Federal court denies Texas Values from filing amicus brief in marriage lawsuit

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Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz

A federal judge has denied conservative group Texas Values from filing an amicus brief in the lawsuit challenging the state’s constitutional marriage amendment.

The group’s brief argues that children in same-sex families are at a disadvantage compared to children in opposite-sex homes. It encourages the court to deny a temporary injunction two same-sex couples are seeking so state officials are prohibited from enforcing the state’s marriage ban. It further explains that studies by associations like the American Psychological Association are wrong in their findings that gay parents raise well-adjusted children.

“This case questions the constitutionality of Texas’ sovereign decision to preserve marriage as the union between one man and one woman,” the brief reads in part. “Texas Values’ interest in this case derives from the important public-policy issues implicated by that legal question. Thousands of Texans across the state support Texas Values financially and through prayer; and rely on Texas Values to be their voice for the protection of traditional marriage in Texas.

“Strong families are founded on the ideal of a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman. Healthy, enduring marriages enrich the lives of the couple, their children, and the community around them. For decades, the social sciences have provided clear and convincing evidence that not all family structures are equal. Texas Values presents much of the relevant social science pertinent to this question in this amicus brief.”

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Monday that the brief be stricken from the record because “it cites no legal authority in its motion to this regard.”

Arguments for the temporary injunction on the marriage ban’s enforcement are set for Feb. 12.

Read the brief here.

—  Dallasvoice

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for coverage of Boy Scouts meeting in Grapevine

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Supporters of lifting the ban on gay youth in the Boy Scouts will convene today for the first day of a three-day Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine.

At noon, Eagle Scout Dave McGrath and his son will arrive at the Great Wolf Lodge, 100 Great Wolf Drive, completing their 1,800 mile Bike for Equality campaign that began when they left Idaho Falls on May 3.

McGrath, Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls and Inclusive Scouting Network founder Mark Noel will address the audience.

Gay Scouts and leaders will then speak, including former Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, a gay dad removed from his position as Scoutmaster with his son’s troop, and Pascal Tessier, a gay Boy Scout who was told he would not be eligible to earn the Eagle award his older brother received.

Events for the summit will take place today at the Great Wolf Lodge in Fallen Timber A Meeting Room. They are expected to conclude around 2 p.m.

Across the street at the Gaylord Texan, where the roughly 1,400 members of the BSA’s National Council will vote on the resolution tomorrow, opponents of allowing gays Scouts will protest at Texas Values’ Save Our Scouts rally from noon to 4 p.m.

Dallas Voice will be in Grapevine to capture all the excitement and will be tweeting live from the press conferences and rally. Follow us on Twitter here.

Yesterday 20 members of Congress signed a letter supporting the resolution to welcome gay youth into the BSA. Among them was Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

“As part of its mission, the BSA seeks to instill traditionally American values of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of others in youth scouts in preparation for the responsibilities of citizenship,” the letter reads in part. “Today, BSA has a policy that excludes gay Scouts and Scout leaders from participating. This is counter to BSA’s mission to teach our youth to combat discrimination. We are pleased to learn that the National Council will soon take up a resolution at the May 22nd meeting to update its membership standards policy. We strongly urge the BSA to pass the proposed resolution to end discrimination against gay youth.”

Read the full letter here.

—  Dallasvoice

John Carona sells out the gays, signs letter in support of Boy Scouts ban

John Carona

Sen. John Carona

Republican state Sen. John Carona of Dallas, who drew the ire of social conservatives when he spoke out in support of pro-LGBT legislation last year, has signed a letter calling for the Boy Scouts of America to keep its ban on gay Scouts and leaders.

Carona has joined a group of 51 Republican elected officials in Texas who’ve signed the letter published on the website of Texas Values, one of the groups that criticized him for backing pro-LGBT legislation during an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice in October.

“As state elected officials, we strongly encourage the Boy Scouts of America to stick with their decades of support for family values and moral principles. Capitulating to the liberal social agenda not only undermines the very principles of scouting, but sets the stage for the erosion of an organization that has defined the American experience for generations of young men,” the letter states. “Scouts begin each meeting with an Oath, ‘to do my duty, to God and my country, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.’ By caving in to pressure from the social left, the national leadership would violate each of those principles.”

Four months ago, Carona became one of the first Republican legislators in Texas to back pro-LGBT legislation when he spoke to Dallas Voice at a meeting of Metroplex Republicans, a gay GOP group. Carona expressed support for legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment; offer domestic partner benefits to state university employees; and allow same-sex adoptive parents to have both names on birth certificates.

Carona also told the Voice he was “evolving” on same-sex marriage but added that he was “not there yet.”

Carona’s comments drew backlash from both Texas Values and the Texas Pastor Council, which prompted him to backtrack on the statements, and since then he’s been silent about LGBT issues.

Jamie McCormick, a spokeswoman in Carona’s Austin office, said the senator was in Dallas on Monday afternoon and she was trying to get in touch with him to see if he has anything to say about his decision to sign the letter.

In January, when senators drew lots to determine how long their terms will be, Carona drew a two-year term, meaning he’ll be up for re-election in 2014.

It seems fairly obvious that in signing the Texas Values Boy Scouts letter, Carona is pandering to social conservatives in an effort to stave off a challenge from the right in the Republican Primary.

It’s a cowardly move, and the LGBT community should call him out on it. Contact info for Sen. Carona can be found here.

—  John Wright

8 more TX elected officials sign letter calling for Scouts to keep gay ban

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We couldn’t resist reposting the above editorial cartoon from this week’s Viewpoints page.

Several additional Republican elected officials in Texas have signed a letter urging the Boy Scouts to keep its ban on gays since we first posted about the letter the other day. The letter now has a total of 45 signatures, including its first member of Congress — Kenny Marchant of Irving — as well as state Reps. Jonathan Strickland of Bedford and Linda “Mercedes Benz” Harper-Brown of Irving; and Collin County Commissioner Matt Shaheen. Here are all eight of the latest inductees to this week’s Hall of Shame:

• Congressman Kenny Marchant (R-Irving)
• State Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)
• State Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford)
• State Representative Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)
• State Representative Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs)
• State Representative Larry Phillips (R-Sherman)
• State Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving)
• Collin County Commissioner Pct 1 Matt Shaheen

Also, be sure to check out some of the comments below the post about the letter on the Texas Values website. This is our personal favorite, just for its sheer ignorance:

Screen shot 2013-02-08 at 10.59.11 AM

—  John Wright

GOP lawmakers sign letter opposing BSA policy change; prayer rally set

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Dozens of state representatives, senators and other elected officials have come out against the Boy Scouts of America’s proposal to remove its national gay ban.

Anti-gay group Texas Values published a letter signed by more than 30 Republican elected officials across the state — from Ag Commissioner Todd Staples to Collin County Judge Keith Self — that urges the organization “to stick with their decades of support for family values and moral principles.”

“Scouts begin each meeting with an Oath, ‘to do my duty, to God and my country, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight,’” the letter reads in part. “By caving in to pressure from the social left, the national leadership would violate each of those principles.”

Texas Values has planned a “Save Our Scouts” prayer vigil and rally at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the BSA’s national headquarters in Irving.

The group is encouraging citizens from “every walk of life who cares about the moral fabric of our nation and all that the Boy Scouts of America has stood for since 1910” to attend the rally.

The National Executive Board is expected to vote on the proposed change Wednesday.

BSA has been inundated with phone calls and emails from people voicing their opinion on lifting the ban since last week. Spokesman Deron Smith declined to give the number of calls or emails, but said the BSA was receiving feedback, not taking a poll.

Read the full Texas Values letter, as well as the list of signers, below.

—  Dallasvoice

LEGE UPDATE: PolitiFact finds attack on birth certificate bill ‘mostly false’

A conservative group’s claims that a bill to allow same-sex adoptive parents to have both names on birth certificates would affect everyone’s records were mainly unfounded, according to research by PolitiFact Texas.

The nonpartisan politics fact-checking project analyzed claims Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz made on Austin’s KTBC-TV Nov. 19 about HB 201 filed by state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas.

Saenz said the bill would mandate a change in all birth certificates in the state, suggesting that the bill aims to grant gay couples special rights and would lead to two or three fathers listed on certificates in cases of polygamy.

But the bill would only apply to adopted children of same-sex couples, allowing both parents to have their names on the supplemental birth certificate. Texas law currently only allows one man and one woman to be listed on birth certificates, but the bill would remove that requirement from the Texas Health and Safety Code.

PolitiFact found Saenz’s claims “mostly false” saying the potential wording of forms remained unclear after they consulted with a State Health Services representative, who said it’s unknown whether “Mother” and “Father” would be replaced with “Parent 1″ and “Parent 2″ on forms for adopted children if the bill passes. Gender-neutral parent designation on birth certificates would raise the risk of distinguishing records for adopted children, which is prohibited under state law.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Texas Values president attacks Rep. Anchia’s gay adoption bill

A bill that would provide accurate supplemental birth certificates to same-sex couples came under fire last night by Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz.

Saenz appeared on Austin’s Fox 7, speaking out against HB 201 filed by state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas.

Under the impression that the bill would mandate a change in all birth certificates in the states, Saenz suggested that his three children would have to have theirs changed. But the bill would only apply to adopted children of same-sex couples, allowing both parents to have their names on the certificate. Texas law currently only allows one man and one woman to be listed on birth certificates.

“In the state of Texas, homosexual adoption is allowed, so that’s not the issue here. The issue is that you have a small group of people that want to change a birth certificate for everybody else,” Saenz said. “This is an issue about what is natural and what is common sense. You have a mother and a father.”

—  Dallasvoice

Sen. Carona reportedly backtracks on LGBT support, but we’ve got the audio

In response to pressure from right-wing groups, Republican state Sen. John Carona reportedly is backtracking on his unprecedented statements last week in support of pro-equality legislation in Texas.

In an exclusive interview with Instant Tea on Oct. 22, Carona expressed support for three pro-LGBT bills that will be priorities for Equality Texas in the upcoming legislative session. The bills would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination statewide; offer domestic partner benefits to state university employees; and allow same-sex adoptive parents to have both names on birth certificates in Texas. Carona also told Instant Tea he is “evolving” toward supporting same-sex marriage but “not there yet.”

In response to our report about Carona’s statements, both Texas Values (the Liberty Institute) and the Texas Pastor Council posted items condemning the senator’s support for LGBT equality. And on Friday, Texas Pastor Council Executive Director David Welch reported that Carona had contacted him.

“Senator John Carona responded to our letter of concern by calling me at our office today, and has assured us that he is completely committed to maintaining his record as pro-marriage and pro-family in response to the concerns raised by an article in the Dallas Voice,” Welch wrote. “His comments reported as “evolving” on issues like domestic partner benefits and same sex marriage were not accurately reported in context, according to the Senator in our conversation. He said that the only position accurately reported was regarding the birth certificate issue.”

We plan to contact Carona’s office first thing Monday to seek clarification about his comments to Welch.

In the meantime, because the accuracy of our reporting is being called into question, I thought it best if we went ahead and posted the audio from my interviews with Carona. The audio is in two parts.

The first part is from my conversation with Carona prior to the Metroplex Republicans Dallas meeting where he spoke. In this conversation we covered the three pro-LGBT bills.

The second part is from immediately after the meeting, when I asked Carona about marriage equality. Listen to both parts by clicking on the links below:

PART I: Sen. Carona on employment nondiscrimination, domestic partner benefits and same-sex adoption

PART II: Carona on same-sex marriage

—  John Wright