How much do they pay the gays in Texas?

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, shown being sworn in January, is only the second-highest-paid openly LGBT government employee in Texas.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, shown at her inauguration in January, is the second-highest-paid openly LGBT government employee in Texas.

Earlier today I stumbled upon The Texas Tribune’s handy-dandy database of Government Employee Salaries, which claims to contain salary information for 480,000 workers at 62 agencies, schools, cities, counties and transit operations. Naturally my first thought was to type in some openly LGBT government employees (although unfortunately there is no search parameter for “gay”). After the jump, a sampling of what 15 out public employees in Texas make.

—  John Wright

Trans couple in Texas case reminds us that marriage should be about love, not gender

Sabrina_Hill_Therese_Bur_TX_TRIBUNE_IPA_11_jpg_800x1000_q100
The Texas Tribune

Therese Bur and Sabrina Hill’s recent same-sex marriage in San Antonio was only possible due to an apparent loophole, and some in the LGBT community say their marriage is disingenuous and creates unnecessary confusion, but we disagree. For one thing, we’re thrilled that the marriage has stumped the hell out of right-wingers in Texas, including Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Rep. Warren Chisum. Above all, though, we see it as a touching love story and a compelling case for equal benefits for all couples, regardless of gender. The Texas Tribune has posted an in-depth piece about the Bur and Hill that’s well worth reading in its entirety. Here’s a snippet:

For Hill and Bur, getting married was about more than a public declaration of their lifelong commitment to each other or making a statement about equal rights. The two have been living for years in poverty. They live in the house they’ve been building in rural Hudspeth County, just east of El Paso. They can’t afford a hot water heater, and recently they’ve had trouble finding a way to pay Bur’s medical bills. If they were legally married, though, Hill could draw more monthly benefits from the Veterans Administration (she served in the Army), and Bur could get health insurance. After the El Paso clerk turned down their request for a marriage license, Bur says she was despondent, ready to give up. “I thought maybe we should just continue on in poverty,” she says. “It’s not fun, but we can do this.” Hill told her to have faith.

—  John Wright

Naomi Gonzalez reflects on being gay-baited by Norma Chavez — but still doesn't come out

I’ve left phone messages and e-mails with Naomi Gonzalez’s campaign in the last few weeks trying to get an interview with the next representative for El Paso’s District 76 in the Texas House. If you’ll remember, Gonzalez was called a lesbian by incumbent Rep. Norma Chavez prior to their April runoff, which Gonzalez won.

Gonzalez has neither confirmed nor denied that she’s gay, so you can probably guess what my first question would be, and maybe that’s why she’d rather talk to The Texas Tribune. In the above video interview posted earlier today, the Tribune’s Brandi Grissom asks Gonzalez whether she thinks Chavez’s gay-baiting backfired, and what the response was like in El Paso. But Grissom never asks Gonzalez whether she is in fact a lesbian, and Gonzalez never says, unless you count the “three paychecks” comment in her first answer below. I’ve posted a transcript, as well as a little commentary, after the jump.

—  John Wright

Tarleton State University cancels performance of gay-themed play, citing safety concerns

So much for free expression.

The much-publicized performance of a gay-themed play at Tarleton State University, scheduled for Saturday morning, was canceled Friday night due to safety concerns, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Tarleton State President F. Dominic Dottavio issued a statement earlier Friday calling the play “offensive, crude and irreverent,” but adding that stopping the production would amount to a violation of free expression. However, the university issued a statement later saying the class’s professor canceled the play due to concerns about students’ safety and the need to maintain an orderly academic environment.

Also, Friday, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst issued a statement condemning the play, according to The Texas Tribune. Here’s what Dewhurst said:

“Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech, but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the majority of Americans.

Texans don’t deserve to see their hard-earned tax money used to debase their religion. This lewd display runs completely contrary to the standards of scholastic excellence and common decency that we demand in our publicly-funded institutions for higher learning.”

—  John Wright

A complete breakdown of those poll results on same-sex marriage in Texas

In today’s Voice I shared some results from a recent poll conducted by the University of Texas and The Texas Tribune, which asked respondents if they support marriage, civil unions or just nothing for same-sex couples. Some may be wondering where I got the “crosstabs,” which break down the numbers on the gay marriage question according to things like political party affiliation, race, age, ideology etc. Well they’re on the Texas Politics Web site, buried in a 200-page PDF document. But thanks to the prowess of DV production guru Kristina Walton, we’ve extracted the pertinent pages and posted them here. And as you can see, the breakdown of the gay marriage question starts at the bottom of Page 171 and ends on Page 177. Told you I’m not making this shit up!

—  John Wright

Poll: 63% of Texans back some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples

(From The Texas Tribune)
(From www.TexasTribune.org)

Sixty-three percent of Texans support some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, whether it be marriage or civil unions, according to the results of a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released today. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they support same-sex marriages, while 35 percent said they support civil unions. Only 30 percent said they oppose both marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples, with an additional 7 percent saying, “Don’t know.” The poll of 800 registered voters has a margin of error of +/-3.46 percent. These new poll results show an increase in support for relationship recognition since a poll conducted by the Texas Lyceum Association last June. The Lyceum poll found that 57 percent of Texans favored some form of relationship recognition, with 32 percent backing civil unions and 25 percent favoring marriage. According to the new poll, the number of people supporting civil unions and same-sex marriage has increased 3 percent EACH over the last eight months. If this rate of increase were to continue, a majority of Texans would support same-sex marriage within five years.

—  John Wright