LEGE UPDATE: Anti-gay ‘family and traditional values’ item not in Senate’s version of budget

Daniel Williams

The absence of a homophobic budget amendment, movement on anti-bullying legislation and the most adorable committee hearing in recent memory marked this, the 17th week of the Texas Legislature’s 20-week regular session.

The infamous anti-gay amendment to the Texas budget — which would require universities to fund “family and traditional values centers” if they have LGBT resource centers — isn’t in the Senate version budget. While the state’s media focused on whether the Senate would actually vote on the budget, the Finance Committee seems to have quietly skipped over the provision, added by amendment in the House by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center. Last week the American Independent reported that the Christian amendment would have little to no impact, but its absence from the Senate budget is cause for celebration for LGBT Texans.

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, greeted the news with cautious optimism, explaining that the budget is a massive document, 854 pages long, and although the “family and traditional values” language isn’t in Article III Sec. 56, the entire text would have to be carefully searched before the amendment’s absence was certain.

“If it really is out of there, then I’m pleased,” Smith said, “but I need to do research.”

The full text of the Senate budget can be found here.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Country star Blake Shelton promotes anti-gay violence; more on Lisa Stone

Blake Shelton

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea.

1. CBS released another excerpt Wednesday night from Sherry Henry’s interview with 48 Hours Mystery, which will air an hourlong episode Saturday about the disappearance of Dallas lesbian Lisa Stone in June 2010. Henry is Stone’s former partner and the only person of interest in the case, and Stone’s friends believe Henry knows something about her disappearance. In the below story that aired on CBS 11 last night, Henry says: “You will not tear down my life. You will not point the finger at me, until you have verifiable proof that I have ever done anything other than support Lisa Stone in whatever she wanted to accomplish in her life. Lisa and I love each other. End of discussion!”

2. The Texas Senate passed a version of the budget Wednesday that would fund anticipated enrollment growth in the Texas HIV Medication Program, which provides lifesaving medication to low-income people with HIV/AIDS. The House’s version of the budget doesn’t fund any enrollment growth in the program, which is expected to amount to about 3,000 new clients over the next two years. It’s now up to a House-Senate conference committee to decide the level of funding for the program — and sort out the rest of the differences between the two budget bills. Overall, the Senate’s budget would spend $12 billion more in state and federal funds than the House’s version. The Senate approved its version of the budget in a 19-12 vote along party lines, after waving a rule that normally requires two-thirds support for bills to reach the floor. All 12 Democrats voted against the Senate budget, saying it cuts too deeply into education and social services. It was not immediately clear whether the Senate budget included an amendment from Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, that would require schools with LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on centers for “family and traditional values.”

3. Blake Shelton, a country music star from Ada, Okla., and a judge on the NBC show The Voice, sent out the above tweet last night which appears to promote anti-gay violence. The tweet follows a homophobic comment Shelton made last month at the ACM Awards, when he suggested that Jake Gyllenhaal broke up with Taylor Swift because he’s gay.

—  John Wright