The Week in Quotes (March 22 – 28)

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

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Checking Our Hate Mail: TFN Is ‘Stupid’ and Public Schools Are ‘Evil’

Our opposition to private school voucher schemes apparently angers “Linda,” who wrote us earlier today. We won’t publish her full name or email address — we’re polite that way. But here’s her email to us:

You either have no kids in the Texas public school system or you are just stupid or a lib which is one in the same.

 public schools are an evil force run by and dictated to by an evil government.

We want better for our kids than to be brainwashed by liberal nonsense that have no moral values and no character building teaching.

Public schools teach that it is good to be a queer when it is written in our Holy Bible very clearly that it is a sin. you libs are advocating anything that is unethical, unlawful and just plain lies.

I will do what ever I can do to get all Texas kids that want out of the horrid public school to have school vouchers and a school of their choice. one that teaches not only the basic education that should be taught but also builds character, honor and ethics.

OK then.

We’re often fascinated by self-righteous critics who, while employing offensive slurs and personal attacks, lecture us about morality. In any case, we’re often asked what motivates voucher supporters. Linda offers one answer, at least for some: they simply hate public schools.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, TFN, vouchers | 11 Comments

TFN Press Release: Senate Voucher Bills Hide Massive Cost to Public Schools and Texas Students

As the Senate Education Committee hears testimony on three reckless private school voucher bills, we just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today called proposed bills under consideration in the Senate Education Committee today reckless and even cynical schemes to shift funding from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools.

“We’ve seen lawmakers set up our neighborhood public schools to fail by cutting billions of dollars in their funding and then insisting that they do more with less,” Miller said. “Now some of the same lawmakers are pushing voucher schemes that would ultimately take away billions more to subsidize private and religious schools that aren’t even accountable to taxpayers. Enough is enough. They have to stop insisting that taxpayers essentially fund two separate school systems instead of focusing on paying for the public schools that educate the vast majority of Texas children.”

The Senate Education Committee is hearing public testimony today on three private school voucher bills, SB 4, SB 276 and SB 642. A fiscal analysis from the Coalition for Public Schools, of which the Texas Freedom Network is a member, shows that the proposed bills would save neither taxpayers nor public schools money as supporters claim and would likely, in fact, ultimately cost billions of dollars each biennium. Redirecting that money from public schools would make a farce of the Texas Constitution’s requirement that the state fund public education, Miller said.

“The claims that these bills would save taxpayer dollars and wouldn’t hurt neighborhood public schools are so dishonest that they’re almost laughable,” Miller said. “Funding vouchers through tax credits is just a shell game that diverts tax dollars to private and religious schools. And ‘taxpayer savings grants’ is just cynical wordplay by politicians trying to hide the real cost to neighborhood schools and the kids they educate.”

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

Voucher Lobby Launches Full Frontal Assault on Texas Public Schools

Powerful interests pushing private school voucher schemes in Texas are launching today what might be their strongest attack on neighborhood public schools in years. The Senate Education Committee is hearing public testimony on three proposed voucher bills — each one of which could end up draining billions of dollars from public education to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools.

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller will testify at the hearing and remind senators that their responsibility under the Texas Constitution is to fund public schools, not private and religious schools. Yet the Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education just four years ago and has yet to restore all of that funding.

Each of the bills under consideration today creates a different voucher scheme but does essentially the same thing: drain tax dollars from funding for neighborhood public schools so that the state can subsidize — directly or indirectly — private and religious schools.

SB 4 by state Sen. Larry Craig, R-Friendswood, and SB 642 by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, would give tax breaks to corporations that donate to organizations providing “tuition grants” or “scholarships” at private and religious schools. Every dollar that funds these corporate tax loopholes would be unavailable for the state’s cash-starved public schools.

SB 276 by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, would create so-called “taxpayer savings grants” that shift a large share of funding for a public school student over to subsidizing tuition at a private or religious school instead.

Private and religious schools getting these taxpayer subsidies would not be subject to the same rules and regulations that govern the state’s public schools. That means those voucher schools would not be accountable to the taxpayers who are funding them.

Moreover, supporters misleadingly claim that these voucher schemes will actually save taxpayer dollars or won’t take money from public schools because private donors would be using tax credits to pay for the vouchers. These claims are a charade. The reality is precisely the opposite, as Kathy and other representatives of other members of the Coalition for Public Schools will point out today.

You can watch a live-stream of the hearing here. We’re also live-tweeting the hearing: @tfn. Stay tuned.

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

TFN Tells Texas Lawmakers: Stop the Temper Tantrum over Freedom to Marry

Today the State Affairs Committee in the Texas House of Representatives is taking up outrageous legislation that would force public officials to disregard any U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas is unconstitutional. We sent out the following press release.


Bill in House Hearing Today Would Set Texas on a Collision Course with the Supreme Court and History, TFN President Says

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today criticized proposed legislation that would bar state and local officials from enforcing a Supreme Court order to issue marriage licenses or otherwise recognize marriage for same-sex couples.

The Texas House State Affairs Committee is considering the legislation, House Bill 1745 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, at a public hearing today. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide, probably by the end of June, whether the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

“This legislation represents a temper tantrum by lawmakers who refuse to accept that the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law for all American families, including those headed by gay or lesbian couples.” Miller said. “Passing this bill would put our state on a collision course with both the U.S. Supreme Court and the harsh judgment of history. Texas would not fare well in either case.”

In addition to barring public officials from recognizing same-sex marriages or issuing licenses for such unions, HB 1745 would also move from county clerks to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office authority over issuing marriage licenses.

“Texas today is one of just 13 states in which same-sex couples don’t have the freedom to marry,” Miller said. “So the question is whether legislators in this Capitol will stand in the courthouse door – much like a former Alabama governor during the Civil Rights era – demanding ‘discrimination now, discrimination tomorrow, discrimination forever’ when it comes to marriage for same-sex couples. If so, history’s judgment will be just as harsh as it was on the holdouts who supported segregation and bans on interracial marriage.”

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

Texas Anti-Gay Rally: Homosexuality is ‘America’s Real Cancer’


Religious-right groups rallied Monday at the Texas Capitol to, as they insisted, stand up for traditional marriage. But don’t be fooled. The rally was really about riling up anti-gay activists as equality for LGBT families — at least on marriage — gets closer to reality.

In fact, the rally brought out some of the most strident voices of anti-gay hate in Texas — both at the podium and in the gathering on the Capitol’s south steps. We wonder whether Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who spoke at the event, agree with the sign-holder at the rally who thinks that homosexuality is a cancer and is perverting our kids, families, courts and country.

Rally backers regularly insist that they “love” LGBT people. We see little evidence of that love. Instead we see mean-spirited, hateful rhetoric like that on display at the Texas Capitol on Monday. Haters gonna hate.

Posted in LGBT issues, marriage equality, TFNEF | 2 Comments

Roy Moore Says Blame the Hippies

State lawmakers typically don’t take too kindly to outsiders coming to Texas and telling them what to do. Except, of course, if we’re talking about keeping equal rights away from LGBT individuals. Then some lawmakers these days are all ears.

Dozens of elected officials stood outside the Capitol earlier today to welcome Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore for what organizers billed as a rally in defense of Texas’ discriminatory same-sex marriage ban, a prohibition that seems destined to be overturned and ruled unconstitutional by the federal courts.

A brief history on Moore. He first rose to national prominence in the early 2000s when, under the cover of night, he unilaterally ordered the installation of a Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama state judicial building. Talk about an activist judge. Anyway, church-state separation groups sued and won, but Moore ignored a federal order to remove the monument. The monument was eventually removed, along with Moore, who was booted from the bench.

In 2012, Moore returned to the bench when Alabama voters again elected him as the state’s top judge. In recent weeks Moore has once again earned notoriety for ordering state judges in Alabama to ignore another federal court order, this one bringing marriage equality to his state state.

At today’s rally he basically told Texas officials to do the same thing here, should a federal court rule for marriage equality.

After the rally, Moore told reporters same-sex marriage is not about civil rights and had a simple explanation for why marriage equality has made large gains across the country: the hippies did it.

Watch the video:

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, civil and equal rights, TFNEF | 4 Comments

Guest Post: The Golden Rule We All Share Is Waiting to Be Lived Out, by Rev. Dr. Kyle M. Walker

TFN Insider is pleased to present this guest post from Rev. Dr. Kyle M. Walker, Transitional Pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Austin. In February, Kyle participated in Faith Advocacy Day, sponsored by TFN and Equality Texas. He writes about how that experience prompted him to work within his own denomination to build opposition to misleading “religious freedom” proposals in Texas that misuse religion in ways that could lead to harm and discrimination.

Several weeks ago I participated in Faith Advocacy Day for Equality at the Texas State Capitol. Although we went to meet with a lot of legislative aids rather than directly with senators and house members, the conversation hasn’t left me. Many of you have been through this drill. We would enter into some offices of legislators that had known negative records on equality issues and share with them why we, as religious leaders, have great concern for certain bills. What struck me though was how these aids in the most hostile territory weren’t hostile at all. Now maybe they were just good at being a non-anxious presence, but I truly got the sense when they told us they didn’t know the negative effects of all this discriminatory legislation that perhaps they really didn’t know. Then I heard this is one of the least experienced legislative bodies in the history of our state. If there is true ignorance, that’s our responsibility. And we’ve got work to do.

Then I reflected on those clergy that marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. at Selma. Lest we forget, slaves were emancipated in 1863 and it was another 101 years before passage of the Civil Rights Act. 101 years! In the interim, religions including Southern Presbyterians and Southern Baptists spent that time getting over their biblical and theological justifications for slavery and race discrimination. It took 101 years for we religious folks to get on board that religion cannot be used as a disguise for racial discrimination. 101 years of deadly racial hatred that took lives and that produces continual hurdles for racial minorities to this present day. We aren’t done yet on race either. I don’t have to remind us of current events in Ferguson, Mo., among many others.

With the advent of LGBT equality before the law, we cannot afford to be on the slow track on LGBT equality as well. We should have never had a backlash against racial minorities. So we should not allow a new backlash to develop against LGBT persons. And those of us who are religious persons certainly should never allow it to develop in God’s name.

Sadly, Trojan-horse legislation is back using God’s name in order to discriminate in the civil square. As examples, HJR 125 and SJR 10 call for a very sweet-sounding constitutional amendment that would, in effect, nullify the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA). Why is that important? Well, first of all, it arrogantly negates TRFRA, which is a document our state government collaborated with Texas’ broad religious landscape to create. It is considered one of the best such documents in the country. HJR 125 and SJR 10 “fix” something that isn’t broken and actually goes further and breaks something that is helping us strike a balance between freedom and rights. Why squander that gift? Why allow for mischief that only sets us back and sets up more struggle and strife?

A couple of weeks ago, Central Presbyterian Church, Faith Presbyterian Church and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, all here in Austin, unanimously passed resolutions calling for a critical look at such legislation and asked our overseeing body, Mission Presbytery, to consider a similar statement. Mission Presbytery (which covers a line from Del Rio to Brady to Georgetown to Corpus and all points south to the border with Mexico), unanimously adopted the following resolution:

WHEREAS Mission Presbytery historically supports the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA) created in 1999 after strong deliberation, significant input, and broad consensus from Texas’ diverse faith community;

WHEREAS proposed legislation changes to TRFRA lack the same broad-based consensus, risk discrimination against religious minorities imposed by religious majorities, and potentially adversely impact the ministries of Mission Presbytery;

THEREFORE be it resolved that we call upon the Texas Legislature to reject any changes to the Texas RFRA in the 84th Legislative Session, and further resolve that any future changes to the Texas RFRA be considered only after a public process that includes substantial conversation with the broad spectrum of Texas’ rich and diverse faith communities.

And a movement has begun. Similar resolutions are being sent to the state houses in Arkansas and Oklahoma from four other presbyteries. Conversation is happening in the other four Texas presbyteries as well.

Will your faith (or non-faith) tradition speak as well? We Presbyterians wish to be your partner in this effort. Freedom in practice should never take over 100 years after it is achieved in print. Let’s work together for equality for all people. The Golden Rule we all share is waiting to be lived out.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, TFN | 2 Comments

The Week in Quotes (March 15 – 21)

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

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Posted in The Week in Quotes | 1 Comment

Take Action: Stop the Muslim Bashing at the Legislature

Texas politicians are again targeting Muslim Americans with thinly veiled discriminatory legislation. On Tuesday the Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hear testimony on three bills that threaten religious freedom for everyone, but especially religious minorities. We need your help to stop these bills.

HB 562 by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, HB 670 by state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and HB 3698 by state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, are worded differently but are all based on the unfounded claim that American Muslims are trying to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, in Texas. In fact, Rep. Leach has already said the purpose of his bill is to stop the mythical threat of Sharia here.

Contact members of the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee to express your opposition to these bills. Their contact information can be found below. Tell committee members:

  • The U.S. and Texas Constitutions already prohibit courts from imposing any religious law as civil law. The American Bar Association has made clear that bills like these duplicate safeguards already enshrined in federal and state law.
  • The Anti-Defamation Defamation League calls bills like these “a form of camouflaged bigotry” that treats “Muslim Americans as foreigners and anti-American crusaders.”
  • These bills — especially HB 562 and HB 3698 — needlessly complicate matters involving family law and intrude on the freedom of religious organizations and individuals to enter into nonbinding dispute resolution proceedings.
  • This legislation — especially HB 670 — could interfere with Texas businesses engaged in international trade litigation and with Texas businesses negotiating international deals.

Members of the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee

Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo (Chair)
(512) 463-0702
Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston
(512) 463-0620
Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches
(512) 463-0592
Rep. Ana Hernandez, D-Houston
(512) 463-0614
Rep. Jodie Laubengerg, R-Parker
(512) 463-0186
Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo
(512) 463-0558
Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy
(512) 463-0528
Rep. Ken Sheets, R-Dallas
(512) 463-0244
Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston
(512) 463-0720


Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, Sharia law, TFN | 1 Comment