It's Been a Bad Week for the Religious Right, Even in Texas

by Dan Quinn

Religious-right activists can’t be a happy lot today. The week started with the U.S. Senate voting Monday to short-circuit attempts to filibuster the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect LGBT people from job discrimination. A Senate vote to pass ENDA is expected this week. Rick Scarborough of Texas-based Vision America denounced the Senate’s vote in a Tuesday email to his list:

“In practice, this means that Christians, observant Jews and others who don’t want to hire or promote people who flaunt dysfunctional sexuality will face government tyranny and ACLU lawsuits.  As already is the law in California, businesses that will not subsidize same-sex relationships will be denied government contracts. Beyond all this, the bill is flatly immoral. It means that government coercion will be used to encourage people to remain trapped in sinful behavior instead of seeking help to overcome it.  This makes the government an enemy of biblical morality.”

Also on Tuesday, voters rejected two stridently anti-gay and anti-abortion candidates, Ken Cuccinelli for governor and E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor, in Virginia state elections. And today the Illinois General Assembly voted to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in that state.

Religious-righters even have reason to be upset with election returns in Texas. On Tuesday Houston voters re-elected Annise Parker to a third term as the city’s mayor. Religious-right groups like the Houston Area Pastor Council have made the defeat of Parker, who is openly lesbian, a major priority in three straight mayoral elections. In an email to his list on Monday, the pastor council’s viciously homophobic Dave Welch predicted endorsements by President Obama and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro would end up hurting Parker at the polls. He self-righteously portrayed the president as “anti-family and anti-Christian” and criticized Mayor Castro for supporting the recent passage of a city ordinance protecting LGBT people from job discrimination in San Antonio. Those endorsements showed, Welch argued, how “radical” Parker is:

“While Parker has deceptively downplayed her role as a national icon of the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, Questioning and Intersexed movement, her policies, recent statements in support of the San Antonio ordinance and these endorsements leave no doubt of her commitment to ‘turn Houston into San Francisco.’ … We pray that the citizens of Houston, led by our pastors and followers of Jesus Christ will step forward, vote and send a message all the way to the White House that our faith, our families and our freedom are not going to be destroyed on our watch.”

Houston voters clearly disagreed (for the third time) with that kind of overheated rhetoric, re-electing Parker by an overwhelming margin.

In short, it’s not been a good week for extremists and haters like Welch and Scarborough.


Texas Freedom Network

It took years to convince the @TXSBOE to create a Mexican American studies course for the state's public schools. It's great to see school districts offering it to students.