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Texas Gay Marriage Plaintiff Snubs Gov. Abbott On Wedding Invite

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Issue still divides former law school buddies.

Anti-gay Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and Mark Phariss were good law school buddies at Vanderbilt University in the early 1980s. 

In fact, when Abbott was hit by a falling tree limb while jogging in 1984, leaving him paralyzed, Phariss (image, left) flew from Tulsa to Houston to visit his bedside.

But after Phariss became a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage ban in 2013, their relationship grew strained. Abbott, then the state’s attorney general, vigorously defended the law, fighting to deny equal rights to his old friend. 

On Friday, Phariss and his partner of 18 years, Vic Holmes, finally obtained their marriage license after prevailing in the lawsuit. The couple now plans a “Texas-sized wedding” in November, but Phariss says even though he’s continued to exchange Christmas cards with the governor over the years, Abbott won’t be on the list of invitees. 

“We want people there who are supportive,” Phariss told The New Civil Rights Movement. “We don’t want a zoo for a wedding, and having Greg there, while that would be a plus in terms of how we’re moving people along, he would never come anyway.” 

When Abbott was asked in early June if he’d attend a same-sex wedding, he dodged the question by saying, “A gay marriage in Texas would be illegal, and so I’d probably would not attend an illegal event.”

A spokesman for Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday about whether the governor would have attended Phariss and Holmes’ wedding had he been invited. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a GOP presidential candidate who opposes same-sex marriage, attended the wedding of a gay friend earlier this year. Other GOP presidential candidates have also said they’d attend a same-sex wedding. 

But for Abbott, a devout Catholic who leads the nation’s largest red state, attending a same-sex wedding could be politically risky. 

“The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature,” Abbott said in a a statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. “Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States.”

Phariss said both he and Abbott were invited to discuss the Texas marriage case at the Vanderbilt law school’s upcoming reunion in October, but Abbott declined.  

Although Abbott won’t be on hand for the wedding, plenty of other dignitaries will. They include Texas marriage co-plaintiffs Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman, openly gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Phariss said. DOMA-busting attorney Robbie Kaplan is a maybe, but Neel Lane, who represented the couples in the Texas lawsuit, will deliver a toast.   

Phariss and Holmes, an Air Force veteran, obtained their marriage license Friday from the Bexar County Clerk’s Office in San Antonio, where they were turned away in 2013 and told, “We don’t do that in Texas.” Bexar County Clerk Gerard “Gerry” Rickhoff, one of the few Republican elected officials in the state who publicly supports marriage equality, personally issued the license to Phariss and Holmes. 

“That was the law of the land back then and so today I’m happy to be on the right side of history where we have an enlightenment attitude,” said Rickhoff.

Phariss said 250-300 people are expected to attend the wedding in their hometown of Frisco, a conservative Dallas suburb. 

“Our rings — wedding bands with one diamond embedded in each from diamonds previously included in a ring of my deceased father — will be carried on two flags, both courtesy of Sen. Harry Reid’s office,” Phariss said. “One flew over the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2015, the date SCOTUS held hearings in Obergefell, and the other flew over the U.S. Capitol on June 26, 2015, the date SCOTUS issued its decision in Obergefell.

“This is what the marriage equality fight was all about — enabling couples who loved each other to marry, a right the U.S. Supreme Court correctly said is fundamental to us all,” he added. “Love, equality and justice won.”

Sadly, in addition to Abbott, some of the couple’s closest relatives will be absent from the ceremony, including Phariss’ twin sister and Holmes’ parents, due to their opposition to same-sex marriage.  

“To be honest, he’s kind of lower on my list of who I care about who’s not coming to my wedding,” Phariss said of the governor. “I’m more offended by Vic’s parents and my sister.”

 

Image by Scott Hagar, courtesy of the couple
Video via Fox San Antonio

 

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COMMENTARY

Trump Dodges and Gives an Accidentally Revealing Answer When Confronted on His Anti-LGBT Policies

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When President Donald Trump was asked Tuesday about whether he supports his administration’s anti-LGBT policies — including a new rule that would make it easier for employers to discriminate — he gave what seemed to be an unintentionally revealing answer.

The issue was raised by reporter Chris Johnson from the Washington Blade:

Washington Blade: Mr. President, your administration has been taking steps to make it easier to discriminate against LGBT people in the workforce. Are you OK with those actions?
Trump: Well, you know, I just got an award and an endorsement yesterday from the exact group. You saw that? They gave me the endorsement yesterday. I was very honored. It was Log Cabin. The Log Cabin, and I was very honored to receive it.
I’ve done very well with that community and some of my biggest supporters are of that community, and I talk to them a lot about it. I think I’ve done really very well with that community, as you know, Peter Thiel and so many others, they’re — they’re with me all the way, and they like the job I’m doing, and I just got a big endorsement from the Log Cabin group.
Washington Blade: But what about those actions?

Having ignored the actual substance of the question, Trump didn’t answer the follow-up.

But his answer actually revealed a lot. Despite his claim to “fight for” the LGBT community, Trump has been particularly antagonistic its members as president.

Related: ‘They’re With Me All the Way’: Trump Uses Log Cabin Endorsement as Shield When Asked About Destroying LGBT Rights

And contrary to what he said, the vast majority of the LGBT community does not and has not supported him. In 2016, Pew Research found:

Gay, lesbian and bisexual voters may make up a relatively small share of the American electorate – just 5% of voters in the 2012 general election identified as LGB, according to national exit polls – but they have long been a deeply Democratic constituency and today are overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of Donald Trump.

Nearly nine-in-ten LGB voters (89%) give the Republican presidential nominee a rating of cold on a “feeling thermometer” that ranges from 0 (the coldest, most negative rating) to 100 (the warmest, most positive score). About eight-in-ten (82%) rate Trump very cold, including more than half (54%) who give him a score of 0. Just 9% of LGB voters rate Trump warm.

But this doesn’t matter much to Trump, because he only cares about his supporters. So when asked about the LGBT community, he begins talking about the Log Cabin Republicans, a fringe group that does not represent anywhere close to the majority of the community. (As it happens, Jennifer Horn, a member of the group’s board, resigned in protest over the endorsement. And contrary to Trump’s claim, it did not give him an “award.”) And by mentioning Peter Thiel, a wealthy gay investor, Trump is pulling the laughable “I have a gay friend” excuse for being a bigot. He’s refusing to respond to or even consider the actual LGBT community as a whole because he just doesn’t care.

The president has long made clear that he’s only interested in representing his supporters, not the American people as a whole. That’s why he criticizes California when it experiences natural disasters but promises Alabama “A+ treatment” after tornadoes strike. That’s why Sen. Lindsey Graham could point out that Trump wouldn’t be launching racist attacks at a Somali refugee congresswoman if she were “wearing a MAGA hat.” For him, people only deserve basic dignity and respect if they already support him. Unfortunately, the likes of Thiel and the Log Cabin Republicans have to debase themselves to get this recognition.

 

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MESSIAH COMPLEX

#25thAmendmentNow Is Now the Top Trending Topic After Trump Calls Himself ‘The Chosen One’

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President Tweets He’s ‘The Second Coming of God’

President Donald Trump appeared even more unhinged on Wednesday, kicking his day off by posting tweets calling him “the second coming of God,” and the “King of Israel.”  Just hours later Trump trashed the Prime Minister of Denmark, calling Mette Frederiksen’s negative response to him wanting to buy Greenland from them “nasty” – a word he generally reserves for women he does not like.

Shortly thereafter, Trump flip-flopped on his claim just 24 hours earlier that he was thinking about pushing through a payroll tax cut to help get the economy going, amid global fears of a recession. On Wednesday he told reporters he had no intention of implementing any tax cuts.

Trump also scalded veteran NBC News reporter Peter Alexander for simply asking this question: “You said Russia was kicked out of the G8 because they outsmarted Obama; in fact it was because they annexed Crimea… They’re still there, why let them back in?”

And he insisted that he would have to mollify the NRA over any changes in gun policy, while backtracking from his promise to advocate for a law ensuring complete background checks – something the NRA opposes.

But it was during that press gaggle Wednesday afternoon Trump let loose, exploding social media.

He called himself – as he looked up at the sky – “the chosen one” (photo.)

To be clear, it was in reference to his trade war with China, but the religious, messianic inference was palpable.

All this amid the President’s anti-Semitic remarks earlier in the week, when he called the vast majority of American Jews “disloyal” for not voting Republican.

“I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat—I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,”

About 80% of Jewish Americans vote Democrat.

Oh, then Trump declared he is looking “very seriously” at signing an executive order to end the constitutionally-mandated promise of bestowing citizenship at birth to anyone born on U.S. soil.

That’s just a sample of all the insanity Trump has created in under 24 hours.

So perhaps it’s not surprise that #25thAmendmentNow is the top trending topic on Twitter right now, and has been for hours.

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides the pathway for the Vice President to declare the President of the United States unfit to contemn serving.

 

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News

Trump Says He’s ‘Very Seriously’ Looking at Changing Constitutionally-Mandated Right to US Citizenship

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President Donald Trump says he is looking “very seriously” at altering a constitutional right to citizenship at birth. The president made his remarks during a press gaggle during which he also called himself “the chosen one” as he looked up at the sky. Those remarks came just hours after he tweeted praise calling him “the second coming of God” and “the King of Israel.”

“We’re looking at birthright citizenship very seriously,” Trump told reporters. Birthright citizenship is mandated by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Also known as Jus soli, it dates back to English common law.

Basically the law says that any person on U.S. soil at the time of their birth is a U.S. citizen, regardless of their parent’s nationalities.

“We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land. You walk over the border, have a baby — congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen,” Trump said, calling it “absurd.”

He told reporters if he were to end it he would do so via executive order.

It’s likely that would be unconstitutional and would absolutely be fought in court.

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” the Constitution reads.

Watch the president discuss birthright citizenship:

In addition to likely being unconstitutional, Trump’s attempt to end birthright citizenship would be opposed by many.

Here’s a University of Texas Law professor:

Here’s a conservative, National Review writer David French:

 

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