A Texas social conservative became an anti-gay extremist and activist after his wife left him for a woman.Â
Attorney Jonathan Saenz reportedly was always a social conservative. In 2011, as his bio reads, Saenz “headed the Liberty Institute offices at the Texas Capitol in Austin where he served as Director of Legislative Affairs and Attorney for Liberty Institute.”Â
But later that year something happened, and Saenz changed jobs,Â becoming the head of a local virulently anti-gay group, Texas Values.
According to an exclusiveÂ report by John Wright at Lone Star Q, just “months before Jonathan Saenz became president of the anti-gay group Texas Values, his wife left him for another woman, according to Hays County district court records obtained by Lone Star Q.”
The revelation could help explain Saenzâ€™s seemingly abrupt transformation from socially conservative lobbyist toÂ homophobic firebrand.
Saenz, a devout Catholic, has been a right-wing operative in Texas for many years â€” working on abortion and religious liberty cases as a staff attorney for the Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute as far back as 2005.
However, it wasnâ€™t until recently that Saenz emerged as one of the stateâ€™s best-known â€” andÂ most extremeÂ â€” anti-LGBT voices.
Court records indicate that Saenzâ€™s ex-wife, Corrine Morris Rodriguez Saenz, is a member of the LGBT community who was dating another woman when she filed for divorce from Saenz in August 2011.
In early 2012, with their divorce still pending, Saenz would take the helm of Texas Values after the organization spun off from the Liberty Legal Institute, where heâ€™d risen to chief lobbyist.
In March of last year,Â The New Civil Rights Movement reported on anÂ open anti-gay letter to theÂ Boy Scouts of AmericaÂ signed by over 60 Texas Republican elected officials. The letter, which originally appeared onÂ a website runÂ run by Saenz,Â Texas Values, had been lauded by anti-gay hate group head Tony Perkins.
GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project reports that Saenz has claimed that homosexuality is “dangerous and risky sexual activity that can fiercely jeopardize a person’s well-being,” and has said thatÂ marriage equality will lead to people marrying their own stepchildren.Â
“My heart breaks for you,” GLAAD reports Saenz saying, “if you are currently choosing to live a sinful sexual lifestyle while also trying to convince others that it is also okay to live a sinful lifestyle without making any efforts to change or resist sin and temptation. You can make a decision today to ‘go and sin no more.’ It’s not too late. It’s never too late.”
Wright’s extensive and thorough exposÃ© exposes some of the hate and homophobia exhibited by Saenz.
Corrine Saenz, Jonathan’s now ex-wife, in 2011Â “sought to modify” a court order barring her girlfriend, Ercilia M.Â Paredes, “from having contact with the Saenzesâ€™ children,” Wright reports.
â€œMs. Paredes is not a threat to the children or their welfare,â€ the motion stated. â€œThe injunction against Ms. Paredes is an extreme attempt to merely further control Corrine M. Saenz.â€
Corrine Saenz also alleged that Jonathan Saenzâ€™s Motion for Enforcement contained â€œpatently false allegations in an attempt to further harass and burden [her].â€
In addition to seeking the order barring Paredes from being around the children, Jonathan Saenzâ€™s attorney made discovery requests and issued subpoenas seeking information about Corrine Saenzâ€™s relationship with her girlfriend.
In one discovery request, Jonathan Saenzâ€™s attorney sought all records related to â€œtravel, entertainment, meals or gifts with or for Ercimin Paredes.â€ Another discovery request sought any photos or videos showing Paredes with Corrine Saenz and the Saenzesâ€™ children.
“Both Corrine and Jonathan Saenz agreed to psychological evaluations as part of the divorce, but results arenâ€™t included in the case file,” Wright reports. “However, court records suggest Jonathan Saenz had a prior history of mental health treatment. During discovery in the divorce, Jonathan Saenz sought to compel his ex-wife to produce all records in her possession ‘pertaining to the psychiatric, psychological, counseling or other mental health treatments of Jonathan Saenz, including but not limited to any documents relating to any consultations or treatments during their marriage.'”
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Marco Rubio Lashes Out Against Passage of Same-Sex Marriage Bill After His Attempt to Create Special Religious Rights Fails
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) lashed out with a Bible verse Wednesday morning, after the Senate passed legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage, while rejecting his attempt to infuse special religious rights through an amendment that even some Republicans refused to support.
The Respect for Marriage Act, which passed in a 61-36 vote Tuesday evening, will return to the House for a final vote before heading to President Joe Biden, who promised to sign it into law. Not included in the bill the Senate passed is Senator Rubio’s amendment, which he claimed was necessary despite the clear religious protections included in the legislation.
The bill goes to great lengths to state it will have no impact on current religious liberty protections. Section 6 is actually titled, “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience.”
It states: “Nothing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or abrogate a religious liberty or conscience protection otherwise available to an individual or organization under the Constitution of the United States or Federal law.”
It goes even further.
“Consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution, nonprofit religious organizations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, religious educational institutions, and nonprofit entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion, and any employee of such an organization, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage,” it reads. “Any refusal under this subsection to provide such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.”
Senator Rubio has been actively opposed to the bill from the start. In July he called it a “stupid waste of time,” suggesting he does not think the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the 2015 Obergefell ruling that made same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional – despite actively calling for the court to do so.
Reminder: Marco Rubio has opposed same-sex marriage for years and even called for overturning the Supreme Court decision legalizing it. pic.twitter.com/oSkpNxi3V6
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) July 20, 2022
In addition to the video above, Florida Democrats this summer tweeted a video of a local news report showing Rubio preaching to campaign supporters that same-sex marriage is “sinful.”
After saying protecting marriage equality was “a stupid waste of time,” Marco Rubio held an event yesterday to double down on his attacks on Floridians’ rights: pic.twitter.com/XC5ZIAlj5r
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) September 2, 2022
Last week in a press release Sen. Rubio called the bill “the insanity,” and falsely claimed the Respect for Marriage Act does not have religious protections.
“This bill does not protect religious liberty,” Rubio said in a statement last week. “Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. Removing this private right of action is the only way to truly protect people and organizations of faith.”
His amendment to create additional, special religious protections failed Tuesday evening, as did amendments from Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), and Senator James Lankford (R-OK).
During his failed 2016 White House run Sen. Rubio repeatedly promised he would not run for re-election. He used the Pulse Massacre, one of the worst and deadliest anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, to declare that the LGBTQ community needed him and launched a re-election campaign on the back of those massacred LGBTQ people.
Rubio, who is known for posting passages from the Bible on many mornings, on Wednesday used Christian verse to lash out at the Respect for Marriage Act.
“The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,giving wisdom to the simple,” he tweeted.
The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,giving wisdom to the simple.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 30, 2022
His tweet did not go over well. While some responded with a simple, “Amen,” others explained to the Senator who took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” that the Christian Bible is not the law of the land.
“The ‘law of the lord’ was deliberately excluded from the US Constitution,” wrote one social media user. “There is only one law in the US and it’s not the law of the lord, it’s the law of the people.”
History professor and author ￼Douglas M. Charles noted Rubio’s tweet had a small typo, and accused him of having a staffer do his work.
“More empty-suitness from the epitome of empty suit senators,” Charles wrote. “These copy-paste BS tweets of his always have a spacing typo, which is how you know a staffer copy-pasted it rather than his being serious about it.”
Five Engines of Secret Service Rental Vehicles for the President’s Thanksgiving Break Catch Fire
The Nantucket Current reported that five of the vehicles rented by the U.S. Secret Service caught fire at the local airport during President Joe Biden’s Thanksgiving break. Biden’s family has met in Nantucket for Thanksgiving for decades but this is the first time a cache of vehicles looked like their engines exploded.
The report identified that the five vehicles were all different types, a Chevy Suburban, Ford Explorer, Infiniti QX80, Ford Expedition and Jeep Gladiator. The Ford Expedition did have a recall on it for the connections to the battery, indicating that fires have been caused by the problem. The car had not been taken in for repairs, sources told the Current. It’s unclear if that single car caused the fire or if each of the cars simultaneously caught fire.
The front of the white Ford Expedition and the one across from it looks to be considerably more damaged than the other cars.
“At approximately 5:22 am Airport shift staff observed an active fire in the rental car overflow area through the Airport’s Closed Circuit Television System,” the airport said in a statement. “Staff activated the Alert system and responded to the fire in Airport-3, where they were met by responding units from Nantucket Fire Department and Nantucket Police Department. Combined fire resources responded and contained the fire. Several vehicles were damaged. The Airport is currently coordinating with rental car agencies and agency partners to ensure scene safety. There is no longer an active fire at this time: the Airport is open, and aeronautical operations are not affected.”
Republican Attempts to Create Special Religious Rights Fail as Bipartisan Historic Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate
Far right activists and organizations for months have been falsely claiming legislation to protect same-sex marriages would destroy different-sex marriages and take away religious rights from ordinary Americans, but early Tuesday evening on a bipartisan basis the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, 61-36.
61-36: Senate passes marriage equality legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages under federal law. 60 votes were needed. The Respect for Marriage Act now heads back to the House for final approval. pic.twitter.com/vKvliW5pIU
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) November 29, 2022
The legislation itself is very simple. It essentially leaves in place the status quo on marriage from the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling. Should right wing Supreme Court justices strike that ruling down, the Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government and states to recognize any marriages that were legal when they were entered, now and in the future.
35 states currently still have same-sex marriage bans on the books. If the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, many of those could become law immediately.
In order to overcome a Republican-led filibuster Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday agreed to allow three GOP Senators to offer amendments to the legislation, amendments that would have created special religious rights to discriminate.
An amendment from Senator James Lankford (R-OK) failed, as did one from Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT). 60 votes were needed for each.
Sen. Lee’s was seen by some as the most extreme, and was strongly supported by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts, in a false claim, had said: “The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ contains so many infringements and encroachments on religious freedoms and on conscience that Republicans should unite solidly against it. Instead, it should be called the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”
Far right evangelical activist Franklin Graham falsely claimed the “bill strikes a blow at religious freedom for individuals & ministries & is really the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”
The Pennsylvania Family Council wrongly called it “a bill that would redefine marriage and attack religious freedom & Christian social services.”
But despite GOP fear-mongering, the legislation has religious protections built in, protections so strong 20 faith-based organizations including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, have supported its passage.
The bill now heads back to the House for a final vote, and then to President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law.
"What a great day," says Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as Senate approves legislation to codify protections for lawful same-sex and interracial marriages.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 29, 2022
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