WATCH: TX House debates anti-gay amendment

Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, delivered one of the strongest pro-LGBT statements the Texas House floor has ever seen.

Via the Texas Tribune, below is video, in three parts, from Thursday night’s debate in the Texas House on an anti-gay amendment by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, aimed at eliminating LGBT resource centers at Texas universities. As we reported earlier, Christian eventually withdrew the amendment amid opposition from Democrats who threatened to derail the entire fiscal matters bill to which it was attached. Part two and three of the video are after the jump. Read Daniel Williams’ recap of the debate here.


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—  John Wright

LEGE UPDATE: Highlights from the Texas House debate on Wayne Christian’s anti-gay amendment

Rep. Wayne Christian

Allies fight off effort to ban LGBT resource centers

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO OF THE DEBATE

Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, lost his fight to ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities on Thursday night.

Christian had previously been successful in attaching an amendment to the House version of the state budget that would have required schools with LGBT resource centers to equally  fund “family and traditional values centers.” But the amendment was absent from the Senate version of the bill and is not in the final version of the budget adopted two weeks ago.

Then, on Thursday the House took up the controversial “fiscal matters” bill that, among other things, provides funding for public education in Texas. Christian took this opportunity to offer an amendment to completely ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities.

When Christian passed his amendment to the budget back in April, it sailed through with no House members speaking in opposition, and only one, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, asking questions. In contrast, his new amendment met with vocal opposition, as well as a threat to derail the entire fiscal matters bill if the discriminatory language was attached.

Christian began by saying that his original amendment passed with no opposition in the House (in fact, 24 members voted against it), that his new amendment was supported by the Young Conservatives of Texas and that the Texas A&M Student Senate had passed a resolution in support, although he didn’t mention that the resolution was vetoed by the Student Body President Jacob Robinson.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Texas Rep. Wayne Christian again tries to outlaw LGBT resource centers

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Rep. Wayne Christian

1. State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, again tried to ban LGBT resource centers from college campuses in Texas on Thursday, when he introduced an amendment to a school finance bill during the special session of the Legislature. The Texas Tribune has a full report on what it calls “one of the most emotional debates of the regular or special sessions.” Christian ultimately withdrew the amendment after House Democrats threatened to kill the entire school finance bill. The Austin American-Statesman and the Houston Chronicle also have reports up about this historic late-night battle over gay rights on the Texas House floor. We’ll have a full story shortly.

2. Equality Texas on Thursday joined the growing list of LGBT groups that have issued statements condemning Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to partner with the American Family Association, a designated anti-gay hate group, for a Day of Prayer event set for August in Houston. “Equality Texas believes all Texans should be treated with dignity and respect,” Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman said in the statement sent to Dallas Voice. “While we respect the right of religious freedom, we do not support any elected official who aligns himself with a group whose mission is to disenfranchise, marginalize and demonize LGBT Americans. We are proud of the results of our Equality Texas poll which clearly shows real Texans value equal rights for all Texans.” Equality Texas is also urging people to sign this letter from the Texas Freedom Network telling Perry to “Stop Using Faith As A Weapon.”

3. 30 Rock actor Tracy Morgan reportedly unleashed a homophobic tirade during a stand-up comedy show last Friday in Nashville, threatening to kill his son if he found out he was gay, blaming the media for making kids gay, and saying that bullied gay teens are “whiners.” Truth Wins Out is calling on Morgan to apologize.

—  John Wright

A&M deemed unsafe for transgender conference

In the wake of an effort to shut down the school’s LGBT resource center, Texas A&M University has been deemed an unsafe venue for an upcoming statewide transgender conference. The third annual Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit, set for August, has been moved to the University of Houston to protect “the safety for the participants,” the Houston Press reports:

“The climate at A&M for GLBT people has taken a big hit, and right now anything can fuel those fires,” the group said in its announcement.

Organizer Josephine Tittsworth cited the A&M administration’s muted reaction to the conservative protests for the move. “The lack of supportive responses from TAMU administration has been perceived as condoning a campus that is not affirming for members of the GLBT community,” she said.

Back in April, the Texas A&M Student Senate voted to support a budget amendment by State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, that would have required schools with LGBT resource centers to equally fund centers for “family and traditional values.”

The Student Senate measure was later vetoed by the student body president, and Christian’s amendment was stripped from the final state budget. But LGBT advocates say the episode has fostered a climate of hate at A&M, which already ranked among the most homophobic schools in the country.

—  John Wright

LEGE UPDATE: Best. Legislative. Week. Ever.

Daniel Williams

The passage of not one but two anti-bullying bills, the final death of an anti-trans marriage bill and the failure of amendments designed to defund and ban campus LGBT resource centers made this, the final full week of the Texas Legislature’s 20-week regular session, perhaps the best legislative week for LGBT Texans ever.

Friday, May 20th dawned amid fears that Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, would attempt to amend Senate Bill 1811 to include provisions designed to defund and ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities. SB 1811 is one of several “fiscal matters” bills that compliment the budget, further clarifying details of how appropriated funds should be used. Christian pre-filed two amendments the previous Thursday. The first was identical to an amendment he attached to the state budget that was later removed in the Senate. The amendment required schools that appropriated state funds for LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on “family and traditional values centers.” The second would prohibit any state funds from being spent on LGBT resource centers and would prevent them from being housed in campus buildings.

For seven hours the House considered amendment after amendment to SB 1811. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, who carried the legislation in the House and chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee had promised both the Republican and Democratic caucuses that he would oppose all but 11 “perfecting” amendments to the bill. For the most part the House respected his opposition and the House rejected the vast majority of amendments. Late in the debate word came over that another of the fiscal matters bills, Senate Bill 1581, had passed the Senate. SB 1581 deals specifically with fiscal matters affecting secondary and higher education. Because of the late hour, and because most of the amendments to SB 1811 weren’t passing anyway, Simpson and several of his colleagues withdrew amendments dealing with education with the assumption that they could be amended to SB 1581 the next Monday, when it would be debated in the House.

Just after midnight on Saturday morning, SB 1811 passed the House, without the Christian amendments.

—  admin

UPDATE: Amendments targeting LGBT resource centers blocked, but threat remains

Rep. Wayne Christian

After seven hours of debate the House passed Senate Bill 1811 just after 1 a.m. today. SB 1811 is part of a series of “fiscal matters” bills that compliment the state budget. On Friday, Instant Tea reported that Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, pre-filed two amendments to the bill designed to defund LGBT resource centers from Texas universities and prevent schools from housing them on campus. (Read the full text of Christian’s proposed amendments to SB 1811 by going here and here.)

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, sponsored SB 1811 in the House. Before bringing the bill to the floor Pitts met with both the Republican and Democratic caucuses and explained that he would only support amendments that he deemed to be “perfecting” amendments. The sponsor of a bill can “accept” amendments, which usually means that they pass without a vote. The sponsor cannot block amendments, but other members often vote against amendments a sponsor opposes out of respect.

Pitts stuck by his guns, opposing all but 11 “perfecting” amendments. Although the House did pass some mostly Republican-sponsored amendments over his objections, for the most part they respected his opposition. Toward the end of the evening Pitts’ resolve began to fade and several amendments were allowed with the assumption that they would be removed later in the process.

While the House was considering SB 1811 the Senate passed Senate Bill 1581, another of the “fiscal matters” bills — this one dealing exclusively with education. Considering the late hour several of the members, including Christian, removed their proposed amendments to SB 1811 that dealt with education, assuming that the amendments could be offered to SB 1581, which is scheduled to be brought up in the House this weekend.

In addition to SB 1581, there are four additional fiscal matters bills still to be considered by the House: SB 7, SB 8, SB 22 and SB 23; any of which could be a vehicle for Christian’s amendments.

Students for Inclusive Resources is encouraging Texans to call their state representatives and ask them to oppose any attempt to defund or ban state universities’ LGBT resource centers. To look up contact info for your representative, go here.

—  admin

BREAKING: Rep. Christian plans amendments aimed at eliminating LGBT resource centers

State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center

State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, has filed two amendments to a bill that’s on today’s Texas House schedule designed to eliminate LGBT resource centers from Texas’ state universities.

Christian intends to offer the amendments to Senate Bill 1811, a large fiscal bill that has been stalled in the House for the last week. The first of the amendments is identical to language Christian added to House Bill 1 in April. It would require universities that appropriate state funds for their LGBT resource centers to equally fund centers for “family and traditional values.” Resource centers at both UT-Austin and Texas A&M are funded by student fees, not state funds, so it’s unclear how much of an impact the amendment would have.

Chrisitan’s second amendment, which is new, would prohibit any state funds from being spent on campus LGBT resource centers. It would also prohibit universities from housing the centers in state-owned buildings, effectively banning them from college campuses.

Read the full text of Christian’s proposed amendments to SB 1811 by going here and here.

SB 1811 was originally scheduled for the House floor on Thursday, but was delayed until today. With fights over the state’s budget getting increasingly heated, the debate on the bill is likely to take hours, which may cause the House to delay it until other business is finished. The bill must pass the House by midnight next Tuesday, May 24.

Students for Inclusive Resources, a group formed in response to Christian’s amendment to HB 1, has issued an action alert asking Texans to call their state representatives and tell them to oppose Christan’s amendments. To look up contact info for your representative, go here.

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for updates …

—  admin