Araguz booking raises questions about Harris County jail’s treatment of transgender inmates

Judge Vanessa Valasquez

Judge Vanessa Valasquez

According to the Houston Chronicle, Nikki Araguz has been booked into the Harris County Jain after arriving 40 minutes late for a scheduled court appearance on Friday. The court date was to allow Araguz to plead guilty to charges that she stole a watch from an acquaintance last year. Under the proposed plea bargain Araguz would have paid $2,600 in restitution and served 15 days in county jail. State District Judge Vanessa Velasquez, a Republican first appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry, responded to Araguz’ apologies for her tardiness with “It’s too late for sorry,” ordering bailiffs to escort her to a hold cell next to the courtroom.

Araguz is the widow of firefighter Capt. Thomas Araguz who died in the line of duty last year. Capt. Araguz’s ex-wife and mother have sued to claim the portion of his survivor’s benefits reserved for the spouses of slain firefighters, claiming that since Nikki Araguz was identified as male at birth the marriage was invalid under Texas’ laws prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage. Mrs. Araguz’s birth certificate identifies her as female, as does her state issued identification.

Araguz’s booking has raised questions about the Harris County’s treatment of transgender detainees. The Sheriff Department’s Public Information Inquiry System listed Araguz using her male birth name on Friday. They have since removed the name from the site’s searchable database but have retained the record, listing it under the department’s “special person number” (SPN) filing system. The SPN record includes Araguz’s birth name. The Sheriff’s office has not returned calls from Houstini asking why the department is not using Araguz’s legal name and if this is common practice.

According to a friend who has visited Araguz at the jail her identity bracelet correctly identifies her gender as “F” – but reflects Araguz’s birth name, not her legal name. Araguz is segregated from the general jail population, but can receive visitors during regular visiting hours.

Araguz will remain in the Harris County Jail until Jan 25 when she is scheduled to appear again before Judge Velasquez.

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Newly named anti-gay hate groups plead victimhood but do not address charges

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Apparently some organizations who are on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list and profiles of anti-gay hate groups aren't happy about it and their spokespeople are addressing the issue.

But the venue that they chose to address SPLC's list and the way that they are saying (or rather what they are not saying) raises some questions as to the accuracy of their complaints.

Coral Ridge Ministries's Robert Knight, Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright, and Christian Anti-Defamation Coalition head Gary L. Cass all responded in outraged tones over SPLC's either profiling or designating their organizations as anti-gay hate groups.

The venue where they choose to address the charges was on the pages of World Net Daily, an online publication which is infamous for its anti-gay rhetoric.

A writer on the site, Les Kinsolving, has in the past referred to the lgbt community as the “sodomy lobby.”

In October of this year, he called a judge’s order to stop enforcement of the military’s ban on gay and lesbian troops in the military as a “disease ridden judicial decision.”

In August of this year, the publication dropped conservative writer Ann Coulter as a keynote speaker from a conference it held because she earlier spoke at a conference held by a gay Republican group.

And in February of this year, another writer on World Net Daily, Molotov Mitchell, spoke out in favor of Uganda's “Kill The Gays” bill, even evoking Martin Luther King Jr's name in defense of it. 

Joining Cass, Perkins, and Knight was Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in an official statement which may not have been put out to World Net Daily specifically but was still picked up by the publication.

The irony of appearing in an anti-gay online publication in order to complain about being unfairly targeted as anti-gay seemed to have escaped Perkins, Wright, Knight, and Cass. This is probably because they were too busy pleading victimhood.

Knight - “Smearing legitimate groups merely for disagreeing about homosexuality is a very hateful act.”

Perkins“The Left's smear campaigns of conservatives is being driven by the clear evidence that the American public is losing patience with their radical policy agenda as seen in the recent election and in the fact that every state, currently more than thirty, that has had the opportunity to defend the natural definition of marriage has done so . . .”

Cass“We are going to form a coalition of organizations to lobby Congress to withhold funds from SPLC.”

Wright - “If they were to judge according to actions, they would have to have a special section for homosexual groups that vandalize and threaten people who oppose the homosexual agenda. We've had death threats against us posted openly on websites because of our work to uphold traditional marriage.”

Of course Wright did not say just which lgbt groups were threatening her organization. Nor did she, Knight, Perkins, or Cass directly address any of the charges lodged by the SPLC, which are listed in a detailed report.

For the record, Knight, whose name pops up several times in the report, is inaccurate when he said that groups are being smeared for voicing a mere objection to homosexuality. SPLC said the following in the report:

Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

SPLC also gave a detailed description as to what these falsehoods are, including the claims that:

Gays molest children at a higher rate than heterosexuals,

Same sex parents harm children,

Gays have a lifespan shorter than heterosexuals, and

Gays controlled the Nazi party in Germany and helped orchestrate the Holocaust.

SPLC contends that these groups are knowingly pushing these falsehoods.

Now it would seem to me that through all of the whining and clinging to the cross of victimization done by Knight, Perkins, Wright, and Cass would be some type of declaration that these charges aren't true.

Maybe some type of short statement such as “we never said these things” or “we were misconstrued.”

But none of the four denied the fact that their organizations are pushing these falsehoods.

So while it seems that these groups aren't ignoring SPLC's charges, it's obvious that they are doing a insanely poor job of refuting them.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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