The organized opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance has spent months spreading fear and misinformation. In fact, the Houston Chronicle editorial board, in endorsing a “Yes” vote on the ordinance, recently referred to the group as “mendacious, deceitful and irresponsible in the extreme.” Yikes.
Last night, it was Houston TV station KTRK’s turn to cut through the spin and take an objective look at the ordinance and, in the process, reporter Ted Oberg debunked the absurd claims and scare tactics of HERO opponents.
Texas politicians like U.S. Senator (and Republican presidential candidate) Ted Cruz have been leaders of the effort to — as they call it — “defund” Planned Parenthood because that organization provides abortion care services (although not with federal dollars). In other words, they want to end Medicaid and other government payments for reproductive health care services — like “well-woman” checkups, STD treatments, cancer screenings and birth control — that Planned Parenthood clinics provide to millions of women (and men) across the country.
Sen. Cruz and other religious-righters have even insisted that congressional Republicans should shut down the government rather than allow that health care funding to continue.
But a review of national polling shows they are seriously out of touch with the desires of most Americans on this issue. Most Americans strongly oppose cutting off funding for health care services at Planned Parenthood clinics. An even larger majority opposes shutting down the federal government as a means to that end. Here are some of the poll results:
Suffolk University/USA Today. Sept. 24-28, 2015. N=1,000 likely voters nationwide. Margin of error ± 3. “Do you think all federal funding for Planned Parenthood should be cut off: yes or no?”
Refused to answer: 1%
“Should supporters of de-funding Planned Parenthood be willing to force a government shutdown over the issue, if it comes to that?”
Refused to answer: 1%
CBS News/New York Times Poll. Sept. 23-27, 2015. N=1,000 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4. “Currently, the federal government provides some funding to Planned Parenthood. Do you think Planned Parenthood should or should not receive funding from the federal government?”
Should not: 36%
Unsure/No answer: 9%
NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by Hart Research Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R). Sept. 20-24, 2015. N=1,000 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.1. “Would you favor or oppose totally eliminating federal funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and preventative health services? … And, would you strongly or somewhat favor/oppose this?”
Strongly favor: 22%
Somewhat favor: 13%
Somewhat oppose: 17%
Strongly oppose: 44%
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under indictment in Texas for securities fraud, spoke after Dys. The event — “The Texas Response: Pastors, Marriage, & Religious Freedom!” — is sponsored by Texas Values, the Austin-based lobby group spinoff of the Liberty Institute. It’s unclear at this point whether Paxton repudiated the prediction of religious warfare coming to America. But Paxton echoed the paranoia of religious-righters worried that they face increasing persecution. Here are two Paxton quotes reported in other McGaughy tweets:
Religious-righters opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) have been lying to voters with claims that the nondiscrimination measure will allow sexual predators to attack women and children in public restrooms. The campaign for HERO, Houston Unites, debunks that vicious claim here.
But HERO opponents also say that the ordinance violates their supposed right to discriminate, for religious reasons, against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Let’s put aside, for a moment, the truth that discriminating against people because of who they are and whom they love is simply wrong. Beyond that, the reality is that once you decide legalized discrimination against LGBT people is OK, you are leaving open the door to discrimination against anyone.
In fact, if you let HERO opponents talk long enough, that truth comes tumbling out of their mouths. Here’s Houston pastor Becky Riggle speaking against HERO during a City Council public hearing last year. Councilmember Ellen Cohen did a very good job getting to the truth — that Riggle and other HERO opponents want the right to discriminate against anyone. Here’s part of the exchange between them from the video above:
Councilmember Cohen: “If I’m asking for service, and my faith is something that troubles them, they have a right to refuse me service?
Becky Riggle: “Yes.”
Councilmember Cohen: “So you’re saying, yes, they do have a right to refuse me service as someone of the Jewish faith?”
Becky Riggle: “No, I’m not saying… Yes, I am saying that, but that is not the issue that we’re talking about today.”
That might not be what she wanted to be talking about, but that was the truth.
HERO protects all Houstonians by banning discrimination due to race, disability, gender, religion, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity and more – in employment, housing and restaurants and stores. We support it because we think all people should be treated fairly and equally under the law. All people should have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families without the fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.
Rafael Cruz, the far-right evangelical and father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, clearly has nothing but contempt for Houston voters and their mayor, Annise Parker. Here is Rafael speaking at an event two weeks ago for the political action committee trying to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO):
“If the righteous are not running for office, if the righteous are not even voting, what is left? The wicked electing the wicked. And we get what we deserve. I’ll tell you what. It is appalling that in a city like Houston, right in the middle of the Bible Belt, we had a homosexual mayor. Why? Because too many people have been sitting in their pews or sitting at home with this business about ‘separation of church and state.’ Did you know separation of church and state is not in the Constitution or in the Declaration [of Independence]? It’s a lie.”
Houston voters go to the polls on November 3 to decide whether to repeal HERO. The ordinance ensures that a broad range of hardworking Houstonians – regardless of race, age, gender, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or military status – has the opportunity to earn a living, take care of their families, have housing, and be served by businesses and government, without fear of discrimination.
Today Houston Unites launched its first TV ad of the campaign in support of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). In the ad, Pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus, with Rev. Brandon Peete and his family, make clear what HERO is all about: treating everyone fairly and equally under the law.
Take a stand for equality. Vote “YES” on Proposition 1 on November 3.
With all of the damage culture warriors on the State Board of Education have done — or tried to do — to the education of Texas public school students in their science and history classrooms, it can be easy to forget what they’ve also done on sex education. Today the online news magazine Slate posted the above video, which examines how two high school health textbooks from the same publisher address sex education — one submitted for adoption in Texas in 2004 and the other a decade earlier. That abstinence-only textbook from 2004, which doesn’t include a shred of information on contraception, remains in classrooms today.
Slate focused this video on the health textbooks from just one publisher, Holt, Rinehart and Winston. But publisher Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s health textbooks were also abstinence-only. Holt and Glencoe essentially split the Texas health textbook market between them in 2004-05.
The State Board of Education hasn’t set an adoption date for the next generation of health textbooks for Texas public schools. We’re likely about five years away, at least. Meanwhile, Texas has the one of the highest teen birth rates among the nation’s 50 states — the fifth highest, in fact, as of 2013. And the Texas Legislature still refuses to encourage school districts to change pro-ignorance policies on sex ed. In fact, lawmakers won’t even consider legislation that at least bars schools from teaching medically inaccurate information, such as exaggerated failure rates for contraception and other falsehoods promoted by abstinence-only programs that dominate Texas classrooms.