Houston’s Transgender Problem, or Lack Thereof

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Today I read the following article and was dismayed at the lack of correct information and misconceptions it had about my beloved Houston:

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2015/1105/Houston-s-ugly-debate-over-gay-rights-can-be-avoided.-Here-s-how

This article gets a lot wrong about the “bathroom” issue in Houston. Since I live here and have followed this thing from the beginning, let me clue you in on what really is happening.

“Last year, during the debates leading up to the passage of the antidiscrimination bill, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay, issued subpoenas for the sermons of five pastors who opposed the legislation.”

No, that is not correct. There was no debate leading up to this bill, the fight was never about a complete antidiscrimination bill, it began as part of an “emergency” ordinance that stated transgenders could use whichever bathroom they identified with.  And the subpoena issued was a mistake and was withdrawn. Here’s the ordinance (the pertinent information is on page 11 of the pdf, officially shown as Article IV, Sec. 17-51 (b))

http://www.houstontx.gov/ordinancefeedback/equalrights_ordinance.pdf

Mayor Parker, several years ago, passed an ordinance unlawfully, declaring in part that anyone who “gender identifies” as a different sex may use the other bathroom in a public place – it was unlawful because she did not have the right to issue such an ordinance without a vote.  She tried to get around the vote issue, knowing it would fail, by declaring it an emergency. So city council was sent a petition signed by tens of thousands of citizens demanding a vote. A law suit ensued between Parker and prominent church leaders, during which Mayor Parker, by her own admission, failed to read a subpoena before it was sent out that requested “all” sermons by all the preachers on the petition. She had not intended it to read that way – she was concerned the petitions were signed in the churches themselves and accused churches of forcing their congregations to sign – the subpoena was withdrawn.

A judge later determined that Mayor Parker had indeed overstepped her boundaries and a vote would be required; so the Mayor added the entire anti-discrimination clause to an ordinance about transgenders in the bathroom and tested it to see if that would fly. She then later removed the transgenders in the bathroom part that was her original ordinance, but added that businesses could not discriminate against people, based on gender, in any public facility – which would of course include going in opposite sex bathrooms.

The reason this ordinance failed, and the reason why it should not be a bellwether for the nation’s rights, is that Houston is very different in its thinking from most of the country. We are an entire city of people who believe that our government should not make laws for the sake of making laws. This is one of the reasons companies flock to Texas and Houston, because we keep our government at arms length in our daily lives.

There is not a problem here with transgenders in the bathrooms, therefore why make a law? I researched it and could find not a single arrest of a man for being in the wrong bathroom because they were a transgender, and gender protections already exist within our laws. I for one can attest that I have never once had my gender checked at the bathroom door in the mall or city hall, however should that become a necessity, let me know so I can bring some candles and soft music, perhaps a glass of wine.

Most Houstonians are reasonable and loving people.  We do understand that a man dressed as a woman going into a men’s bathroom can be an invitation to a beating and none of us wish someone harm simply because of who they are.  But we have to look at this from a practical standpoint: if a man looks, walks, talks and acts like a woman, how would I know that wasn’t a woman? What an awkward moment that would be, pointing a finger at someone and accusing them of being a man, only to find out they were really just a manly woman (the Austin Power’s movie comes to mind here).

And while the more extremist religious groups have pounced on the “no men in women’s bathroom” slogan, the majority of us are more reasonable and frankly do not care about a transgender in the bathroom.  We also don’t care who you are, man or woman; if you get caught peeping at our little girls through the stall door, you are leaving that bathroom with a black eye or worse. And we are also responsible and cautious enough about our children to know that you never send a little girl or boy into the bathroom by themselves in a public location.

Honestly men, there isn’t that much to see in the women’s bathrooms.  Despite your fantasies, we women are not in there having slow-motion pillow fights in our underwear.  There’s a lot of flushing behind stall doors, hand-washing and lipstick checking and that’s about it. Sorry I ruined your whole fantasy thing there.

So we have to beg you nation, please do not use Houston’s thumbs-down to the vote as a bellwether for the equality movement.  We didn’t pass it, but it was because of that one little phrase added at the bottom of a basic equality clause by a mayor that is determined to leave a legacy.  But she overdid it, that’s all.

Nation, Yer Doing It Wrong

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Lately, the news is awash with Grand Jury’s not indicting police officers accused of shooting unarmed citizens, or causing their death.  You simply cannot look at any news show, you cannot view the Yahoo news tab or even view your Facebook timeline without seeing a new story or protesting over yet another event.

We see the anger, the frustration, the agony of the loved ones of the deceased and we are dismayed.  People protest and march down the streets and get arrested for not obeying the order to get out of the street or causing a disturbance.  It’s heartbreaking for us all, as a nation, because we know these protests most likely will die down, eventually go away and we will be back to square one in the near future with nothing accomplished.

So I’m going to be the one to say it to my fellow citizens:  yer doing it wrong.  Yes, protesting feels good at the moment, but it accomplishes nothing in the long run.

It seems that we have a general distrust, not really of a Grand Jury, but of the prosecutor in charge of presenting the evidence.  After all, there are the facts and then there is the way the facts are presented.

So I have another idea for us, nation.  Let’s change the law.  From the statistics that I have seen, police officers commonly are not charged when they shoot or kill a citizen, no matter if the citizen is armed or not.  Part of that reason should seem apparent to us all; the prosecutors work with the police to try cases on a daily basis, so they would be bias on the side of the police in a police shooting.  The prosecutor is told to prosecute one of the people they work with.  Not a good combination; his/her heart isn’t in it.

Are police racist?  Yes they are, but allow me to qualify that answer.  LEO’s (law enforcement officers) believe that if you are not wearing a badge, you are a different race.  There is them, and then there is us, the average citizen.

So back to my partial solution to this problem, to change the law; let us make sure that deaths by police are brought to a special prosecutor, perhaps one that works for Internal Affairs.

First, you need to understand who picks a Grand Jury.  It’s not the federal government, it is your state that is prosecuting.  So before you start calling your congressman in DC, close that Google window and stop searching for his/her DC number.  You need to find out who represents you in your own home state government. The law will need to be changed in each state.

Second, you need to contact both the state senator and the state representative elected for your area and request they submit a bill changing the process of who does the prosecuting in police killings. Put it on your calendar and in one month, write both of them another letter.

If everyone that protested these Grand Jury decisions were to send two letters every month to their senator and representative, your state would have no choice but to listen to you.

Third, call and/or write your local media stations and ask them to interview these state officials to demand when they are going to listen to the people and change the law and specifically what is the timeline for this to become a law.

Folks, we are a nation of citizens.  Each of us is important, from the person who has died to the police who, for the most part, do their best to keep us safe.  Let us make the law fair to us all; marching down the street and getting arrested for disorderly conduct will not solve the problem, nation.  Let’s work together to change things; agreed?

Why Andrew Cohen Should be Ashamed

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In his latest piece in the LA Times, Andrew Cohen titled it “Shame on Texas and the U.S. Supreme Court”.  The article was about the new voter ID law in Texas which requires voters to show ID when they present their voter registration card to vote in person.  Please allow me to quote Mr. Cohen and then show you where he obviously did not do his homework before attempting to blast the great State of Texas:

He wrote “By requiring registered voters to present a certain kind of photo identification card, and by making it difficult for those without such cards to obtain one, the law’s Republican architects would ensure that poor voters, or ill ones, or the elderly or blacks or Latinos — all likely Democratic voters — would be disenfranchised, all in the name of preventing a type of voter fraud that does not materially exist.”  Well Mr. Cohen, let’s get correct on this.  First, it’s not a “certain kind of photo identification card”, there are actually 7 different forms of identification which are allowed and here they are:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport

But I understand that Mr. Cohen is focused on the second ID in the list, the Election Identification Certificate.  He, and many critics of the new law, say this amounts to a poll tax, as the person is required to pay.  But wait, Mr. Cohen, are you aware the EIC is free?  It seems you have conveniently forgotten that.

So let’s move on to the next part of your scathing dissent of Texas from your superior position of California.  “making it difficult for those without such cards to obtain one” – hmm, let’s take a good look at just how difficult it is to obtain. The DPS offices around Texas are generally open during any business day AND, during the election “season”, they are going to be open on Saturdays as well.  Now you might say in all your knowledge that some people simply can’t make it during those hours.  But once again you conveniently forget they are seemingly able to make it to the ballot box just fine, AND that they have had an entire year to plan a quick trip to the DPS office.

But wait, there’s more!  There will be mobile stations set up all over the State at courthouses, civic centers, multi-purpose rooms in community centers, schools, churches, sheriffs offices, etc.  So how exactly do you figure, Mr. Cohen, it is difficult to obtain one?  Short of knocking on every door and handing a form to every couch potato in the State, I don’t think Texas could have done this any better.

Let me also make one thing clear that you have lied about Mr. Cohen; you say this new ID law would “ensure that poor voters, or ill ones, or the elderly or blacks or Latinos — all likely Democratic voters — would be disenfranchised”. As a “legal analyst” you should know better Mr. Cohen, the ill, the elderly and the disabled are able to vote by mail and that does not require the ID.  Shame on you Mr. Cohen, you said that simply to garner outrage from the people over our precious elderly and disabled citizens.

And then of course there is your little racist line tossed in to make it look like a Republican ploy “blacks or Latinos — all likely Democratic voters — would be disenfranchised”.  So you are saying that if a person is black or Latino they are going to be a Democrat? Have you even been to Texas?  Shame again on you Mr. Cohen, shame on you.

So, let’s recap.  There is no poll tax, as the ID is free.  There is no disenfranchisement, as the ID centers are available and open even on Saturdays, there’s mobile stations set up all over the State. Seems to me that you’ve run out of arguments for why providing ID and proving you are indeed the person on your voter registration card is a bad idea.

Andrew Cohen’s original article found here: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-1023-cohen-texas-voting-rights-20141023-story.html

Link to Texas’ voter registration ID information: http://votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/need-id/

Texas DPS Election Identification Information: http://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/electionID.htm 

Strange thought of the day

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Am I the only citizen that still gets anxious and upset when I see movie scenes where New York is blown up / zombified / stomped by Godzilla, etc?

See, I was watching the movie Battledogs (I’m admitting my fondness for SyFy movies here) and at the end it showed an obviously digitized scene of New York having an atom bomb dropped on it. When I saw that, my stomach dropped a bit, my heart rate went up some and I picked up the remote and turned the channel.

Now while I know everyone has the freedom of speech, and I know it’s been over a decade since 9/11, I sure wish movie writers would use another city. I believe the quip “too soon?” would apply.

What do you think?

I Must Not Be An Evangelical, Because I Read The Bible Like Jesus Did

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Based on the following article found in Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pete-enns/3-ways-jesus-read-the-bib_b_5902534.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

I’ve decided that I am probably not an Evangelical, if they are taught anything like what this author has been taught about Jesus.  The more I read his article, the more concerned I became that people actually teach their flock this way.

For instance, I completely disagree with what the author discusses in his item 1. What Jesus was saying in Luke 20 is that when God tells Moses at the burning bush that He is the God of Abraham (etc), God was using the present tense when He says “I AM the God of Abraham…”, not saying “I WAS the God of….” (all the emphasis is mine). No, there is no deeper meaning to Exodus 3:6 and neither did Jesus try to make it so; He merely pointed out the obvious in the text, that God is STILL the God of Abraham.

In the second item, the author tries to make the point that Jesus was imitating Moses going up on the mountain and speaking to those gathered. In Matthew 5 it clearly states that Jesus was speaking to His disciples, not the crowd. “And having seen the multitudes, he went up to the mount, and he having sat down, his disciples came to him, and having opened his mouth, he was teaching them….” (taken from Young’s Literal Translation, my preferred version when I want to know exactly what was said).

The author additionally tries to make the point that Jesus was formally declaring He was here now and things were going to change. Yet within the scripture itself Jesus says “for, verily I say to you, till that the heaven and the earth may pass away, one iota or one tittle may not pass away from the law, till that all may come to pass.” (Matthew 5:18) The author seems to miss the point that Jesus is saying that not only should you follow the letter of the law, but you should go over and above the law and do it with Love. At no point does Jesus indicate that, as the author puts it, “some parts of the Bible are over and and it’s time to head in a new direction”.

In this item 2, the author says that Jesus dropped the whole “taking an oath” thing the Israelites did, making oaths to one another. But the author misunderstands what Jesus meant. Jesus never said the true people of God shouldn’t make oaths, Jesus said don’t make an oath in God’s name, because you can’t change even one thing in this world and cannot speak for God. Jesus said simply say yes or no and let it stand. That’s vastly different from making a binding verbal contract with your neighbor. It’s the difference, in modern terms, of shaking hands with your neighbor and agreeing to pay for half the fence between you two, and declaring “I swear in God’s name I wasn’t speeding Officer”. I believe the author simply does not understand the difference between the two.

As item 3 is the author’s summary of the other two, with the obvious addition of the “Jesus wasn’t a Christian, He was a Jew”, I won’t comment, only to disagree according with what I’ve written above. I would suggest the author spend some time studying the Samaritans, the Essenes and Jesus’ probable interaction with both.

In my own summary, I have to say the author truly misses the absolute most important thing that Jesus tried to teach us about religion; we should go above the law and do things for Love. And He didn’t need to change a single word or add any other meaning to the scripture to make that point.

I’m Keeping This Folder

So here I am, once again sifting through mountains of paper that accumulate in my office. We are moving and it has to be done; did I mention I abhor packing up?  I’ve done it so much in my life I think I deserve a pass this time!

This is not a good move for us; there are so many conflicts and problems that I won’t depress you with the details.  Needless to say I am thinking about all those problems while going through this boring chore.

But then I see a folder; purple with bright colors.  I recognize it and immediately open it.  Inside are various papers that, at the time, were vital to the existence of my life.  You know, the kind of thing you absolutely need when you’ve just moved and the kids are at a new school.  Names and emails of new teachers, passwords to the kids programs they need for school, the address and code to the storage lot.  Notes to myself to call insurance and phone company to get the address changed.

It suddenly occurs to me that three years ago these things were so very important to me I had to put the information in the brightest folder I could get so I’d be able to spot it easily on my desk. But now, they mean less than nothing, only the pretty folder survived the trash bin.

So now this boring chore that I have to do every few years is still boring. But at least I have a fresh perspective this time on what is truly important – bright purple folders.  Seriously though, I can remember now the reason for our move, the reason for the problems and the one most important thing … we are still together as a family, and where there is us, there is laughter and love.  And the occasional sister fight, which is normal.

Her first heartbreak

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My daughter Sarah is only ten years old but yesterday she had her first heartbreak.  She got the idea that she wanted to “date” a boy in her class, Cameron.  He was apparently amenable to that as well so they announced (by holding hands) to the class they were together as a couple.

Now my little Sarah is a lovely girl, long brown hair that goes past her waist, beautiful blue eyes and a personality that gave her the moniker “sweet Sarah” – it fits her well.  She is one of those girls who makes friends with everyone, even the people that no one else likes, even the people that everyone likes.  The girl simply doesn’t have it in her to be mean.

So for a week these two little lovebirds have been the object of intense scrutiny by the entire fourth grade class and the object of many comments and snickers.  I do believe that she kind of liked the attention, along with being the very first girl in her class to have a “boyfriend”. However, as these things go, it turns out that Cameron is, well, a player. He informed her, via phone call, that he was going to be with Sabrina instead, and would Sarah happen to have Sabrina’s phone number?

Poor sweet Sarah. She tried all day yesterday to keep a stiff upper lip, but just after supper she finally broke down and cried. I tried to comfort her by saying all the things a parent does, how he’s not worthy of her, that she’s too young for having a boyfriend anyway, that she shouldn’t worry because lots of boys will want to be her boyfriend in the upcoming teen years (and may God have mercy on my husband when that happens, he’s going to have a heart attack). None of this worked of course, she was too despondent.

So I changed tactics and instead volunteered my husband to go over to Cameron’s and shake some sense into him.  I got a small grin for that. Then I offered another plan; her family (dad, sister, granny and me) would all dress up in Ninja garb and run in step over to Cameron’s house, all the while chanting “hut hut hut” like we were on the Swat team.  We’d then climb his roof and lower ourselves to his window (she informed me that he lived in a one story but I shrugged and said it’s more fun my way) where we’d sneak in like ninja’s and put fish under his bed, break eggs into his backpack and cause all sorts of havoc.  This, at long last, got a laugh from her and I knew she was on the way to recovery.

But the most soothing care she got, which surprised me, was from her 12 year old sister, Elisabeth.  Now, normally Elisabeth spends her time complaining about Sarah, avoiding her and fussing because we expect more from her than we do from Sarah. But last night, a little while after our ninja sneak attack conversation, I walked in to find Elisabeth sitting on the couch with Sarah at her feet and Elisabeth was gently braiding her hair and talking softly to her.  The two were sharing a sister moment so I left them alone.  Awhile later, sweet Sarah went off to sleep and I could tell she was at last, at peace.

Thank goodness for goofy families who are willing to do anything they have to in order to get a laugh from a heartbroken kid, and a sister that knows exactly what it takes to love the pain away.

Oh to be young and extreme again!

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http://chicksontheright.com/posts/item/25637-here-s-what-inclusive-looks-like-to-liberal-feminists-hint-it-s-exclusive

I remember being in the 18-22 age range and oh was I an extremist! I wanted everyone and everything to be fair, but only as long as they believed everything I did.  There was a saying on Facebook the other day that said “I’m so glad I was young and stupid before there were camera phones” and that is so true; I said and did a lot of things that I now see were idiotic. 

Now don’t get me wrong, standing up for what you believe in is a good and right thing to do.  As I am neither liberal nor conservative (I tend to be one of those anti-government people who believe our federal government should do nothing but protect our borders, run our military, collect taxes and settle disputes between the States) I honestly do not care what the subject of their little meeting was about, nor do I care who the reporter was.  What makes me laugh is watching these fresh-faced young men and women say with all sincerity that everyone is welcome no matter what (extremism) and then reject the woman based on her beliefs (bias). 

And yet the entire meeting seems to be based on discussing the collective opinions of everyone there.  But of course, only people who are on their side should attend, but as long as you think as they do, then you are welcome.  Oh, the joys of being young and dumb!

Just so you know, if the meeting had been a conservative gathering, it probably would have gone the same way.  A liberal would have been just as vehemently rejected as this poor girl was.

 

 

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If I Could Turn Back Time, from the Daily Prompt

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Daily Prompt: If I Could Turn Back Time

If I could, I’d love to go back to when my children were babies and toddlers again.  Oh that was such a wonderful time, full of chubby, spit-covered cheeks and little feet pounding across the floor, screeches of hysterical laughter because the dog was scratching himself.  So many memories of little bodies hurled at me for an all-encompassing hug, complete with a messy face rubbing itself on my shoulder and those heraldic smiles of trust and love. In those days, Mommy could do no wrong and Daddy was Superman.  My husband could keep my two girls in spasms of laughter by simply putting a paper towel on his face and blowing it into the air.

There were more smiles than tears, and going to bed involved a process with steps that could not be missed or there would be protests and cries of foul play.  First we had to read to them.  Yes, I read to my children from the time they were just a few months old, and both are now avid readers, well advanced in their class.  So we read to them, sometimes two or three stories a night.  Then, each had to have their “lovey” presented to them and tucked under their chin.  After Daddy had his kisses from each, which might take 10 minutes if I didn’t stop it, there was the song.  Every night, the same song, sung twice because each girl had to have her own.  I sang “Baby Mine” – the song from the movie Dumbo – every night, twice a night, for years.

Sure there were tears.  Lots of crying, but I learned to take each set of tears as an opportunity to teach my girl how to manage her feelings. It brought me to understand just how they looked to me as an example on how to react to any situation.  And I have to admit, it brought me great satisfaction to be the one they turned to when the tears came.  Only Mommy would do, and okay Daddy if Mommy was at the store.

My girls are now 10 and 12, and while I love them even more than I did when they were toddlers, I miss those ooey-gooey days of diapers and baby powder farts, teething rings and sippy cups, naps and happy toothless grins each time they saw me.  Now?  I have to force them to say hello to me, to talk to me, to let me inside their little minds.

I can’t wait to be a grandmother and get all that good stuff again … and then hand them back for the smelly parts!

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Is This Really About Religion, Constitutional Rights or Contraception?

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/19/us-usa-court-contraception-idUSBREA2I0NE20140319

Is This Really About Religion, Constitutional Rights or Contraception?

I sincerely dislike government interference on this issue (or most any issue really) and think it should have been left in the hands of the state. This is not a constitutional issue, the company is not a person. The only reason this is brought before the Supreme Court is because Obamacare mandates that all employers provide insurance coverage for contraception. Since Obamacare has provided exemption slips to almost every other contention in his plan, why not this one?

This is not about every major corporation. These two companies, Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite company, are closely held organizations, meaning basically the family owns the business. That distinction alone makes it different and extinguishes the claim of those that every company in America will use this ruling (if it sides with the business owners that is) as a way to discriminate against its employees.

I always try to put myself in the place of the business owner and wonder how I would feel if I were forced to serve someone, or forced to make decisions for my employees, that disagreed with my own beliefs, be they religious or moral. For those who have ever owned their own business, they know that is their baby, they have put in grueling hours and, at times, literally built it from the ground up; and now the government is telling them how to operate it. On this I side with the business; it’s my company, they are my employees and I’d want to do right by them. If I disagreed with buying them contraceptives (which I don’t btw) then let them buy those things elsewhere.

I always try to also put myself in the place of the customer and employee and wonder how I would feel if my employer didn’t provide for what I needed and it was way too expensive for me to buy on my own. Well, as an employee, I’d find another job as soon as possible. As a customer, if a business didn’t want my business, why would I want to frequent a place like that? I’d go elsewhere.

The insurance thing. Insurance companies sell businesses package deals, they don’t get to pick and choose what is covered outside of those packages unless they are gigantic organizations. Talk about driving up insurance costs! If every single item had to be verified before insurance would agree to cover it, the entire medical system would fall down from the load of work necessary to verify coverage – and you and I both know medical facilities make sure it’s covered before they give treatment.

So this really isn’t what my least three favorite groups (the media, the extreme left, the extreme right) are screaming it’s about; this isn’t about contraceptives, it’s not about religion, it’s not about constitutional rights.  For us, the regular folk, it’s about the government telling us how to relate to one another.  Do we really need or want that?  Is it necessary for us to have a super-nanny telling us how to play nicely together?