Cathie Adams Compares Supreme Court’s Freedom to Marry Ruling to Infamous Dred Scott Case

Cathie Adams, president of the far-right Texas Eagle Forum, is still ripping mad that gay people who love each other can get married. In Texas Eagle Forum’s October newsletter, Adams even argues that the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the freedom to marry this past June was as wrong as the court’s 1973 abortion decision and its infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857. In the abortion case, the court essentially said women have a right to control their own bodies. In the Dred Scott case, the court infamously ruled that black people — whether slave or free — could not be U.S. citizens or hold the same rights as white people.

Adams writes that efforts in the Texas Legislature to pass a bill defying the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage failed because of opposition from the business lobby. She also criticizes Republican leaders:

“We also lacked support from Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Joe Straus. If the Republican leadership had stood against the impending overreach by the SCOTUS, then we’d have a good chance of calling the decision WRONG—just like Dred-Scott was wrong, and Roe vs. Wade was wrong.”

That the Texas Legislature could have really done anything to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling is purely a fantasy promoted by the right. The fact is that Texas is bound by the court’s decisions.

In any case, right-wingers like Adams often compare any court decision they don’t like to the Roe abortion decision. But the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford decision? In that Supreme Court case, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney argued that the nation’s founders believed all black people were “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Interestingly, Adams’ past rhetoric suggests she believes gay people are also beings of an inferior order. She essentially wanted the Supreme Court to affirm that view this past summer and continue to allow our nation’s laws to treat same-sex couples as inferior and second-class citizens.

Her article also argues — despite an abundance of research to the contrary — that same-sex parents are bad for children. To try backing up that point, she even relies on a “study” from the Family Research Council. The Southern Poverty Law Center rightly identifies the Family Research Council as an anti-gay hate group. So it’s not a surprise that a “study” from that group would argue against same-sex marriage.

It’s also not surprising that Cathie Adams would rely on a hate group for support. After all, birds of a feather…

Posted in Cathie Adams, marriage equality, Texas Eagle Forum, TFNEF | 9 Comments

State Leaders Help Damage Texas Reputation as HERO Falls at the Polls on Tuesday

On Tuesday the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance went down to defeat at the polls, which means Houston remains the only major city in Texas without a comprehensive civil rights ordinance that protects against discrimination. Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s powerful statement last night is already making the rounds on the Internet.

This morning the Texas Freedom Network sent out the following press release:

The deceitful, fear-based campaign used to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance at the polls on Tuesday will seriously damage the reputation of the City of Houston and the State of Texas, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

Miller said that danger is particularly high because of the way Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waded into the election over the local ordinance.

“It was disturbing to see our state’s two highest elected leaders shamefully peddling lies and scare tactics,” Miller said. “Their political pandering has branded Texas as hostile to basic human rights and inclusiveness. In lending the prestige of their offices to such a shockingly deceitful campaign, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick aligned themselves with some of this state’s most extreme and intolerant voices. That can only hurt the state’s reputation among anyone or any business that might want to move here.”

The rhetoric used by HERO opponents was nothing short of incendiary. At one campaign event, a major funder of the anti-HERO campaign wielded a sword while demanding that gay and transgender people be driven from Houston. Another leader declared that opponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance were fighting “the presence of evil” in Houston. But the anti-HERO campaign was based largely on a single tactic: scaring voters into thinking the nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people would allow “troubled men” and sexual predators to assault women and girls in public bathrooms.

Gov. Abbott called for the defeat of HERO, even tweeting “no men in women’s bathrooms” on Monday. In addition, Lt. Gov. Patrick helped fund the anti-HERO campaign and even appeared in a television ad featuring the “bathroom” scare.

But law enforcement and other public officials in cities and states with laws similar to HERO say they had not seen problems with sexual predators using the measures to harass or assault people in public restrooms.

Despite the setback in Houston, supporters of equality will continue to fight to protect all Texans from discrimination, Miller said.

“No one should have to live in fear of losing their job, being evicted from their home or being denied public services simply because of who they are or whom they love,” Miller said. “Texas is better than that, but it’s clear that fear remains a powerful, deceitful weapon for opponents of equality.”

The Houston Unites campaign for HERO sent out this statement last night:

The coalition partners that make up Houston Unites, including ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, NAACP Houston Branch, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom for All Americans and the Human Rights Campaign, released the following joint statement after today’s vote.

“We are disappointed with today’s outcome, but our work to secure nondiscrimination protections for all hard-working Houstonians will continue. No one should have to live with the specter of discrimination hanging over them. Everyone should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living and provide for themselves and their families.

“Although Houston won’t yet join the 200 other cities that have similar nondiscrimination measures, the fight continues. We will continue telling the stories of Houstonians whose lives would be better off because of HERO – including people of color, people of faith, veterans who have served our country, women, and gay and transgender people.

“We’ve learned some important lessons, as well. We have to continue sharing our stories so that more Houstonians know what HERO is really about and aren’t susceptible to the ugliest of smear campaigns run by the opposition. And we must remember that all of us are stronger when we stand together, speaking up with one voice for protections like those in HERO, rather than allowing those who oppose fairness and equality to divide us.”

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, TFN | 5 Comments

The Week in Quotes (Oct. 25 – 31)

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

Obama, Biden, Clinton All Signal Support for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

With the Nov. 3 vote just days away, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) is getting support from major national leaders.

Today the White House released a statement announcing the support of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for protecting all Houstonians — regardless of race, religion, sex, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics — from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. From the White House statement today:

“While the Administration generally does not take a formal position on specific proposals or initiatives, the President and Vice President have been strong supporters of state and local efforts to protect Americans from being discriminated against based on who they are and who they love. We’re confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality.”

In addition, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — who has also served as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State — tweeted her support for HERO:

Religious-right groups have run a vicious campaign attacking HERO and its protections against discrimination. You can stand up for equality under the law for all by voting YES for Proposition 1. Early voting ends Friday, and election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Learn more about the campaign for HERO — including early voting locations in Houston — here.

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, TFN | 8 Comments

Helping End ‘Faith-Based’ Child Abuse

This guest post by Janet Heimlich, founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), focuses on a new project designed to address the tragic connection that sometimes exists between religion and child maltreatment. Sadly, Texas is no stranger to this problem. The cautionary tale of fundamentalist preacher Lester Roloff and his homes for troubled teens is a case in point. TFN lobbied for years for the Texas Legislature to suspend the alternative (and lenient) licensing program the state maintained for faith-based child care providers like Roloff. That program was finally allowed to expire in 2001, and the Roloff Homes moved out of the state. Janet writes here about a new project that addresses the problem of child abuse in faith communities.


A boy is beaten because he fidgets during a sermon. A girl is made to feel shameful about her “unclean” sexuality. A teenager is denied medical care because her community only believes in faith healing. When a religious leader molests a child, no one reports it.

Religion is a powerful and positive influence in the lives of many people. But we know that religion can sometimes be used to harm children. Fortunately, the Child-Friendly Faith Project is announcing a new program designed specially for faith communities that aims to end child abuse and neglect perpetrated in the name of faith. What’s more, all faith communities can benefit from it.

The Child-Friendly Faith Communities Designation Program is a curriculum that offers instruction and tools not found in any other training program. It covers all forms of child maltreatment, not just sexual abuse. It teaches about child development and how faith teachings and practices can be both beneficial and harmful. Also, it offers workshops that guide participants through the process of developing effective child abuse prevention policies and new programs that improve children’s wellbeing.

The benefits for participating faith communities are huge. Not only can they feel assured they are meeting children’s emotional and spiritual needs, they are designated as Child-Friendly Faith Communities and promoted as role models in child protection. In this way, these communities serve as beacons to people in their local area looking for a place of worship that truly understands children’s needs. So participating in the Designation Program allows a faith community to grow its congregation.

But we need your help so we can complete development of the program and offer it for free to all faith communities. Please donate to this crowdfunding campaign which contains a 4-minute video that describes the Designation Program. To find out more how you can take part in a Child-Friendly Faith movement, please email us at

Posted in Religious violence | 3 Comments

Pay No Attention to the Hatemonger Behind the Curtain

You’ve probably been thinking, hey, what’s Steve Hotze up to these days? The prominent anti-LGBT zealot from Houston has, as the Houston Chronicle noted, been awfully quiet leading up to next week’s referendum to decide the fate of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The silence is unusual for the outspoken Hotze, who last made headlines in August when he went on anti-gay tirade that included a sword — yes, an actual sword — and compared of gay people to Nazis (and demanded that LGBT people be driven from Houston).

Hotze, instead, is letting his money do the talking. Campaign reports examined by the Houston Chronicle show that the group opposing the ordinance has spent about $140,000 more than it has raised. Hotze has made up the deficit by, no joke, putting it on his credit card and extending a $50,000 loan, according to the Chronicle.

But why is Hotze otherwise so quiet? Here’s a possible answer:

Hotze’s less public role in the campaign is a smart strategy, said University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus.

Hotze’s long public battle against gay rights could be a liability for the campaign when it comes to attracting more moderate voters, Rottinghaus said.

So because the group opposing the equal rights ordinance doesn’t want to remind voters who Steve Hotze is, let’s remind voter who Steve Hotze is. Here’s just a sampling of what he’s said, including what he thinks about LGBT people, in an audio recording earlier this year during a Texas legislative hearing:

This is the guy opponents of the ordinance are in bed with. If you’re a Houstonian, you gotta ask yourself, do I want Hotze calling the shots in my city? Because that’s what is at stake at the polls next week.

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Steven Hotze, TFN | 16 Comments

Fact-Checking Barbara Cargill

Barbara Cargill, the creationist former chair of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), sent supporters an email today announcing her 2016 bid for re-election to the 15-member body. The Republican from The Woodlands near Houston has been one of the leading right-wing culture warriors on the board, helping to politicize the state’s curriculum standards and trying to censor textbook content that doesn’t pass her ideological litmus test. So we thought it would be good to fact-check Cargill’s email announcement. Following are some of what Cargill calls highlights of her 11 years on the SBOE:

“Served on the Governor-appointed Commission for College Ready Texas to improve students’ college readiness”

Well, she might have served on the commission, but she has actually helped undermine college readiness for Texas students. She played a leading role in the disastrous and deeply divisive political battle over new social studies curriculum standards the state board approved in 2010. Cargill and her colleagues were so focused on making sure that the standards reflected their personal and political biases that they paid scant attention to whether the standards aligned with the state’s college readiness standards. In fact, even her creationist ally and predecessor as board chair, Gail Lowe, has admitted as much.

“Worked tirelessly to develop state curriculum standards that are concise, measurable and rigorous”

If only that were true. In fact, the SBOE members have decided to spend the next two years “streamlining” curriculum standards for science (in 2016) and social studies (2017). They are doing so because teachers and independent analysts have loudly criticized the standards adopted by the board in 2009 (science) and 2010 (social studies) as far too numerous and detailed as well as convoluted. TFN and other observers pointed out that SBOE members were creating such a problem when they revised the standards, but Cargill and her colleagues pressed forward to adopt them anyway. Now Cargill and her colleagues will try to fix the problem the board created itself.

“Voted for textbooks which provide teachers and students with accurate, academically sound instructional materials”

Really? Does Cargill mean the same textbooks that say African slaves were brought to America simply as “workers”? The same textbooks that leading scholars have ridiculed for promoting falsehoods like Moses influencing the writing of the Constitution and the roots of democracy being found in the Old Testament? And those are just some of the most glaring problems caused by the absurd curriculum standards forced on publishers and the failure of the board to develop an efficient and credible review process.

“History curriculum standards and textbooks that emphasize our Founding Fathers, founding documents like the U.S. Constitution, our rich religious heritage, the service of our military, the free enterprise system and American exceptionalism”

Not quite. These are the same standards that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think-tank,” has sharply criticized as “a politicized distortion of history” filled with “misrepresentations at every turn.” Fordham’s 2011 scathing review laid the blame for those deeply flawed standards largely at the feet of Cargill and her right-wing colleagues.

“Science standards and textbooks that encourage students to think, ask, and predict, have increased lab time and that present evolution as a theory, not as fact”

In fact, Cargill and her creationist colleagues on the board did succeed in passing standards they hoped would force publishers to include anti-evolution arguments in their new science textbooks. But publishers refused to do so. In fact, the new science textbooks present evolution as factual science backed by an abundance of research and evidence. Cargill tried to pressure publishers to make changes that would introduce doubt about evolution. They didn’t.

All of this seems like a terrible record to run on for re-election, but Cargill is hoping voters in her heavily gerrymandered, pro-GOP district will believe the distortions she’s selling. Maybe they will. Or maybe they will decide that Texas schoolchildren deserve a 21st-century education based on facts and sound scholarship, not the political agenda of board members like Cargill.

Posted in Barbara Cargill, State Board of Education, TFNEF | 6 Comments

TFN Student Activists Focus on Voter Turnout Efforts

Texas Freedom Network student activists are hard at work getting young voters to the polls for the November 3 election, particularly in support of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. We just sent out the following press release:

Members of the Texas Freedom Network chapter at the University of Houston-Downtown will join student government and other groups at the school on Oct. 29 in a joint effort to get young people to the polls for the November 3 election.

 “Walk 2 Vote” is an annual event sponsored by UHD’s Student Government Association and designed to boost voter turnout among students. Voters this year will be deciding city government races as well as whether to approve the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) and other ballot propositions.

HERO protects all Houstonians from discrimination based on race, age, gender, orientation, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, military status and other characteristics.

“Young people as a group are among the least likely to vote in Texas,” said Ali Gorczynski, TFN’s outreach and field coordinator in Houston. “But our votes could be critical in deciding whether Houston remains the only major city in Texas without a comprehensive civil rights ordinance that protects everyone from discrimination.”

“Walk 2 Vote” is set for noon on Oct. 29. The event will be the conclusion to months-long voter outreach efforts and will feature musical performances and speakers from the Houston area. Students will walk together to an early voting location at 2 p.m. to cast their ballots.

According to the Student Government Association (SGA), UHD in 2012 started an initiative aimed at empowering students by registering them to vote and encouraging them to take action. From August to October of that year, the SGA registered 2,500 students to vote. More than 300 students marched to the polls together after the Walk 2 Vote rally. SGA has continued to sponsor the event since then.

Who: University of Houston-Downtown Community

What: Walk 2 Vote #W2V

When: Thursday, October 29

Rally: Noon, with a group walk to the polls at 2 p.m.

Where: Rally at the UHD South Deck at 1 Main Street. Walk will be to 1001 Preston Street

Guest List: Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Inspirational hip-hop artist Rocko Steady, Dr. Lawrence Paine, President Bill Flores, Billy Duncan, Volunteer Houston CEO Cameron Waldner

Check here for more information about the campaign to support the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, TFN | 1 Comment

The Week in Quotes (Oct. 18 – 24)

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

continue reading »

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NFL Texans Owner Bob McNair Pulls Donation from Pro-Discrimination Campaign in Houston

It’s been clear for a long time now that the pro-discrimination activists trying to kill the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) simply can’t be trusted to tell the truth. Their deceitful campaign has been filled with wild distortions and mistruths. So we’re not really surprised that Bob McNair, owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans, just announced that he is asking the anti-HERO campaign to return his recent donation to them. McNair released the following statement (emphasis added by TFN):

I recently made a personal contribution to Campaign for Houston because my thorough review of the HERO ordinance led me to believe that a thoughtful rewrite would provide a better ordinance that would provide strong non-discrimination protections for all Houstonians, which I would support, and would be less divisive of our city.

It was on these principles that I made my personal contribution to Campaign for Houston. To my great dismay, Campaign for Houston made numerous unauthorized statements about my opposition to HERO in print, broadcast and social media – including attributing certain statements of belief to me. Their actions and statements were never discussed with nor approved by me. Therefore I instructed the Campaign to return my contribution.

I do not believe in or tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind. I also believe that we Houstonians should have an ordinance that unites our community and provides a bold statement of non-discrimination. I encourage all Houstonians to vote on November 3.

Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work together to change a small portion of events, and in the total of those acts will be written the history of our generation.”

Houston Unites, the campaign supporting the passage of the pro-HERO Proposition 1, released the following statement in response to McNair’s announcement:

“Like Bob McNair, many Houstonians are taking a step back and realizing the opposition’s ads on the Equal Rights Ordinance are intended to raise anxiety with outright distortions and, quite frankly, lies. When you take a second look, the Equal Rights Ordinance protects all Houstonians from discrimination and makes Houston a place everyone can be proud to call home. And that’s why the majority of small and large businesses in Houston support Proposition 1.”

By voting YES on Proposition 1, Houston voters can send a clear message that they reject the lies, hateful rhetoric and scare tactics of the extremists who want to keep Houston the only major city in Texas without a comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance.

Click here to support the campaign for HERO, a city ordinance that protects everyone from discrimination in employment, housing and public services. And vote YES on Proposition 1. Polls for early voting are open now. Click here to find an early voting location near you. Election day is Nov. 3.

Posted in Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, TFN | 3 Comments