The Week in Quotes (May 17 – 23)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

continue reading »

Posted in The Week in Quotes | Leave a comment

Poll: Big Shifts in American Views on Social Issues

GallupLiberal

A new Gallup poll has some troubling news for the religious right: For the first time since the firm began asking the question in 1999, the percentage of Americans identifying as liberal on social issues is the same as the percentage identifying as socially conservative.

The poll, conducted May 6-10, shows that 31 percent of Americans now say their views on social issues are liberal, the highest percentage recorded by Gallup since 1999. Conversely, the percentage identifying their views on social issues as conservative has dropped to 31 percent, down 11 points since 2009. That year the percentage of socially conservative Americans was 17 points higher than the percentage identifying as socially liberal.

The dramatic closing of that gap is the result of changing attitudes among both Democrats and Republicans, according to the survey. Over the past six years, Democrats have become significantly more likely to identify as socially liberal while Republicans are likewise less likely to identify as socially conservative.

The release of the poll comes as a separate Gallup survey shows support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples has reached 60 percent, a record high.

Perhaps these changing attitudes among Americans provide some explanation for the increasingly venomous and divisive rhetoric we hear from religious-right leaders and the politicians they support.

Posted in poll, TFNEF | 12 Comments

Texas AG Paxton Praises Louisiana Governor’s Discrimination Order

As this year’s legislative session nears an end in Texas, major bills promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are stalled. So what happens if none of those bills passes? Our neighboring state to the east might be providing one possible answer.

On Tuesday a legislative committee in Louisiana essentially rejected a sweeping, Indiana-style discrimination bill. That legislation would allow individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate against legally married gay and lesbian couples. Hours later, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal thumbed his nose at state lawmakers and issued an executive order imposing the discrimination policy on his state anyway.

This desperate political gamble by Jindal, who is pushing for the support of religious-righters in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination next year, has already been met by a storm of criticism (including charges of hypocrisy).

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is praising Jindal:

PaxtonJindal

“Great step by a strong leader,” Paxton tweeted today, before cynically equating religious liberty with discrimination.

Paxton is one of the most strident opponents of LGBT equality, especially the freedom to marry. He has insisted that Texas lawmakers pass legislation that would help him resist a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer striking down state bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

Whether the Legislature ultimately passes such a measure, Paxton has sounded like a man searching for a way to block any such ruling. In fact, Paxton has even refused to say whether Texas would have to obey the Supreme Court.

The reality is Texas would be constitutionally bound by a Supreme Court decision. But Texans should be prepared for the legal chaos that follows if the state’s top law enforcement official refuses to accept that reality.

Posted in Ken Paxton, LGBT issues, marriage equality, TFNEF | 4 Comments

Anti-LGBT Discrimination Amendments Are a Danger in Texas House on Thursday

nobad

We’re down to just 12 days left in the 2015 legislative session in Texas, and attacks on LGBT equality are becoming increasingly desperate. Rumors are swirling about potential amendments to SB 2065, which is scheduled for debate by the Texas House on Thursday.

Religious-right groups are clamoring for passage of SB 2065, which they say will prevent clergy from being forced to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs. But the Constitution and state law already protect that right for clergy, and no one has proposed changing that.

So what is the religious right up to now? This could be the last gasp for mean-spirited legislation like state Rep. Cecil Bell’s “Defy the Supreme Court” effort to block marriage equality in Texas, or state Rep. Scott Sanford’s proposal to allow discrimination against LGBT families in the adoption and foster care system. Either of those previously dead bills could rise tomorrow as an amendment to SB 2065.

It’s time to take to email and the phones again to tell your state representative: Vote NO on any discriminatory amendments to SB 2065.

So far this legislative session, supporters of equality have blocked efforts to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination in state law. Don’t let up now. Click here to tell your representative: Discrimination has no place in Texas.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, TFN | 1 Comment

Another Discrimination Measure Hits a Roadblock in Texas House

On Monday, for the second time in less than a week, legislation promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people hit a roadblock in the Texas House. That’s good news. What’s not is that the lawmaker promoting that discrimination amendment was willing to put abused and neglected children at further risk so that he could push a shameful political agenda.

Monday’s action came during debate on SB 206, the sunset reauthorization bill for the Department of Family and Protective Services. During the debate, Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, proposed an amendment allowing child welfare service providers that contract with the state to use religion to discriminate.

Sanford’s intent, of course, was to promote discrimination against LGBT people seeking to care for children in the state’s protective services system. But his amendment would go far beyond that by also allowing providers to discriminate against people of other faiths, interfaith couples and anyone else to whom the provider has religious objections. As written, the amendment could also make it difficult for the state to stop service providers from forcing lesbian and gay minors into abusive and discredited reparative “therapy” programs that seek to change someone’s sexual orientation.

Opponents, mostly House Democrats, were rightly appalled. So state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, used a point of order — a technical objection — to halt consideration of SB 206 and send the bill back to committee. With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, the fate of that agency reauthorization bill is unclear.

Now stop and think about this for a moment. Rep. Sanford had already been warned that his amendment jeopardized passage of SB 206, which reauthorizes an agency that deals with abused and neglected children. But he and religious-right pressure groups insisted on trying to change the bill to promote discrimination against LGBT people who simply want to provide safe, loving homes for those children. That’s repugnant.

Yesterday’s actions on SB 206 came after legislative opponents used brilliant stalling tactics to keep another anti-LGBT discrimination bill from passing the House before a key deadline last Thursday. That bill, HB 4105 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, would have barred state and local officials from granting or recognizing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

The Texas Freedom Network and partner organizations — Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas and the Human Rights Campaign — have been working with supportive lawmakers throughout this legislative session to stop the right’s discrimination agenda. The more than 20 bills in that divisive, mean-spirited agenda would enshrine in state law discrimination against LGBT people and their families.

We will continue working hard to keep those bills from passing. And if it wasn’t clear before yesterday, it should be now: supporters of equality will use whatever tools are available to stop efforts to promote discrimination against people simply because of who they are and whom they love.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, TFN | 3 Comments

National Support for the Freedom to Marry at Record High Even as Texas Republicans Resist

Gallup_Marriage

While some Texas legislators and far-right groups continue to push measures to block the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples, a new Gallup poll shows their views are shared by a steadily shrinking minority of people across the country.

The poll released today shows that a record-high 60 percent of Americans say that marriages between same-sex couples should be legally recognized and have the same rights as traditional marriages. Just 37 percent said they oppose same-sex marriage.

Back in early 2009, when Barack Obama became president, support for same-sex marriage stood at just 40 percent. It stood at just 37 percent in 2005, the year after President George W. Bush promoted a federal constitutional amendment banning such unions during his re-election campaign. That was the same year Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Now, however, support for same-sex marriage has reached new highs among Democrats, Independents and even Republicans nationwide, Gallup says. Todays’ poll showed that 76 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Independents and 37 percent of Republicans support same-sex marriage. Opponents of same-sex marriage were more likely to insist that any political candidates they support share their views on the issue.

Gallup_Marriage_Party

Texas is just one of 13 states that still ban same-sex marriage. Last Thursday Republican lawmakers failed to win passage of a bill intended to reinforce that ban before a key deadline in the Texas House of Representatives. HB 4105 by state Rep. Cecile Bell, R-Magnolia, would bar state and local officials from issuing or recognizing marriage licenses for same-sex couples even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that state bans on such unions are unconstitutional.

Then on Friday the Texas House Republican Caucus released a letter, signed by 93 of the chamber’s 98 GOP members, reaffirming their opposition to the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. Rep. Bell says he is looking for a way to add his discrimination bill as an amendment to other legislation before the end of the current legislative session on June 1.

You can read more about the new poll here.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, marriage equality, TFNEF | 3 Comments

URGENT: Anti-LGBT sneak attack expected today in the Texas House

Take ActionWe’re hearing that state Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, is expected to offer a dangerous religious-refusal amendment during the debate on SB 206 in the House later today.

The amendment (which is almost identical to HB 3864) would permit discrimination against LGBT children and families in adoption, foster care and child welfare placements. Also, the broad language of this bill would allow private agencies to discriminate against single or divorced people, interfaith couples, as well as people with different faiths than the agency. All of these could potentially be turned away from providing homes to children.

Call your state representative and tell them to vote against the Sanford amendment permitting discrimination in Texas’ child welfare system.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, TFN | 4 Comments

Take Action: Oppose Anti-Abortion Legislation Monday at the Capitol

Take ActionWhile over in the Texas House of Representatives many, many bills met their fate when a key deadline passed Thursday night, lawmakers in the lower chamber did accomplish a few things, including, unfortunately, passing even more abortion restrictions.

And with those bills now approved in the House, the debate over that legislation now shifts to the Senate, and we need your help to fight back against these proposals by coming to the Capitol on Monday.

One bill, HB 3994 by state Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, makes it harder for minors seeking an abortion to obtain what’s know as a judicial bypass. This, from the Texas Observer:

A parental notification law requires that Texans under the age of 18 get their parents’ consent before having an abortion. However, minors can turn to the courts to seek a legal, confidential judicial bypass when they fear they’ll be abused at home because of their pregnancy, or don’t have a parent to consent.

HB 3994 by state Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria), among many things, increases the burden of proof on the minor from a “preponderance of evidence” to “clear and convincing” evidence, a change House Democrats took issue with early in the debate.

The bill also requires everyone, regardless of age, to show a government-issued ID to obtain an abortion.

Another bill, HB 416 by state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, cynically uses the issue of human trafficking to impose yet another regulation on abortion providers. Our friends at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas have more information on this bill.

Both bills are now scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. And this is where you can help. Come to the Capitol for the hearing, which starts at 8 a.m. Monday, and register against the bill or sign up to testify against it.

If you can’t make it to the Capitol, click here to find your state senator’s contact information and tell them you oppose these bills.

Anti-abortion lawmakers did enough damage when they passed a slew of abortion restrictions during the 2013 legislative session. We have to do what we can to stop them from making things worse.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, abortion, TFN | 4 Comments

The Week in Quotes (May 10 – 16)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

continue reading »

Posted in The Week in Quotes | Leave a comment

TFN’s Kathy Miller to Talk Monday on SiriusXM Radio about Fight Against Anti-LGBT Bills

SignorileBookThe clock may have run out on one of the worst of the anti-LGBT bills in the Texas House Thursday night, but that bill’s supporters are still looking for other opportunities to enshrine discrimination in Texas law before the legislative session ends.

So on Monday Texas Freedom Network Kathy Miller will talk with SiriusXM radio host Michelangelo Signorile about our efforts fighting for LGBT equality at the Texas Capitol. Signorile is bringing his program to Austin for two days — May 18-19 — to talk about that battle.

Signorile’s show airs 2-5 p.m. Central time/3-6 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays on SiriusXM’s Channel 127. Right now Kathy is slated to be on the program at 3:35 Central time on Monday. But make sure also to tune in both days for the other discussions over the more than 20 anti-LGBT bills filed in the Texas Legislature this year.

Signorile will also be speaking and signing copies of his new book, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality, at BookPeople in Austin on May 18. Click here for more on that event.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, TFN | 3 Comments