Texas Democrats Leaving State To Block Voting Restrictions Bill

Road sign reading Texas

Road sign reading Texas

Democratic lawmakers in the state of Texas are reportedly leaving the state today in order to break the quorum required to pass new voting laws. The governor had called the special session into order primarily for the purpose of passing the legislation.

From the Texas Tribune:

Upping the ante in both the legislative fight at home and the national debate over voting rights, most House Democrats are expected to board a flight out of Austin headed for the U.S. capital without a set return date.

At least 51 of the 67 Democratic representatives — the number needed to break quorum — were in the process of leaving, most arriving at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Monday to board a chartered flight.

The House is set to reconvene Tuesday morning, but the absent Democrats would mean there will not be enough members present to conduct business under House rules.

Texas Democrats are hoping to find some (any) leverage to force their way to the negotiating table as them say they’ve been shut out of drafting of the voting bill.

News Round-Up: April 8, 2021

Hunky guy snaps a gym selfie
Hunky guy snaps a gym selfie
(image via kenneth-in-the-212)

Some news items you might have missed:

Kenneth-in-the-212: Kenneth’s weekly ‘Mask4Masc’ feature is a winner with all kinds of inspiration this week (plus more at the link).

TVLine: NBC’s streaming platform Peacock has ordered a reboot of the landmark queer TV series Queer As Folk.  Described as a “vibrant reimagining,” the new Queer as Folk will center on a diverse group of friends in New Orleans whose lives are transformed in the aftermath of a tragedy. The original QAF debuted on Britain’s Channel 4 in 1999 and ran for 10 episodes. The American version was created for Showtime and lasted five seasons (from 2000 to 2005).

Axios: A new Gallup poll shows more Americans identify as Democrats by the largest margin since 2012. Per the recent survey, 49% say they support Democrats, 40% support the Republican Party and 11% say they are Independents with no partisan leaning.

(graphic via Gallup)

Instinct Magazine: Grammy-nominated singer Kehlani shared this past weekend during an Instagram Live chat that she identifies as a lesbian. “You want to know? You want to know what’s new about me? I finally know I’m a lesbian,” said the singer.

Herald Leader: A southern state is actually making it easier to vote? Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) signed into law Wednesday a significant election reform bill that will make it easier for Kentuckians to vote early, bucking a national trend of more restrictive election laws in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

The Gaily Grind: The office of embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz released a statement purportedly written by female staffers defending the pro-Trump lawmaker amid his ongoing sex trafficking scandal. Despite being signed by “The Women of the Office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz,” not a single woman is named in the statement.

Instagram: Just a quick reminder that baseball is back – and I ain’t mad 🙂

Polls: 40 Point Gap Between Those Who Will Or Won’t Get Vaccinated

Top health officials say the U.S. will begin making booster shots for COVID vaccines available for folks 8 months after they become fully vaccinated

At this point, the most powerful weapons in science’s arsenal to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are the vaccines approved to combat the virus.

But will Americans take it when it becomes available to them?

From CNN:

In an average of Axios/Ipsos polls taken in January and February, 74% of Democrats said they’d either been vaccinated, or were extremely or very likely to get vaccinated as soon it’s available to them. Just 51% of Republicans said the same thing. Independents were in the middle of these two groups at 61%.

When Gallup asked respondents whether they would agree to get vaccinated if the vaccine were available to them right now, the partisan gap stood at 40 points (91% for Democrats and 51% for Republicans) in their most recent poll.

CNN goes on to report that those partisan differences could be dangerous for Republicans since friendships have become filtered by political leanings more than ever.

A 2020 Pew Research Center poll showed 59 percent of Trump supporters said a lot of their close friends voted for Trump, 30 percent said some of their close friends did, and only 10 percent of Trump backers said few or none did.

If Democrats get vaccinated but Republicans choose not to, it could lead to breakouts in those communities that lean conservative.

Read the full report here.

At this writing, there have been 27,428,733 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 475,786 COVID-19 related deaths.

There are currently 67,023 people hospitalized due to the virus.

In related news, Politico reports that doctors, nurses, and public health groups are trying to build confidence in Covid-19 vaccines on social media using coordinated campaigns to combat anti-vaccination disinformation.

Dems Announce Surprise Call For Impeachment Witnesses Then Backtrack

Well, here on the west coast, we woke up to the surprise news that the House Managers prosecuting the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump were going to call witnesses.

Five Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to hear witnesses at Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

And, suddenly, it appears they’re now folded and the two legal teams are moving to closing arguments with a possible vote by the entire Senate today.

From ABC News:

After an 11-hour scramble, the Senate has determined it will be calling no witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The written testimony of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., — one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump — was admitted into evidence, instead of moving further with the process for hearing from witnesses.

Neither the Trump legal team nor the House impeachment managers made any further motions. The parties mutually came to the agreement to admit Herrera Beutler’s statement and not request further witnesses.

Closing arguments are underway, for which each side is allotted two hours.

Dems Outpacing Repubs In Fundraising For Georgia Senate Runoff

A prosecutor in Georgia is reportedly in the early stages of investigating Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the election results in the state

A highway sign reading Georgia where Democrats are leading in fundraising ahead of the upcoming Senate runoff elections

The two Democratic candidates in the Georgia Senate runoff races for U.S. Senate are far outpacing their Republican opponents in fundraising.

From Fox News:

Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is taking on Republican Sen. David Perdue, took in more than $106 million from Oct. 15 through Dec. 16, according to his latest campaign finance report.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Kelly Loeffler, was close behind with a little over $103 million.

Perdue reported $68 million over the same two-month span, with Loeffler collecting just under $64 million. Three of the campaigns reported their financial data on Thursday. Loeffler submitted hers a day earlier.

The two races will determine which party will control the Senate in 2021.

If the Democrats win both seats, there will be 50 Dems and 50 Republicans in the chamber, but with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris – who serves as president of the Senate – control would swing to the Democrats.

Democrats Mail-In Votes Outpace Republicans In Battleground States

Michelle Obama encouraging voting by mail (photo: Jocelyn Augustino/Obama for America)

We all know Donald Trump has bad-mouthed and demonized voting by mail because Democrats tend to use the voting method more than Republicans.

Plus, with the ongoing pandemic, Dems have (in general) been more likely to embrace safety guidelines regarding the COVID-19 crisis than Repubs.

Which brings me to these tweets.

While we don’t know which presidential candidate received votes in the returned ballots, if the majority of ballots are for the party aligned with the voter, you can see why Trump has been so vocal about mail-in ballots.

As of today:

• Florida – Democrats 791,730; Republicans 450,447; No Party 287,704

• North Carolina – Democrats 238,789; Republicans 81,913; No Party 142,633

• Maine – Democrats 56,623; Republicans 16,623; No Party 18,502

• Iowa – Democrats 59,768; Republicans 23,247; No Party 12,917

• Pennsylvania – Democrats 198,448; Republicans 42,447; No party 19,448

As Amy Siskind says below, we need to build up these “cushions” because the Trumpers will show up as well.

News Round-Up: October 8, 2020

LGBTQ ally and anti-bullying advocate Ben Cohen

Some news items you might have missed:

Calendar Season: LGBTQ ally and anti-bullying advocate Ben Cohen (above) announces his 2021 calendar is available for shipping by October 30. #WeLoveBenCohen #Woof

The Advocate: Monica Roberts, the transgender activist and blogger who founded TransGriot 15 years ago, has died. She was honored with special recognition award for her blog at the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards and named one of The Advocate’s 2020 Women of the Year in May.

Pink News: CNN’s Anderson Cooper condemned Trump’s “recklessness” while carrying a deadly disease (coronavirus) while pointing out that HIV positive people can be jailed for the same offense.

Instinct Magazine: How do you show up for Black Lives? By actually showing up where they are and getting to know them.

Forbes: Democrats raised $15 million in just over 12 hours after the start of Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate—a sign that Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) performance against Vice President Mike Pence resonated with at least some viewers.

Fox News: Take a few seconds to take in the epic clap back from former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg when he dropped by Fox News prior to last night’s veep debate. The hosts tried to score a dig at Sen. Kamala Harris and Buttigieg didn’t hesitate to throw shade with a straight face. Watch below.

Biden Announces Kamala Harris For Veep Pick

L-R Joe Biden, Kamala Harris

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced today that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is his choice for running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

From the New York Times:

Joseph R. Biden Jr. selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his vice-presidential running mate on Tuesday, embracing a former rival who sharply criticized him in the Democratic primaries but emerged after ending her own campaign as a vocal supporter of Mr. Biden and a prominent advocate of racial-justice legislation after the death of George Floyd in late May.

Ms. Harris, 55, is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party, and only the fourth woman in history to be chosen for one of their presidential tickets. She brings to the race a far more vigorous campaign style than Mr. Biden’s, including a gift for capturing moments of raw political electricity on the debate stage and elsewhere, and a personal identity and family story that many find inspiring.

Susan Rice, former Ambassador to the UN, viewed by many to be a top contender announced her support for the pick.

GLAAD points up Sen. Harris’ record on LGBTQ issues which includes:

  • Establishing San Francisco County’s first LGBTQ hate crimes unit, LGBTQ victim advocacy unit, and LGBTQ sexual assault awareness program, as San Francisco District Attorney

  • Refusing to defend Prop 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage as the state’s Attorney General, later performing the marriage of the couple who sued to get Prop 8 overturned

  • Creating the first-in-the-nation law to ban gay or trans “panic” defenses used to justify violence against LGBTQ people, and later, as U.S. Senator, introducing a bill to ban its use in federal trials

  • Introducing legislation to prevent the use of religious beliefs to justify LGBTQ discrimination

  • Supporting the Equality Act, which bars discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity nationwide including in education, federal funding, housing, education and public accommodations and the jury system

  • Introducing legislation to ensure LGBTQ Americans are counted in the U.S. Census