordinance and monitor the situation,” Strickland said.

It’s unclear what the spokesman meant by continuing to “monitor the situation.” There’s no situation and once passed, ordinances don’t freely change, requiring constant monitoring.

What bothers Abbott is that in San Antonio, as in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and El Paso, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is now illegal. The only thing to monitor is that this sort of discrimination doesn’t happen. Anywhere. But that’s probably not what Abbott’s office will be doing.

—  David Taffet

AG Greg Abbott to challenge San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance

Attorney General Greg Abbott

Attorney General Greg Abbott

Attorney General Greg Abbott told a San Antonio radio station he plans to file a federal lawsuit against the newly passed San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance. Abbott announced last month he is running for governor.

The ordinance adding veteran’s status, sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected categories passed Thursday.

It’s not clear how a lawsuit against the San Antonio ordinance will affect Dallas and Fort Worth. Both have ordinances banning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Abbott claims Texas has a Supremacy Law that says cities can’t override the state.

The federal government also has a Supremacy Law that the state can’t override the federal government. But that doesn’t seem to phase the Texas National Guard, which is refusing to process applications for married same-sex members of the Guard.

And the commander of the National Guard has asked Abbott for a legal opinion: Is Texas Military Forces, which is over the guard, a state agency bound by state law or does the order from the military to recognize same-sex marriages apply to Texas?

Texas is the only state to completely defy the order. Mississippi is not taking applications at state offices but is taking them on National Guard bases. Louisiana followed Mississippi late last week.

The National Guard reports to both the governor and the president and receives money for training and maintaining its forces as well as equipment from the federal government.

—  David Taffet