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Fifth Circuit Marriage Equality Hearing Recap

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Fifth Circuit New Orleans

The Fifth Circuit took on marriage equality cases from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday, and things look promising:

Hearing Times: Louisiana’s case was heard at 9 a.m., followed by Mississippi at 10 a.m. and Texas at 11 a.m full story

Photos from Outside: The Dallas Voice has some photos as people gathered for the trial outside the courthouse. full story

No Protests: Despite predictions, no one should up to protest against marriage equality outside the hearings. full story

Swing Vote Skeptical: From the tone and questions during the Louisiana hearing, it appears that Judge Higginbotham, considered the swing vote, will likely strike down the ban. full story

Second Judge Also Skeptical: Judge James Graves, an Obama appointee, also expressed skepticism about Louisiana’s ban. full story

Third Judge Cites 40 Year Old Case: Judge Smith, during the hearings, tried to justify the bans based on Baker, a Supreme Court decision from 1971 that many legal experts say has become outdated. full story

Marriage Equality “Novel” and “Risky”: Louisiana’s case to uphold its ban came down to calling same sex marriage “novel” and “risky”. full story

Louisiana Oral Arguments: Joe.My.God has the oral arguments from the Louisiana hearing. full story

150 Rally for Marriage Equality: About 150 people braved sub-freezing temperatures in Dallas to demand the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals srike down the bans. full story

Now we wait for the rulings in the three states.

A #Texas Family Defies the Haters and Loves their Gay Son – A #Holiday Message:

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
Nymont Final

Nancy K. (Middle)

We loved our Gay son – period | Originally seen on SeanSala.com

“Celebrate Me Home,” for the Holidays. – By Nancy K. 

This weekend I’ve been busy taking down my Thanksgiving decorations in order to fill the house with my wonderful obsession; the Christmas Holidays!

While doing so, of course I had to play my Christmas music to begin my joyful tradition!

My first choice of the season…”Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins.

As I was singing along at the top of my voice, “Home for the Holidays, I believe I’ve missed each and every face – let’s turn on every love light in the place”   I just stopped after carefully setting out my childhood Santa’s  that spelled out “J O Y”, I stared at those words and just listened to the entire song.

All my heart could think about was everyone, absolutely everyone being home for the Holidays and turning on every love light.   For me, the term “Love Light” means being open to pure truth and acceptance – love with no conditions.    You see, I am the proud mom of a Gay son. When he comes to visit he will be home for the Holidays surrounded with love.   The Love Light in our family has always been turned on. As the song says, “he will find himself totally surrounded in our circles.”

As I stood there staring at that simple 3 letter word “JOY” and listening to the words “Celebrate Me Home” I thought of the many kids that were facing hatred, unacceptance and very conditional type love, because they are gay.  They do not have this Joy in their soul. Joy doesn’t just happen, it is acquired from acceptance for the beautiful spirit that they are.   Are they being celebrated home this holiday season?  It is time for this acceptance, surround them in your circle with Pride.

When our son was just a 3 years old, we knew.   His dad and I always embraced his differences.  At Christmas time, we honored all of his wishes.  After all, for children it is a time of magic, wonderment and they are watching to see if Santa “listened” to their hearts desire!

One Christmas our son’s heart desire was a very special order – a pink Convertible electric car!

This was a mission my son’s  dad was determined to accomplish.  It took a lot of work, but on Christmas morning, my son awoke to the magic of seeing his pink Convertible electric car sitting right under that tree! Naturally, we would  love and honor our son  for who he is.  Gender expression is something we should cherish, even if it’s against the status-quo.

There is one song that my son will always remember, “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper.  It was my lullaby to him, dancing on my toes as I sang to him this song! I wanted for him to know, before he knew, that his True Colors would always shine through.  When the day came that he wanted to share with us his True Colors, we were so happy for him!   We knew almost his whole life.  We made the condition that it would be on his terms. We loved him for who he was – period.

Parents – there is a line in this wonderful holiday song that stands out, “It is a very uneasy highway,” yes it is.   Our job as parents is to make sure that this uneasy highway leads them to a home that is celebrated with complete love.  This is the season, right now to turn your love light on. If your relationship is dark, do not allow your child to sit in this darkness one minute more.  They are only waiting for that phone call from you. Please, bring JOY into your child’s life.   This will be the greatest gift you could give at this beautiful season of love.

All your child wants, all any of us want is to be Celebrated Home!

It’s time

Celebrate them home

 

Marriage Equality Bill Filed in Texas Legislature

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Texas mapA marriage equality bill has been filed in the Texas legislature.

KRWG reports:

S.J.R. 13 by Senators Rodriguez and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa proposes a constitutional amendment that would repeal the existing same-sex marriage ban in the Texas Constitution. “Texas is now only one of 18 states that deny legalized same sex marriage to its residents,” said Senator Rodriguez. “This not only shows the rest of the country that we remain mired in our history of inequality, it sends the message that our leadership would rather listen to the voice of intolerance than provide many of its residents the dignity and respect that they deserve. The time to change that is now.”

Not that it has a snowball’s chance in hell of passage, but it’s great to see the effort being made.

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Texas Poll Skewed By Polling Company

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

titleEven though not a single state has passed a civil unions bill in years and years, and the prospects of another state passing a civil unions bill are slim to none – at this point it’s marriage equality or nothing – some polling companies insist on continuing to ask about support for these skim milk marriages, diluting support for marriage equality in the poll numbers by giving respondents an out.

Case in point – Texas, in a University of Texas / Texas Tribune poll:

Asked whether those couples should be allowed to marry, 42 percent say yes and 47 percent say no, the poll found. When civil unions are added to the question, voters are more permissive: 39 percent say they would allow marriage, 28 percent would allow civil unions and 25 percent say they would not allow either sort of formal bond.

Look how support for marriage equality actually drops 2 points when civil unions are added to the mix. Not to mention this poll shows a much lower level of support than an April poll at 48% support.

When will these polling companies finally give up the whole civil unions thing?

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Why Houston’s Pastor Subpoenas Have Nothing To Do With Religious Liberty

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Texas mapThere has been a new clash this week in the fight over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a law that would protect LGBT individuals and other targeted groups from discrimination. The latest hubbub involves the city subpoenaing five pastors for their sermons, which has prompted conservatives to claim that religious liberty is under attack and that the subpoenas are a form of intimidation.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was on Fox News last night claiming that Houston Mayor Annise Parker (D) is “taking a bulldozer to that wall of separation [of church and state]” and trying to “dictate what pastors preach.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted that the subpoenas constitute a “march against our freedoms.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the subpoenas a “grotesque abuse of power.” And Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott (R) wrote to the Houston City Attorney that the subpoenas should be unilaterally withdrawn because they reflect “hostility to religious beliefs.”

Assessing the veracity of these claims and the epic campaign conservatives are now launching in defense of the “Houston Five” requires an examination of how opponents are challenging HERO, what facts are material to their current lawsuit, and what exactly the city is asking for in its subpoenas of the pastors.

Authored By Zack Ford – See the Full Story at Think Progress

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Houston LGBT Rights Ordinance Challenge May Fall Short

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Texas mapThe city is close to finishing a validation of the signatures turned in by opponents of the new Houston LGBT rights ordinance.

Joe.My.God reports:

From JMG reader Mike Craig of Out & Equal Houston: When the Houston Area Pastors Council turned in 7 boxes of petitions to the City on July 3rd, they boasted of gathering more than 31,000 valid signatures. An independent group of concerned citizens has spent the last three weeks independently reviewing each page of that repeal petition in an effort to provide additional accountability to the referendum process. This was a grass-roots effort involving more than 100 volunteers who communicated via social media and participated in a crowd-sourced effort that uncovered fatal flaws with what was turned in. Having finished this exhaustive review, the HERO Petition Review Working Group concluded that the petitioners did not, in fact, turn in enough valid signatures in order to place this issue on the ballot… Based on these simple criteria, this independent review showed only 16,499 valid signatures were turned in. Additional scrutiny can only lower that number further. A full report detailing these findings has been provided to the City Secretary, City Attorney and Mayor. While it is our hope that the City’s own determination will come to a similar conclusion, we understand that it is ultimately the legal & statutory responsibility of the City Secretary and we will abide by that office’s findings.

The official report has not yet been released, so we have to wait and see if the repeal does quality for the ballot. If not? Expect a lawsuit.

Cases like this make it really clear. It was never really about the word “marriage”. It’s about preventing the granting of any right at all to LGBT citizens.

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Houston Gay Rights Opponents Turn in Signatures to Repeal LGBT Rights Ordinance

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

houston-petitions

It looks like opponents of the new LGBT rights ordinance in Houston have turned in more than enough signatures to force a public vote in November.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Opponents of Houston’s new LGBT-inclusive equal rights ordinance on Thursday delivered what they say are thousands of voters’ signatures requesting that it be repealed. The group, consisting of pastors and faith-based organizations, said they had collected more than 50,000 signatures calling for a ballot referendum aimed at repealing the measure; a total of 17,269 valid signatures are required to place the issue on the November ballot. They say they want the public to have a chance to vote on the anti-discrimination ordinance, and not just city council members.

It’s amazing to me that these folks hate us enough to want to block even employment and housing protections for the LGBT community. Remember how they always used to tell us it was just about the word “marriage”?

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Transgender Rights Update 7/2/14

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Transgender FlagWe had a number of transgender rights stories come across the wires today – enjoy!

USA: President Obama says he will sign an executive order to ban workplace discrimination against federal employees based on their gender identity. full story

USA: At the same time, Labor Department Secretary Ton Perez announced that non-discrimination protections will be extended to transgender employees.full story

USA, California: A new law that took effect yesterday will make it easier for transgender Californians to change their name and gender on state documents. full story

USA, Texas: A transgender woman in Austin was turned away from a lingerie store. full story

Texas Senator Pens Letter to Lesbian Daughter on Marriage Equality

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Texas State Senator Juan HinojosaDemocratic Texas state Senator Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa write a beautiful letter to his daughter on marriage equality.

Towleroad.com reports:

From the moment you breathed life, when you first smiled up at me, I knew how strong the love of a father could be. An unconditional love for such an innocent child that only a father could know. As you began to grow, I hoped for a safe environment for you and wanted to protect you from the harsh realities of this unjust world. But as you matured into a strong young woman, I began to realize there were cruelties I could not protect you from — simply because of your sexual orientation. I could not protect you from the discrimination, ignorance or hate…

As a society, we should not tolerate acts of discrimination, hate or violence for any reason. We are all equals. I remain committed to the cause of equality and most importantly in fighting to protect you and the children of all fathers. All men and women should have the freedom to choose their partner. As you are all grown up now, you will still always be my little girl. I am very proud of you. I hope one day that you, too, can experience the love for a child. And I hope one day that your children will live in a world where they will not need protection for wanting to marry who they love.

One day soon, even Texas will have marriage equality.

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Texas Marriage Equality Plaintiffs Profiled

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes

Photo: Mei-Chun Jau for USA TODAY

Support is growing for marriage equality in Texas. Two of the Texas marriage equality plaintiffs are profiled.

USA Today reports:

GUN BARREL CITY, Texas — This place got its name because the main road was straight as a gun barrel. Today, it’s at the center of a fight over gay marriage. That’s because weekenders Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, who bought an A-frame house overlooking scenic Cedar Creek Lake four years ago, have become minor celebrities as the men challenging Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage… At the Huddle House restaurant in Gun Barrel City (pop. 5,372), where pickup trucks line the parking lot and a bacon, egg and cheese melt with grits goes for $3.99, waitresses coo over the couple while delivering biscuits and gravy and Dr. Pepper. “We know them, and we’ve seen them on TV,” general manager Candace Hunt says. “I don’t think anybody should judge them. They should let God judge them when the time comes.”

Read the whole article – it’s a fascinating window into how the marriage equality fight is playing out in the South.

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