The freedom to marry became the law of the land, even here in Texas, in June of 2015. But the fight for equality didn’t end there. Texas remains a state where LGBTQ individuals can be fired from their job, denied a place to live or refused service at a business simply because of who they are or whom they love.  Far-right activists and politicians continue to work to preserve the right to discriminate and roll back gains made by the LGBTQ community at the local level.

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The Latest on LGBTQ Rights

In 2005 the Texas Freedom Network opposed passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in Texas. We pointed out that same-sex marriage was already illegal in the state. The measure was simply another divisive, mean-spirited “culture war” distraction from issues far more important to working families, like good neighborhood schools and affordable health care. Gov. Rick Perry and his supporters on the religious right called the amendment necessary to “protect” marriage. Actually, the measure was more important for mobilizing social conservatives in advance of the 2006 state elections.

In any case, the amendment passed that fall. So we found this story in Friday’s Miami Herald to be a terribly sad reminder that the religious right’s “culture wars” have real casualties.

As her partner of 17 years slipped into a coma, Janice Langbehn pleaded with doctors and anyone who would listen to let her into the woman’s hospital room.

Eight anguishing hours passed before Langbehn would be allowed into Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. By then, she could only say her final farewell as a priest performed the last rites on 39-year-old Lisa Marie Pond.

Jackson staffers… Read More

The Free Market Foundation, the Plano-based Texas affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, has a new pitch for donations — and don’t expect much in the way of truth.

Near the top of the list of whoppers in Free Market’s letter is a claim of victory in a lawsuit over a Bible class offered by the Ector County (Odessa) Independent School District in West Texas. “The district will permanently have a Bible course, with the Bible as the textbook, and may use additional outside resources as well,” Free Market crows in its letter. “Our victory was a huge setback for the ACLU’s national plans.”

Well, no. The American Civil Liberties Union sought to forbid the school district from using an error-riddled, blatantly sectarian Bible curriculum that promotes the religious views of Protestant Christian fundamentalists over everybody else’s. The ACLU succeeded. During mediation, school officials agreed to drop the curriculum of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools and develop an alternative set of class materials. So long as the district uses a curriculum that neither promotes nor attacks anyone’s religion, the district may continue to offer the course. (The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a report about the National Council’s dreadfulRead More

The California Supreme Court’s decision that two laws barring same-sex marriage violate that state’s constitution has, predictably, been followed by eruptions of fury from the far right. Kelly Shackelford of the Plano-based Free Market Foundation (Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family) said the decision was an example of “outrageous judicial activism. This exactly what could have happened in Texas if we hadn’t passed the Constitutional Amendment for marriage.” Texas voters passed that constitutional amendment in 2005 even though state law already barred same-sex marriages and state courts are dominated by Republicans opposed to such marriages.

Other far-right groups, such as Concerned Women for America, portrayed the decision as a betrayal of California voters who had passed a referendum (but not a constitutional amendment) on same-sex marriage in 2000. Supporters of Proposition 22 that year sought to close what they saw as a legal loophole that might permit state recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Even so, prior to the California court’s new ruling, the state already recognized legal “domestic partnerships.” In addition, California lawmakers twice have passed measures legalizing marriage for same-sex couples, but the govenor has vetoed… Read More

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