Cathie cried: Abbott will not convene special session on marriage

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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

Texas Lege ends, now the fun begins; “bought and sold” series returns

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The Texas Capitol, site of a future “American Horror Story” season.

After staving off the threats of ISIS at the border, struggling with the godlessness of pre-kindergarten education and failing to save the evil Speaker Who Doesn’t Believe in the Messiah, the 84th legislature’s snake charmers finally went back home yesterday.

On the bright side: Per the state’s Constitution, they passed a budget. And their mighty efforts to slash taxes resulted in successfully saving the average homeowner…$200-something in property taxes.

Just as important, they’ve stopped screwing with your lives! Any legislation harmful to the LGBT community was thwarted!

The bad part: They’re now back home. They’re among us.

In the 84th tussle to burn the biggest effigy, LGBT advocates can happily claim a number of wins. The Romeo and Juliet bill made it to the floor for a vote after receiving bipartisan support in committee; religious discrimination language targeting LGBT children and families was defeated; and county clerks will not be barred from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But your valiant warriors worked to assure us they did indeed accomplish something. Enough, in fact, that those accomplishments won’t fit on a post card: the Senate passed a last-ditch resolution re-asserting their support for “traditional marriage” (as in, between a man and a woman, at least in the daylight); they found more ways to regulate uteri; and of course they gutted serious ethics reform legislation.

With such great accomplishments, now it’s time to watch the little substance of this past session turn into campaign fodder — or for many Republican incumbents who’ve earned the tea Party’s ire, liabilities.

I can’t wait to write about upcoming election cycle. I’ll continue to follow the money, reviving my “Bought and sold” series on dark money, campaign finances and right-wing boogeymen.

Bring it, 2016.

Or, if strictly speaking in presidential elections, 1992.

—  James Russell

Alabama probate judges ordered to issue marriage licenses once the Supreme Court rules

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

A federal district judge ordered all probate judges to comply with the U.S. Cconstitution and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — but the order doesn’t go into effect until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on marriage equality cases it heard in April.

The judge ruled after four civil rights organizations asked the judge to expand her earlier ruling.

Most Alabama probate judges started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in February after U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade declared an Alabama law and an Alabama constitutional provision banning same-sex marriages unconstitutional. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court then declined to stay Granade’s ruling.

On March 3, the Alabama Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages throughout the state by ordering probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Granade’s latest order overrides the Alabama Supreme Court’s order.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center jointly filed the motion March 6 asking Granade to expand her ruling to apply to all same-sex couples and all probate judges throughout the state.
 The original order only applied to Mobile County.

The district court’s order will take effect when the United States Supreme Court issues its decision in several pending cases seeking the freedom to marry in four states.

 

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Bell’s HB 4105 resurrected as an amendment, to be voted on as soon as tomorrow

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Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia.

Texas state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, intends to attach an amendment similar to his previous bill barring the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples to a bill protecting clergy from being forced to perform same-sex marriages during a House floor vote on Thursday, May 21.

Bell filed HB 4105, also known as “The Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act,”  ahead of an anticipated summer Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality. It would have withheld pay from county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After its defeat last week, Bell told reporters he wasn’t giving up on it.

Though an amendment must be considered germane to a bill, Equality Texas reports that Bell intends to attach HB 4105 to SB 2065, which passed the Senate last week on a 21-10 vote with all Republicans and one Democrat voting for it.

While HB 4105 died before it could get a vote, it garnered  support from the majority of the House HOP caucus.

During the debate over SB 2065, the ACLU, Equality Texas and Texas Freedom Network advocated for language that a clergy member may only refuse to officiate marriages that violate their conscience “in that official capacity.” Despite their efforts Estes refused in both the State Affairs Committee hearing and on the Senate floor to add the language.

Without the four words, opponents argued, faith leaders may be able to refuse to perform same-sex marriage if they serve in a secular capacity, such as justice of the peace or county clerk.

Proponents, including numerous conservative faith leaders, argued the bill was necessary to protect their right to deny performing a same-sex marriage.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Child welfare religious discrimination amendment killed

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Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney.

An amendment considered harmful by various LGBT advocacy groups was killed by one of its opponents today (Monday, May 18).

Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, attached the amendment to SB 206, a sunset review bill of the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services. The amendment was killed after Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, raised a point of order.

Similar to his HB 3864, it would have allowed child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBT people as well as those of other faiths, interfaith couples and anyone else to whom a provider objects for religious reasons.

Though Sanford’s bill died last Thursday, May 14, he said he planned to attach it as an amendment to the sunset bill. An amendments may attach to a bills if it is ruled germane to the bill, per House rules.

Legislators had been looking to derail the amendment since Sanford first pulled it from consideration last week. Attempts to kill the amendment consistently failed.

—  James Russell

Rep. Linda Koop alienates some LGBT supporters and constituents

KoopMembers of the LGBT community in Dallas were outraged this weekend when they discovered freshman Rep. Linda Koop signed a letter supporting HB 4105. She is one of 93 out of 98 House Republicans who signed the letter.

“This is a woman who has been to our house numerous times, has attended Richard’s birthday parties, and has a GAY BROTHER,” wrote Jeff Henderson on his Facebook page. His partner is Richard Shampain. “So disappointed in her and her lack of leadership.”

Henderson’s post on her campaign Facebook page was immediately removed. He got a screen shot of his post before it was deleted.

Koop is a former Dallas City Councilwoman who regularly supported the LGBT community during her time on the council. Her brother is former City Councilman Paul Fielding, who is gay.

DGLA President Patti Fink said her message to Koop was promptly deleted as well.

Koop represents a North Dallas district. In the November election that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Dallas City Charter’s nondiscrimination policy, every precinct in Koop’s district voted for the measure. That measure passed with 77 percent of the vote, getting more votes of support than any of the 11 measures on the November 2014 ballot.

Rep. Jason Villalba, a Republican who represents Northeast Dallas, was one of five House Republicans who did not sign the letter. Every precinct in his district voted for the measure also.

—  David Taffet

Luxembourg’s prime minister marries

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married Gauthier Destenay today (Friday, May 15).

Bettel announced earlier this week that Destanay proposed and he accepted.He said they would have a low-key ceremony.

The ceremony was held at City Hall in Luxembourg City and was attended by the Belgian and Estonian prime ministers, who are straight.

Luxembourg became a marriage-equality country in January.

Bettel has been Prime Minister for 18 months.

Here’s a report from Wochit News:

—  David Taffet

Luxembourg’s gay prime minister to marry

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Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, left, and partner Gauthier Destenay (photo from Facebook)

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will marry his partner, Gauthier Destenay, later this week. The couple has been in a civil union since 2010.

Luxembourg became a marriage equality country earlier this year.

Destenay proposed, according to the Prime Minister. He told the Los Angeles Times, “He asked and I said yes.”

They plan a private wedding and Bettel told the newspaper Luxembourger Wort they have no time for a honeymoon.

Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe. The population is less than 550,000 and it is 998 square miles. To compare, Dallas County is 908 square miles with a population of 2.48 million.

The country’s deputy prime minister Etienne Schneider is also gay.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: 90 of 98 House GOP support bill against issuance of same sex marriage licenses

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This post has been updated throughout to reflect additional co-authors.

Ninety of the 98 members of the House GOP have signed onto a bill that would bar the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses, more than any other piece of legislation explicitly targeting the LGBT community.

A vote is scheduled today (Tuesday, May 12) for HB 4105, known as “The Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act,” by Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia. It would preempt an anticipated summer Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality.

37 co-authors and a joint author have signed on since Monday, April 27. Recent coauthors include last minute hold outs Reps. Rodney Anderson of Irving, a co-author as of yesterday (Monday, May 11) and J.D. Sheffield of Gatesville, a co-author as of Friday, May 8. Additionally Reps. Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake, Byron Cook of Corsicana, Charlie Geren of Fort Worth and Brooks Landgraf of Odessa, who have earned the ire of arch-conservative groups, have signed onto the bill.

University of North Texas Associate Professor of Political Science Matthew Eshbaugh–Soha said legislators could have any number of reasons to sign onto the bill.

In general, “I suspect this was a deal, either pushed by the sponsors of the bill (please support this and I will support you later) or interest groups (who have found the time and resources to attract support),” he wrote via e-mail. “Knowing the facts behind which bills can help to tell which particular story is the right one.”

Of the eight remaining Republican legislators whose names are absent, there is no single ideological reason; they range from Tea Party Republicans to the more traditional business-friendly Republicans – the latter of whom are more likely to steer clear of discriminatory legislation.

For instance, Empower Texans and others back Rep. Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, while other legislators have earned their ire. They include Dallas County Reps. Jason Villalba and Linda Koop, both of Dallas, and Morgan Meyer of Highland Park. Other missing signatories include Reps. Sarah Davis of West University Place, Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi and John Smithee of Amarillo. The final Republican, House Speaker Joe Straus, neither authors nor sponsors legislation and also abstains from voting.

HB 3567 by Rep. Scott Sanford comes in a near second with 83 signatories, including three Democrats. That bill is also scheduled for a vote today. Reps. Goldman and Smithee are among its co-authors.

Its companion SB 2065 by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, reasserts a clergy member’s right to refuse to perform a marriage that is against their religious beliefs.  It passed the Senate yesterday, on a 21-10 vote with Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, joining all Republicans. It is scheduled for a final procedural vote today.

—  James Russell

Dallas Voice signed amicus brief

Editor’s note: This is a repost because Facebook glitch blocked our earlier post.

amicus briefEven though the hearing is over and an expected two month wait has begun, I just learned Dallas Voice signed an amicus brief to Obergefell v. Ohio, the marriage equality case.

The brief was signed by 379 business across the country. Dallas Voice is the only LGBT publication among the signers.

Major North Texas-based businesses on the list are American Airlines, AT&T and Kimberley-Clark. No, ExxonMobil, surprisingly, isn’t there.

Several other small businesses from the area are also among the signers including Law Office of Lorie L. Burch PC, David Mack Henderson Income Tax Preparation, Steve Graves Insurance Agency, Stonewall Behavioral Health and Uptown Physicians Group.

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce are two of several local LGBT chambers to sign.

No Texas sports franchises are includes. The New England Patriots is the only professional sports team listed.

The brief’s theme is business benefits from diversity.

“To reap the rewards of diversity, employers need to be able to recruit and retain top talent, in part though equitable and competitive benefits packages,” the brief states.

“Employees in same-sex relationships receive varying, if any, access to the rights, benefits and privileges that different-sex couples enjoy,” it says.

The brief concludes, “marriage discrimination injures amici’s [signers] businesses.

—  David Taffet