A Texas religious-righter is providing a case study in trying to become a leading voice for a cause that history is leaving behind. Jonathan Saenz, the lawyer/lobbyist who heads up Texas Values, has clearly decided that sounding like a raving hate-monger will make him a big boy among anti-gay extremists.

As Media Matters reported on Tuesday, Saenz is now arguing that supporters of LGBT equality are out to imprison anyone who opposes them. Speaking on a right-wing radio program last week, Saenz even agreed with the show’s host that supporters of state and local laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations want to see opponents thrown into into concentration camps. Says Saenz:

That’s right, that’s right. You know, they tried to do something like that here in Texas. … But I mean, this is what they want. I mean, there’s no question. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen them try to do it with legislation here in Texas at the state level. It is a goal of theirs to put people in jail that disagree with homosexual marriage, without question — or the homosexual lifestyle.

That kind of twisted, hyperbolic rhetoric is nothing new from Saenz. Earlier this month Media Matters offered a longer reportRead More

Religious-right activists are predictably outraged that LGBT students at Texas A&M will celebrate their spring graduation at a special campus event today (April 16). The university’s GLBT Resource Center is sponsoring the banquet, dubbed Lavender Graduation, this evening. Phyllis Frye, an A&M alum and the state’s first transgender judge, will be the featured speaker. (Frye’s appointment in 2010 as a municipal judge in Houston also sparked predictable outrage from religious-righters. They always seem to be mad about something.)

Students won’t receive their diplomas at the Lavender Graduation event. The university’s official commencement ceremony is in May. Lavender Graduation is simply a celebration, much like those hosted by other student organizations and academic departments at Texas A&M and on other campuses around the country. But anti-gay activists are attacking it anyway.

One News Now, the propaganda website for American Family Association (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as an anti-gay hate group), quotes one of the most obnoxious voices of hate in Texas in a story about the event:

Regardless of the motive, Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, says this is foolhardy.

“This special Texas A&M ceremony essentially promotes and celebrates dangerous… Read More

Even as Republicans who voted for the anti-gay discrimination bill in Arizona now admit they made a serious mistake, some religious-right activists are doubling down in their hate campaign. In fact, some just seem downright obsessed about gay people. Case in point: Jonathan Saenz at Texas Values, the lobby arm of Plano-based Liberty Institute.

At times Saenz’s Twitter feed appears to be almost a constant stream of posts about LGBT people, from his defense of discredited “research” about gay parenting to support of government-sanctioned discrimination. On Tuesday, for example, Saenz let loose with a long stream of posts about his frustration with critics of the Arizona bill. The bill would allow any person or entity — including businesses and nonprofit organizations — to offer their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people.

Some of Saenz’s tweets sound almost unhinged from reality. And many seem designed to frighten people into believing things that are simply not true. He inaccurately claims, for example, that churches could be forced to perform same-sex marriages if Arizona’s governor vetoes the bill:

He absurdly insists that businesses opposing government-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people also oppose religious freedom:

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Was it wrong for the federal courts to force an end to school segregation and the ban on interracial marriage in Texas? One might be excused for wondering whether the folks at Texas Values think so.

Texas Values, lobby arm of the right-wing, Plano-based group Liberty Institute, insists today that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott “stands up against lesbian mayor.” The anti-gay group notes that Abbott, a Republican running for governor this year, has filed court briefs in two lawsuits regarding Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s move to extend insurance benefits to the same-sex spouses of city employees who were married in states where such unions are legal. Abbott’s briefs are in opposition to that policy.

The Texas Constitution and state law bar recognition of same-sex marriages, but such unions are legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia. As the Houston Chronicle reports, Parker and the city attorney support extending benefits to married spouses of city employees by pointing to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, other relevant case law, and the federal government’s recognition of same-sex marriages conducted where such unions are legal.

Jonathan Saenz, the… Read More

The debate over the proposed nondiscrimination ordinance in San Antonio appears headed to a possible conclusion when the city council votes on Thursday.

As expected, the religious right has engaged in a great deal of misinformation and fear mongering during the debate, either at public hearings, in the press, via social media or through Ken Mercer’s email address book. No surprise there, unfortunately.

One of those leading the charge to smear the LGBT community has been Texas Values, lobby arm of the Plano-based, religious-right group Liberty Institute. We’ve been wondering what exactly they mean by Texas Values. Apparently, one of their values is stretching the truth.

PolitiFact Texas today took Texas Values to task for their blatant misrepresentations of the nondiscrimination ordinance’s supposed “bathroom” provision, which was characterized in a Texas Values email like so: “San Antonio Ordinance to Allow Men into Women’s Restrooms.” Here’s the verdict:

Our ruling

Texas Values’ email said, “San Antonio Ordinance to Allow Men into Women’s Restrooms.”

We found nothing in law that says San Antonio men can’t go into women’s restrooms now, or vice versa. The City of San Antonio and the councilman who proposed the measure said it won’t… Read More