Equal Rights Fight Heats Up Houston As Early Voting Begins
Trailing in the polls as early voting begins, opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance are continuing a barrage of seemingly desperate anti-LGBT ads promoting the transgender bathroom myth, which was thoroughly debunked yet again by Media Matters last week.Â
The anti-LGBT organization Texas Values Action released a cartoon-style ad Monday depicting a hypothetical Houston gym owner â€” presumably the group couldn’t find a real one â€” who’d be required to open female restrooms to transgender women if the ordinance passes. (The ad, which includes recycled clips fromÂ this 2012 series, currently has 1 Like and 35 Dislikes on YouTube.)
“It is critical for the future of Texas, and for our nation, that weÂ defeat Houston Mayor Parkerâ€™s Proposition 1 Bathroom Ordinance,” Texas Values Action President Jonathan Saenz wrote in an email above the ad. “Houstonâ€™s Proposition 1 would allow biological men to enter womenâ€™s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms and then would criminalize local business owners and organizations who simply insist that people use the bathrooms that correlate to their biological gender.”Â
The Texas Values ad reportedly was paid for in part byÂ Citizenlink, the public policy partner of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. AndÂ Saenz, of course, is best known in LGBT circles for the fact that his wife left him for a woman in 2012.Â
In any case, the coalition supporting the ordinance, Houston Unites, countered Monday with statements in support of HERO from an African-American newspaper, a national veterans group, the AARP and the Greater Houston Partnership, which is the local chamber of commerce.Â
Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman ofÂ VoteVets.org, ripped NFL team owner Bob McNair. McNair owns the Houston Texans andÂ last week contributed $10,000 to HERO opponents. In addition to sexual orientation and gender identity, the ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on 13 other categories, including veterans’ status, in employment, housing and public accommodations.Â
“Itâ€™s beyond the pale that conservative donor Bob McNair is funding efforts in Houston to take away protections for veterans,” Soltz said. “We would remind Mr. McNair that it is veterans in Houston and around the country who have made the ultimate sacrifice and should not be discriminated against in employment when they come home. …Â Supporting our veterans means more than just bringing them out on the field before a football game.”
HERO opponents seized upon McNair’s contribution in an effort to counter the argument that voting down the ordinance could cost Houston the 2017 Super Bowl.Â
“The HERO supporters have tried to scare people into believing that we would lose the Super Bowl,” former Harris County GOP chair Jared Woodfill told The Houston Chronicle. “Obviously, if there were any truth behind that, Bob McNair wouldn’t be donating to the folks that are opposed to the ordinance.”
McNair, a billionaire and frequent GOP donor, told the newspaper he believes the ordinance has become too divisive, and should be rewritten and submitted to voters next year. However, when it comes to the city’s major financial power brokers, McNair finds himself increasingly in the minority.Â
Last week, 44 Houston business leaders signed a full-page ad (below) supporting the ordinance from the Greater Houston Partnership that appeared in the Chronicle. They included representatives from United Airlines, BBVA Compass, the Houston Association of Realtors, JP Morgan Chase, UnitedHealthCare, Rice University and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.Â The ad followed an op-ed in support of the ordinance published earlier in the week by the vice president of Dow Chemical Co.
Meanwhile, a third consecutive poll found that a majority of voters say they plan to support the ordinance.Â The poll fromÂ KPRC 2 NewsÂ found that 45 percent of respondents back Prop 1,Â 36 percent oppose it, and 20 percent are undecided.
Image: Screenshot via Texas Values Action/YouTube
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‘Avowed White Nationalist’ Republican Criticized as ‘Unfit for Office’ Over False Claim Shooter Was LGBTQ, Undocumented
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is being criticized after falsely identifying the Uvalde, Texas shooter who massacred 19 children and two adults at an elementary school as being a “leftist,” undocumented, and LGBTQ.
Last year Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) called Gosar an “avowed white nationalist.” Gosar appeared by video at an event run by a far-right activist who has been labeled a white nationalist and a white supremacist.
In a tweet posted very early Wednesday morning, well after the identity of the alleged shooter was widely reported, the far-right Arizona Congressman said the 18-year-old who slaughtered 21 people was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.”
Many hours earlier Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott had specifically said at a news conference the shooter (NCRM will not name him here) was a U.S. citizen. There is no indication he was “transsexual,” as Gosar falsely claimed, or “leftist.”
Former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski posted a screenshot of Gosar’s tweet, which has since been deleted after massive outcries.
Deleted tweet by Gosar. He wasn’t trans. He wasn’t leftist. He wasn’t an illegal alien. The only thing Gosar got right was the name. Another in an endless list of despicable acts by Gosar. pic.twitter.com/ohM3STIOQG
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) May 25, 2022
Reporting on his tweet, Huffpost called Gosar “an anti-immigration hardliner who routinely cozies up to white nationalists, ” and “was apparently promoting a false claim circulating on right-wing networks.”
The lawmaker was censured and stripped of his committee assignments last year after he posted an anime video depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and threatening President Joe Biden. Only two Republicans voted with Democrats on the measure.
Meanwhile, in response to the false tweet an opinion writer for The Arizona Republic, Laurie Roberts, called Gosar “Arizona’s reigning king of disinformation,” and “a gossip of the worst kind – one who delights in distorting the facts to fit his own warped view of the world.”
“The congressman – already censured for his sick anime video in which he shows himself killing a congresswoman and threatening the president – has shown himself, yet again, to be completely unfit for office.”
Roberts added: “Not a single Republican leader in this state will denounce him,” and “He’ll be re-elected in a landslide.”
Florida Republican Levies ‘Threat’ Against Biden Over Guns After Being Investigated for Cyberintimidation
Florida State Representative Randy Fine, a Republican from Brevard County, Wednesday morning posted what some say appears to be a threat against President Joe Biden. Tuesday evening the President addressed the nation just hours after 19 second, third, and fourth-grade school children and two teachers were massacred in one of the nation’s worst mass shootings.
“We as a nation have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby. When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” President Biden implored Americans as he spoke barely more than one hour after landing at the White House after a five-day Asia trip.
Early Tuesday morning Rep. Fine tweeted: “I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”
Some online are seeing that as an apparent threat.
“This sounds like a threat against the President,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Is this a threat Randy?” asked another.
Several reported the tweet to Twitter Safety, and more responded by tweeting it to the FBI and Secret Service.
One user whose bio says she is an Internet Safety Expert tweeted “18 U.S.C. §871(a).” That is the federal law for ‘Threats against President and successors to the Presidency.”
Rep. Fine has been investigated but not prosecuted for cyberintimidation, among other allegations.
In February, “prosecutors announced that after an exhaustive investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a thorough review by Chief Assistant State Attorney Stacey Salmons …, no criminal charges would be filed in allegations leveled at State Representative Randy Fine by Brevard County School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins, and Publisher Robert Burns,” the Florida State Attorney’s Office stated.
“Jenkins and Burns alleged that between July and August of 2021, Fine had committed the offenses of Corruption by Threat Against a Public Servant; Cyberintimidation by Publication; Stalking; Residency Qualification Violations; Campaign Finance Violations; and Voter Fraud (Oct. 2019 – Nov. 2020).”
The State Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Fine, but State Attorney Phil Archer added: “Although no criminal charges are being filed, I am concerned that the continued use of heated rhetoric on social media and public statements by both sides, could produce a volatile and dangerous escalation we should all seek to avoid.”
Top Texas Republicans Resist Gun Control and Push for More Armed Teachers and Police at Schools in Wake of Uvalde Shooting
“Top Texas Republicans resist gun control and push for more armed teachers and police at schools in wake of Uvalde shooting” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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In the hours after a gunman killed more than 20 people at a South Texas elementary school Tuesday, the state’s top Republicans sought to immediately squelch the possibility of gun control measures in the wake of yet another mass shooting.
As the death toll mounted from the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde and President Joe Biden vowed to push for stricter gun laws, Texas Republicans made it clear that any kind of gun restriction in response to the tragedy was off the table.
“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”
In an appearance on the far-right television network Newsmax, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly dismissed the notion of enacting restrictions on firearms — reasoning that shooters wouldn’t follow the law anyway.
“I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not going to be the last time,” Paxton said.
Meanwhile, Biden called for a renewed push to reform the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the shooting during a nationwide address Tuesday evening.
“We as a nation have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” Biden said.
In the wake of mass shootings at Santa Fe High School in 2018 and a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, Texas Republicans vowed to take steps to prevent similar killing sprees in the future and passed laws that cover issues like identifying potentially dangerous students, training school employees to deal with emergencies and giving teachers more access to guns.
But in gun-friendly Texas, any laws restricting access to firearms have been a nonstarter. Instead, state legislators have expanded access to firearms — including with a law allowing residents to carry guns without a permit.
On Tuesday, Republican officials revived ideas to stop future mass shooters — arming teachers and school administrators, putting more police officers on campus and limiting entryways to school buildings.
“We have to harden these targets so that no one can get in ever except through one entrance,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson in an appearance on Fox News. “Maybe that would help. Maybe that would stop someone.”
Gov. Greg Abbott, Cruz and former President Donald Trump are scheduled to talk in Houston on Friday at the National Rifle Association’s 2022 annual meeting. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Abbott’s Democratic opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race, called on Abbott to skip the convention and tell the NRA to take the convention elsewhere.
“Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas,” O’Rourke tweeted Tuesday night.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/24/texas-republicans-uvalde-gun-control/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.
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