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.

Texas Governor Vetoes Anti-Dog Cruelty Legislation

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (screen capture)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (screen capture)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (screen capture)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vetoed Senate Bill 474, known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, that would have made it illegal to leave dogs chained up outside without drinkable water, adequate shade or shelter.

The bill passed in the Senate 28-3 and the House 83-32.

From the Texas Tribune:

Abbott said Texas already has the statutes in place to protect dogs from animal cruelty, and the penalties proposed in Lucio’s bill seemed excessive.

“Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization,” he said in the veto statement.

Shelby Bobosky, executive director of Texas Humane Legislation Network, a nonprofit that lobbies in support of animal rights, said the organization’s members are devastated by the veto, and the bill would have “clarified the vague language that makes the statute completely unenforceable.”

The hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs began trending on Twitter soon after Abbott’s veto.

Podcast: Pride Month 2021, Bakery Hit By Homophobia, The Latest From Eli Lieb

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s headlines:

• For the first time in five years, the LGBTQ community not only received full-throated support from the man in the Oval Office, but President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris all issued video greetings to LGBTQ Americans for Pride Month

• Congress votes to make Pulse Nightclub a national memorial

• Gay men in the UK will have an easier time donating blood

• A bakery in Texas experienced hideous homophobia for saying ‘Happy Pride’ and then the internet stepped in

• Eli Lieb drops the perfect anthem for Pride Month ‘Boys Who Like Boys’

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

News Round-Up: June 10, 2021

Caden Wyatt with his dad, John, and his mom, Janell (image via John Wyatt)

Some news items you might have missed:

Buzzfeed: Just over a year since he first came out, Caden Wyatt, 15, (above) told the most people he ever has that he’s gay — and he did it with his dad by his side. For the first time in their lives, and likely one of the first times in their Oklahoma neighborhood, the Wyatts hung a flag outside their house to ring in Pride Month.

PEOPLE: Queer Eye star Karamo Brown says filming the current season of the “make better” show in Texas was the ‘first time’ he experienced ‘blatant’ hatred.

Instagram: Cheyenne Jackson is thankful he learned how to get ripped AF with his hotel room workouts. He looked pretty fit before, but I’m not complaining…

Buzzfeed II: Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) explained to Kelly Clarkson why it took him five years to start dating Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals) and it’s really sweet. “I didn’t see the light for a long time, and then I realized, you know, that he was the guy.”

Instinct Magazine: Caitlyn Jenner compared herself with Donald Trump in an uneasy appearance on The View on Thursday. When pressed by Joy Behar if she was one of those Republicans who believe Trump won the election, she hedged her answer.

“I’m not going to get into that, that election is over with,” but she proceeded to draw a parallel between herself and Trump. “He was a disrupter when he was president. I want to do the same thing.”

Christian Post: Pastor Lewis Clemons of Columbus, Georgia, could have settled a civil case against him for zero dollars if he agreed to acknowledge and record a public apology for allegedly sexually abusing and raping his former congregant, Lequita Jackson. He refused and went to trial. On Wednesday, a jury in the Superior Court of Muscogee County ruled in favor of Jackson and imposed a $500,000 verdict against him.

USA Today: Austin Swink was preparing to go on his first mission trip with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he decided to reveal the news that he was gay to his dad, Vaughn Swink. “I got this feeling that I just needed to get it off my chest before I left, because it was weighing on me for so long, not saying anything,” Swink said. He decided to video record his coming out to his dad, and posted the reaction online.

News Round-Up: June 8, 2021

(screen capture from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

Some news items you might have missed:

Gallup Polling: U.S. support for legal same-sex marriage continues to trend upward, now at 70% – a new high in Gallup’s trend since 1996. This latest figure marks an increase of 10 percentage points since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriages.

Gothamist: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that the vast majority of New York’s coronavirus restrictions and safety measures will be lifted once 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine—which he estimated could happen within the next two weeks.

Washington Blade: An East Texas bakery shared a photo of rainbow Pride cookies on Facebook and immediately got slammed with homophobic hate including customers cancelling huge orders. But by the next morning, the owners were deluged with orders offering to buy the cancelled cookies and a line of customers down the block buying out the entire bakery in a show of support.

NBC4i: An anti-vaccine physician told Ohio lawmakers Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccines can magnetize people. “I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized. They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks.”

NBC News: Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to destroying 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in January. Brandenburg admitted he removed doses of Moderna vaccine from refrigeration storage overnight knowing it would render them ineffective.

Buzzfeed: Check out this list of 33 great LGBTQ-themed shows to watch on Hulu for Pride Month like Love, Victor or that awesome coming out dance sequence on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (top image).

Dallas Man Pleads Guilty To Violent Hate Crimes Using Grindr To Target Gay Men

Photo of the gay dating app Grindr
Photo of the gay dating app Grindr
(image via Depositphotos)

Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, Texas, has pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges in connection with his involvement in a scheme targeting gay men for violent crimes using the gay dating app Grindr. Jenkins is the fourth and final defendant charged in the scheme to plead guilty.

From the Justice Department:

Jenkins pleaded guilty to one hate crime count, one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, and carjacking, and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure gay men to a vacant apartment and other areas in and around Dallas for robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, and hate crimes over the course of approximately a week in December 2017.

Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators held victims against their will; pointed a handgun at victims and took their personal property, including their vehicles; and traveled to local ATMs to withdraw cash from the victims’ accounts.

Jenkins further admitted that he and his co-conspirators physically injured at least one victim and taunted the victims based upon the co-conspirators’ perception of the men’s sexual orientation.

In March 2019, Michael Atkinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges in connection with this case. In December 2019, Daryl Henry and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and other charges in connection with this case. Sentencing for these three defendants is set for June 23.

At his sentencing, scheduled for October 6, Jenkins will face up to 26 years in prison.

Mother Shoots Her Son While Firing At 6-Month-Old Puppy

Six-month-old Bruno the Boxer
Six-month-old Bruno the Boxer
Six-month-old Bruno the Boxer (screen capture)

A mother accidentally shot her own 5-year-old son in the stomach while aiming at a 6-month-old puppy.

The mother, Angelia Mia Vargas, has been charged with deadly conduct with a firearm.

From ABC News affiliate KTRK in Houston:

According to neighbors, Vargas, her son, and another family member were riding bikes down the street when a dog ran out.

That dog, named Bruno, is a 6-month-old boxer puppy. Bruno’s owner did not want to appear on camera, but told us what happened.

“I came out of my house because Bruno was barking and barking. I thought my brother was coming,” said the owner, who thought Bruno’s barking was to indicate his brother was at the door. “So, I open the door just a little bit and he comes running out.”

In Ring doorbell video obtained by ABC13, you can see Bruno running out with the owner following immediately behind. The owner can be seen telling the dog to come back in the house. The dog roams out onto the street, and less than a second later, multiple shots rang out. Gunshots were then followed by extended screaming by the little boy’s parents.

Struck in the abdomen by one of three bullets fired, Vargas’s 5-year-old son was rushed to the hospital in stable condition with non-life-threatening wounds, police say.

Bruno’s owner told KTRK, “She could have handled it differently. You know, she was there, her husband was there, I was there, nothing would have happened. Nothing bad like that.”

If you watch the video, you can see only a few seconds elapsed from the time Bruno ran out the door to when you hear the bullets. Bruno’s owner was issued a Class C misdemeanor citation for having a loose dog.

It’s worth noting that the Texas legislature recently passed a new law allowing open carry of handguns without a permit or training.

News Round-Up: May 24, 2021

Screen capture from CBS News magazine 60 Minutes
Screen capture from CBS News magazine 60 Minutes
(screen capture via CBS News)

Some news items you might have missed:

The Advocate: The CBS News magazine 60 Minutes is being excoriated for a story on transgender health care because of its focus on people who regret transitioning. GLAAD called the report “shameful.”

Marvel Studios: Check out the newly-released teaser trailer for The Eternals, the much-anticipated project for the Marvel Cinematic Universe which will, among other things, feature Marvel’s first openly gay super-hero. Brian Tyree Henry will play “Phastos” who is not only gay, but married with children. In theaters November 5.

Texas Tribune: Texas lawmakers have approved a bill that will allow citizens to carry handguns without a license, background check, or training. A recent poll, however, shows a large majority (59%) don’t believe handguns should be allowed in public without a permit.

Instinct Magazine: Lady Gaga’s iconic album Born This Way is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. To commemorate and recognize its cultural impact, the City of West Hollywood officially declared May 23 as “Born This Way Day.”

Rasmussen Reports: The daily tracking poll from Rasmussen shows President Biden with 54% approval rating (43% disapproval rating). The firm is known for being a right-leaning outfit. Rasmussen regularly showed “the former guy’s” approval rating much higher than other polling firms.

Instagram: Actor Elliot Page shared this photo today (impressive abs!) with the caption, “Trans bb’s first swim trunks #transjoy #transisbeautiful”

Texas Bans Abortions As Early As Six Weeks

Texas has banned abortions in cases as early as six weeks
The Texas Tribune is reporting Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a measure into law that will ban abortions in Texas as early as six weeks.

The signing of the bill opens a new frontier in the battle over abortion restrictions as first-of-its-kind legal provisions — intended to make the law harder to block — are poised to be tested in the courts.

Abortion rights advocates have promised to challenge the new law, which they consider one of the most extreme nationwide and the strictest in Texas since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

It would amount to an outright ban on abortions, as the six-week cutoff is two weeks after a missed menstrual cycle.

Bolding is mine.

The new law has no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

The new law goes into effect in September.