Texas, again

 Posted by at 16:59  Politics, Republicans
May 222017
 

Once again the state of Texas takes steps backwards…

Texas lawmakers pass controversial bathroom, adoption bills

Texas lawmakers call it a push for conservative values. Critics call it discrimination.

In a flurry of activity before the state’s legislative session wraps May 29, Texas lawmakers are pushing through controversial bills that affect children and touch on hot-button issues of sexuality and religion.

On Sunday, the state Senate passed a bill that would allow adoption agencies to turn away potential parents they find objectionable on religious grounds. The bill already had House approval and now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.

And lawmakers weren’t done. The same day, the Texas House of Representatives approved a limited “bathroom bill” that would require public high school students to use restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. The measure now goes back to the Senate, which previously approved a broader version mandating that standard for everyone using public restrooms.

Abbott had made the issue a priority for the legislative session. Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers also have proposed bills or amendments allowing “religious liberty” exemptions for lawyers, pharmacists and nurses.

Someday Texas may join the 21st century. I, for one, am not holding my breath.

Jun 302015
 

An excellent editorial published in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News. It is worth the couple of minutes it will take you to read it.

Public servants’ religious beliefs do not trump same-sex couples’ rights

No one should deny government employees’ right to exercise religious freedom in their personal affairs, but there must be no ambiguity regarding their official responsibilities. They are constitutionally bound to uphold rights and provide government services without discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have equal rights to marry. Top Texas leaders must stop standing in the way by encouraging government employees to invoke a personal religious exception when asked to provide marriage-related services, such as issuing licenses or officiating at civil ceremonies.

Denton County Clerk Juli Luke struck the right tone regarding Friday’s ruling by stating, “Personally, same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief. … However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law, and as an elected public official, my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened the door for judges, county clerks and other government employees to defy the ruling with an opinion Sunday that they may refuse to perform their official duties based on personal religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The opinion attempts to pit government employees’ First Amendment right to religious freedom against a Supreme Court ruling mandating the equal treatment of same-sex couples under the law. But this isn’t about personal religious freedoms; it’s about public servants’ duties under the Constitution.

Fortunately, it appears most Texas county clerks are honoring the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, a handful of clerks are raising religious objections and refusing to grant same-sex marriage licenses. The effect of the attorney general’s opinion was to sow confusion where clarity should reign: Same-sex marriage is now a constitutional right.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who requested Paxton’s opinion, appears to be among those misinterpreting the legal latitude of public servants. “No public employee, judge or justice of the peace should be forced to participate in activity contrary to the covenants of their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Patrick said.

State employees do not have discretion to selectively embrace the constitutional protections they agree with while rejecting those they object to, even on religious grounds. Constitutionally, governments — including their employees — must present themselves as religiously neutral.

Paxton suggested in his opinion that same-sex couples have ample options to go elsewhere should an employee refuse services on religious grounds. But it’s not the couple’s job to shop around for services from employees whose salaries are paid with tax dollars.

The exercise of free religious belief ends at government employees’ office doors. Texas leaders gain nothing by introducing confusion and erecting discriminatory loopholes now that the Supreme Court has made clear where it stands. Same-sex marriage is indisputably the law of the land.

Read that again. Carefully. “State employees do not have discretion to selectively embrace the constitutional protections they agree with while rejecting those they object to, even on religious grounds.”

Any government employee who refuses to perform his or her duties should be summarily dismissed. Period. End of discussion.

Jun 262015
 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. Today, they have ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right in all fifty states. No state, from this moment forward, is allowed to ban same-sex marriage. I honestly thought this would never happen in my lifetime. I was wrong, and I am amazed and delighted.

Republican heads are today exploding all across this great land, especially here in Texas.

The ruling of the Court may be read here. Basically:

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

The vote was, as expected, 5-4, with the four conservative members of the Court voting against equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

The ruling takes effect immediately.

A transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks following the ruling may be read after the break.

Continue reading »

FWPD LGBT recruiting video

 Posted by at 22:20  Lifestyle
Jul 232014
 

I saw mention of this video on our local news a few minutes ago and immediately knew I had to post it. I never in a million years thought I would see something like this from the Fort Worth Police Department. Enjoy!

Times they are changing!

Jul 212014
 

President Obama signed an Executive Order today that bans discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people by any firm that does business with the federal government. He had to do this because the Republican congress refuses to do its job and ban discrimination by any business in America.

The full transcript of the President’s remarks follows the break.

Continue reading »

May 182014
 

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Senior Appreciation Day in Topeka, Kansas this Friday just passed. She talked about the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education. Let me give you a heads up… she went there. It’s well worth your time to watch and listen.

Transcript follows the break.

Continue reading »

May 142014
 

I was born and raised in Idaho, though I got out as quickly as I could (at age 19… a long, long time ago). I never thought I would see this in my lifetime:

U.S. judge overturns Idaho ban on gay marriage

(Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge struck down Idaho’s ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, saying it relegated same-sex couples to a second-class status in violation of constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law.

The ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale was the latest in a string of decisions by federal judges against state bans on same-sex matrimony that, if upheld by higher courts, would sharply broaden access to marriage for U.S. gay couples.

Dale said her decision would go into effect on Friday at 9 a.m. local time, unless put on hold by a higher court.

Marriage rights have been extended to gay couples in 17 states and the District of Columbia in a trend that has gained momentum since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.

That decision, which struck down part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, has been cited by a number of federal judges, including Dale, in subsequent opinions overturning state bans on gay matrimony.

So, barring a stay on Judge Dale’s decision by a higher court, which has been requested by Idaho Governor Butch Otter (yes, that really is his name), gays and lesbians will be able to get married in that state starting at 9:00 a.m. this Friday.

Amazing and wonderful things are happening in this country. If we’re not careful, we won’t be a third world country for much longer.

UPDATE:

Judge refuses to stay Idaho same-sex marriages

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal magistrate judge on Wednesday rejected a request from Idaho’s governor to put same-sex weddings on hold while he appeals her ruling from a day earlier that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale wrote that the appeal is unlikely to succeed so there’s no reason to keep the state from granting marriage licenses to gay couples starting Friday.

Dale noted she already found Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s arguments lacked legal merit when she struck down the ban Tuesday evening. The judge said allowing Idaho to continue enforcing its laws against same-sex marriage would irreparably harm the four couples who sued over the ban, along with other gay couples.

“Nor does the public interest favor preserving a status quo that deprives individuals of their constitutional rights,” Dale wrote. “The court finds a stay pending appeal is not warranted.”

UPDATE #2:

9th Circuit Court temporarily halts Idaho same-sex marriages

BOISE — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s request for a temporary stay while it considers the state’s request for a longer stay pending appeal of the lower court’s ruling overturning Idaho same-sex marriage ban.

“The district court’s May 13, 2014 order is temporarily stayed pending this court’s disposition of appellants’ emergency motions for a stay pending appeal,” declared the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an order released shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday.

The temporary stay will remain in effect until the 9th Circuit Court decides whether to issue a full stay pending appeal.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale on Tuesday struck down Idaho’s 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages. Her order was to take effect 9 a.m. Friday.

So, at least for the time being, Idaho remains in the dark ages.