What’s Brewing: Texas clings to ‘homosexual conduct’ law as gay marriage goes mainstream

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Mainstream media outlets around Texas finally noticed this weekend that eight years after it was declared unconstitutional, Texas’ “homosexual conduct” law is still on the books. And guess what, it’s going to remain on the books: “In this particular session, I’d be hesitant to do any changing,” said Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, adding that the law probably “better reflects the views of a lot of citizens” as it is. Read our previous post here.

2. In El Paso, where police recently threatened to enforce the homosexual conduct law, conservatives are fed up with the city’s progressive tilt: What some might call the council’s “progressive” agenda, Pastor Tom Brown calls “radical leftist.” Brown is part of a group that recruited a slate of four candidates — including his wife, Sonia Brown — to run for the City Council. The immediate cause of the group’s creation was its opposition to health benefits for the gay and unmarried partners of city employees. But Brown said it also is concerned with what he sees as government “intrusion.” “We’re getting into where government is conducting our private lives,” Brown said.

3. Meanwhile, in other parts of the U.S., same-sex marriage is no longer such a divisive political issue, according to The Boston Globe. And even one Southern Baptist leader says it’s time to prepare for defeat: “I think it’s clear that something like same-sex marriage is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture,’’ said evangelical leader Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in radio remarks after Obama announced he would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. “It’s time for Christians to start thinking about how we’re going to deal with that.’’

—  John Wright

El Paso may put DP benefits back on ballot

After a ballot measure passed in November to rescind domestic partner benefits for El Paso employees, the City Council is considering another ballot measure to restore them. The November ballot measure sponsored by religious groups aimed to take away benefits for the partners of gay and lesbian employees. However, because it was so vaguely worded, the ballot measure also threatened benefits for the partners of retired city workers, and it’s now the subject of a federal lawsuit.

The El Paso Times reports on the latest development:

The El Paso City Council on Tuesday introduced a proposed ordinance for a May ballot initiative that would restore health benefits to gay and unmarried partners of city employees.

The public rescinded those benefits in the Nov. 2 election, but they remain in effect while the courts hear a lawsuit in the matter.

The council did not discuss the proposed ordinance or take public comment on it. A public hearing will be held in coming weeks. If the City Council does not vote to put the matter on the ballot, supporters still can do so by gathering enough signatures on a petition.

—  John Wright

El Paso City Council to vote today on overturning ballot initiative that rescinded DP benefits

You gotta love this story out of El Paso.

Last year, the City Council voted to add health benefits for the unmarried partners of city workers, both gay and straight.

Then some anti-gay nutjobs got an initiative on the ballot to rescind the benefits, and it passed.

However, city officials say the wording of the initiative was unclear, likely confusing voters and possibly outlawing benefits for the spouses of retirees. So today the council is poised to overturn the initiative and place a new one on the ballot in May, The El Paso Times reports.

Of course backers of the initiative are crying foul, saying it’s not about the gay thing anymore, but the “will of the people.” And ordinarily we might agree with them, but not when a popular vote has been used to take away people’s rights.

Speaking of which, as long as we’re overturning ballot initiatves based on confusing language, maybe someone ought to take a look at that constitutional amendment that passed a few years back. Sure sounds like it actually banned heterosexual marriage.

—  John Wright