How will texting-while-driving ban affect Grindr? Johnson says it could lead to racial profiling

Eric Johnson

In case you missed it, the Texas House on Thursday passed a bill that would ban texting while driving and make it punishable by a fine of up to $200. The bill was amended so that it would not prohibit reading text messages, just typing them. And motorists would even be allowed to type messages so long as they’re at stop signs or red lights.

Naturally our first question was — how will this affect Grindr? — because we all know it’s during those long road trips when the gay mobile app is at its most useful. But seriously, this proposal, which now goes to the Senate, does sound a little difficult to enforce. For example, how does the officer know whether you’re typing a message or just reading one?

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, apparently shares these concerns (but not the one about Grindr). Johnson sent out a press release today announcing that he voted against the proposed ban:

“HB 243 is crafted in a way that will be very difficult for police to fairly enforce.  It is almost impossible to distinguish between a driver writing or sending a text message, which is prohibited in the bill, and a driver reading a text message, dialing a phone number, or reading a Google map, all of which remain permissible under HB 243,” said Rep. Johnson. “HB 243 essentially gives police the ability to pull over any driver they see with a cell phone in his or her hand.  This legislation in its current form is not fair to Texas drivers, especially in a state with a well-documented history of racial profiling.”

—  John Wright

President of Oklahoma LGBT center arrested on charges he had sex with a minor

As we mentioned earlier, Nathan Bowen, president of the LGBT center in Enid, Okla., has been arrested on charges of “lewd molestation of minor” following allegations that he exchanged sexually explicit texts and later engaged in oral sex with a 15-year-old he met at the center, according to reports by News 9 in Oklahoma City.

Nathan Bowen

But Brittany Novotny, Bowen’s attorney, said in a written statement that the 15-year-old attempted to instigate a sexual encounter with Bowen and when Bowen refused, the teen lied about the incident to his mother and police to get back at Bowen for turning him down.

According to police reports, the teenager said he and Bowen began sending each other sexually explicit text messages on Friday, Feb. 18, after meeting at the LGBT center. Bowen then picked the teen up at a park on Sunday, Feb. 20, and took him to a home in the area where Bowen performed oral sex on the boy after asking him to take off his clothes. When Bowen asked the teen to perform oral sex on him and return with him to Bowen’s home, the boy refused, reports said.

The teen told police that he then told Bowen he needed to go home and Bowen returned the boy to the park where his mother picked him up. The mother called police after finding the sexually explicit texts on her son’s phone.

But Novotny’s statement offered a very different version of events, saying Bowen and the teenager had met at a Valentine’s Day event at the center on Saturday, Feb. 19, and that the teen had volunteered to help with chores at the center on Sunday. While the two were engaged in the chores, according to Novotny, the teenager — who is physically larger than Bowen — began kissing Bowen and asking him to have sex. When Bowen refused, the boy became angry, telling Bowen, “I always get what I want.”

—  admin

WATCH: Marble Falls football players won’t be prosecuted for anti-gay text messages

KXAN reports that six teens who sent threatening text messages laced with gay slurs to an opposing quarterback won’t be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges of telephone harassment. An attorney for the six teens says they’ve each completed 30 hours of community service, attended a cyber bully seminar and wrote letters of apology to the victim. Fair punishment? Maybe they should also be kicked off the football team and required to join the Glee club.

—  John Wright

WATCH: 6 Marble Falls teens accused of sending threatening anti-gay texts to opposing QB

A plea bargain is likely for six Marble Falls teens accused of sending anti-gay and threatening text messages to a Dripping Springs football player. KXAN in Austin reports:

The messages contained homosexual slurs and profanities.

An arrest warrant shows one message said, “You better be prepared to get ripped limb from to ******* limb Friday night you big *****.”

Another read, “Oh, so you are going to be a little ***** and not text back *****?”

Lt. Leroy Opiela with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said the Dripping Springs football player found those messages on his phone and told his parents.

An upcoming football game between the Marble Falls Mustangs and Dripping Springs Tigers was apparently behind the messages.

The six 17-year-olds are charged with harssment via telephone, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. However, under the plea deal, they’ll avoid jail time in exchange for completing community service, write letters of apology and take a bullying class.

—  John Wright