BREAKING: Senate confirms first openly gay man as federal district judge in Texas

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U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Robert Pitman to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, making him the first openly gay federal district court judge in Texas, according to reports by LGBTQNation.com.

The Western District court had been vacant for six years. The vote to confirm Pitman came late Tuesday evening, Dec. 16.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who has never been a friend of the LGBT community, is getting credit for Pitman being confirmed — but not because Cruz suddenly had a change of heart on LGBT issues.

In an effort to force a vote on what he called President Obama’s “illegal executive amnesty” for immigrants, Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Friday, Dec. 12,  scuttled a bipartisan agreement that would have prevented weekend votes in the Senate. The ban on weekend votes would have meant the Senate would have run out of time before being able to vote on confirming more than a dozen of the president’s judicial and executive nominees, including Pitman, who likely would not have been confirmed if they had been forced to wait until next year when the GOP will control the Senate.

But when Cruz and Lee sidelined the agreement, that opened the door for current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to call the Senate back into session on Saturday and get those votes through.

Pitman, a former magistrate judge in Austin, had led the San Antonio-based federal prosecuting office since 2011 when he became the first openly gay U.S. attorney in Texas. He had also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the same district from 1990 to 2003.

—  Tammye Nash

Cruz, Gohmert among Texas officials inducted into HRC’s Hall of Shame

Louie GohmertIf you didn’t know already, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Louie Gohmert aren’t LGBT allies. Today HRC enshrined their anti-LGBT legacies in its inaugural Hall of Shame, recognizing a bipartisan group of legislators who rank poorly on their annual congressional scorecard.

The latest scorecard will be released Thurs., Oct. 9, on the HRC website here.

Joined by Cruz and Gohmert are 16 other members of the 113th Congress, including two additional Texans, Reps. Randy Neugebauer and Randy Weber. While there are a lot of anti-LGBT members in the Texas delegation and in Congress, HRC notes this list is not solely based on votes but clear vitriol and rhetoric lobbed at the LGBT community.

“HRC identified these elected officials … by looking at their voting records in this and previous Congresses, their introduction and co-sponsorships of anti-LGBT legislation and their public statements. These elected officials’ legislative actions, votes and anti-LGBT vitriol unfortunately marks them with a modern day scarlet letter,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director in a statement. ”Although Congress is beginning to catch up with the American people in supporting LGBT equality, Representative Gohmert [and Sen. Ted Cruz] record stands in stark contrast to the views of the majority of Americans,” Stacy added.

Gohmert is a vitriolic, right-wing lightning rod with a law degree representing a chunk of East Texas. HRC cited his colorful allusions of the LGBT community in explaining its choice. “Gohmert always has negative things to say about LGBT people.  Not content to falsely blame gay men for pedophilia, or state with certainty that same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality, his outrageous comparison this Congress was to compare LGBT advocates to Nazis.”

Gohmert recently passed on the opportunity to run in the GOP primary against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. He didn’t, and instead Texas got to see his fellow Republican Rep. Steve Stockman crushed.

Cruz is a vitriolic, right-wing lightning rod with a law degree (hah, see that?) who was elected to the Senate in 2012 who is considering a presidential run. Stacy did not hesitate to ding the feisty Cruz. “[He] likes to stand out in a crowd.  As the author of the federal ‘State Marriage Defense Act’ introduced in February, he collaborated with his Texas colleague Rep. Randy Weber to make sure his same-sex married constituents would have no federal protections.  He is actively working to prevent marriage equality from becoming a reality for all Americans. Following the Supreme Court’s action on Monday to reject the appeals requests of five states with same-sex marriage bans ruled unconstitutional by lower courts, Senator Cruz announced he will introduce a constitutional amendment barring the federal government and the courts from overturning state marriage laws.”

Joining Gohmert, Neugebauer and Weber in the House are: 2012 GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachman (R-MN), Andy Harris (R-MD), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Mike Kelly (R- PA), Steve King (R-IA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Tim Walberg (R-MI). Bachmann and McIntyre are not running for re-election.

Cruz is joined by Michael Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Enzi, Inhofe and Sessions are all up for re-election this fall but are expected to cruise to re-election.

—  James Russell

Ted Cruz takes up fight for heterosexual privilege

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-originally from Canada) has taken up the fight for heterosexual privilege and discrimination against same-sex couples. He introduced the so-called State Marriage Defense Act of 2014. His only co-sponsor is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Canada is a marriage equality country. Texas, which Cruz represents, and Utah both have marriage-discrimination laws that have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

The bill would force the federal government to consider a couple’s place of residence rather than place of ceremony and invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

Cruz claims his law would make the federal government respect all 50 states. However, federal regulations simply take place of celebration into account and do not invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

The regulations do not force states to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. For example, married couples must file their federal income taxes as married, but the regulations do not force states to allow couples married elsewhere to file as married.

If Cruz’s law were to pass and be signed into law, gays and lesbians who live in marriage-discrimination states would lose social security, disability and other benefits making those states’ residents poorer.

Since he joined Congress in 2013, no legislation — this doesn’t include resolutions and amendments — Cruz sponsored has passed and been signed into law.

—  David Taffet

Clinton beats four Republicans in Quinnipiac Poll of Iowa voters

Secretary of State Hillary ClintonIn head-to-head match ups in Iowa against Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton would be the winner by at least 10 points according to a Quinnipiac Poll released  Thursday. Iowa is important because it’s the first state to have a contest for delegates to the national Democratic and Republican conventions.

The Republican that scores best against Clinton is Paul. As of this month’s poll, she’s running 10 points ahead of him in Iowa at 49 to 39 percent. The others are listed as undecided, wouldn’t vote or wanting someone else.

Clinton polls 13 points ahead of Chris Christie at 48 to 35 percent. In December, Clinton trailed Christie by 5 points, according to Quinnipiac.

In a race between Bush and Clinton, Clinton would win by 14 points and attracts a majority of voters at 51 to 37 percent. In 1992, when Clinton’s husband ran again Bush’s father, Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush by less than 6 percent in the national election.

The final match up pitted Clinton against Cruz. In that poll, she won by 16 points at 51 to 35 percent. In a December poll, she was only 7 points ahead of the Texas senator.

Full results can be found here. There’s still two years before the Iowa Caucuses.

—  David Taffet

Sen. Ted Cruz introduces anti-gay marriage bill

Ted CruzU.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has introduced a bill to defend states’ rights to define marriage.

Cruz introduced the State Marriage Defense Act Thursday to amend U.S. law “with regard to the definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ for Federal purposes and to ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is the bill’s only co-sponsor.

“It will ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states that have chosen to recognize same-sex unions,” said a statement issued by the authors.

“I support traditional marriage. Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to re-define marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens,” Cruz said in a statement. “The Obama Administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states. We should respect the states, and the definition of marriage should be left to democratically elected legislatures, not dictated from Washington. This bill will safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for its residents.”

The Republican senator from Texas is the second congressman to introduce anti-gay marriage legislation this year. Congressman Randy Weber, R-Friendswood, filed the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 in January to require the federal government to issue benefits only to same-sex couples who live in states with marriage equality. After June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government recognizes all same-sex marriages for benefits despite where a couple resides.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Sen. Ted Cruz talks gay marriage, Obamacare with Jay Leno

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz appeared on The Tonight Show Friday night, discussing his public image, Obamacare and gay marriage with host Jay Leno.

Leno jumped right in, asking Cruz during his late-night debut about his unflattering image during his 10 months in Washington.

“I’ve been reading a lot about you lately,” Leno said, “and they describe you as aggressive, arrogant and abrasive. Accurate?”

“I don’t know that you can believe everything you read,” Cruz said. “You know, what I’m trying to do is do my job. And occasionally people don’t like that.”

Leno later touched on Obamacare and how the 25 percent of uninsured Texans must want the coverage, but Cruz countered with it wouldn’t help people who have insurance keep their plans and would hurt jobs.

Asked if he’s against gay marriage, Cruz said, “I support marriage between one man and one woman. But I also think it’s a question for the states. Some states have made decisions one way on gay marriage. “Some states have made decisions the other way. And that’s the great thing about our Constitution, is different states can make different decisions depending on the values of their citizens.”

Leno then brought up Cruz’s father, Dallas-based pastor Rafael Cruz, who’s made headlines recently for saying that the goal behind gay marriage is to destroy the traditional family in order to pave the way for communism.

“My father is a pastor. He’s a man of deep integrity and you know, some folks have decided to try to go after him because they want to take some shots at me,” Cruz said. “… I think the critics are better off attacking me. My dad has been my hero my whole life.”

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released last week found that 32 percent of Texas Republicans favor Cruz as the GOP presidential nominee in 2016. As for other possible nominees, 13 percent of Texas Republicans favor Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, 10 percent favor Rand Paul, 6 percent favor Bobby Jindal, and 5 percent favor Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan.

Watch the three-part interview below.

—  Dallasvoice

Gay-bashing GOP candidates in TX may face bleak future in private sector

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Anti-gay bigotry may still be an effective wedge in Republican primaries in Texas, but apparently it doesn’t always serve losing candidates well when they try to go back into the private sector.

During his campaign for U.S. Senate in Texas last year, former SMU and NFL star running back Craig James spewed rabidly anti-gay rhetoric.

During a debate I attended at the Dallas Country Club, for example, James came out against civil unions. He also said being gay is a choice and said gay people will have to “answer to the lord for their actions.”

“I think it’s a choice, I do,” James said. “You have to make that choice, absolutely.… Same-sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, then that’s them, and God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions, but in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions. It should not occur. We have to stay strong on this. This is important, man. I tell you what, we have a fiscal issue in this county, but we also have a moral issue in this country, and as Christians we better stand up.”

—  John Wright

WATCH: Ted Cruz’s dad says same-sex marriage is part of socialist plot

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Just when you thought there was no one nuttier than Ted Cruz, it turns out there is. And guess what? It’s his father!

At least now we know where little Teddy gets it from. Apparently, he’s got some major daddy issues.

In case you missed it, our junior senator was back in Iowa last weekend — even though he’s still not officially running for president — to address Bob Vander Plaats’ rabidly anti-gay group, the Family Leader. But first Cruz’s dad, Carrollton pastor Rafael Cruz, riled up the crowd with a fire-and-brimstone speech about how Obamacare represents socialism which is also caused by gay marriage — or something like that.

“Socialism requires that government becomes your God,” Rafael Cruz said. “That’s why they have to destroy the concept of God. They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty to government. That’s what’s behind homosexual marriage. It’s really more about the destruction of the traditional family than about exalting homosexuality, because you need to destroy also loyalty to the family.”

On a side note, who knew Ted Cruz’s dad was a pastor in Carrollton? That happens to be the same city where right-wingers attacked Mayor Becky Miller several years ago for riding in Dallas’ gay Pride parade. Of course, Ted Cruz would later attack former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert for riding in the same parade during their Senate campaign last year. Coincidence? Either way, this father-son relationship is pretty creepy.

Watch a clip of Rafael Cruz’s speech below.

—  John Wright

Ted Cruz wants to cram his anti-gay religious beliefs down America’s throat

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

The other day we wondered whether anti-gay Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s likely running for president in 2016, would support a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, given that he seems to think marriage is a state issue — at least when it suits his argument.

Not surprisingly, Cruz’s office never responded to our inquiry, but we may have gotten our answer anyway in the form of an interview Cruz did with the Christan Broadcasting Network’s David Brody this week. In the interview, Cruz warned that marriage equality in the U.S. threatens religious freedoms.

“If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage,” Cruz said, “that’s the next step of where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government.”

It’s sad but not surprising that Cruz would resort to such an over-the-top scare tactic in an effort to pander to evangelical voters. Can he point to a single case from any of the 13 states where same-sex marriage is legal in which a pastor has been prosecuted for refusing to perform same-sex weddings? Of course not, and that’s partly because marriage-equality laws are being specifically and carefully written to protect religious freedoms. The problem is that Cruz’s definition of religious freedom has nothing to do with the First Amendment. To him, religious freedom means the “freedom” of anti-gay zealots like himself to impose their religion on other people.

Watch Cruz’s comments to Brody below.

—  John Wright

If Ted Cruz is elected president, would he try to ban gay Pride parades?

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz visited Iowa on Friday to speak at a decidedly anti-gay “Pastors’ Policy Briefing” — an appearance viewed as yet another sign Cruz plans to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

According to multiple reports, Cruz received a favorable response from the folks in Iowa, and several media outlets, including Politico and Salon, are now treating him as a legitimate contender.

Which should be a frightening prospect for the LGBT community.

During his campaign for Senate last year, Cruz repeatedly attacked another Republican candidate, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, for appearing in the city’s gay Pride parade. During a candidate forum I attended at the Dallas Country Club, the moderator noted these attacks and asked Cruz whether he has something against gay people:

“I have something against gay marriage,” Cruz responded. “I don’t support gay marriage. I think there is an onslaught right now in this country to tear down traditional marriage, and I don’t think it’s right.”

—  John Wright