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Houston May Have A New HERO Before Mayor Annise Parker Leaves Office In January

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But She Vows Not To Support Any Transgender Exemptions

Houston could have a new Equal Rights Ordinance before the end of the year. 

Mayor Annise Parker, who’s term-limited after six years in office, said Wednesday it’s possible the City Council will approve an amended HERO before she steps down in January. 

The original version of HERO, approved by the council 11-6 in May 2014, was resoundingly repealed by voters on Tuesday following an 18-month legal battle. 

“Several council members have talked to me about bringing it back up, perhaps bringing it back up in segments, such as the nondiscrimination in employment and housing and public accommodations separately, so that we could directly deal with those aspects of the ordinance,” Parker said at her weekly press conference. “There may be other ideas.

“It’s possible for us to do something,” Parker added. “You may have noticed that I’m trying to clear as many things off my desk as possible. I don’t really want to leave a lot of contentious items for the next administration, and I’m going to try not to leave this one as well.” 

HERO would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and 13 other characteristics in employment, housing, public accommodations and city contracting. However, opponents built their entire campaign around one aspect of the ordinance — transgender protections in public accommodations — seizing on the debunked myth that it would lead to sexual predators preying on victims in women’s restrooms. 

Other Texas cities have passed nondiscrimination ordinances with exemptions for restroom use by transgender people, but Parker doesn’t intend to let that happen on her watch in Houston. 

NEW: Tweet Of The Day: Houston Mayor Annise Parker Responds To A Tea Party ‘Texan 4 Liberty’

“I cannot support anything that would remove any of the 15 protected categories,” she said. “They were in there because they need the protections that HERO has to offer. 

“What is more fundamental than trying to provide access to a public restroom that is appropriate to the gender of an individual, when all they want to do is use the facilities and go on about their business?” she added. “All of this about pedophiles going into women’s restrooms was an out and out and falsehood, they knew it was a falsehood, and they sold a bill of goods. That’s all I can say. Masterfully played.” 

Any consideration of a new HERO would include discussion of the negative economic impacts brought by voters’ decision to repeal the ordinance, Parker said. Although the NCAA and NFL announced Wednesday they have no plans to move the 2016 Men’s Final Four or the 2017 Super Bowl out of Houston, respectively, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has requested an emergency meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the issue. 

Meanwhile, Houston business and tourism officials are already raising concerns about the impact of the vote on the city’s reputation and their ability to recruit young talent. 

“It’s the business community that has spoken loudly in Indiana and Arizona, and it’s the business community that’s going to speak here,” Parker said. “We will also of course evaluate what the national and international response from the business community is, because that certainly will make a difference.” 

Although HERO opponents seized upon the transgender bathroom myth, it’s clear this was merely a smokescreen for general opposition to LGBT rights, and they likely would oppose an amended ordinance even if it deals only with employment or housing. 

Jared Woodfill, a spokesman for the anti-HERO Campaign for Houston, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday night that he doesn’t think gays and lesbians should be protected against discrimination.  

“I think they should be treated as everyone else,” Woodfill said. “I don’t think they should receive special protections. I don’t think homosexuality is an immutable characteristic.”

Game on. 

You can download Mayor Parker’s full November 4 press conference.

 

Image by The Bishop/Twitter

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NOT EVEN CLOSE

Sean Spicer Bitterly Complains the Press Is Treating Jen Psaki Better Than They Did Him

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As part of a deep dive into the growing popularity of White House press secretary Jen Psaki who has a legion of admirers on social media due to her handling of press, former Donald Trump press secretary Sean Spicer complained to the New York Times that she has gotten a free pass from the media that he never got.

According to the report, even Peter Doocy of Fox News had high praise for Psaki despite his almost daily battles with Psaki that have become widely shared on Twitter and evening newscasts.

“It never feels like I’m getting smacked down or vice versa,” Doocy admitted. “I understand why it looks like that, some of the ways that stuff gets clipped, but it doesn’t feel like that in the room.”

He added, “When I got back from my wedding she made a point to tell everybody in the briefing room that I just got married. That’s a transcript I can print out and show to my kids one day.”

As for Spicer, who eventually resigned following combative press conferences that were famously mocked on Saturday Night Live — with actor Melissa McCarthy portraying a bullying and manic Spicer — he thinks he was held to a higher standard than the current press secretary.

“‘I walked into the lion’s den every day — she walks into a bunch of kittens,'” Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s first press secretary and now the 6 p.m. anchor on Newsmax, said in an interview,” the Times’ Michael Grynbaum wrote.

Spicer also took exception to Psaki taking a dig at him during a press conference after President Joe Biden asked him to resign from the board of the United States Military Academy when she was asked about his performance in her job as well as appearances by Kellyanne Conway defending Donald Trump.

Psaki replied, “I will let others evaluate whether they think Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer and others were qualified.”

That led Spicer to complain, “Jen chose to stand and question my qualifications and services to this country. Once she did that, the gloves were off.”

You can read more here.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

GOP Gov. Kristi Noem Won’t Make Kids Wear Masks in Schools But She Is Trying to Make Them Pray

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South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem refuses to mandate masks for schoolchildren and teachers but she’s trying to make students pray in public. Gov. Noem, who is widely expected to run for president in 2024, has let the coronavirus run rampant in her state of just 886,667 people – a population so small New York City’s is ten times larger. And yet coronavirus is running rampant in South Dakota, which ranks number eight in the nation for coronavirus cases per capita.

Governor Noem just made clear she does not see herself as a government or political leader, but as a religious one. Speaking to Real America’s Voice personality David Brody, Noem declared she will bring back prayer in schools (even though voluntary prayer has always been legal) and thinks political leaders are supposed to “minister” to their constituents.

Complaining that the actions other government leaders are taking “are not biblical,” Noem says they are supposed to “line up with God,” which is false.

“I think that it’s really time for all of us to look at the actions of our leaders and see if they line up with the word of God,” Noem said, “see if they’re biblical and if they really are following through on those actions that God’s called us to do to protect people, to serve people, and to really minister to them.”

Protecting, serving, and ministering – but not in the fight against the deadly pandemic.

“We’ve seen our society, our culture, degrade, as we’ve removed God out of our lives, and people become what they spend their time doing,” Noem declared. “When I was growing up, we spent every Sunday morning, every night, every Wednesday night in church, we were our church, family was a part of our life, we read the Bible every day as a family together, and spent time with each other, recognizing that we were created to serve others.”

Again, Noem makes clear she does not believe serving and protecting others has anything to do with COVID-19.

“I don’t know families do that as much anymore and those biblical values are learned, in the family, And they’re learned in church when the doors are open so people can be there and be taught.”

“We in South Dakota, have decided to take action to really stand for biblical principles. We had a bill that was passed during legislative session two years ago that put the the motto ‘In God We Trust’ in every single school building it is displayed. Now in every K-12 school building in the state of South Dakota.

“I have legislation that we’ll be proposing this year that will allow us to pray in schools, again, I really believe that focusing on those foundational biblical principles that teach us that every life has value every person has a purpose will recenter our kids and help us really heal this division that we see taking over our country.”

MSNBC’s Steve Benen notes, “given that the United States is a democracy, and not a theocracy, officials’ actions are supposed to line up with the Constitution and the rule of law, not how some people interpret scripture.”

“What the governor seemed to be suggesting, however, isn’t a system in which students pray on their own,” he adds, “but one in which school officials intervene in children’s religious lives. In the United States, that’s not legal: As my friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently explained, ‘The South Dakota Supreme Court struck down mandatory recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the state’s public schools in 1929. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated school-sponsored prayer and Bible reading in public schools in 1962 and ’63.'”

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Also Criticized ‘Court-Invented Rights to Homosexual Behavior and Same-Sex Marriage’

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The architect of what is now Texas law, Governor Greg Abbott‘s “heartbeat” legislation that bans all abortion after six weeks, attacked the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to marriage, and sex between persons of the same sex, in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court this past summer. In that brief he also called same-sex marriage a “judicial concoction,” and argued that women should merely abstain from sexual intercourse as a method to “control their reproductive lives.”

Former Texas solicitor general and Federalist Society member Jonathan Mitchell, The Guardian reports, “who played a pivotal role in designing the legal framework of the state’s near-total abortion ban, also argued on behalf of anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life that women would still be able to terminate pregnancies if Roe was overturned by traveling to ‘wealthy pro-abortion’ states like California and New York with the help of ‘taxpayer subsidies.'”

“Women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion; they can do so by refraining from sexual intercourse,” Mitchell wrote in the brief. “One can imagine a scenario in which a woman has chosen to engage in unprotected (or insufficiently protected) sexual intercourse on the assumption that an abortion will be available to her later. But when this court announces the overruling of Roe, that individual can simply change their behavior in response to the court’s decision if she no longer wants to take the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”

“In the same brief, which calls for Roe to be overturned,” The Guardian adds, “Mitchell and co-counsel Adam Mortara, an anti-abortion activist and lawyer who clerked for the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, said such a decision could open the door for other ‘lawless’ rights and protections to be reversed, including the right to have gay sex and the right to same-sex marriage.”

In their July, 2021 Supreme Court amicus brief, Mitchell and Mortara also call “interracial marriage” one of several “supposed constitutional ‘rights’ that have no basis in constitutional text or historical practice.” Among them, “court-imposed ‘substantive due process’ rights whose textual and historical provenance are equally dubious.”

On same-sex marriage and sex their opinion was devastatingly ruthless.

“The news is not as good for those who hope to preserve the court-invented rights to homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage,” the amicus brief reads. “These ‘rights,’ like the right to abortion from Roe, are judicial concoctions, and there is no other source of law that can be invoked to salvage their existence.”

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