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Texas Preparing to Defy Supreme Court on Marriage


By Matt Baume

Texas lawmakers vote this week on whether the state should officially defy the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage. Alabama and Minnesota are debating bills to undermine marriage equality. At least one presidential candidate seems to think that if elected he could veto the Supreme Court. But a new survey shows that Americans are getting tired of these anti-gay shenanigans.

When the Supreme Court rules on marriage this June, everyone in the country will be bound by the decision. Everyone. Even Texas. And yet, this week Texas lawmakers will vote on a bill that would order state employees to defy the anticipated pro-equality ruling from the the Supreme Court.

Just to be clear: this is definitely not allowed. When the Supreme Court says you have to do something, you can’t just pass a “no I don’t” bill, no matter how big your cowboy hat is. But the bad news is that this bill, which is clearly not constitutional, will probably pass. It has a ton of co-authors in the House, plenty of support in the Senate, and Governor Greg Abbott says that marriage equality causes unplanned pregnancies so he’s probably going to sign it.

Eventually, the law will be overturned, but it could take years and millions of dollars. And in the mean time, LGBTs will continue to suffer: denied the equal dignity of marrying the people they love, under a law that should never have been passed in the first place.

And it’s not just Texas that’s doing this. Last week Alabama debated HB56, which would allow judges to refuse to marry gay couples. And in Minnesota, where marriage has been legal for three years, Republicans are pushing a bill that would poke holes in the state’s nondiscrimination laws, allowing private companies to penalize gay and lesbian couples.

Presidential candidates are jumping on the bandwagon as well. Candidate Ben Carson says that if he was elected president, he’d simply overrule the Supreme Court’s decision. That statement is so completely divorced from how things work that it’s hard to understand what Carson thinks the President even is.

The good news is that most Americans want marriage equality, and they want it from the Supreme Court. A new survey shows that 58% of Americans want the LGBT couples bringing suit before the court to win. For now, those politicians passing anti-gay laws may be popular with their local base. But the more people learn that the bills are unnecessary — and aren’t even legal — the less popular they get.


  • 1. mu2  |  May 11, 2015 at 10:20 am

    So about midnight this young woman runs into the police station and tells the officer "I was just raped by a Texan!"

    The cop says "Okay please describe him"

    "I can't" she replies, "it was pitch dark outside"

    The cop asks "Well how do you know he was a Texan?"

    She answers "Because he had a great big belt buckle and a little tiny dick"

  • 2. mu2  |  May 11, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Looks like some Texan was offended by my little story. har har har

  • 3. gay_avenger  |  May 11, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    You probably were down voted not by some Texan but because the Grindr locker room humor isn't appropriate for this type of site.

  • 4. sab39  |  May 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Also because the way to deal with discrimination is not to turn around and discriminate against other groups. I know some awesome, progressive, feminist, LGBT-friendly Texans.

  • 5. mu2  |  May 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Oh dear, more goddamn pearl clutching. It's a fucking JOKE, moron.

  • 6. Eric  |  May 11, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    There was no need for name calling. We were just being polite. In all honesty, your joke wasn't very funny.

  • 7. mu2  |  May 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    "humor isn't appropriate"??? What the fuck does that mean?
    Jesusfucking christ what a bunch of sourpuss jerkoffs….

  • 8. DeadHead  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    “Locker room humor” are jokes about sexual topics. The only jerk here is the person being a name caller and using coarse language.

  • 9. A_Jayne  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    You missed this part:

    Humor should be humorous. When it isn't, it doesn't qualify.

  • 10. VIRick  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Mu2, just quit with all the vulgarity. Your "joke," of whatever ilk, simply doesn't belong here on EoT, because if there were an actual humorous "joke" of some sort there in one of your responses, I totally missed it. Perhaps if you were to re-state it in Spanish or French, I might understand. Still, EoT is a site where we discuss court cases and court rulings, rather than "jokes.".

    However, speaking of Texas, I just saw a recent polling survey which indicated that a very high percentage of Roman Catholics in Texas and an equally high percentage of Hispanics in Texas (possibly with some overlap within the two groups) favor marriage equality, and that overall, so do the majority of all Texas residents of all flavors and stripes statewide. Their own politicians, still currying to their base, are not keeping up with the fast-changing public opinion within their own state. Plus, the current governor, as a left-over defense attitude thingie from when he was Attorney-General, has an axe to grind in defending his state's uncontitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

    The ones currently in charge in Texas are dreading the day (coming quite soon) when their state approaches being majority Hispanic, as the ethnic shift will upend everything they hold so dear, and turn Texas very blue. The increasingly shrill tone of their desperation comes from the fact that they already know that they're ultimately going to lose their "last stand." I believe this is commonly referred to as the "Alamo" complex.

    "…. sourpuss jerkoffs …." Zut alors??!! What is this?????

  • 11. JayJonson  |  May 11, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Another nail in the coffin of Regnerus's sham "study":

  • 12. 1grod  |  May 11, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    .Jay, whether Regnerus’ study has been proved a sham would not have changed the wishy-washy outcome of the related exchange between Justice Kennedy and Ms Bonauto in Obergefell. IMO she was thrown off by Kennedy ‘straw-dog’ assertion that "we should not consult at all the social sciences on this [degree of accuracy], because it's too new” Circuitously, Mary does answer him that fifty years of research gives confidence on child outcomes, mentioning in passing trials in Michigan, Arkansas and Florida. Justice Roberts then acknowledged that Ms Bonauto’s position has been 'quickly accepted across broad elements of society'. The ‘commissioner’ of Regnerus’ research had in mind producing findings that would throw a spanner into the certainty of the professional consensus on 'outcomes' that would be presented to Courts. By the flow of the dialogue, it is doubtful their effort was successful.

  • 13. FredDorner  |  May 11, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Note that Judge Friedman debunked Regnerus in the DeBoer case, and shortly after that Gene Schaerr withdrew his Regnerus citation in his Utah appeal……….and then he turns around and cites Regnerus again in his "marriage scholars" amicus brief.

    I hope SCOTUS notices Schaerr's duplicity.

  • 14. RnL2008  |  May 11, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Why would Minnesota defy a ruling from SCOTUS when they already have Marriage Equality?

  • 15. davepCA  |  May 11, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I think the mention of Minnesota at the top of the article is misleading. Reading further down, it appears that some Minnesota republikans are trying to enact more of those 'okay for businesses to discriminate against gays' laws, not any laws dealing directly with eligibility for civil marriage.

  • 16. Mike_Baltimore  |  May 11, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    A closer reading of the article says it is the REPUBLICANS in the Minnesota legislature who are backing the bills, NOT the legislature as a whole.

    The bills MIGHT get through the Minnesota House, as it is controlled by the GOTP with 72 Republicans and 62 DFL (Democrat) members, but the Minnesota Senate is a completely different matter. The Senate is led by a DFLer, and has 39 DFL members vs. 28 GOTP members. And the Governor is a DFLer, and will almost certainly veto any bill that puts a crimp in ME in the state.

  • 17. RnL2008  |  May 11, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks Dave and Mike……I thought that……I just don't understand why idiots need to prove their stupidity to the whole world. Did their parents not teach them it was better to appear stupid than to open their mouths and remove all doubt?

    Why do politicians believe that they have some ability to ignore the ruling from SCOTUS and does that mean that Gays and Lesbians in Texas will still be denied the right to marry after the ruling in June? How would that be okay?

    I just don't truly get it…….Blacks DIDN'T have to continue to fight additional issues, or did they? I admit I was NOT that old in 1968, but I DON'T recall my parents having major discussions about certain issues after desegregation and after the Loving decision.

    Frankly, if politicians DON'T want to do their jobs, maybe we as the people should be able to just fire them on the spot…….wonder how that would go over?

  • 18. gay_avenger  |  May 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    African Americans, and other people of color, are still fighting for additional issues and equality. Republicans will find new ways to force us to continue having to fight.

  • 19. Dal_i_gredu  |  May 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    After desegregation was supposedly the law of the land the federal govenment had to send national guard troops to enforce it in the south.

    I'm also certain that local authorities found ways to make it difficult and expensive for interracial couples to get married, just as they prevented African Americans from voting and from going to school.

    We need to be prepared for the fact that there will still be a lot of fighting to do after the SC rules. I hope every scrap of recalcitrance is met with a federal lawsuit and that the courts award damages to those injured by the new Jim Crow that the southern states are preparing for us.

  • 20. RnL2008  |  May 11, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you for the information and I would hope that if more lawsuits are needed to bring States into compliance with the ruling from SCOTUS, that financial damages will be award to the couples as well.

  • 21. Mike_Baltimore  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    There were many 'segregation academies' in the South after the Supreme Court ruled in the 'Brown v Board of Education' case, especially in Arkansas, Mississippi and Virginia. Some schools in Virginia continued to operate as segregated schools until as late as 1986.
    ( )

  • 22. VIRick  |  May 11, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Prince Edward County, Virginia, shut down their public school system entirely, rather than integrate.

    Plus, a lot of those "private christian segregation acadamies" in the South still exist.

  • 23. A_Jayne  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Some on the political far right (both politicians and voters) truly believe that we gay people have either intimidated or brainwashed most of those who say they support us. They also firmly believe that their religious beliefs are the only truly correct ones, and that all those now disproportionately influenced by us will someday get back to what they call "righteousness."

    Part of what they are doing with expanded "religious freedom laws" is paving the way for writing their religious beliefs firmly into law – you know, when all those people "erroneously supporting gay people" finally realize the fanatical right-wing groups were right after all, and start voting them into office. Then they can make sure the USA is (their version of) a "Christian" country.

    In the meantime, they are trying multiple tricky ways to get into office, so paying close attention to the truth of candidates' beliefs, what they really stand for (which might be different than what they say), and their histories matters more now than ever,

  • 24. RnL2008  |  May 11, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Frankly, I do a lot of research regarding the Candidates for President. If in their bio they mention that God is their driving force, they immediately are tossed.

    I was watching Rachel Marrow the other day and she was discussing the potential fact that roughly there could be like 22 Republicans running for President…….currently we know of 2 for the Democrats………there are very few if any Republicans who will get my vote…….I believe Hillary could win or possibly Bernie Sanders…….but if he DOESN'T win, he could push Hillary enough to help her win……..and yes, there will probably be a handful of Republicans who will try to make her the sole person responsible for Bengzahi or however you spell it, but in my opinion she is no more responsible for it than say Obama was for the deficient he was handed……..and before folks flame me for that comment…….I am truly anti-government to a degree and Pro Military……..I also know that changes WON'T truly take place until folks get fed up with this corrupt two party system.

  • 25. A_Jayne  |  May 11, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I don't disagree about our two-party system, but it's what we have. I voted a third party one time – over 40 years ago – and the (R) party candidate won. Never again.

    I (like you) automatically reject any candidate for any office who even remotely sounds as if religion is a driving force for her/him. I research state and local (as well as national) candidates the same way – especially those running for "no party affiliation" positions, such as city and county judges. Dog whistles from any candidate also disqualifies her/him in my book…

  • 26. Lymis  |  May 13, 2015 at 6:47 am

    It's possible that we'll see a wave of these sorts of things even if they know they won't win and are unconstitutional even if they did pass.

    We've seen it with abortion restrictions too, and on a lot of other hot button issues. There is political capital in being seen to vote "the right way" even if you lose, and unfortunately, it's usually not balanced by the political negative.

    Often, the people who oppose whatever the law is, think "It's not important, because it will never pass" while the people who support it think, "Even if it won't pass, it proves he represents me." Rather than seeing it in terms of "I will not allow such a bigot to represent me," people who disagree often think "His bigotry doesn't matter because he can't use it against me."

    So some of these people with the most outrageously unconstitutional and anti-democratic views keep getting re-elected.

  • 27. weaverbear  |  May 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Having a good amount of family in Minnesota and having spent some time in the state, I am not surprised that the state has marriage equality, & that the populace voted down the Republican attempted over-reach to put a marriage ban in their state constitution (which happened the same year as the votes in Washington state, Maine and Maryland).

    It does not surprise me however that there are still some far right Republicans in office who would like to make mischief for our community, in order to cater to their constituents. Remember while this is the state that gave us Gene McGovern, Paul Wellstone, Amy Klobichar and Al Franken, it's also given us Michelle Bachman.

  • 28. VIRick  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Mc Govern, when he ran for President, was a sitting senator from South Dakota. On the other hand, Hubert H Humphrey, when he ran for president, had previously been a senator from Minnesota.

  • 29. weaverbear  |  May 13, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Forgive me Rick. I meant Gene McCarthy who'd been senator from Minnesota, not John McGovern.

  • 30. scream4ever  |  May 11, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I disagree about the issue getting dragged out for years in Texas. At the very latest when the Supreme Court rules in June our side will get a judge to stay the law. The Supremacy Clause it very blatant here.

  • 31. Mike_Baltimore  |  May 11, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Remember, it took 3 years for Alabama to recognize that inter-racial marriages were legal.

  • 32. scream4ever  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Yes but that was with an issue MUCH more unpopular then same-sex marriage.

  • 33. SoCal_Dave  |  May 11, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    I really hope that Justice Roberts (or was it someone else?) sees that animus is alive and well.

  • 34. RemC_Chicago  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Ah, Dave. There have been so many incidents stockpiled on the book of animus just in the last year alone. So many opportunities for Justice Roberts to see how alive and well and kicking animus is. While I understand there are legal reasons why SCOTUS might not want to deal with animus in its ruling, on a very practical matter, it does put the lie to Roberts' claim that open minds will eventually come around to supporting ME—and by extension, gay people. He's either extraordinarily naive, blissfully unaware of what our community deals with, or being profoundly disingenuous. If he hasn't seen it by now, I don't believe he's going to. I hope I'm proven wrong.

  • 35. SoCal_Dave  |  May 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Yes, sadly, you're right, RemC. There have been so many cases where animus was obvious, at least to us. I guess I was just hoping this might hit closer to home – a state is threatening to disrespect SCOTUS, Roberts' own sphere, where he's used to being in deferred to.

    Yeah, I have also wondered that same thing – is he naive? or disingenuous?
    Neither is very desirable in a chief justice.

  • 36. VIRick  |  May 11, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I think Roberts is excessively naive, a characteristic which is extremely undesirable in a chief justice, particularly one who is purportedly quite in awe of his own legacy.

  • 37. bythesea66  |  May 11, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I vote disingenuous.

  • 38. RnL2008  |  May 11, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    I'd have to agree with ya……..One simply DOESN'T get chosen to be the Chief Justice being Naive in life.

  • 39. StraightDave  |  May 12, 2015 at 6:21 am

    You have to remember who did the choosing – W's handlers.

  • 40. JayJonson  |  May 12, 2015 at 6:43 am

    SoCal_Dave, I just cannot see why you think it would make a bit of difference to Roberts that animus is alive. I am amazed that so many cling to the hope that Roberts is a decent person. He isn't. He was put on the Court for ideological reasons and he will repay those who put him there. There may be an outside chance that, reading the polls as he does, he will craft some kind of limited concurrence on Question 2, but if he does, it will not be because he gives a damn about animus against gay people. He will do so only because he has his finger in the air and knows which way the wind is blowing. He is simply a right-wing politician in a black robe. He has never voted in favor of gay rights. His record on gay rights is exactly the same as Scalia's. Just because he does not engage in the rants that Scalia does in his dissents does not mean that he is any less a bigot than Scalia.

  • 41. Zack12  |  May 12, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Here's the point that has to be driven home.
    John Roberts has a lesbian cousin, a lesbiam cousin who got to hear at the DOMA hearings about how little he thinks of her and her relationship and how it's okay for the government to discriminate against her marriage.
    Quit hoping that we will get a turn around from Roberts, he is a partsian hack and a bigot and always will be.

  • 42. DeadHead  |  May 12, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Forty some years ago one of my younger brothers looked me in the eye and said, "the only good queer is a dead queer." To this day my brother's views have not changed and he knows I'm queer.

    I agree with Zack12, bigots will always be the way they are. Hate is embedded deep into their character traits.

  • 43. A_Jayne  |  May 12, 2015 at 9:40 am

    What a heartbreaking attitude to face – especially in one's own family. When I came out to my siblings (via snail mail 'way back when), the first reply I received said my brother admired my courage. I never did tell him it was more belligerence than courage. None of my siblings condemned either me or the life I have chosen to live.

    (My parents knew before my siblings did. They were supportive and said nothing to any of their other kids until after I did.)

  • 44. 1grod  |  May 12, 2015 at 9:58 am

    John Robert may have had a cousin in court for DOMA, but he had his wife in the Court for Obergefell. They had Bursch in one breadth describe adoptive parents as heroic and in the next straight adoptive parents in second class marriages and non-straight parents – well that a policy question but non-worthy of marriage. Read such exchanges as between Kagan & Bursch: KAGAN: "More adopted children and more marital households, whether same or opposite sex seems to be a good thing." BURSCH: Well that a policy argument, and reasonable people can disagree simply and compassionately.
    KAGAN: Well, I'm asking based on your policy how it's not a good thing……
    BURSCH: You've more kids being raised without their biological moms and dads….
    Your partisan hack and a bigot is also an proud adoptive parent who was being reminded that his family is less than the families of all his brothers' and sisters' on the bench but childless Kagan. And she is the one waging his battle!

  • 45. RemC_Chicago  |  May 12, 2015 at 10:34 am

    This exchange and wondering how Roberts was reacting was much on my mind. As a parent with two adopted kids, I felt compelled to write to him after the hearing—Not because I think judges should be susceptible to a private citizen's voice, but because I assumed his interpretation of this exchange was: "Yes, well, that applies to THEM but not to people like US." I told him so—politely, as inflammatory language just shuts people down. I know it's spitting into the wind. I've written here before that I'm an expert on that. But I think speaking up and addressing the people who need to be spoken to is critically important. It makes me feel less like a victim:

    ” From an outsider’s perspective, your claim that [marriage] is being redefined seems a veiled reference to a general dislike of gay people: 'The standards are different for those people; they’re not like us, so the rules can’t apply to them equally. This institution must be closed to them; it’s always been just for us.'

    I have been together with my now husband for 19 years, committing to him without the privilege of legal protection out of an honorable sense of commitment and duty. That is better than the national statistic of marriages and divorces for straight people.

    People have been marrying in Washington, D.C. since 2009. When you come to work in the morning, or go out to dinner in Washington, can you perceive any difference in the air or among the people you meet because somewhere, a gay couple you don’t know and will never meet is getting married? How has equal marriage rights in other states impacted your life? I suspect, not at all, whereas it has made an enormous difference to those who can now declare themselves married. I can tell you from personal experience that a weight I never knew I carried was lifted off my shoulders after I got married last Father’s Day. Does your family life feel diminished in any respect because he and I got married in Chicago in 2014?

    I know that marriage is not just about procreation, and not just about the connection of a child to its biological mother and father. We were not responsible for our two children being born to men and women who could not or would not care for them. The choice to release them from their biological ties was not ours. Yet, our children are a great source of happiness and pride. They are thriving: they feel loved, secure; are being fed and housed and clothed and educated, being taught to be polite and to follow The Golden Rule. They deserve the protections that come with marriage no less than other children."

  • 46. 1grod  |  May 12, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Rem: No less than your children
    I admire your willingness to take the time and thought to have written John Roberts. Your letter, particularly the last paragraph is truly moving. Thank you for sharing. G

  • 47. JayJonson  |  May 13, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Yes, RemC, your letter to Roberts is moving, and in a rational world would lead him to do the right thing. I hope that writing it was an opportunity for you to vent. I often do the same thing. As you note, speaking out to people like Roberts makes us feel less like victims.

    Alas, however, someone like Roberts does not care tuppence for justice, despite the irony of his bearing the title "Chief Justice of the United States." At best, he is an inflated bureaucrat; a political hack who does what he has been told to do by those who made him what he is.

    It may be, however, that as Republicans come to realize that they have lost the battle against marriage equality and that hanging on to it will only harm them in the quest for the White House (despite how useful it is to pander to bigots on the local level), Roberts might be impelled to do the right thing. But if he does so, it will not be because of any concern for justice or right, or because of our pleas however eloquent and on target, but simply as a tactical move.

  • 48. SoCal_Dave  |  May 12, 2015 at 8:25 am

    I wasn't actually holding out much hope for Roberts to vote on our side. Just wishing for some recognition that the "no animus" argument is BS. But I don't suppose that's very likely either.

  • 49. DeadHead  |  May 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    A beautifully moving and inspiring GLAAD award acceptance speech by MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts who took a pause to fight back tears when he discussed his suicide attempt as a teen. “When I was growing up, I was burdened with the feelings of thinking that I was less than because I knew I was gay. I was hopeless and because of a culmination of events surrounding my sexuality at the age of 15, I attempted to take my life,” he said. “But my sister saved my life. People like me were considered immoral at best, a joke and the option of being out meant being an outcast. Sadly, that’s how my mind worked then.”

  • 50. Paul_In_Mpls  |  May 11, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    It is my understanding that the Minnesota bill is not going to be put up for a vote in the state house this session (which ends May 18). The authors claim merely to desire to "start a conversation." I find such a bill an odd way to do such any thing, but it did earn a lot of negative comments on the Minneapolis Star Tribune online story. In any case, there's no way this bill would pass the state senate, which is DFL-controlled, and Governor Mark Dayton would surely veto it if it somehow managed to reach his desk.

    It seems that the Republicans didn't learn their lesson from 2012, when they put a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality up for a popular vote. It was voted down, and the Republicans lost majorities in both the state house and state senate. The new Democratic majorities drafted a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, which Governor Dayton signed into law. Gotta love how it backfired on the Republicans! You'd think that Republicans would eventually learn that they do better here when they stick to fiscal issues and avoid social issues, but, well, some people never learn.

  • 51. RnL2008  |  May 11, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Personally the Republicans AREN'T very smart because if they were, they'd almost realize that in 2010, the Republicans had a SWEEPING win on election night, but just 2 short years later, they lost their bid for the White House………in 2014, again the Republicans had SWEEPING wins on election night…..can they figure out what they did wrong in 2012 fast enough before they lose the White House again in 2016? My guess is NO, and so far they have showed why they will lose the White House again……..they simply CAN'T get the hell out of their own way.

  • 52. RemC_Chicago  |  May 12, 2015 at 4:42 am

    It's startling that that there are so many Republican extremists wrangling to be POTUS. It's like the choice for the Party is"which candidate is the least crazy?"

  • 53. JayJonson  |  May 12, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Yes, RemC, and it is by no means clear that the Republican primary voters will choose the candidate that is the least crazy. In fact, quite the opposite. Even the relatively sane ones will have to pretend to be crazy in order to win the primaries.

  • 54. Lymis  |  May 13, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Their echo chamber has convinced a lot of them that they lost in the recent past because their candidates were not conservative and ideologically pure enough, and that the only answer is to dig deeper into the fringe.

    They're going to implode sooner rather than later, but the question is how much damage they do along the way.

  • 55. Zack12  |  May 12, 2015 at 8:17 am

    The problem for Republicans is Minnesota is that the Religious Right has a firm grip on their party.
    Thus they have to cater to them even though it will cost them elections again and again.

  • 56. weaverbear  |  May 13, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Amen. I'd love to see them become as unelectable in Minnesota as they've become here in California.

  • 57. Fortguy  |  May 11, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Speaking of Texas, we face a critical vote in the House tomorrow on a bill to prohibit county clerks and other public employees from issuing licenses or recognizing unions of same-sex couples. Unfortunately, the majority of state House members have co-sponsored the bill; although nine GOPers and all of the Dems have not. For more background, read Off the Kuff and Burnt Orange Report.

    Opponents of the bill will try to delay House passage past Thursday which would effectively kill it. Mercifully, the Legislature adjourns sine die on June 1st, and in the remaining three weeks both chambers' rules establish deadlines that will keep a lot of bad bills from passing. Unfortunately, special sessions look increasingly likely since the House and Senate can't reconcile opposing tax cut proposals in the short term. In the long term, the state Supreme Court will rule on school finance which the state's method has been ruled to violate the state Constitution in lower court, and the state's voter ID law and redistricting plan are undergoing federal appeals. I do not put it past Gov. Abbott to place hate on the agenda of any special session.

  • 58. VIRick  |  May 11, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    The Washington Blade has an extended article on this subject, covering the "bad news, good news" angles:

    The bad news is: On Tuesday (12 May 2015), the Texas House is set to vote on HB 4105, a bill that would prohibit the use of state or local funds to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Additionally, the legislation — one of among more than 20 pieces of pending anti-LGBT measures in the state legislature — would block state or local employees from recognizing a same-sex marriage license and prohibit the use of funds to recognize such unions.

    The good news for LGBT advocates is that 204 bills are scheduled for a vote on Tuesday ahead of the marriage legislation and the deadline is Thursday (14 May 2015) at midnight for the House to pass legislation that hasn’t been already approved by the Senate. After that time, the bill would be essentially dead.

  • 59. Fortguy  |  May 12, 2015 at 1:54 am

    The legislative deadlines late in the session certainly help to keep the bad bills at bay in the bottleneck at the end. In a body where so many wackos are present, the status quo is usually preferable. The trade-off is that sometimes the rare piece of progressive legislation is also likely to get nowhere such as HB 537 which would allow parents of the same sex to be listed as such on birth certificates of adopted children. This bill has surprisingly been voted favorably out of the State Affairs Committee, but now has to clear the Calendars Committee in time to be considered by the House floor by the end of Thursday. The bill passed through the initial committee with two GOP votes not because they are our allies but because they chose to separate concern for the kids from overall LGBT issues. Sometimes we have to thank our erstwhile adversaries for small victories.

    A short primer on the Texas Lege: The Texas House has never been organized along partisan lines nor has there ever been a dividing "center aisle" such as in the US House. There was only a brief period during the 1990s and early 2000s when the two parties shared any sort of parity in the chamber, but both Shrub before he became prez and Oops who succeeded him worked well with Dem leadership to maintain comity. Before that, the Lege was dominated by inter-party factionalism between liberal and conservative Dems, and since then between pragmatic and ideological GOPers. Speakers of the House have traditionally given a few committee chairmanships to reps from the other party. The current speaker, Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) was elected with 100% support from the chamber's Dems and represents the GOP pragmatic wing. The Teabaggers hate him not only because he is Jewish and therefore his commitment to their fundamentalist Christian agenda is suspect.

    In the Senate, the chamber is led by Lite Guv. Dan Patrick, a true crazy. Whereas in the US Senate the vice-prez is officially the president of the chamber but only shows up for ceremony or to break a tie vote, in the TX Senate the lieutenant governor enjoys a truly heavy hand appointing committees and directing legislation. Even though the Dems only lost one Senate seat in what was the disaster of Nov. 2014, the Tea Party performed strongly in primarying moderate Republicans and replacing their retirees. Historically, the Senate has been the chamber where bad House bills go to die. This session, it is the House that has to wear the big boy shoes while the Senators constantly throw ideological temper tantrums.

    Also, a note about the state's electoral demographics: Dems represent urban districts and those rural districts in a broad swath parallel to the Rio Grande from South Texas to the Trans-Pecos. Pragmatic GOPers tend to come from the rural counties. The Tea Partiers generally are all suburban. Rural legislators typically served in county, city, or school district office before joining the Lege where they learned that, small government rhetoric aside, voters expect potholes filled, garbage collected, potable water flowing, and school roofs not to be leaking on kids. They understand that if refusing to expand Medicare under the ACA threatens the closure of the local rural hospital that it is an existential threat to a small town. They understand that in many a small town the local school is the glue that holds a community together and that vouchers present a danger to that financing. Suburban reps are often chosen for their rhetoric rather than their real-world experience and refuse to acknowledge that they use the city streets, parks, and other amenities paid by their urban neighbors.

  • 60. RemC_Chicago  |  May 12, 2015 at 5:09 am

    Thank you for the Texan observations is state government. Enlightening and extremely helpful, providing dimension to cardboard identities. What a mess, though. And not unique to Texas.

  • 61. DeadHead  |  May 12, 2015 at 5:31 am

    "Texas HB 4105 sets up a “constitutional showdown,” pitting state law against an expected Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. A similar crisis unfolded in Alabama earlier this year when the high court justices cleared the way for same-sex couples to begin marrying there, while the state Supreme Court pumped the brakes. Same-sex couples haven’t been able to marry in the state since. "

    “It’s chaos in Alabama,” Robertson said. “[Probate judges] don’t know how to execute these competing rulings, and that’s what HB 4105 is setting up for the state of Texas.”

    Today (Tuesday), the Republican-dominated Texas House of Representatives is scheduled to consider HB 4105, it is particularly a dangerous bill in that it would essentially keep alive Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides in June. “Texas is pioneering a new strategy to prevent equality for its LGBT residents,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, on a press call Monday. “At its core, HB 4105 seeks to subvert any ruling that would allow the freedom to marry for loving, same-sex couples.” Texas lawmakers to consider unprecedented anti-gay marriage bill More at

  • 62. 1grod  |  May 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Tim Cook's influence might help!

  • 63. DeadHead  |  May 12, 2015 at 5:50 am

    "Voters in Eureka Springs Arkansas will decide today (Tuesday) whether they want to keep a city law that prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender people — at least for a couple of months.

    For the past three months, Eureka Springs has had the broadest law in Arkansas prohibiting discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    The Eureka Springs City Council passed Ordinance 2223 on Feb. 9. It provides anti-discrimination protection for residents and visitors in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.

    Some cities in Arkansas — including Eureka Springs — have similar laws that prevent discrimination against city employees or contractors, but Ordinance 2223 goes beyond that.

    Soon after Ordinance 2223 passed, an opposition group called Repeal 2223 started a petition drive to call for a citywide referendum.

    Figuring Repeal 2223 would get the 96 required signatures to force a referendum, the City Council pre-emptively set an election on the issue for Tuesday.

    By doing so, the City Council got to control the ballot wording and save money by having the election on the same day as one already scheduled for the extension of a 0.5 percent sales tax in Berryville to provide money for streets, police and fire protection. Eureka Springs and Berryville are in Carroll County, some 13 miles apart.

    The Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce came out against Ordinance 2223, saying its effect on the business community is too nebulous to gauge based on the wording."
    More at

  • 64. weaverbear  |  May 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

    And the populace voted over 2:1 to keep the ordinance!

  • 65. 1grod  |  May 12, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Polls closed over 1:3/4 hour ago. The mayor said "So far [early & absentee] results been positive in support of ordinance 2223.” : 80 % status quo.

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