LEGE UPDATE: Highlights from the Texas House debate on Wayne Christian’s anti-gay amendment

Rep. Wayne Christian

Allies fight off effort to ban LGBT resource centers

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO OF THE DEBATE

Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, lost his fight to ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities on Thursday night.

Christian had previously been successful in attaching an amendment to the House version of the state budget that would have required schools with LGBT resource centers to equally  fund “family and traditional values centers.” But the amendment was absent from the Senate version of the bill and is not in the final version of the budget adopted two weeks ago.

Then, on Thursday the House took up the controversial “fiscal matters” bill that, among other things, provides funding for public education in Texas. Christian took this opportunity to offer an amendment to completely ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities.

When Christian passed his amendment to the budget back in April, it sailed through with no House members speaking in opposition, and only one, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, asking questions. In contrast, his new amendment met with vocal opposition, as well as a threat to derail the entire fiscal matters bill if the discriminatory language was attached.

Christian began by saying that his original amendment passed with no opposition in the House (in fact, 24 members voted against it), that his new amendment was supported by the Young Conservatives of Texas and that the Texas A&M Student Senate had passed a resolution in support, although he didn’t mention that the resolution was vetoed by the Student Body President Jacob Robinson.

—  admin

The women of the Texas House are MAD! Senfronia Thompson speaks up on House floor against fliers disrespectful to women

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson

Texas state Rep. Senfronia Thompson — someone I have for whom immense admiration and respect for many reasons, not the least of which is her passionate support of LGBT rights — took a moment of personal privilege today on the House floor to let loose on the Texas Civil Justice League, which distributed fliers targeting Thompson HB 2093 which deals with insurance and contractors. Thompson wasn’t angry that the TCJL opposes her legislation. What made her mad was the photo on the flier: a close up of an breastfeeding infant over which were written the words “Don’t expand the nanny state.”

“Some of you may find them funny, but I find them despicable. I find them distasteful. I find them hateful, and I find them to foster violence and disrespect toward women. And I find it hard to believe the Texas Civil Justice League would go so low that they would put out this kind of hate resentful bitter, despicable, despisable, violent fliers toward women just to get at a piece of legislation. They could have come and talked to me,” Thompson said. “We cannot sit here and tolerate this kind of attitude.”

But it wasn’t just the Texas Civil Justice League that bore the brunt of Thompson’s anger. She also criticized the male members of the House for allowing and even perpetuating an atmosphere of such disrespect toward women to exist in the first place that the flier was even produced in the first place.

“Men, if you don’t stand up for us today, you don’t walk in this chamber tomorrow!” Thompson demanded.

And she wasn’t the only woman who was angry.

Houston Democrat Rep. Carol Alvarado led what she said was a bipartisan group of female legislators to the chamber’s back mic where she spoke up to call the flyer is a “below-the-belt political tactic.” And Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Republican from Tomball spoke up in support of “Mrs. T,” adding that she has been appalled to see pornography on the House floor. Riddle didn’t elaborate on her statement.

Even if I were to transcribe Rep. Thompson’s speech for you here, word for word, I couldn’t do it justice. So instead, I’ll just post the video and let you hear it for yourself.

—  admin

LEGE UPDATE: Trans marriage ban on life support; suicide prevention bill advances

Daniel Williams

Acrimony in the House, the return of a transphobic Senate bill and renewed hope for community input in HIV programs marked the 18th week of the Texas Legislature’s regular session, one of the most contentious thus far.

The House had its first Saturday meeting of the session last week, and it set the tone for everything to come. House rules require 100 members to be present to establish a quorum. When the 10 a.m. meeting started, only 113 members were in the House chamber. Democrats realized that, just by walking out, they could end the business of the House, which included controversial “loser pays” changes to how lawsuits work in Texas. The legislation had already been defeated but was placed back on the House’s to-do list by GOP Gov. Rick Perry, who declared it an “emergency item.”

While the Democrats where contemplating a walk-out, Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, the author of Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, asked for a roll call, which would have locked the House doors, preventing any members from leaving. Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, then asked about sending state troopers out to find the missing members, some of whom had gone home to celebrate Mother’s Day. A debate erupted over a threat by Republicans to “set aside the rules” using their two-thirds super majority and prevent all debate on future bills. Tempers flared. At one point Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, who is known for his even disposition, literally threw his House rule book across the room.

Things eventually settled and the House continued its business, eventually passing the contentious lawsuit legislation without allowing debate. The hurt feelings and bruised relationships would continue to influence business in the House for the rest of the week.

On Monday, Senate Bill 723, the anti-transgender marriage bill that’s been lurking on the Senate’s schedule for a month, was put back on the the “intent calendar” for Tuesday. The intent calendar is a fast-track list of bills that require two-thirds of Senators to agree to bring them up for a vote. Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign, the Transgender Education Network of Texas and other groups issued alerts to LGBT Texans to call their senators in hopes of finally defeating the bill.

—  admin