What’s Brewing: Lawmakers refuse funding for HIV/AIDS drugs; 2nd El Paso suspect arrested

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Up to 1,800 low-income Texans with HIV/AIDS could be denied life-sustaining drugs over the next two years, after lawmakers chose not to fund a $19.2 million request from the the state health department for the Texas HIV Medication Program, according to The Dallas Morning News (paid subscription required). Lawmakers claim people won’t be denied access to drugs because the state can siphon off money for the HIV Medication Program from Medicaid, and repay it using a supplemental measure during the 2013 legislative session. But that would require approval from Gov. Rick Perry and the 10-member Legislative Budget Board, and it would make the looming Medicaid shortfall even worse. For political reasons, lawmakers don’t want to raise taxes or use any more of the state’s rainy day fund, so they’re left to make decisions like this. If people are turned away from the HIV Medication Program, it will only result in more new HIV infections and more emergency room visits, which are far more expensive for the state. This is where the tea party gets you, folks, and it’s why these folks should be thrown out on their asses in 2012. But let’s face it, this is not just a fiscal decision. The fact is, some of these lawmakers still view HIV/AIDS as a gay disease, and they believe homosexuality is immoral. The LGBT community should be outraged. Watch video of one client talking about the potential impact of the cuts below.

Ramon Olvera

2. A second suspect has been arrested in connection with a brutal beating and possible hate crime outside a gay nightclub in El Paso on May 7.  Roman Olvera, 19, is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Olvera and a 16-year-old arrested last week allegedly were among six gang members who punched, kicked and hit 22-year-old Lionel Martinez with a baseball bat outside the Old Plantation, while yelling anti-gay slurs. Martinez, who is straight, remains in critical condition. The FBI is investigating Martinez’s beating and other recent hate crimes near the nightclub. LGBT advocates, who say police have failed to address the problem of anti-gay violence, plan a meeting tonight at the local Metropolitan Community Church. CORRECTION: The LGBT group actually met Tuesday night and plans a rally in front of the courthouse next week, according to the El Paso Times.

3. Wade Emmert was elected Dallas County’s new Republican Party chairman Tuesday night. Emmert was endorsed by Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, who accused Emmert’s tea party opponent of anti-gay tactics during the campaign. Emmert is scheduled to speak to the gay GOP group on Monday. “Congratulations to Wade Emmert for his very decisive victory, 140 vs 95,” Schlein writes on Facebook. “We look forward to being one of the first clubs visited by the new party chairman!”

—  John Wright