The War on Marriage Equality Begins in Texas

After first refusing an appeal, the Texas Supreme Court has agreed to take on a case that appears designed to chip away at marriage equality in Texas. Last year the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear a case in which a lower court affirmed that, under the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling of 2015, cities cannot deny same-gender couples the employee benefits given to opposite-sex couples.

The case, known as Pidgeon v. Turner, is a complicated one but important one. Watch a summary video of the case here.

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Progress in Texas

Jess Herbst became the first known openly transgender mayor in Texas when she came out to the residents of New Hope in early February. Herbst, a former alderman and mayor pro tem, was appointed mayor in May after the previous mayor died.

Herbst posted an open letter on the North Texas town’s website, telling her more than 600 Collin County constituents, “I am transgender.”

“As your mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories,” Herbst wrote. “Two years ago, with the support of my wife, daughters and son-in-law, I began Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the mayor’s position, but here I am.”

“I love my wife, and she loves me, we have no intention of change,” Herbst wrote in her open letter. “My daughters have been adamant supporters of me and are proud to tell people their father is transgender.”

She invited the residents of New Hope to visit her blog if they had comments or questions.

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Anti-Gay Preacher Ruins Christmas for Texas Children

A video has surfaced showing Pastor David Grisham of Alaska ruining Christmas for the children in Amarillo, Texas. Pastor Grisham was at a Westgate Shopping Mall when he told children “Santa’s not real. And parents you all need to stop lying to your children and telling them that Santa Claus is real when in fact he’s not.”

Parents reacted strongly. “I’ve got my kids over there, we don’t need you coming over here blabbing whatever it is you’re blabbing,” one father told Pastor Grisham. “But that and the calls of other parents who told Grisham to keep his preachy pie-hole shut fell on deaf ears.” The pastor continued his tirade against Santa Claus. “The man you’re going to see today is just a man in a suit dressed up like Santa but Santa doesn’t exist,” Pastor Grisham said.

Parents posted complaints on the Westgate mall’s Facebook page and demanded that Pastor Grisham be banned from the mall.

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P.S. Be Accepting of Your Family

P.S. Be Accepting of Your Family

Natalie Woods, from Denton, Texas, was dining at Snuffer’s Restaurant and Bar in Addison in early November when she heard a at the next table a post-election discussion full of homophobic language. Three people who appeared as family members discussed how “disgusted” they were after learning their “liberal” nephew had come out as gay. These self-proclaimed “Christians” said they would “pray” for Jesus to “cure” their nephew.

At that moment Woods decided to “actually act like the Jesus I grew up learning about.” Rather than confront the family members, she chose to “show love” and was inspired by Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” suggestion and made the decision to pay for their meal.

On the receipt Woods left this message: “Happy holidays from the very gay, very liberal table sitting next to you. Jesus made me this way. P.S. Be accepting of your family.”

Woods shared a snapshot of the receipt to her Facebook page, where it quickly received over 700 likes and an outpouring of support. Woods, told The Huffington Post that the incident reminded her that despite the strides that the LGBTQ community has made in recent years, “that fight is long [from] over.”

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Express Yourself?

If you knew the person next to you could be carrying a gun, would you be willing to express yourself? This is the question facing college students in Texas as they headed back to school.

On August 1, Senate Bill 11, known as the campus carry law, went into effect in Texas. This law allows students at state universities who have licenses to carry concealed handguns to bring those guns anywhere on campus, with the exception of “exclusion zones.”

What is an “exclusion zone”? The majority of dorms are “exclusion zones” but not some research centers, some classrooms, religious centers, day care centers, health centers, veteran center and the LGBTQ Resource Center. “Wow, I just assumed it was, out of common sense,” was University of Houston student Robyn Foley’s reaction when Foley learned that the center was not an “exclusion zone.”

University of Houston faculty member Elizabeth Gregory states that many faculty members are concerned about the law and how it will affect class discussions especially with controversial subjects. “The whole point of being at university is being able to speak your mind,” she said. “This dampens that because people never know what the person next to them might be thinking about what they are saying.”

How would this law affect your college experience? Would you be willing to express yourself, if you knew the person next to you was concealing a weapon? On the flip side, do you feel any safer knowing your fellow classmates are concealing, or more scared? Leave a comment and let HL know what you think.

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