Do opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance really care about protecting women?
Opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) claim it would allow sexual predators to enter women’s restrooms to prey on victims.Â But their choice for a spokesperson in two new radio ads casts doubt on whether they’re really concerned about the safety of women.Â
The Rev. Kendall Baker, pastor of Christ Solid International ChurchÂ and a candidate for City Council,Â reportedly was fired by the city for sexual harassment in 2014. A 2013 investigation by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found evidence that Baker, the city’s former 311 director, solicited sexual acts from female subordinates. In addition to making lewd comments and sexual advances, he solicited donations from them for his church, the investigation found.
Baker narrates two new ads that began airing this week in opposition to HERO, which will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot. The ads were paid for by the anti-LGBT Campaign for Houston. Â
“I canâ€™t believe weâ€™re having a conversation about whether men should be allowed to go in womenâ€™s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms,” Baker says in one of the ads. “The bathroom ordinance is shameful. It will allow men to freely walk into places where women are most vulnerable and violate their privacy. The Rev. Will Reed recently cut a radio commercial supporting this sickening ordinance. Let me be very clear about this: A real minister stands up for the safety of women.â€Â
In another ad, Baker says:Â
“It offends me that the homosexuals compare their cause to that of black Americans. Homosexuality is a choice, but I was born black.”Â
Baker is running for City Council in District F, part of a reincarnation of the anti-LGBT “Straight Slate” that ran in 1985 â€” when mayoral candidate Louie Welch said the best way to combat AIDS would be to “shoot the queers.”Â
Baker was suspended indefinitely by the city after a female employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against him in June 2013, according to the inspector general’s report (below).
“Although Mr. Baker denied the allegations and blamed a municipal Union board member for inciting the complainant to fabricate the allegations, the OIG did not find that the allegations were fabricated,â€ the report said. â€œMr. Bakerâ€™s explanations were neither satisfactory nor exculpatory.â€
Baker later said he’d been fired, during testimony against the Equal Rights Ordinance before the council approved it in May 2014. The Office of Inspector General would also investigate complaints filed under HERO.Â
â€œThe reason I know the OIG is overwhelmed is because I just ended a 28-year, 11-month career with the city and was wrongfully terminated and the OIG did not handle the case appropriately,” Baker told the City Council.Â
Houston Mayor Annise Parker responded by saying, “You are proof we do a good job in the OIG, sir.â€
Baker also told Parker during his testimony:Â
â€œI say to you, what if I came into the restroom here while you were sitting on the toilet? How would you feel? Wouldnâ€™t you feel uncomfortable?â€
After the council approved the ordinance, the city rejected a petition seeking to repeal it, saying it didn’t have enough valid signatures. Anti-LGBT activists filed a lawsuit, but a district judge upheld the city’s decision, saying the petition contained widespread forgery. However, HERO opponents eventually obtained a decision from the elected, all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, ordering the city to repeal the ordinance or place it on the ballot.Â
Opponents of the ordinance are building their anti-HERO ballot campaign almost entirely around the transgender bathroom myth, which has been thorougly and repeatedly debunked.Â The ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and 13 other characteristics, including race.Â Houston is the largest city in the US that doesn’t currently have LGBT protections in employment, housing and public accommodations.Â
Watch Baker’s testimony against the ordinance, and view the inspector general’s report on the complaint against Baker below.Â
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‘Boldly Ignorant’ Ted Cruz Slammed by Retired NYPD Detective for His Suggestions to Protect Kids
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show,” a retired NYPD detective expressed disgust with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over his attempts to dismiss the idea of new gun laws to protect children in schools and instead is insisting America needs to turn schools into fortresses.
In interviews and appearing at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston, Cruz has vociferously disregarded the easy availability of high-powered weapons and instead focused on a door that was left open at the elementary school where the shooting occurred.
After host Phang shared a clip of the Texas Republican making his case, she asked former law enforcement detective Marq Claxton his thoughts on what Cruz was proposing.
Calling the controversial senator “boldly ignorant,” he proceeded to rip Cruz’s proposal apart.
“Marq, I was a prosecutor for half my career, I never prosecuted somebody for leaving a door open. How absurd is this proposal by Ted Cruz that the solution is to make sure that we don’t have too many doors at our schools?” host Phang asked.
“Ted Cruz’s statements were boldly ignorant and dismissive of the clear obvious danger that is faced by so many people in society because of the prevalence of violence and gun violence in particular,” he replied. “It really shows just how so many political electeds lack the fortitude to move forward and do the right thing: save lives.”
“Instead of sloganeering, Mr. Cruz and his other elected colleagues really should be working on legislation that provides, or minimizes the risk of damage, and could quite possibly and probably save lives,” he continued. “That is some additional gun restrictions, some background checks, there are other things that are out there that will undoubtedly be effective and save lives, and prevent these gun violence deaths.”
Watch the segment below or at this link.
‘Taking Us All for Fools’: Critics Decimate Greg Abbott’s Claims and Defense of His Actions in Wake of School Shooting
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott in a press conference that left reporters frustrated defended his actions and insisted his earlier praise for law enforcement’s widely criticized response to the Uvalde school massacre was the result of being “misled.”
“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott declared, blaming others for his “recitation of what people in that room told me.”
“I was misled … the information that I was given turned out in part to be inaccurate. And I’m absolutely livid about that” — Greg Abbott on his initial false statement portraying Uvalde first responders as heroes pic.twitter.com/dUIdxnicjm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 27, 2022
Critics aren’t buying his claims.
Abbott, who’s in the middle of a heated re-election campaign, appeared extremely defensive when reporters asked him questions.
“Let’s be clear about one thing. None of the laws I signed this past session had any intersection with this crime at all,” Abbott told reporters when asked if he would call the legislature back for a special session, as The Texas Tribune’s Sewell Chan noted.
“No law that I signed allowed him to get a gun,” Abbott insisted.
“The answers fell pretty flat,” opined MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, who noted the press event lasted just 36 minutes, less time than the police officers “stood outside and did nothing,” which was 47 minutes.
Abbott ended the press conference with many reporters almost begging him to take more questions. As the governor left one frustrated reporter was caught on a hot mic saying “unbelievable.”
Chan, who is the editor in chief of the Tribune, added on Twitter: “Abbott rejects background checks as a simplistic and ineffective fix. Wouldn’t have prevented Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe shootings, he says. Tries to turn focus to broken mental health system.”
Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi on MSNBC delivered a strong rebuke to Governor Abbott’s remarks.
“No amount of free flights, no amount of free caskets, no amount of mental health counseling is going to bring back any one of those murdered children,” Figliuzzi said, referring to Abbott’s announcement an anonymous donor is putting up $175,000 for funeral expenses of those who were murdered in the shooting and said the state will pay for mental health treatment.
Abbott also insisted that since Texas became a state it’s been legal for 18-year-olds to buy long guns.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, blasted Abbott:
.@GregAbbott_TX responding to a question on long rifles “it seems like only in the past decade or two we have had school shootings.” Governor, the assault weapons ban ended in 2004. See the connection? You have actively helped to sell millions of weapons since then.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 27, 2022
And long guns of today, as Figliuzzi noted, are often semi-automatic “killing machines.”
“The governor seems completely unable to understand that he can easily make a distinction when you’re talking about whether an 18-year-old should buy an assault rifle or not. And all he cares about is a century of history in Texas on long guns. We didn’t have the AR-15 style assault weapons back then. He can easily make a distinction and say, ‘you can go hunting, here are the rifles you can do, you can buy, you can possess – and here’s an assault-style rifle.'”
“If he thinks that people are stupid and unable to understand that there is a clear distinction between a killing machine and a hunting rifle, that he’s taking us all for fools.”
‘I Apologize for Interrupting Your Press Conference’: Tearful Texas Democrat Urges Greg Abbott to ‘Do Something’ on Guns
The Texas Democratic State Senator who represents Uvalde stood up during Greg Abbott’s Friday afternoon press conference and almost begged the Republican Governor to “do something” about gun violence after Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School that took 21 lives.
Abbott was trying to place the blame for the school shooting on mental health despite the gunman having no documented issues, and told attendees, “we’re focusing our attention on the wrong thing.”
That was not good enough for Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who politely introduced himself and said, “I’m not making a political speech.”
“My colleagues are asking for a special session, you’re getting a letter tomorrow,” from the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“We’ve asked for gun control changes – I’m asking you now, bring us back in three weeks.”
Gutierrez grew emotional, sounding as if he was choking up, and added, “I apologize for interrupting your press conference about the needs of this community. I’ve been here for three days with all of these elected officials – this county judge has been working his ass off,” he continued.
“I don’t know how to express the loss of the families that I’ve talked to,” he added.
“You have to do something, man,” Gutierrez said, all but begging the governor to take action, and saying his “own colleagues are calling me and telling me this is enough.”
“I’m sorry to interrupt your press conference… you have to do something” pic.twitter.com/OiRI1OQZWQ
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 27, 2022
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