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“Discrimination ‘R’ Us”: Texas Leads The Way In Transphobia, Yet Again

Texas is leading a pack of 11 states suing the Obama administration, to no one’s surprise, and this time the lawsuit comes on the back of the same ugly transphobia that has tainted the Lone Star state in recent years.

The lawsuit comes in response to a directive earlier this month by the Justice Department and the Department of Education that asks schools to allow students to use whichever bathroom matches their gender identities. Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, and Georgia joined Texas in the lawsuit.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a longtime, outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, praised the lawsuit in a statement this week, saying that President Obama “is more devoted to radical social engineering than to the democratic process and the separation of powers.” Cruz continued by saying that transgender equality will lead to the exploitation of girls at the hands of grown men, even though there are no known cases of transgender individuals taking advantage of bathroom access to commit a crime.

The effort to brainwash the good people in Texas isn’t new. Texas’s struggle against recognizing transgender rights began last year with a proposed non-discrimination ordinance in Houston, first passed by the city council and then subjected to a city-wide vote by the state’s supreme court.

HERO, or the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, included protections both gay and transgender residents and was championed by the city’s first lesbian mayor, Annise Parker.

In response to the effort, groups such as Campaign for Houston began a culture-wide propaganda campaign, enlisting the likes of former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman and pastor Ed Young. Conservatives in the state leaned heavily on the “men in girls’ bathrooms” narrative. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted before Houston voters took to the polls, urging residents to “Vote NO on City of Houston Proposition 1. No men in women’s bathrooms.”

HERO was soundly defeated by Houstonians in a referendum vote.

This transphobic hysteria was so profound that it made waves in other states such as North Carolina, which went all-out by passing House Bill 2, an ordinance that trumped any local anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, including protecting the transgender community’s right to use bathrooms based on gender identity. The state legislature’s bill was introduced, passed, and signed into law in a single day.

Texas’ latest transgender lawsuit follows a pattern by the state to challenge just about any move by the Obama administration that can be felt at the state level. Greg Abbott has spearheaded most of the lawsuits dating back to his time as Texas’ Attorney General, when he sued the federal government 31 times. His most prominent lawsuit came when he led 26 states in challenging Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

On the Democratic side, things are looking much different — as expected. Sen. Bernie Sanders took the lead this week by responding to a presidential questionnaire from the Trans United Fund. Sanders said he would utilize healthcare services and push for nondiscrimination policies.

“Too often, it seems as if the ‘T’ in LGBT is silent,” Sanders said. “In my administration, the T will not be silent.”

“It’s powerful that the Sanders campaign took the time to complete the survey and are unabashed in their support,” the Trans United Fund said, according to Buzzfeed. And although Hillary Clinton has vowed to stand with the transgender community, the group’s leaders said they felt “disappointed and perplexed” after the Democratic frontrunner failed to respond to the survey.

As Secretary of State, Clinton approved a policy allowing transgender people to change their gender identity on their passport as long as they obtain a doctor’s note certifying that they received “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.”

 

By: Matt Tracy, The National Memo, May 26, 2016

May 27, 2016 Posted by | Discrimination, Greg Abbott, LGBT, Texas Legislature | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We’re In The Grip Of Madness”: Obsession With Guns Now Infects College Campuses

The Texas Legislature has just passed its version of campus-carry — a bill that allows students, teachers, janitors, administrators, and anyone else with a firearms permit to carry concealed handguns on college campuses throughout the state. That means students sitting in a library or classroom or strolling through a classic tree-lined quadrangle may be armed.

College campuses don’t have enough problems with student misbehavior? Administrators aren’t frazzled enough coping with rapes, binge drinking, and routine infractions such as cheating? The Legislature had to add concealed weapons to the mix?The illogic is hard to overstate. This is what one proponent of the measure, GOP state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, had to say: “An armed society is a safe society, so any time you have gun control, there is far more opportunity to become victims.”

Ah, where to begin?It should be clear from the recent spate of police shootings that even those who are highly trained make mistakes with their weapons. They fire too quickly, killing the unarmed. They shoot bystanders. They miss altogether. What makes the gun lobby think that civilians would handle their firearms with more precision and control?

One Texan who is intimately familiar with firearms tried to persuade the Legislature not to pass campus-carry. Adm. William McRaven, who is now the chancellor of the University of Texas System, said, “I’m a guy that loves my guns. I have all sorts of guns. I just don’t think bringing guns on campus is going to make us any safer.”

The man is a former Navy Seal. He commanded the U.S. Special Operations forces who killed Osama bin Laden. But the GOP-dominated Legislature ignored him.

Clearly, we’re in the grip of a kind of madness, an irrational, fevered obsession with firearms. Sometime in the not-too-distant (I hope) future, historians and anthropologists will study our society’s gun sickness to try to figure out how we became so warped by firearms ownership. They’ll ponder this cultural weirdness just as we look back at the Salem witch trials and the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

To be sure, the vast majority of Americans are not persuaded that more guns are tantamount to more safety. They know better. Polls show that we support additional gun safety laws, including a ban on large-capacity magazines and broadening background checks to make it more difficult for criminals and the deranged to get guns.

But we don’t care enough. We haven’t gone about the business of isolating this madness, quarantining the fevered, protecting ourselves from the spread. We’ve allowed this infection to embed itself in the bloodstream of civil society.

Currently, according to the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states prohibit concealed weapons on college campuses. Twenty-three others allow college presidents or regents to make the decision. But it seems inevitable that campus-carry laws will spread.

The gun lobby has more energy, more focus, more intensity. Its minions take their odd enthusiasm to state legislatures, to city councils, and to court, where they seek to overturn even modest gun safety laws. They target politicians who dare suggest that not every private citizen needs to own a shoulder-fired rocket launcher.

When Gov. Greg Abbott signs the bill, as expected, Texas will become the ninth state to allow campus-carry, and proponents will continue to push in gun-crazed states with Republican-dominated legislatures. Look for some to emulate Utah, which has the broadest (and nuttiest) law, outdoing Texas. Its statute specifically bans any college campus from prohibiting concealed weapons. In Texas, at least, private colleges may opt out.

There is a very real danger that some student will kill another on campus. Or kill a teacher with whom he or she has a disagreement. Or go on a rage-fueled spree and kill several people.

Texas, especially, ought to know better. It was the scene of one of the nation’s earliest spree shootings, in 1966, when former Marine Charles Whitman fired from the clock tower on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.

Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature has trampled the memory of the dead.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize Commentary in 2007, The National Memo, June 6, 2015

June 6, 2015 Posted by | College Campuses, Concealed Weapons, Texas Legislature | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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