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82nd Texas Legislative Session Welcomed with Anti-Bullying Demonstration

January 12, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Youth Issues

Queer Texas United Anti-Bully "Die In" - Austin, Texas, January 11, 2011

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 82nd Texas legislative session.  To welcome the new legislature, Queer Texas United organized a Homophobia and Transphobia Kills Die-In at the front gate of the Capitol Building in Austin.  The purpose of the Die-In was to support anti-bullying legislation.  The Texas Senate has introduced two bills with respect to bullying and cyberbullying for consideration this legislative session.  Presently, there are two anti-bullying bills in the Senate and one in the House.

Roughly fifty people attended the die-in.  On cue, we all fell to the ground while a litany of names were read aloud by organizers then repeated by participants.  Afterward, Representative Joe Farias of San Antonio spoke about the effect of bullying on his own family.  He recounted the horrible bullying his son experienced and how, upon approaching the school administration, he was met with reluctance and even denial instead of help with confronting the problem.

Rather profoundly, another demonstration was being held simultaneously in front of the Capitol Building.  This demonstration was an anti-death penalty rally.  Several participants of that demonstration joined in with the die-in participants.  Signs reading “Stop the Executions” mingled with signs reading “Homophobia Kills, Transphobia Kills.”  Bullying, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and lethal injection all have the same tragic end; life ceases.

At approximately 6:18 p.m. organizers for the execution rally announced that the prisoner who was to be executed had received a stay.  One woman screamed, “We got a stay!”  Perhaps somewhere out in this world a bullied youth received a stay, too.

Overview of introduced Texas Anti-Bullying Legislation:

Senate Bill 245, filed by Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, would amend the Texas Education Code to not only require policy and program development along with staff and parent training for the prevention and reporting of bullying, but also amend the current definition of bullying to include cyberbullying.  Further, S.B. 245 would require that a student who engages in bullying, at the request of a person with authority to act on behalf of a bullied student, to be transferred to another classroom or campus.  Previously, students victimized by bullying were forced to transfer to a new school or classroom themselves which clearly punished the victim rather than the offender.  House Bill 224, field by Representative Mark Strama, is markedly similar to Senate Bill 245.

Senate Bill 205, filed by Senator John Whitmire of Houston, would require school districts to develop a policy prohibiting bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation.  The current text of S.B. 205 does not provide for specific consequences for students who engage in bullying, but instead requires that the district develop a program for remedial action, including counseling for the bully and a referral to appropriate services or to the appropriate county or district attorney.

What you can do in Texas to get involved:

Marriage “Protection” Act: A Government Take Over

June 05, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

justiceIt seems those opposed to same-sex marriage are always using phrases like “Protect Marriage.” With the introduction of the “Marriage ‘Protection’ Act of 2009,” [H.R. 1269] those that oppose equal rights for all people showed exactly how far they are willing to go to rule others. This bill’s purpose is, “To amend title 28, United States Code, to limit Federal court jurisdiction over questions under the Defense of Marriage Act.” In other words, the bill intends to limit the power of the Judicial branch of government to make rulings on the constitutionality of laws introduced through the Legislative branch. According to opencongress.org the bill:

Amends the federal judicial code to deny federal courts jurisdiction to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution, of the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act declaring that no state shall be required to give effect to any marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of any other state.

Because this bill is a blatant violation of the separation of powers and unconstitutional, I just can’t help but wonder if the sponsors will then introduce another bill preventing the Judicial branch from declaring the Marriage Protection Act unconstitutional.

To put this in perspective, imagine for a moment that the U.S. Legislature had declared that all telephone conversation between priests will be recorded and archived to be reviewed annually by a panel of government agents to ensure no criminal activity is taking place. Perhaps such obviously unconstitutional legislation was supported by the majority of Americans because they felt, “well, I’m not a priest and I’m not doing anything wrong so why does it matter.” Legislation is then introduced to state that the Courts cannot rule the legislation unconstitutional. The law is now solely in the hands of the Legislative branch. The legislature has effectively seized control of the government.

Thus, whether you are a supporter of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or not, you should recognize this piece of legislature for what it is, a coup.

The following is the current status of the legislation, updated regularly:

I’m providing a list of the representatives that are sponsors of this legislation.  Please contact them and let them know we will not let them seize power: