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

Paxton offers his 2 cents on N.C. bathroom bill

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — that shining beacon of integrity and knowledge of the law who last year told Texas county clerks they did not have to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality and who last month was sued for securities fraud in civil court by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (he is already facing state criminal fraud charges — today issued a statement in support of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

Paxton released his statement after McCrory announced he is suing the U.S. Department of Justice so he can keep his discriminatory bathroom bill. The DoJ had given McCrory until the close of business today to explain his plan for flushing the bathroom bill or risk losing billions in federal funding for his state.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is expected to hold a press conference any minute now to announce what enforcement action the federal government will take against North Carolina.

Here’s what AG Paxton had to say:

“The people of the United States, through their representatives in Congress, enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure, in part, that men and women are treated equally. Congress has not changed this law to mean that individuals may choose whether they want to be male or female for the purpose of public accommodations. One’s sex is a biological fact, not a state of mind, and this threat to North Carolina is the latest in a long series of efforts by an unaccountable federal executive branch. My office stands with Governor McCrory and the people of North Carolina regarding this unconstitutional form of federal overreach.”

May we suggest that AG Paxton crawl into the 21st century and come to terms with the fact that GENDER is not binary and neither is it necessarily defined by biological genitalia.

—  Tammye Nash

Paxton appoints Liberty Institute homophobe Assistant AG

Mateer.Jeff

Jeff Mateer

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has appointed Jeff Mateer as Texas’ first assistant attorney general. Mateer replaces Chip Roy, who left the AG’s Office to join Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

Mateer was chief counsel for the Plano-based First Liberty Institute, a right-wing group that has been fighting LGBT rights in Texas for years.

Liberty Institute fought the first same-sex divorce case in Texas and, rather than allow the couple to divorce quickly, tied the case up in court for five years. Liberty Institute is the place  all those homophobic florists and cake bakers who don’t want to cater a same-sex wedding can go to find attorneys who will defend them.

Mateer has called the criminal charges pending against Paxton frivolous.

Of note is this endorsement in Paxton’s announcement from another discredited crony:

Edwin Meese, 75th Attorney General of the United States, said, “Having worked with Jeff Mateer on major legal issues, I am pleased to learn that he is joining Ken Paxton’s fine staff, where I know he will do an excellent job.”

Meese was the discredited attorney general under President Ronald Reagan. In 1988, he abruptly resigned from office after a special prosecutor decided not to indict him for actions he took as a government official that benefited a longtime friend, E. Robert Wallach, by sending lucrative contracts to his company Wedtech. Wallach was indicted for racketeering, conspiracy and fraud.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Paxton makes huge concession to avoid contempt of court

Ken Paxton

Attorney General Ken Paxton

To avoid facing a contempt of court hearing and possible jail time for ignoring a court ruling that declared the Texas marriage amendment unconstitutional, Attorney General Ken Paxton will issue new guidelines to state employees.

Those guidelines include recognizing married same-sex couples for purposes of death certificates but also for purposes of birth certificates. Refusing to recognize a same-sex couple for purposes of a death certificate led to the contempt charges.

The birth certificate issue has been a problem for same-sex couples for years. Judges in only a few counties including Dallas will allow second parent adoptions, but the second parent’s name doesn’t go on the birth certificate. If an opposite-sex couple is married, the husband is presumed to be the father and his name goes on the birth certificate.

Now the names of a couple that adopts together will both go on the birth certificate, just as it does for opposite-sex couples. For gay couples who have children through a surrogate, both names of the married couple will go on the birth certificate. And for lesbian couples who have a baby and one of the women carry the child, both names of a married couple will go on the birth certificate.

—  David Taffet

Paxton asks to be excused from contempt of court hearing

Ken Paxton

Attorney General Ken Paxton

Attorney General Ken Paxton asked that he and interim commissioner of Texas Department of State Health Services Kirk Cole be excused from a contempt of court hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

The order to appear was issued by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia because Cole and Paxton refused to recognize a same-sex marriage for purposes of a death certificate. Their refusal defies Garcia’s marriage-equality ruling that declared the Texas marriage amendment unconstitutional.

Garcia ordered the state recognize the marriage of John and James Stone-Hoskins. James died earlier this year before the Supreme Court ruling. But Garcia’s ruling was made in February 2014 and was affirmed by the Fifth District Court of Appeals in July 2015.

Although Garcia ordered the state to reissue the death certificate immediately, it took Cole’s office two days to comply.

Cole and Paxton had until today to respond to the court with any written defense. Instead, they asked to be excused from appearing. They also asked the judge to rule by 3 p.m. so they’d have time to appeal.

I’m sure Garcia will respond to that request “immediately.”

—  David Taffet

Amended death certificate issued to Stone-Hoskins

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James Stone-Hoskins

Kirk Cole, interim commissioner of the Department of State Health Services, issued an amended death certificate last night listing John Stone-Hoskins as “husband” rather than ‘significant other.” Stone-Hoskins had to file a motion in the court of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who declared Texas’  marriage law unconstitutional in February 2014. Neel Lane, attorney for the Texas marriage-equality plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit.

The amended certificate corrects “James Henry Stone – never married” to “James Henry Stone-Hoskins – married” and “John Allen Hoskins V – significant other” to “John Allen Stone-Hoskins V – husband.”

Cole, along with Attorney General Ken Paxton, face contempt of court charges for violating Garcia’s ruling that was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2015 and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. They are ordered to appear on Aug. 12.

Death Certificate

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Attorney General Ken Paxton has been booked

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Attorney General Ken Paxton’s mugshot

Attorney General Ken Paxton was booked this morning and released from the Collin County jail following a trio of felony indictments handed down by a Collin County grand jury last week.

The three indictments — including two first-degree felony counts  and a third-degree felony count — stem from a months-long investigation by the Texas Rangers and two special prosecutors who looked into Paxton’s securities practices before he took office.

In 2014, while running for attorney general, he admitted to violating state securities law after failing to register with the State Securities Board before soliciting clients for investors. He paid a $1,000 fine.

First degree felonies carry a prison sentence between 5 to 99 years in prison. A third degree felony carries a $10,000 fine and between two to 10 years in jail.

Tarrant County judge George Gallagher has been appointed to lead the trial.

—  James Russell

Anti-LGBT legislator running for state senate failed to disclose affiliation with conservative non-profit

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State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola

A vocally anti-LGBT Republican state representative failed to disclose his affiliation with a socially conservative non-profit organization.

State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, failed to disclose his leadership role on the board of the Wilberforce and Lincoln Center, Inc. in his six most recent personal financial statements.

(Those can be found here: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.)

The vocally anti-LGBT Republican who is running for state senate has been affiliated with the Waco-based center since 2008, according to records filed with the secretary of state.

James William Odom, a Baylor University graduate student and former spokesman for the university, founded the Wilberforce Center for Civic Engagement in 2008. An amended filing later added the name Lincoln.

Odom, Hughes, Oklahoma oil and gas executive Jerome Loughridge and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was then a state representative, were all listed as directors of the organization.

It is currently listed at Odom’s home address in Waco.

Paxton recently filed an amended personal financial statement indicating his affiliation with the organization. But personal financial statements filed by Hughes between 2008 and 2014 do not list his role with the organization despite its active non-profit status.

Per state law, elected officials must list all entities, including non-profits, where they serve as members of the board, on their statements said Ian Steusloff, a spokesman with the Texas Ethics Commission.

The commission administers and enforces state election code and oversees the collection of all campaign and personal finance reports filed by legislators.

Failure to disclose this information could result in a civil penalty of $500.

On the six most recent statements, Hughes is only listed as a trustee of the Mineola Foundation and between 2010 and 2012 a brief stint as a director of Central America Mining America Group. A September 19, 2014 required periodic report, however, still lists Hughes as a Wilberforce Lincoln director.

Odom’s résumé, obtained from his Baylor University graduate student profile, indicates he founded Wilberforce Lincoln under the name the Leadership Foundation in Oklahoma in 2000. At the time he was a Republican candidate for Congress. The institute was “dedicated to encouraging principled leadership in the political arena for the preservation of a culture that respects life and cherishes liberty.”

It did not operate again until 2008 when it turned to articulating public policy issues of interest to churches and other religious organizations, including “sanctity of life, family law and national indebtedness.”

Odom, who declined to comment for this story, wrote it has remained dormant because he didn’t have “time or resources to develop its programs.”

Cody Terry, Hughes’ chief of staff, said he was unaware of the organization’s existence.

First elected in 2002, Hughes is currently running for state senate to succeed retiring Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler. In 2014, on The Anderson Cooper Show, he defended a plank on the state GOP’s platform affirming reparative therapy.

Among those endorsing his senate campaign are Texas Values’ Jonathan Saenz, Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackleford and Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams and Attorney General Paxton.

—  James Russell

Maxey files complaint against Paxton with state bar

Glen MaxeyFormer state Rep. Glen Maxey filed a complaint against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton related to his opinion issued last weekend to county clerks. Paxton wrote that although same-sex couples would have to be accommodated, clerks could follow their religious beliefs and not issue the marriage licenses made legal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s a link to the full grievance.

From a press release sent by Maxey:

Paxton has violated the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The violations are as follows:

*R 1.06(b)(2): Paxton has a conflict of interest because his representation of his client (the State) is conflicted with his own self-interest in demagogic self-promotion to pander to his right-wing Tea Party supporters, even at the sacrifice of the rights of Texans
under the United States Constitution.

*Rule 4.01(a): in representing his client (the State), Paxton has clearly made “false statement of law” to the public, in derogation of the fundamental Law of the Land, the United States Constitution.

*Rule 8.04(a)(1): in assisting and inducing Assistant Attorneys General to make knowingly false statements of fact and law in patently erroneous legal opinions that are flatly inconsistent with the United States Constitution, as declared by the United States Supreme Court.

*Rule 8.04(a)(3): in engaging in conduct involving deceit, dishonesty, and misrepresentation, in issuing the false and misleading opinion.

*Rule 8.04(a)(12): Mr. Paxton has violated the statutes setting out his official duties, including Government Code sections 402.041-402.042, by failing to issue an opinion setting out truthfully “the legal reasons and principles on which it is based.”

*Rules 8.04(a)(3), 8.04(a)(12): Finally, and most egregiously, Paxton violated his sworn oaths of office. Specifically, he violated the statutory oath that he took to become licensed to practice law in Texas. Section 82.037 of the Texas Government Code required Paxton to swear that he would “support the constitutions of the United States and this state.” He has violated both that oath and the United States Constitution.

Additionally, Mr. Paxton violated his State Oath of Office, required under Article 16, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, in which he stated that he “will faithfully execute the duties of the office of Attorney General the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”

—  David Taffet

I’m applying to be game warden so I can refuse to issue hunting licenses

Taffet,DavidI’ve decided to apply to Texas Parks and Wildlife to become a game warden.

Unfortunately, hunting is against my religion, so, once appointed, I won’t be issuing any legally sanctioned government licenses. I do expect to be paid my full salary and I expect everyone who likes to hunt to understand because otherwise they’ll be interfering with my deeply held religious beliefs.

That’s because our attorney general, Ken Paxton, believes people who work for the government should have the right to follow their religious beliefs — and I’m sure he wasn’t just talking about same-sex marriage.

John Turner-McClelland serves as president of the Denton County Fresh Water Supply District 11-A. After closely considering what Jesus would do, he decided water and sewer systems aren’t for sinners.

“Shit in a bucket,” this religiously motivated public servant advised.

Following one’s religious beliefs should apply to all government employees who issue licenses. Everyone at the Department of Public Safety needs to take a good look at whom they’re letting drive.

Any Muslims work for the DPS? Well, in Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive. Why should they in Texas? If it’s your deeply held religious belief, don’t issue women driver’s licenses. Paxton says you don’t have to. It’s called accommodating your religious beliefs. Oh, and Paxton will make sure you receive your full pay, because, hell, you answer to a higher authority.

What about voter registration?

What if you happen to work in the registrar’s office and it’s your deeply held religious belief that no damn good comes from bigoted white people voting?

Ken Paxton’s got the answer for you.

Don’t register their bigoted asses. It’s against your deeply held values and to hell with Congress and the U.S. Constitution that says every citizen has a right to vote.

Work at the food counter in the county courthouse? I believe when I passed by there last week I saw B-L-T on the menu. If it was me, I’d refuse to sell it to you because bacon goes against my deeply held religious belief that pork is only kosher when wrapped in a wonton and served on Christmas Eve. In fact, the Levitical prohibition against pork uses the exact same word — toeveh — as against man lying with another man.

Ever wonder why it takes months for a new bar or restaurant to get its liquor license? A number of TABC agents are Baptist. You may qualify, but they don’t think you should be drinking. Or dancing, but that doesn’t take a license, except in Dallas where we still have dance hall permits.

So they just won’t — or shouldn’t — issue your license.

Because Ken Paxton said they didn’t have to if it’s their deeply held religious belief.

And if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness? They don’t believe in the sovereignty of the state, so they don’t have to issue any license whatsoever. But I’m sure they’ll stay on the payroll. Paxton wouldn’t want to discriminate.

Hopefully the next time Paxton gets on a plane, here’s the announcement he hears from the cockpit: “Good morning. I’m Captain Smith. Our flight to Houston would have taken 27 minutes, but I’m Amish and I don’t really believe in this form of transportation.”

—  David Taffet