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The Texas Government’s Invasion of LGBT Citizens – A glance at #txlege in the wake of Jade Helm 15

May 19, 2015 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, LGBT News

Interior view Texas Capital BuildingPerhaps there are a few people in the world who haven’t ridiculed the Texas Government for its antics at some point in time, but those people likely have no internet access or TV, and probably no interest in state government.  I dare not trace the long history of embarrassing political posturing by Texas lawmakers, but I can summarize in three words, Jade Helm 15.

Presently, the Texas legislature is comprised of a substantial Republican majority. IN the Texas Republican Party Platform, the party holds, in part:

“Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”

This legislative session, the Texas GOP has done its best to limit access to rights and benefits bestowed on other Texans.  To facilitate an understanding of the status of each of the below bills, and for the sake of simplicity, I’ll break the below down into the following bill stages used by Texas Legislature Online:

  • Stage 1: Filed
  • Stage 2: Out of Senate/House Committee
  • Stage 3: Voted on by Senate/House
  • Stage 4: Out of House/Senate Committee
  • Stage 5: Voted on by Senate/House
  • Stage 6: Governor Action
  • Stage 7: Bill is law

Below is a listing of proposed legislation that target LGB and/or T people in Texas, with very special thanks to the people of Equality Texas for their hard work, both in tracking the bills and in working on the ground to oppose them.  Frankly, there is no way I could have sorted through every bill introduced and compiled such an exhaustive list without the benefit of the resources and listings on their website and much of the information below has been consolidated from their pages.  Each bill number cited is a link to the history of the legislation. For convenience, I’ve included the present status next to each bill, however, the status may change after the date of this publication.  Once you follow the links, you can then click on the “Bill Stages” tab for additional information.

License to Discriminate Legislation – Constitutional

These bills would allow individuals and religious institutions to disregard laws based on religious belief

License to Discriminate Legislation – Statutory

Would create a right of refusal for any business to violate local non-discrimination laws if the business owner believes that serving a customer whose marriage the business owner dislikes would violate that business owners religious belief.

Would allow religious institutions that receive tax-payer dollars to use those funds to discriminate against the public and would allow clergy persons employed by the government or private employers to disregard non-discrimination policies if they claim that providing service to all members of the public equally violates their religious practice:

Would prevent churches or other religious institution, or clergy person acting in there official capacity as a religious leader, from celebrating, recognizing or serving a person that the institution or person’s religious belief calls on them to shun.

Would create a new class of law suits that may be brought against governments or employers that require work environments that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Would allow a faith-based agency, or an employee at an agency, to sue a governmental entity that requires the tax-payer funding provided by that entity for child welfare to be distributed without bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Repeal of Local Non-Discrimination Ordinances

Would take away the ability of local governments (cities and counties) to pass or enforce non-discrimination ordinances.

Anti-Marriage Legislation

Would punish state employees who follow the law by issuing marriage licenses to loving couples.

Would remove the power from locally elected county clerks and places it with the secretary of State, who would be able to disallow the issuance of marriage licenses in counties whose clerks complied with court orders requiring the issuance of licenses.

Would exempt the State of Texas from U.S. Constitutional requirements, defying the nation’s supremacy clause.

  • HB 4105 – Stage 2 (failed to be voted on by House as time ran out)

In part, would refuse funding to maintain governmental offices that may be required by court order to recognize equal access to marriage.

No Need to Pee – Bathroom Use Criminalization

Would amend the definition of “disorderly conduct” to make it a crime for transgender Texans who have not been fortunate enough to correct their official gender markers to use public gender- segregated space appropriate to their gender identity or expression.

Would create two new offenses: making it a state jail felony for most business owners if they repeatedly allow a person who has at least one “Y” chromosome to enter a space designated for women, or a person with no “Y” chromosome to enter a space designated for men; and making it a Class “A” misdemeanor for a person with at least one “Y” chromosome to enter a space designated for women or a person without a “Y” chromosome to enter a space designated for men.

  • HB 2801 – Stage 1 (no committee action taken).

Would force school districts to assume student’s biological sex and restrict access to gender-segregated spaces based on that assumption.

Would amend the definition of “Class B misdemeanor” to make it a crime for transgender Texans who use the restroom or locker room that does not match their “biological sex” and creates civil liabilities for a business that permits transgender people to use their restrooms of up to $2000.

Retirement Benefits Refused for Same-Gender Spouses

Would attempt to supersede federal law at the state level and exempt Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-governed pension plans administered by governmental entities in Texas from the requirement to recognize all legal marriages.

If you’re like most of us, you may be wondering what all that means to the state of LGBT affairs in defeating anti-LGBT legislation.  Let’s just say it’s been a bitter-sweet victory thus far.  Time is quickly running out for the Texas Legislature to enact more laws against LGBT Texans. The 84th Regular Texas Legislative Session ends on June 1, 2015, so time is running out, and has run out, for many of the above listed bills.

That doesn’t mean LGBT Texans can fully celebrate, but we can breathe a sigh of cautious relief.  Under Texas law, the Legislature can be reconvened for a Special Session called by the Governor at any time and for any reason.  In some cases, special sessions have been called the same day they occur, which if a special session is called to further attack LGBT Texans, we may have little, if any, notice.

The Facebook Photo that Will Break your Heart

April 25, 2012 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Headline

In spite of being legally married in the U.S. State of Iowa, Inger Knudson-Judd and Philippa Knudson-Judd don’t get to spend much time together or with their 12 year old daughter.  In fact, prior to this most recent 5 week visit, the couple hadn’t seen each other in 6 months.  Why?  The Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) allows the Federal Government to refuse to recognize Inger and Philippa’s marriage and Philippa is not a U.S. citizen.  These stories are all too common.

In early April, 2012, five same-sex couples who are not able to obtain green cards for their foreign-born spouses filed a lawsuit challenging DOMA’s prohibitions against gay couples petitioning for legal status for their spouses.  Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality who is leading the charge, stated that their group has asked that the Obama Administration to change these policies, or at least suspend green card applications rather than rejecting them until DOMA challenges can be resolved.  Neilson explained:

We have recently gotten a definitive no from the administration on that request, so we sort of feel like we’re at the end of the line on advocacy. Our next step is to take it to the courts.”

Which brings us to the photo.  Yesterday, Inger had to drive her wife to the airport after a five week visit and they don’t know when they will next see each other.  So when I opened my Facebook news feed, I saw this photo from Inger:

Inger and Phillippa say Goodbye

Inger and Philippa say Goodbye

And my heart broke.

Via Wipe Out Homophobia on Facebook, Inger released this response:

We have a 12 year old daughter and so are trying to do things the legal way…, but [we] have hit road blocks every step of the way. *** It is really hard to hold your family when their hearts are breaking, my arms just aren’t that long. After 4 1/2 years of trying to find a solution, nothing has changed.

Some say that DOMA protects families, but does this family look protected?  These are the faces of our families; this is the real suffering caused by discrimination.

How Dare You Protest A President During an Election Year – An Historical Perspective

April 23, 2012 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Alice Paul - Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty
“Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty”

About a hundred years ago, then Governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson remained *undecided* on the issue of women’s suffrage.  Although he was a dedicated progressive, taught at a women’s college and had two daughters who were suffragists, his opinions were still evolving on whether or not women should be allowed to vote. Giving women the right to vote, it was argued, would lead to federal interference in elections and, *GASP* voting rights for African Americans.  Thereafter, Wilson became President of the United States, and his position on women’s voting rights remained ambiguous during his first term.

A parallel can be drawn between then-President Wilson and now-President Obama.  Although President Obama’s stance on human rights (more particularly gay marriage) is evolving, one cannot truthfully say that President Obama supports full LGBT equality.  In fact, President Obama, in spite of stating during his 2008 campaign that he would sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has now refused to do so.  Further, even though he declared support for ENDA, he failed to fiercely demand it when the House and Senate had “hope” of passing the legislation.

The Suffragists of the Congressional Union (later known as the “National Woman’s Party” [NWP]) began staging petition drives and demonstrations to get President Wilson’s attention and demand he endorse the right of women to vote. At first, these demonstrations were largely met with bemusement and condemnation.  In spite of the demonstrations and petitions, Wilson failed to act.  The NWP stepped it up a notch and threatened to actively campaign against Wilson and the Democratic Party during the 1916 election.  But war broke out in Europe and the issue of peace became more important to many, but not all, of the suffragists, and they in turn supported the re-election of Wilson.

When the United States joined World War I, many thought the demonstrations by the suffragists would come to an end, believing that no one would dare protest a war-time President.  However, the NWP continued its demonstrations outside the White House, including chaining themselves to the White House fence. They were met with great hostility from both men and women, many of whom had also been and perhaps were still suffragists.  Banners were torn from their hands, they were spit on, insulted and demeaned all because they refused to bow to an establishment which ignored them – or worse, treated them with hostility.  They were arrested and often jailed for substantial lengths of time on trumped up charges, but their actions made headlines around the world giving momentum to their cause.  The suffragists who were more moderate took advantage of their more radical counterparts and presented themselves as a more obvious alternative.  This rebel/reformer approach is discussed in detail in Bill Moyer’s book Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements.

Fast forward again to 2012: Many LGBTQ organizations have also stepped it up notch to demand President Obama take action to protect employees from discrimination.  Leading the way in this endeavor is the grassroots organization GetEQUAL, which is best known for protest actions that lead to arrest, including chaining members to the White House fence and blocking Las Vegas Boulevard. Like the suffragists, these more radical activists are facing severe criticism of their tactics from the “more moderate” human rights groups; however, the mantra is slightly changed. No longer is the criticism because of war-time, but because this is an election year for President Obama.

Like Wilson, Obama’s position on LGBT equality is ambiguous in many respects.  For example, Obama has clearly stated that he does not support marriage equality, but that he supports equal rights for LGBT people under the law.  Some LGBT advocates argue that this is his way of winning the upcoming election, at which point he will “evolve” on the subject of marriage equality, while others see it as mere subterfuge and the President putting his own safekeeping ahead of the safety of the people he represents.

Many LGBT bloggers have condemned the actions being taken by GetEQUAL and others as a childish, fame-seeking approach to activism that will result in the election of Mitt Romney.  Some have gone as to declare that our “real enemies” are out there and we should go after those “real enemies.”  This attitude assumes that a person who does not support marriage equality and who has failed to take action to protect workers from unfair discriminatory practices is not a “real enemy.”  But the assumption goes far further – it assumes that these activists are “going after Obama,” when they are clearly designed to defeat the injustice created when another campaign promise by the LGBT’s “fierce advocate” was broken.

While many remain content to be beaten as long as the blows don’t break the skin, I for one prefer not to be beaten at all.  That is not criticism of my reformer friends who are accepting of the blows of the President without question, but it is where I stand within this equation as a rebel.

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Macy’s Store Fires Employee for “Religious Beliefs” – or Does It?

December 08, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

The Macy’s store at Rivercenter Mall in San Antonio, Texas, recently came under fire for its termination of Natalie Johnson, who was employed by Macy’s until a few days before Thanksgiving. Ms. Johnson refused to allow a transgender woman to use the lady’s fitting room. According to the organization representing Ms. Johnson, Liberty Counsel, she was fired for her religious beliefs. To clarify, they argue she was fired for being Christian.

Blog posts and comments abound, telling the story of the oppressed Natalie. Most of the stories indicate that Liberty Counsel is a pro-Christian rights organization, a claim which is designed to sway the public to rally behind a suspect class: the religious. But Liberty Counsel is anything but pro-Christianity. Their purpose has not historically been to walk in the steps of Christ, but instead to demand our government provide them, as moral superiors, with the infinite power to bend others to their will.

In her recent address in honor of Human Rights Day, Secretary of Defense Hillary Clinton highlighted these sorts of religious justifications for discrimination noting:

The third, and perhaps most challenging, issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal.

But even though Liberty Counsel wants you to believe this is about Ms. Johnson’s religion, it is not. Liberty Counsel is not a “Christian rights group,” but rather an organization devoted to preventing the human rights of LGBT people. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

In 2009, J. Matt Barber, formerly with Concerned Women for America and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality…, joined Liberty Counsel as director of cultural affairs (also becoming Liberty University’s associate dean for career and professional development). A year earlier, Barber had argued that given “medical evidence about the dangers of homosexuality,” it should be considered “criminally reckless for educators to teach children that homosexual conduct is a normal, safe and perfectly acceptable alternative.”

The Counsel also has been active in battling same-sex marriage, saying it would destroy the “bedrock of society.” In 2005, the group’s blog said: “People who … support the radical homosexual agenda will not rest until marriage has become completely devalued. Children will suffer most from this debauchery.” A 2007 blog posting said same-sex marriage would “severely impact future generations.”

Like other anti-gay groups, Liberty Counsel argues that hate crime laws are “actually ‘thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom and of conscience” — an opinion rejected by the Supreme Court.

The claims by Liberty Counsel are not a declaration of freedom, but instead further desperate attacks by a group of people protected by Federal Non-Discrimination Laws (religious people), on a group that is not (transgender people).  Freedom of religion is a protection from worshipping as one chooses, not from forcing your opinions on others.

Texas Democratic Executive Committee Gambles Away Human Rights

November 22, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination

David Trevino stifles his anger long enough to smile for the camera.

From protest of ousted Bexar County DP Chair, Dan Ramos.

The Texas State Democratic Party bowed to fear this past week when the Executive Committee met to vote on proposed primary ballot referendum.  In a move that silenced one of the most staunch populaces aligned with the Democratic Party, the LGBTQ community, Texas Democrats voted 33-22 to exclude a marriage equality referendum on the 2012 Democratic Primary ballot.  However, legalizing gambling will be on the ballot.

According to a press release received from Dan Graney, President of the Texas Stonewall Democrats, arguments against including the marriage equality measure were:

  1. The Republicans will go after us on this.
  2. This will negatively impact on our Democratic candidates.
  3. What if the measure should fail?

As to the first argument, the Republicans are going after the Democrats anyway.  All that was accomplished by excluding even a chance for marriage equality in Texas was that Democrats were silenced and we will now see Democrats going after Democrats in Texas for their blatant disregard for their own party platform, which states:

Democrats believe that we all have a part to play in promoting equality and protecting Americans against discrimination, and we continue to work vigorously toward greater freedom and equality in America.

Working vigorously toward greater freedom apparently means bowing to political pressure, fear and intimidation, as is noted by the second opposition view that supporting freedom and equality will negatively affect Democratic candidates.  In this instance, the lack of integrity and moxy will do more to negatively impact candidates than standing up for your party values EVER would have.

Perhaps the most disturbing argument presented in keeping marriage equality off of the primary ballot is the argument, “What if the measure should fail?”  For that, I turn to other thinkers and provide the following motivational quotes:

“The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed” – Lloyd Jones

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” – Unknown

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” Stephen Kaqqwa

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie

“The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized – and never knowing” – David Vicsott

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.” – Tom Hopkins

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” – Beverly Sills

“There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that lost by not trying.” – Francis Bacon, Sr.

Try as I might, I was unable to find any motivational quotes encouraging people not to try.  However, I was able to find a quote by an unknown person that sums up my feelings toward the Texas Democratic Party:

Fuck you for giving up on me.

Demand for Dan Ramos’ Resignation Escalating – Protestors Hit the Fund Raisers

March 18, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Headline

David Trevino stifles his anger long enough to smile for the camera.
David Trevino stifles his anger long enough to smile for the camera.

Yesterday evening, about 2 dozen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, along with their allies, stood in front of the Granada Homes building where the “Proud Democrats” were hosting a fund raiser for the Bexar County Democratic Party (“BCDP”).  Dan Ramos has previously announced that he would attend the event; however, he did not show up and organizers claim he was not invited.  It seems though, that in Bexar County, there is no reason to be proud of being a democrat under Ramos’ leadership.

The Chair of the BCDP, Dan Ramos, recently made numerous disparaging remarks about LGBT people, disabled people and the plight of the African American Community in their quest to obtain equal representation under the law.  Since that time, a vast majority of the BCDP’s Executive Committee and Steering Committee have been demanding his resignation as Chair claiming his comments violated the rules of the party and were outside the scope of the Democratic Platform, which states:

We believe in and support the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

But Dan Ramos isn’t listening to the Board or the people of Bexar County and beyond.  In a press conference early yesterday morning, he refused to resign and reiterated his position that gay people are like, “white termites who have infiltrated the party much like termites infiltrate your house.”

Last night’s protestors were met mostly with support by those attending the fund raiser; however, a few people stood up against our plea for Dan Ramos’ resignation.  In fact, the President of the organization, Jose “Joe” Gallagos, came out to tell the protestors that it was our fault so few people showed up at the fund raiser – (Hey Joe, it couldn’t possibly be because the people don’t want to give money to homophobia and racism, though, could it?

Perhaps most surprising was an accusation from an African American attendee.  She was furious with the protestors as she walked up claiming that those that want Dan Ramos removed are “the whites.”  Yet one of Dan Ramos’ choice comments in his tirade was, “I go back to an old very well-used slogan: blacks wanted to get their way because they were black.”  While I find the comment terribly offensive and degrading to the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, Rosa Parks, and many more heroes of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, the sentiment wasn’t echoed by this objector as one would expect.

Another objector was a resident of Granada Homes (which serves as a retirement community and Banquet Hall).  She wasn’t upset that we were calling for Dan Ramos’ resignation, but instead felt we were blocking the doorway (which we were not).  However, we started talking with the lady a bit about Mr. Ramos’ disparaging remarks against the disabled people – particularly kids born with Polio legs and not being able to kill them or sweep them under the rug.  This struck a chord with the lady and she told us her own story of being taunted for being Hispanic by a fellow resident who claimed, “You Hispanics are nothing but the dirt under my feet.”  We explained that we felt as angry as she does about the comments made by Dan Ramos and she departed with a bit more understanding of us.

One supporter immediately made me think of Will Phillips, who once said, “My generation is the change they fear the most.”  Bobby, who appeared to be no more than 14 years old, and his friend were walking by the protest and noted our signs.  They stopped, inquired and joined us for a short time.  Bobby, a resident of Ft. Worth, Texas, was in town with family and was offended when he learned of Dan Ramos’ comments.  I asked Bobby what made him stop and join us.  In his social studies class in school, Bobby had wanted to take a poll of students about how they felt about Gay Rights.  His teacher felt the subject would meet with parental disapproval and refused to allow Bobby to do the project.  Bobby noted how “upset” he was that he couldn’t even ask questions of his peers about the issue, and decided he should stand with us to denounce Dan Ramos.

Dan Ramos’ comments don’t just reflect on Dan Ramos (although that’s the message the BCDP is desperately trying to relay to the public).  Rather, they reflect on the BCDP as a whole.  The BCDP is desperately seeking money to pay off the near $200,000 debt owed to the county after a nasty embezzlement charge, yet their only official spokesperson is making horrible accusations and disparaging remarks against a large part of the democratic base.  So I ask you dear readers – would you give money to an organization that is spewing hate?  I believe the answer is no – and neither will I.

Target CEO is “Genuinely Sorry” for Anti-LGBT Contribution

August 05, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

target gaysIn a message published today to Target leaders, Target President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel, apologized for the contribution to MNForward, which supports candidates who maintain a very anti-LGBT platform.  Here’s the statement from Target:

Civic Activity
A Message From Gregg Steinhafel, Chairman, President and CEO – 8/5/2010

Dear Target Leaders,
I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target’s contribution to MN Forward, and I appreciate your engagement and candor, both of which clearly demonstrate your loyalty and passion for our company.

In situations like this, it is often difficult to find the right words, but I would like to respond with the same honesty you have shown me.

The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.

We remain fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals. The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.

Going forward, we will soon begin a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena. And later this fall, Target will take a leadership role in bringing together a group of companies and partner organizations for a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.

Thank you for sharing your input and for your continued commitment to making Target an even stronger company.

Sincerely,
Gregg Steinhafel
Chairman, President and CEO

TABC Commissioner and Texas Vice Chair of the Republican Party Defends Anti-Gay Platform

July 14, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Melinda Fredricks Defends Texas GOP Platform's Anti-Gay HateBy now you’ve heard about the Texas GOP Platform and it’s anti-gay tirade.  Perhaps you’ve even read through all 25 pages of the Platform and noted the harsh stance on immigration, the inclusion of God in society, the importance of protecting symbols over individual freedoms and other heinous “conservative” propaganda.

Now, the Texas Republican Party Vice Chair, Melinda Fredricks, has spoken out in defense of the Platform’s views that homosexual acts should be re-criminalized claiming that the radical homosexual agenda is to blame.  Apparently, Ms. Fredrick believes that the push to repeal the discriminatory, unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act is reason enough to outlaw same-sex conduct.

In her statement published via the Montgomery County Courier, a local paper published by Ms. Fredricks’ husband, Ms. Fredricks stated (for herself and not on behalf of the party):

… a large portion of our base is Christian, and we believe that homosexuality is contrary to what God says is appropriate behavior.  People feel threatened that their children have to be taught that it’s an equal lifestyle to heterosexuality.  At the same time, you can’t say people are subhuman. (Homosexuals) still deserve the dignity entitled to them.

It should be noted that the Platform clearly supports putting the evangelical Christian version of “God” into legislation.

I almost feel sorry for Ms. Fredricks though.  Apparently, her idea of dignity is to charge people who love each other with the crime of “Sodomy” – which under Texas law was defined as being exclusive to homosexual acts prior to being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas. If that’s the most dignified she’s felt in her life, she is missing out.

Ms. Fredricks is not only anti-gay, but she also serves as one of three TABC Commissioners, the policy-making body the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and has done so since 2008 after being appointed by Rick Perry.  As you may recall, in June, 2009, Ft. Worth Police and two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents raided the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar in the DFW area.  During the raid, Chad Gibson was critically injured and spent days in the hospital… but don’t worry, the agent that *allegedly* injured him treated him with dignity before bashing his head.

You Have the Right to be Fired

June 27, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Discrimination, Featured

The Equality SummerYou have the right to be fired. You have the right to remain silent. You do not have the right to an attorney. Anything you say will not help you and will most certainly be used against you. Unless you are straight. You have the right to be straight and cisgender.

You don’t know what I am talking about? Read on.

HELP WANTED: I am recruiting you to end straight, cisgender privilege. I am a very well employed, with all rights granted by the US government, married, straight, cisgender, white collar, white woman. And I need you. That’s right. I have everything. And I need you. In fact, it’s not just me. It’s we. Who are we? Keep reading.

Did you know that you have the right to be fired just for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? In 38 states you can be fired for your gender identity or gender expression. In 29 states you can be fired for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Let’s put that in a different perspective. In 12 states out of 50, you are protected if you are transgender. Twelve. That’s a little more than 20% of states. In 21 states out of 50, you are protected if you are LGB. Twenty one.

You can give up this right. You can fight. You have the right to relentlessly advocate for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. You remember ENDA, don’t you? That legislation that has had various forms for at least 16 years, probably more? But isn’t ENDA dead? It is if we let it die. A small group of activists started talking. We know that if ENDA does not pass in this term, and if Democrats lose seats in the Senate or even the House, then ENDA will die. Again. We decided to do something about it. Who are we? Keep reading.

We are pushing ENDA this summer. How will we do this? We will not march on Washington D.C. Washington D.C. will come to us. We need one to five people from every state to visit their Senators. We need one to five people from every Congressional District to visit their representatives. Every summer, Senators and Representatives are back home. We are going to make appointments. to visit with them or their staffers. We are going to publish the schedule. And when I say we, that includes you.

We are asking YOU to volunteer to visit your Senator or Congressperson. If you choose to volunteer,  we will train you on what to say and do. We are asking every group out there that supports ENDA to speak up. We invite all LGBT groups. We invite straight allies. We invite people who have never spoken up, never made a phone call. We do not care if you are Gay, Inc, GetEqual, GLAAD, a blogger, NEM, Equality Across America, PFLAG,  or just an individual. We are not enemies with each other, no matter what our differences.

As a straight woman, a straight ally, I am going to tell you this. There is a wide range of thinking about strategies in the LGBT activist community. The strategies range from not rocking the boat to rocking the world. Working inside the system, disrupting the system. These discussions are all valid. You know why? Because none of us has the magic answer to what will create change. So we try different approaches. The sad part is that we argue about them, sometimes in non-constructive ways.

But I know one thing. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. I know that it cannot hurt to go directly to our representatives, face to face. I know that it cannot hurt to call them, email them, fax them. How do we know this? Because we have seen it work for other groups, including our enemies.

We do have a top priority list. Senators who are on the fence. Why? Because we know the House will pass ENDA. It has 202 sponsors. The problem is the Senate. And until the Senate votes are there, the bill will stay in committee.

In order to break this cycle of insanity (and it is insanity), we must intervene.

We must get the votes from the Senators. We will be publishing our strategy soon. I can hear you now. You have called your representative. You have emailed, written letters, sent faxes. You have attended protests. You think marriage equality is more important. You think DADT is more important. Here is news for you. DOMA and DADT can fall. But their fall does not ensure protection from being fired.

Who are we? We range from Washington insiders to radicals who believe in direct actions. We range from straight to gay to lesbian to  transgender. (Wanted: Bisexual to join our team.)  We range from atheists to ministers. We range from college students to ready-to-be grandparents. We are a small group of people. We have no name. We have no money. We are not asking you to stop using other strategies. We are not asking you to be assimilated or pledge allegiance. We believe in the power of voices. All voices.

I cannot guarantee success. We have no magic wand. We are not delusional. We understand the system. We understand the need. And we understand that some Senators are afraid. But we are not afraid. We may fail. But if we do not try, failure is guaranteed. It’s that simple.

What do I, as a straight, cisgender woman, gain from this? Nothing for myself. Everything for the world.  I cannot be fired for being straight. So I do not want to hear that you are protected in your state, that your employer has protections or that you feel it cannot happen to you. I do not want to hear that you do not have time for a phone call or an email. Because this is a community. If one is not equal, none are equal.

I want you to volunteer. One simple mission. Tell our representatives we need ENDA. It’s time. It’s long overdue.

Your right to be fired will remain guaranteed. Unless we pass ENDA. So where do you sign up? Reply here – or go to the Facebook group ENDA Summer 2010 for more information.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

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Texas GOP Official Platform Calls for Imprisonment of Homosexuals and Supportive Heterosexuals

June 20, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Texas GOP calls for imprisonment of homosexualsI’m not a big fan of Democrats right now.  In fact, I’m so upset with their negotiations to be bi-partisan, I actually considered not voting for a single democrat this November and instead voting for an independent or abstaining my vote altogether.  Many LGBT people have made calls for a boycott of the democrats – no money and no votes.  But I live in Texas and that changes things for me.

The Texas GOP has released their “2010 State Republican Party Platform” and its filled with hate and bigotry.  One blogger even likened the platform to being very similar to that of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill – and they are absolutely right!

The anti-gayness of the Republican platform began with their principles.  Principle #6 begins, :

We believe in… Self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman.

That principle concurs with roughly 76% of Texas voters (which was the percentage that voted to support an amendment to the Texas Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, or anything even similar to it).

But it gets far more frightening.  Under the bold, uppercase heading, “Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health” the Texas GOP outlines why I should be legislated back into the closet and how they intend to do it:

Family and Defense of Marriage – We support the definition of marriage as a God–ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists. *** We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist of and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse.

You’ll note that the Texas GOP is asking that marriage rights in other states be revoked as well.

Family Values – We affirm that this section is a response to the attacks on traditional family values. These include well  funded, vigorous political and judicial attempts by powerful organizations and branches of the government to force acceptance, affirmation and normalization of homosexual behavior upon school children, parents, educational institutions, businesses, employees, government bodies and religious institutions and charities. These aggressive, intolerant efforts marginalize as bigots anyone who dissents.

You’ll notice that the shoe fits.  They are attempting to legislate me.  They are attempting to deny me fundamental rights they enjoy based upon, as evidenced by this proposal, their belief in an intolerant and uncaring “God.”  Here’s the definition of bigot to make it clear that they are what they claim not to be: “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”

Thus, I am a bigot too because I’m intolerant of the belief that I am inferior as a human to the Texas GOP.  I accept and embrace that fact.  The only difference between my bigotry and theirs is that I don’t tell them who they should marry.

But wait, it gets worse and here’s where we start sounding very Ugandan:

Marriage Licenses – We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.

That’s right.  If you are a heterosexual clergy member who decides to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex person, you go to prison.  You don’t have to have gay sex anymore to go to prison in Texas (as you did in the past), now you can go just for supporting a life commitment between two people of the same-sex.

The Texas GOP then goes on to ignorantly declare that homosexuality:

  • tears at the fabric of society,
  • contributes to the breakdown of the family unit,
  • leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases, and
  • is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

But wait, it gets worse… still:

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

They then “demand” that Congress withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy – in other words, because the federal courts said people can’t go to prison for oral sex, Texas Republicans are pissed.  They want people who have oral sex to go to prison.  They are, again bigots, like me.  Only, I don’t want them to go to prison for having vaginal to penis sex.  I couldn’t care less about their missionary position.

I am a Texan, for those that do not know.  I live and work in Texas and have lived in Texas the bulk of my life.  It’s always been “home” to me in spite of the conservative nature of Texas politics.  It has, however, become clear that Texas may soon begin to invade my home, arrest people like me, my friends and my loved ones.  From the tone set by the GOP, they may decide it’s OK to open fire on homosexuals in the street.  There is no stopping this level of hatred.  They aren’t trying to stop us from marrying, they are trying to make us extinct.

So what should I do now? Find a friend in another country and find out that country’s laws regarding political asylum and make arrangements with that friend for when we are forced to flee from the land of the free and the home of the brave?

There is one principle of the Texas GOP that I support:

Americans having the right to be safe in their homes, on their streets, and in their communities, and the unalienable right to defend themselves.

This is my home – and I will use my “unalienable right” to defend it.