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Watch: Lesbian Lawmaker Slams Anti-Gay Colleagues, Reminds Them, ‘We’re Not A Church’

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“My Jesus is different,” says State Rep. Celia Israel, who happens to be a lesbian, taking a swipe at her anti-gay colleagues in epic fashion in a new documentary about the role of religion in the Texas Legislature.

 

“Everyone in Texas is made in the image of God, and because everyone is made in the image of God, that is serious business, it’s almost like representing God, and who would want to blow that opportunity?” –GOP state Rep. James White

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God and Governing,” produced by The Texas Tribune, could just as easily be an episode of The Daily Show, featuring right-wing lawmakers discussing how their faith (read: conservative Christianity) influences their views on the issues of guns, abortion, gay marriage and education. 

But Israel, who’s Catholic herself and became the state’s first out lesbian lawmaker in 2014, rejects the notion that the Lone Star State should be a theocracy.  

“The way we get things done here is not by reading the Bible, it’s by reading the rules of the floor of the House of Representatives,” Israel says. “All of this is not of God. All of this is a manmade institution that’s designed to do good things. For me, this is a secular environment. We’re not a church. We’re in the Texas State Capitol trying to do good things.

“When someone is introducing anti-gay legislation and you happen to be gay, it’s hard not to take it personally,” Israel says later. “I’m doing the best I can to not let these issues be personal and respect their view, but I was raised a different way, and my Jesus is different.” 

The comments of Israel and other Democrats are presented in response to numerous Republicans who indicate their personal theologies are paramount when it comes to lawmaking. Although four percent of Texans are Jewish or Muslim, and one in five are nonbelievers, all but four of the state lawmakers who responded to the Tribune said they’re Christian. (Texas has 150 representatives and 31 senators).

And while only three percent of Texans believe guns, abortion or same-sex marriage are the most important issues facing the state, the Legislature spent much of this year’s session focused on those topics, with religion more prominent at the Capitol than at any other time in recent memory. 

“Everyone in Texas is made in the image of God, and because everyone is made in the image of God, that is serious business, it’s almost like representing God, and who would want to blow that opportunity?” GOP state Rep. James White declares. 

“A lot of times I look at as a fight for limited government, bringing government down so that God can be bigger, that there’s more of a role for the church,” says Rep. Jonathan Stickland, one of the state’s most prominent Tea Partiers.  

GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick indicates those views stretch to the highest levels of state government.    

“Despite what anyone would want to say in the media, or anyone in the outside world to try to spin for their own purpose, we are still a Christian nation, and there are some people who want us to deny that,” Patrick says. 

And to Patrick and others, “a Christian nation” clearly shouldn’t allow same-sex marriage. 

Texas lawmakers introduced more than 20 anti-LGBT bills in this year’s session, but all were defeated, largely due to opposition from the state’s chamber of commerce. And based on the Tribune‘s interviews with right-wing lawmakers, it wasn’t due to any lack of homophobic fervor on their part. 

“I don’t look at homosexuality any different than I would at an adulterer, a pornographer, those who are caught up in those lifestyles or bondage,” says Sen. Charles Perry, the author of a bill aimed at undermining the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell. “We all have our demons to slay, but to be in that lifestyle and say I’m a self-professing Christian with no expectation of turning away, that’s a direct violation of the Christian faith. This is a lifestyle and a choice and a decision, rather than an actual right that is granted to our pursuit of happiness.” 

Others told the Tribune they oppose same-sex marriage because they believe the institution was created by God, not government.  

“I do believe it’s revealed in the scripture that marriage is between one man and one women, but I also believe it’s revealed in nature, and so I don’t think it’s government’s right or responsibility to define marriage, but to recognize it,” says GOP Rep. David Simpson. 

Simpson delivers another gem when the subject turns to sex education. During this year’s session, lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to divert $3 million from HIV/AIDS prevention to abstinence-only education, resulting in a hilarious exchange on the House floor.

“If you’re going to talk about sex and marriage and intercourse, it’s best done with one’s parents in the privacy of one’s home, not when your hormones are really growling and moving in the classroom,” Simpson says. “I remember that when I was in seventh grade, and you know, that’s just so unnatural.” 

Watch the full special below. 

 

Image: Screenshot via The Texas Tribune/YouTube

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RACISM A FEATURE NOT A BUG FOR GOP

McCarthy Mocked for Claim GOP Is Not Party of ‘Nativist Dog Whistles’ After Greene’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus

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“The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin”

After four years of a Republican President who worked almost daily to spread or lend support to racism, white nationalism, or white supremacism – including having top advisors inside the White House who embraced those ideologies – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is having a hard time tamping down the Pandora’s Box of hate Donald Trump unleashed.

McCarthy has refused to take a strong stand against the most dangerous members of his caucus, trying to allow the extremist Congressmen and Congresswomen to actively lie, disrupt House business, and spread hate on a daily basis. Because they are raising millions.

In response to Republican white supremacist members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona announcing they are forming the “America First Caucus,” McCarthy tried to stand up to those radicals, as Forbes notes, via tweet.

It did not go well.

The America First Caucus’s “platform” says “a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”

It’s focus? All the current GOP buzzwords, like “Election Fraud,” “Sovereignty,” “Big Tech,” “Immigration,” “America First Education,” and “The Chinese Communist Party,” among others.

One portion that is raising a lot of eyebrows talks not about America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, which the far right often uses to single out some immigrants, but another term that narrows that opening even further: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

Late Friday afternoon McCarthy tried to push back.

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” he tweeted. “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles.”

The Republican Party, even decades before Donald Trump, has been the party of nativist dog whistles, as many reminded him.

Here’s what some are saying.

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ANALYSIS

‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Democracy: ‘Desperate’ GOP May Sink to New Depths to Fight Election Reform – With SCOTUS’s Help

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While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.

Some of these tactics were highlighted analysis by Crooked Media’s Brian Beutler and on the Democracy Docket website.

Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.

“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”

He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”

Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”

But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.

Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”

Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”

On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:

After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:

Image via Shutterstock

 

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RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY

Scandalous Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. Sued for $10 Million by Liberty University

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Jerry Falwell, Jr. is being sued by the school his father founded. Liberty University has filed a $10 million complaint against its former president.

“The new suit, which alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty, claims that Mr. Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees, while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses. Mr. Falwell also failed to disclose and address ‘his personal impairment by alcohol,’ the suit alleges, according to The New York Times.

But according to Talking Points Memo, which published the entire complaint, the lawsuit is far more scandalous.

“The evangelical institution claims in the suit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia, that Falwell concealed his relationship with Giancarlo Granda from the university.”

“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.

“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.

The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply  damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”

Falwell, Jr.’s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit.

In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a “fatal attraction” extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda.

“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed.

But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship.

“Jerry enjoyed watching,” Granda alleged.

This is a breaking news and developing story.

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