Tag Archives: Texas

Texas Supreme Court Will Consider Revoking Gay Spousal Rights

Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear case about whether legally married gay couples should be entitled to the same marriage benefits that other legally married city employees enjoy.

If homophobes win the fight in court, cities in Texas would be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Right now, cities may not deny married same-sex couples any of the spousal benefits provided to opposite-sex couples under US law.

But back in 2001 things were very different.

That year, Houston changed its city charter to freeze out city employees from sharing benefits with same-sex partners.

And in 2005, Texas changed its constitution to say only a man and a woman could marry each other. Officials were stopped from giving marriage benefits to any gay or lesbian couples across the state.

Then in 2013 the lesbian mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, overthrew those rules.

She directed city staff to grant legal status and spousal benefits to any same-sex couple who had married in a place where it was legal.

But two homophobic taxpayers, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks challenged Houston and Parker.

They argued her order to give rights to gay couples violated the Texas constitution.

And so they demanded a temporary and permanent injunction to stop city officials handing the benefits out.

The court did grant that injunction on a temporary basis.

The city appealed against this. And while all parties waited for a decision from the

Texas Court of Appeals in this case, events overtook them.

The Supreme Court of the United States made its decision that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry. By doing so, the SCOTUS justices made marriage legal in every state.

So the Texas Court of Appeals decided not to pursue the Houston legal debate as US law had now changed.

Yet the Texas Supreme Court’s inaction prompted outrage from state Republican officials and anti-gay activists, who urged the justices, who are elected, to take the case and allow Texas cities to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Last week, the court took the first step, caving to Republican demands and agreeing to hear the case in March—a worrying sign that the justices, fearful of a re-election fight, may soon yield to political pressure and roll back marriage equality in Texas.

It is now claimed ‘dozens of state elected officials, conservative activists and religious leaders’ have been lobbying the Texas Supreme Court justices, demanding a re-match.

They are asking the court to ‘defend religious liberty’ by taking away same-sex couples’ equality.

The protesters also want the court to challenge the SCOTUS striking down of Texas’ strict abortion restrictions.

If the homophobes win, experts warn this could be the first step to dismantling marriage equality around the US.

Alternatively, the Texas court may bow to the seniority of Supreme Court of the United States.

The case has also been criticized as wasting taxpayers’ money. One site supporting equality, Slate, said this should be a ‘painfully easy decision’.

But it’s clear there’s everything to play for.

Democrat Celia Israel Stands Against The Texas Bathroom Bill

The past couple of years have brought to light heated debates about countless issues connected to the rights and laws concerning the members of the LGBTQ+ community in America. One of the most controversial debates has been about the bills that were introduced in several states, demanding that people in public buildings, schools etc. do not use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, but the bathroom that apparently corresponds to the “sex on their birth certificate”, otherwise they may be charged with fines.

The fact that such an issue as where people are or aren’t supposed to pee is up for debate is absolutely outrageous – and is deemed as such by a considerable part of the population in most states. At the same time, conservative voices have gained ground with claims that mostly have to do with the pathologization of trans identities (especially in childhood) and the so-called protection of women from assault – which is quite ironic coming from the conservative part of a nation that has elected a man with several accusations of assault as president.

The fears based on which these bills are justified, are produced by harmful misconceptions that have nothing to do with reality. The thing is that if such bills pass, the situation becomes even more dangerous than it already is for trans individuals, both adults and children. In fact, trans people are much more likely to be concerned for their safety when visiting a public bathroom than cis women and children, for whom to republican worry is articulated.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who spoke at the Republican Party of Texas State Convention on the 12th of May last year, in Dallas, is in favour of passing a bathroom bill in the style of North Carolina and claims that there is no danger for the economy of Texas, even though the economic consequences in the case of North Carolina were visible: last year, when the bathroom bill was passed, the state lost about $400 million in a span of six months due to legal fees, events that were cancelled, and a damage in tourism.

A study held out by the Texas Association of Business showed that Texas could lose about $8.5 billion a year in boycotts and companies that would change their mind about setting up there business there.

Dan Patrick didn’t worry about such consequences since he considered the bill a priority, holding transphobic views that he tried to cover up with saying that this should not be a problem for “certified” trans people, since they will be able to go to the correct bathroom anyway if they have their documents changed, and with claiming that this bill differed to North Carolina’s in which it wasn’t indicated specifically that alignment with the “original” birth certificate and the bathroom was required.

However, according to Mara Keisling, head of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Texas bathroom bill is just as bad as the North Carolina one. Keisling points out that the North Carolina doesn’t distinguish between original and current birth certificates.

A survey held out by her group in 2015 showed that only 9% of trans people could eventually change the sex on their birth certificates, due to bureaucratic and financial reasons, so even with those standards the results remain harmful. In addition, the Texas bill allows the state attorney general to carry investigations in individual school districts and collect civil penalties in order to enforce the discriminatory law.

State Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), an openly lesbian Latina Democrat, said in an interview on SiriusXM Progress that she’ll stand against the bill which she expected to be introduced, and is actually pleased that it is moving early so that they can “let the games begin”. Israel says that the mainstream business communities in Texas have already started preparing to oppose themselves vocally to the bill. She points to the aforementioned study to draw attention to the consequences the bill will have for the economy of the state.

She says:

This is a good report that was done by a very recognized research group, university-affiliated. There will be hearings in the senate and they will hear loud and strong from the business community. My district includes such businesses as Dell, Samsung, Apple. The business community is to be commended. But I’m also going to be challenging them to come out as individual companies to say to my colleagues for whom their business is in their district, ‘This is not Texas and this is certainly not a priority.’”

She points out that famous music festivals like Austin City Limits and SXSW will be negatively affected by a tourism boycott that will probably take place if the bill passes.

In Fort Worth and Dripping Springs, south of Houston, there are districts which have given accommodation to trans youth. Israel explains:

There’s an overwhelming majority of parents, when they are presented with these scare tactics, who will stand up for that transgender child and his or her family, and say, ‘Let’s just let this kid be a kid.’ So we have good things to say in Texas about Texans being respectful and courteous. This bill would of course stir things up at the local level. We’ll see a lot of local leaders saying, ‘Please let us do what we do best. We know our schools. We know our districts.’”

Israel said, concerning the impact such a bill will have on the state’s economy.

We know that people have choices in where they’re going to spend their money. Any state in the union should have learned from North Carolina. Texas did not. And although I’m disappointed, I’m not shocked. And I’m ready to continue to fight for the state that I love.”

Jury Final Finds Man Guilty Of Brutal Shooting And Sexual Assault Of Teen Lesbian Couple, Four Years Ago.

A jury in Texas has found David Strickland guilty in the execution-style shooting and sexual assault of a teenaged lesbian couple, four years ago.

Strickland was convicted of capital murder and aggravated sexual assault in an attack against Mollie Olgin – who sadly died at the scene – and her girlfriend Kristene Chapa, who survived.

He received an automatic life sentence since prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.


Chapa said she ‘wanted to just burst out into tears’ when the verdict was announced.

She told KRIS-TV,

I was very shocked at first. I didn’t know what to expect exactly . I was hoping that they (the jury) would see all the evidence that we had and they would go our way. (It was) very emotional.”

Strickland was arrested in the Portland, Texas, in June 2014 – two years after the shootings.

Prosecutors told the jury that Strickland forced Olgin and Chapa down an incline in a park. He bound them and shot both in the head.

They were discovered the next morning. Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene, while Chapa’s injuries left her unable to sit or stand. She continues to undergo physical rehabilitation.


During the trial, Chapa stayed incredible strong, telling reporters she wasn’t bothered to be in the same courtroom as Strickland

He’s a coward. David Strickland put his head down and wouldn’t look at me, so what does that mean to you? Did you see him in the courtroom? He didn’t do anything.’

Chapa continues to undergo costly physical therapy to regain full use of her body. A medical fund has been established to help her cover her considerable medical costs.

Student Banned From Wearing Pro-LGBT Shirt From High School Because It’s Deemed ‘Disruptive’

School administrators have sadly reprimanded a 13-year-old student for showing up to school wearing an LGBT-positive T-shirt this week – saying the message is both “distracting” and “disruptive.”

The shirt bore the phrase, “Some people are gay. Get over it!” in rainbow-hued letters, and was worn by Ali Chaney of Copperas Cove, Texas.

However, Chaney was summoned to the office at SC Lee Junior High School, where she said school officials told her she had to change her shirt. Her mother, Cassie Watson, said Ali called her crying because she felt school leaders were discriminating against her for being gay.

Watson said;

I would never, ever have expected it from the administration. I would think that the administration would be the first ones there to support her,”

However, the school maintains that the shirt violated the dress code, releasing a statement through its Copperas Cove Independent School District that notes,

Our purpose at CCISD is to educate children, first and foremost. According to CCISD’s dress code in the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct, clothing that is disruptive to the learning environment based on reactions by other students is prohibited. The student was offered a school shirt to wear and declined.”

In a conversation outside the school, Sledd claimed multiple students were distracted by the shirt.

But, Ali and her mother do not believe the shirt was disruptive.

It’s just a shirt, and it’s not hurting anybody.”

She added that the dress code is not enforced equally among all students, showing a photo of her friend wearing a shirt that insinuated President Barack Obama was an Islamic Communist. That friend was not asked to change clothes, even though the shirt made a political statement, Ali said.

The district offered a rebuttal, sending its own photo of a third student who wore a Miley Cyrus ‘twerking’ shirt. The district said that student was told to change shirts and complied without incident.

When asked whether district leaders photograph all students who violate the dress code, Sledd did not respond.

Ali’s mother filed a complaint with the district. She said she does not want an apology for what happened, but she does believe her daughter deserves one.

Texan Judge Rules Woman Can Inherit Late Wife’s Estate With Common Law Marriage

A Texas judge has signed a judgement, which recognises the eight year relationship between couple Stella Powell and Sonemaly Phrasavath.

After Powell died last year, Phrasavath started the legal fight to have their relationship recognised.

However, Texas’ Attorney General, Ken Paxton, filed a motion in an attempt to stop the relationship from being recognised.

This came just a day after Paxton pledged to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of same-sex marriage.

Paxton filed a motion on 25 August, in an attempt to block Sonemaly Phrasavath from inheriting any portion of her late partner Stella Powell’s estate.

Powell died in 2014 without a will, and her siblings set out to exclude Phrasavath from inheriting any of the estate, despite that the couple had been together for eight years.

Stella Powell and Sonemaly Phrasavath 03

Phrasavath has since appealed to have the relationship recognised retroactively as a common law marriage.

Paxton got involved in February, to defend the state of Texas and its same-sex marriage ban.

But now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, Phrasavath said she can’t understand why the Attorney General is still involved in “what’s essentially a family dispute.”

Her lawyer Brian Thompson, said this proves that Paxton is “not recognizing the full force of the Obergefell opinion.”

Thompson said of his client

This is not, for her, about the money. This is about respect and dignity, the kinds of words Justice Kennedy used in his opinion in Obergefell, and all [Paxton’s office is] trying to do is deny Sonemaly the dignity of being recognized as Stella’s spouse.”

Paxton still argues that, because the same-sex marriage ban in Texas was active for the entirety of the women’s relationship, they should not be recognised as having been in a common law marriage.

This is despite the couple signing an affidavit of domestic partnership, and having held a blessing ceremony at a church in 2008.

Father Charged in Hate Crime Murder of Houston Lesbian Couple

The father of one of the victims has finally been charged in the murder of a Houston lesbian couple committed last year.

On Tuesday, James Cosby was indicted on capital murder charges in the deaths of his daughter, Britney Cosby, and her girlfriend, who were both 24.


James Cosby has been in jail on a charge of tampering with evidence since shortly after the murders.

The bodies of Cosby and Jackson were found near a dumpster outside a convenience store in Galveston County in March 2014.

Autopsy results showed Cosby died from blunt force trauma to the head, and Jackson — who had a 5-year-old daughter — died from a gunshot wound.

From KHOU-TV‘s report on James Cosby’s indictment:

Investigators later found a lot of blood at Cosby’s Houston home.

According to court documents, they searched Cosby s bedroom and found large areas of blood on surfaces throughout.

A criminal complaint filed in court says detectives also noticed a missing window shutter on Cosby s home. They found a shutter matching the missing one covered in blood near where the victim s bodies were found. Detectives say Cosby’s thumbprint was on the shutter.

Following James Cosby’s arrest, Britney Cosby’s mother told KHOU

… [he] didn’t like the idea of her being gay.”

Cosby’s mother also told the The Houston Chronicle:

He would throw it in her face.”

Adding that her daughter quoted James Cosby as saying, “Don’t throw that gay (expletive) around in this house.”

In addition, Houston civil rights activist Quanell X, who was advising the family in the wake of the murder, told Fox 26 he “found writings about homosexuality on Cosby’s Koran indicating he may have had an issue with his daughter’s sexual orientation.”

James Cosby had been released from prison in October 2013, where he served time for failing to register as a sex offender after being convicted two decades before of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman.

‘Gay O.K.’ T-Shirts Banned at a Texas Middle School (Video)

In support a seventh grader who recently came out as gay in their school, students from Faubion Middle School in McKinney, Texas, designed t-shirt with Gay O.K.

However, the move did not go down well with the schools authorities, with two students being sent home, and a dozen others were made to cover up their homemade t-shirts.

Administrators at at the Middle School, were greeted by a small riot in the school cafeteria when they decided to eject two boys for wearing handmade Gay O.K. t-shirts and force another dozen or so students to cover up their shirts.

Sammy Heiman, the seventh grader who designed the shirts told NBCDFW News.

We were doing perfectly fine until lunch. And then (school officials) called us all out, all the people wearing them, called us out of the cafeteria. And people started getting rowdy because they knew what was going on. They were making us take off the shirts.”

The kids wore the shirts to show support for a seventh grader who recently came out.

They looked at the dress code, which bans “Clothing including tee shirts which displays sex, violence, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, death, gang or hate slogans or pictures,” and thought the Gay O.K. message would pass muster.

But administrators used another part of the dress code that reads, “Any disruptive or distractive mode of clothing or appearance that adversely impacts the educational process is not permitted,” to ban the shirts. It turned out making the kids take off the shirts was a lot more distractive than letting them wear them.

NBCDFW reported that videos posted to Twitter showed a cafeteria full of students chanting, Gay O.K. as administrators confronted the students. The rebellion only escalated when two of the boys were removed.

Cody Cunningham, spokesman for the McKinney Independent School District said

In this particular case, a verbal disruption occurred between a large number of students in the cafeteria as a result of the shirts. This was not a civil debate, but rather yelling and shouting, and alarmed a large number of students.”

School officials offered no thoughts on how the positive message of the shirts might bolster the seventh grader who came out, nor how their own intolerance for the students’ messages of support might be hurtful to him.

Texas Attorney General Argues Lesbian Couple’s Marriage Is Void

The Attorney General of the US state of Texas has attempted to void the marriage of a lesbian couple, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who were married in Austin last week.

“The rogue actions of Travis County judges do not withstand the scrutiny of law. The same-sex marriage license issued is not valid because it conflicts with the Texas Constitution and state law — the license is therefore void ab initio…

Activist judges don’t change Texas law and we will continue to aggressively defend the laws of our state.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton

Attorney General Ken Paxton moved quickly after the couple married, appealing the Texas Supreme Court, which quickly blocked other couples from marrying in the state by issuing a stay. Even new Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also reaffirmed his support for Texas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2005.


The women were granted a one-time license after the women argued that being legally married would ensure inheritance and allow the couple to make medical decisions for each other should one of them become critically ill.

Goodfriend, has ovarian cancer, and the state district judge raised the “severity and uncertainty” of her condition in granting the women permission to marry.

The couple’s attorney, Chuck Herring, is now arguing that the marriage was not void, saying:

“The case is over. The marriage is over and done. Our clients are married and very happy.”

The state of Texas’ same-sex marriage ban was found unconstitutional last year, but the judge issuing the ruling stayed it, in order to facilitate a state appeal.

Courts in Indiana made a similar exception for a lesbian couple in April because one of the women was dying of cancer and wanted her partner’s name on her death certificate. A federal appeals court overturned Indiana’s ban in September.

Shortly after news of the marriage spread online, Travis County officials said two other same-sex couples inquired about marriage licenses. By then, Paxton’s office was already preparing its emergency filing with the state Supreme Court.

Texas Supreme Court Halts All Same-Sex Marriages After One Couple Marries

Two days ago a county judge struck down a same-sex marriage ban in Texas. This morning, based on that ruling, another state judge ordered a Texas county clerk to issue a marriage license to one same-sex couple, which she did.

Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend, together over thirty years, were married shortly afterwards.

Just hours later, the Texas State Supreme Court intervened and ruled that no other same-sex couple may marry.

Newly-elected Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, filed for an emergency stay with the Supreme Court immediately after the couple married.

Paxton wrote

“A stay is necessary to make clear to all county clerks that Texas marriage law remains enforceable until there has been final appellate resolution.”

The couple, who have adopted two children together, are hopeful their marriage will not be annulled by the Court.

“If they want to come in and try to nullify this, they will. But we have a valid marriage license, and I don’t think they can.”

Texas And Sharleen Spiteri To Headline Manchester Pride

Manchester Pride organisers have announced that Texas, fronted by legendary singer Sharleen Spiteri, will headline this year’s event.

The singer is big LGBT ally and massive lesbian icon, with her songs have been featured in The L Word, and used as the title track to 90s US sitcom Ellen in which she made a cameo.

Chief Executive of Manchester Pride, Mark Fletcher, said:

“2015 marks the 25th anniversary of events celebrating LGBT life in Manchester across the August Bank Holiday weekend. It’s an incredibly special year and the Manchester Pride year-round events calendar will reflect this important anniversary.

“We look forward to welcoming thousands of people to the City over the Big Weekend as we continue with our fundraising aims to raise as much as possible for the various organisations that we support.”

Mark Fletcher

This year also marks Texas’ 25 years anniversary. They first burst onto the music scene in 1989 with I Don’t Want A Lover.

Why Homophobic State Law Sucks –  Refused a Driving Licence, Because Texas Refuses to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Connie Wilson has been denied a driver’s license in Texas, because the state of Texas refuses to recognize she took her partner’s name when they married.

Mrs Wilson took her partner Aimee Wilson’s surname last year, when the couple married in California.  However, since relocating to Texas – where the marriage is not recognized – Ms Wilson has been caught in a legal limbo surrounding her name.

Under Californian law, a marriage certificate is enough to certify a change of name, however as Texas does not recognize her marriage as valid, she has found herself with no legal documentation to prove her identity.

Mrs Wilson discovered the problem when she visited the Texas Department of Public Safety to apply for a new driver’s license after her California license expired.

She told the Texas Observer about the experience she had with county clerk…

“Her only words to me were, ‘Is this same-[sex]?’ She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’ She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.”

Connie Wilson

However, as her name is already legally recognized outside of the state, Ms Wilson would have to convince a court to grant her proof of a new name change despite no actual change taking place.

 “My name is already legally Wilson. I don’t know if a judge will even grant me a name change from Wilson to Wilson.

I don’t want any other person to go through what I have experienced over this. I’ve been deprived the freedom to drive a vehicle once my current California driver’s license expires. 

I’m further being deprived the freedom to use air travel, make purchases that require a valid photo identification, seek medical attention for myself or my children, as well as other situations that would require proving who I am legally as an individual.”

Connie Wilson

US Lawmaker Pens Letter to Lesbian Daughter Pledging to Support Gay Rights

In an open letter to his lesbian daughter, a Texas State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa is using Father’s Day to come out in support of gay rights.

You are my daughter — you deserve the same love and acceptance and to share in the same freedoms to marry the person you love.”

Texas State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa.

In 2013, Hinojosa sponsored a bill to legalize civil unions in Texas, but in his letter he declares he now supports full marriage equality.

A Father’s Day Letter to my Daughter…..
By Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa

Dear Kris,

From the moment you breathed life, when you first smiled up at me, I knew how strong the love of a father could be. An unconditional love for such an innocent child that only a father could know. As you began to grow, I hoped for a safe environment for you and wanted to protect you from the harsh realities of this unjust world.

But as you matured into a strong young woman, I began to realize there were cruelties I could not protect you from — simply because of your sexual orientation. I could not protect you from the discrimination, ignorance or hate.

I knew that we have discriminated in our country against women until we gave them the right to vote. We discriminate, and often continue to do so, against African-Americans, people of Jewish decent, and Hispanics. However, I was unprepared for the discrimination you would experience for being gay.

As your journey into adulthood revealed that you are gay, it made no difference to me. You are still my daughter. You did not change. I will always love and support you unconditionally. Fathers love their children who have physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or are multi-ethnic. There are all kinds of children. A father’s love is without end. Why would sexual orientation change anything?

I know you have encountered many challenges and struggles because of your sexuality, but I also know that my love has given you strength and courage. Views are changing as people begin to accept and understand that same-sex couples are part of our communities, culture and country. They live in our communities, work in our communities, attend church in our communities, and volunteer for our military where they fight for our freedom and liberty. They are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and colleagues and friends. Same-sex couples should be allowed the freedom to marry one another and be treated with dignity and respect.

It saddens me to know that you live your life in a society that views you as “different,” or as someone who should not enjoy the same basic rights as a straight person does. You are my daughter — you deserve the same love and acceptance and to share in the same freedoms to marry the person you love.

As a society we should not tolerate acts of discrimination, hate or violence for any reason. We are all equals. I remain committed to the cause of equality and most importantly in fighting to protect you and the children of all fathers. All men and women should have the freedom to choose their partner.

As you are all grown up now, you will still always be my little girl. I am very proud of you. I hope one day that you, too, can experience the love for a child. And I hope one day that your children will live in a world where they will not need protection for wanting to marry who they love.

With love,