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We’re not having any of THAT in Texas!

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Having determined that it was not sufficient to have a state Defense of Marriage law prohibiting all forms of gay marriage, this week the Texas State Senate passed an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage all over again, presumably under the theory that gay marriage is so evil that it has to be doubly illegal. Under Texas law this amendment now goes out for a vote by the public and if they approve it then it joins the 430-some other amendments already on the books and generally being ignored.

Several things have to be pointed out about this bill. First, the Texas constitution requires a 2/3 vote to pass a constitutional amendment, and although Republicans have a majority, they don’t have 2/3 of the votes. Ultimately a quarter of the Democrats in the Senate also supported the amendment, and without those key votes it would not have passed. Second, the most outspoken critics of the amendment from the Democrat side are two of the most extreme, somewhat nutty partisans to ever serve in public office here in Texas. They may not be as crazy as Al Edwards who sponsored the Suggestive Cheerleading bill, but compromise and rational debate are not part of their political arsenal. John Whitmire (D-Houston) had a virtual emotional breakdown while shouting at Republicans about how evil the amendment was, and showed his sharp grasp on Texas law by commenting that the constitution had 300 amendments rather than the actual total of 432. The other main opponent of the amendment was Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) who’s the most intractable left-winger in the Senate and particularly unpopular with Republicans. It also didn’t help that several Democrats tried to tack on joke additions to the bill to try to kill it, like a provision requiring married couples to have regular sex, and another making it illegal to get married and divorced more than three times. Finally, outside of the Senate the critics were incredibly shrill and irritating, and one of the most vocal was Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, a cynically misnamed group which can generally be used as a litmus test to identify those pieces of legislation which are most oppressive. If the TFN supports it, it has to be a bad idea.

So with friends like these it’s not surprising that the amendment passed the Senate. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the legislators voted for it just because of how irritating the people who opposed it are. That having been said, banning gay marriage remains ridiculous and fundamentally wrong. But the upside of having it presented as a constitutional amendment is that now the public can vote on it once and for all and make their feelings clear. The interesting question that raises is what happens if it gets voted down? Does that mean that the legislature will repeal the original Defense of Marriage act too? Wouldn’t that be the only right thing to do once the public has made their feelings clear?

Of course, what happens to the amendment depends almost entirely on what else is on the ballot when it comes up for a vote. If it gets stuck on the ballot with a bunch of local candidates and referendums where turnout would normally be low, then it all comes down to who can turn out the most fanatical voters for or against it. It would basically be a battle between gay activist groups and churches and in that contest the churches probably win. If it is put on a general election with major offices that will bring out a broad cross-section of voters then the vote will be much more representative of the actual views of the public at large, which would likely mean the defeat of the amendment.

For more coverage of this see the Houston Chronicle Coverage which isn’t as good as the coverage in the Austin American Statesman, but it’s free.

Dave

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Hmm, Texas has interesting politics, here in Washington State our only big debate is which candidate for Governor received more illegal felon votes than the other.

    I was going to start a petition that all the suggestive cheerleader who would have been banned from Texas could receive amnesty in Washington State, but I guess that’s not neccessary now.

  • The fact that Texas has interesting politics may not actually be such a good thing.

    The time wasted with stuff like the cheerleader bill and the gay marriage amendment ought to have been spent on important things like actually figuring out how to do the budget, whcih they seem to have neglected and will likely have to deal with in a special session.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    the worst “curse” i am Aware of comes form an old chinese saying ..

    “may you live in Interesting times”

    sounds like the folks in Texas pissed off some chinese wizard somewhere…

    objects in mirror may be closer than they appear…

    Excelsior!

  • -E

    Makes me oh so happy to live where this stuff goes down. What an incredible waste of time. But I guess I can’t really do all that much about what the Senate wastes their time discussing.

  • Well, you could always send them a letter expressing your displeasure. The thing is that your representative is Gonzalo Barrientos, and he’s basically useless, and he did vote against the bill, so there’s not much point in writing him. The alternative might be to help get out the rational people to vote when the amendment hits the ballot.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    Mr Nalle sez..
    *The thing is that your representative is Gonzalo Barrientos*

    no, gentle Readers…i have not gotten into the mexican food busines only to see my Creation get voted into office..

    slander and lies i tell you!

    Excelsior!

  • Steve

    some points to correct in the first post:
    1) 3 of 12 dems voted for the amendment in the senate. one was absent (and very likely would have voted against). all republicans voted for it (except for one who was absent).
    2) ellis didn’t sponsor the suggestive cheerleading bill. al edwards did (in the house). and most house republicans voted for it.
    3) whitmire actually made a very cogent and coherent point: gay people he knows just want to be left alone. sounded pretty reasonable to me.
    4) rather than sounding “shrill and irritating,” miller of tfn was quoted as simply saying the amendment and the debate surrounding it was a “waste of time” when, with only a week left to do its work, the legislature has yet to pass any of its biggest bills — including those to address what the govenor designated as “crises” way back in january.

  • >>1) 3 of 12 dems voted for the amendment in the senate. one was absent (and very likely would have voted against). all republicans voted for it (except for one who was absent).< < Sorry, I did my math by subtracting the number who voted against it from the total. Didn't realize someone was absent. >>2) ellis didn’t sponsor the suggestive cheerleading bill. al edwards did (in the house). and most house republicans voted for it.< < Sorry, my mistake. Since Ellis sponsors all other nonsensical legislation I just assumed he was involved. >>3) whitmire actually made a very cogent and coherent point: gay people he knows just want to be left alone. sounded pretty reasonable to me.< < You clearly did not see the video of Whitmire losing it and screaming at the Republicans on the floor. >>4) rather than sounding “shrill and irritating,” miller of tfn was quoted as simply saying the amendment and the debate surrounding it was a “waste of time” when, with only a week left to do its work, the legislature has yet to pass any of its biggest bills — including those to address what the govenor designated as “crises” way back in january.<< Miller is ALWAYS shrill and irritating. You clearly need to get more of your news from TV. It conveys the personality of these folks much better than print does. Dave

  • I’ve fallen out of the loop, I didn’t realize this had come up for a vote…

    …again.

    Specialy session for gays and lesbians not to be able to adopt animals from Town Lake.

  • You’re kidding, right? I mean, I wouldn’t put it beyond the legislature to ban gay and lesbian pet adoptions.

    Dave

  • BillB

    Dave – Maybe you can help me out on this one.

    I’m not well versed in this but how is it that laws banning gay marriage get around the 14th amendment and equal protection?

    On its face it would seem a clear cut violation. A woman or man can legally marry a member of the opposite sex but not a member of the same sex.

    Doesn’t that arbitrarily (and generally rationalized from a religious perspective to boot) treat homosexuals as a sort of second class citizen unable to enjoy the benefits bestowed on heterosexuals though marriage?

    I suppose I may just be uninformed on this one but I just don’t get it.

    I do get it from a political perspective but I’m thinking there’s got to be a legal basis for this denial also.

    I’m not up to snuff on the whole Mass. decision either but is it possible the judges are just interpreting their state constition as endorsing gay marriage from an equivalent of the equal protection concept and therefore instead of being accused of being activists they’re simply interpreting the state constitution the way they see fit which is their job?

    Your thoughts are appreciated.

  • You know, that’s a good question, BillB. Here’s the text of the relevant section of the 14th Amendment:

    “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    I think the catch here is that laws banning gay marriage do no abridge existing priveleges nor do they take away due process of law or equal protection of law, as marriage is a state-authorized contractual relationship, not a legal protection.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    so, Mr Nalle, you are saying that they have no Right to enter into this state sanctioned contractual relationship?

    interesting ..

    BillB nails it in that it is EXACTLY what the Mass Court decided…that their Constitution had no prohibition distinguishing the diminishment of ANYONE’S “right” to marry, ie:enter nito this contractual arraingement

    hope that helps..

    Excelsior!

  • Gonzo, I’m not saying it. BillB asked how the Texas Legislature argues its way around the 14th Amendment and I pointed out what seems like the most probably route to take.

    >>so, Mr Nalle, you are saying that they have no Right to enter into this state sanctioned contractual relationship?<< And although I'm not saying it, the answer is probably yes. If the terms of the contract are set by the state, the state can say who is allowed to get married. This is why I've always argued that marriage should NEVER have become a state sanctioned institution and should only be the responsibility of the individuals involved. I don't think marriage is a fundamental right, but I do think free association is a fundamental right. IMO the 1st, 4th and 9th Amendments protect gay marriage as much as or more than the 14th does. Dave

  • gonzo marx

    i know that’s how you feel, Mr Nalle…

    and i had every Confidence you would rise to the challenge and ste it in so eloquent a manner…

    glad ta know one can always count on some things in this kooky world of ours..

    heh

    Excelsior!

  • Steve

    >>1) 3 of 12 dems voted for the amendment in the senate. one was absent (and very likely would have voted against). all republicans voted for it (except for one who was absent).< < >>>Sorry, I did my math by subtracting the number who voted against it from the total. Didn’t realize someone was absent.< << even counting the one democrat who was absent, less than a third of those dems who were present and voting actually supported the amendment. not "one third." >>2) ellis didn’t sponsor the suggestive cheerleading bill. al edwards did (in the house). and most house republicans voted for it.< < >>>Sorry, my mistake. Since Ellis sponsors all other nonsensical legislation I just assumed he was involved.< << my, how easy it is to make gross generalizations when facts aren't at hand. and, i guess, nevermind how nonsensical it was for most republicans to vote for the cheerleading bill. >>3) whitmire actually made a very cogent and coherent point: gay people he knows just want to be left alone. sounded pretty reasonable to me.< < >>>You clearly did not see the video of Whitmire losing it and screaming at the Republicans on the floor.< << actually, i watched the entire debate and didn't see whitmire doing much different from what i've seen many other democrats and republicans do at the capitol. tonight, for example, there was plenty of waving and yelling on the house floor -- from folks in both parties. >>4) rather than sounding “shrill and irritating,” miller of tfn was quoted as simply saying the amendment and the debate surrounding it was a “waste of time” when, with only a week left to do its work, the legislature has yet to pass any of its biggest bills — including those to address what the govenor designated as “crises” way back in january.< < >>>Miller is ALWAYS shrill and irritating. You clearly need to get more of your news from TV. It conveys the personality of these folks much better than print does.<<< hmmm... miller just took over at TFN in january and, from what i've seen, hasn't been on TV much. but she has been quoted in newspapers quite a bit. but as i said, i guess it's easy to make gross generalizations when facts aren't at hand. if you really wanted to see great examples of shrillness, you should have watched the republicans testifying in favor of the marriage amendment during the hearings. or talton talking about his proposed ban on gay foster parents.

  • >>even counting the one democrat who was absent, less than a third of those dems who were present and voting actually supported the amendment. not “one third.”< < Here's a question. Would this idiotic Amendment have passed if 3 Democrats hadn't voted for it? Just checking, because you seem so eager to excuse them on a mathematical basis. >>my, how easy it is to make gross generalizations when facts aren’t at hand. and, i guess, nevermind how nonsensical it was for most republicans to vote for the cheerleading bill.< < Was the article about the cheerleading bill? Did I say Republicans were sensible to vote for it? I realize you want to defend Texas Democrats at any cost, but they are as much at fault for the shameful behavior of the legislature as Republicans are. Face up to it. >>actually, i watched the entire debate and didn’t see whitmire doing much different from what i’ve seen many other democrats and republicans do at the capitol. tonight, for example, there was plenty of waving and yelling on the house floor — from folks in both parties.< < All I saw was the clip of Whitmire screaming at the Republicans which was on the local news. They didn't broadcast any similar outbursts from Republicans. >>hmmm… miller just took over at TFN in january and, from what i’ve seen, hasn’t been on TV much. but she has been quoted in newspapers quite a bit. but as i said, i guess it’s easy to make gross generalizations when facts aren’t at hand. if you really wanted to see great examples of shrillness, you should have watched the republicans testifying in favor of the marriage amendment during the hearings. or talton talking about his proposed ban on gay foster parents.<< True, only Republicans can be shrill, only Republicans can be irritating. Your partisanship shows through just a little too much here. I did see Talton talking about gay foster parents for what it's worth. He may have had the gleam of insanity in his eye, but he wasn't shrill. Dave

  • Steve

    >>True, only Republicans can be shrill, only Republicans can be irritating. Your partisanship shows through just a little too much here. I did see Talton talking about gay foster parents for what it’s worth. He may have had the gleam of insanity in his eye, but he wasn’t shrill.<< My partisanship? LOL. I wasn't the one saying someone is "ALWAYS shrill and irritating," that anything a particular group supports is always "a bad idea," and that Ellis and Whitmire are "two of the most extreme, somewhat nutty partisans" to ever serve in Texas public office. (Please, that contest is easily won by folks like Talton and Howard -- two certifiable nutbars.) I'm simply pointing out the numerous factual errors and absurdities of your statements. But since you brought up partisanship, the unfortunate reality is this: The Republican Party of Texas is now controlled from top to bottom by religious fanatics. Just look at the party platform, for Pete's sake. Most mainstream conservative Republicans I know (like my family) are appalled -- probably about as much as Texas Democrats were upset to see their party drifting too far, in their opinion, to the left beginning about 30 years ago. But now the religious fanatics in the GOP are determined to pass a ridiculous marriage amendment and are trying to force through a ban on gay foster parents. A handful of misguided or cowardly Democrats going along with them doesn't change this indictment of GOP. In fact, if the Democrats had been in charge, it's very unlikely that the marriage amendment would have passed the Senate (or even come to a vote on the floor). As it was, the Democrats fell only 3 votes shy of stopping it. And not one Republican voted against it. Not one. So much for the folks who claim they want to get government off people's backs.(Oh, and saying that Talton "had the gleam of insanity in his eye" but isn't "shrill" is a distinction with little relevant difference here. The man is a dangerous fanatic.)

  • Ok, I agree with you on most of that. But Ellis has a longer track record than most to look at and deride. I don’t like the GOP religious fanatics, but they don’t entirely dominate the party. There are still strong voices for reason, just as there are in the national Senate – as demonstrated this week.

    I haven’t been following Talton’s bill, but I find it hard to imagine that it would pass.

    As for Kathy Miller and TFN, take a look at their agenda and tell me they aren’t one of the most dangerous organizations in Texas politics today.

    Dave

  • Steve

    >>As for Kathy Miller and TFN, take a look at their agenda and tell me they aren’t one of the most dangerous organizations in Texas politics today.<< Huh? What in the world makes TFN "one of the most dangerous organizations in Texas politics today"? Do you really know anything about the group?

  • Just the positions they’ve taken on issues and their public statements.

    I actually agree with them on a few issues like same sex marriage and gay foster parenting, but their positions on education issues are just truly awful – they were major players in lobbying to keep vouchers out of the hands of inner-city kids doomed to non-performing schools – and on every other education issue they come down on the side of the education establishment and against students and parents who want to open up and improve education.

    Education is such a big issue for me that their abhorent positions in that area make them totally unacceptable to me overall.

    Dave

  • Steve

    >>Just the positions they’ve taken on issues and their public statements.

    I actually agree with them on a few issues like same sex marriage and gay foster parenting, but their positions on education issues are just truly awful – they were major players in lobbying to keep vouchers out of the hands of inner-city kids doomed to non-performing schools – and on every other education issue they come down on the side of the education establishment and against students and parents who want to open up and improve education.

    Education is such a big issue for me that their abhorent positions in that area make them totally unacceptable to me overall.,,

    i hardly see from what you wrote why tfn is “one of the most dangerous organizations in texas politics today.” from what i see on tfn’s web site, the group opposes religious fanatics, textbook censorship (like trying to kill discussions of evolution), throwing tax dollars to religious groups without any rules about what those groups do with the money, and efforts to undermine church/state separation. seems mighty reasonable to me. one might disagree, but those positions hardly sound “dangerous.” as for education, i haven’t see much success with voucher programs in other states. in some states many of the kids who get vouchers actually were going to private schools anyway, so that did nothing for the kids in public schools. from what i can tell, tfn also supports a lot of reforms that ross perot’s commission in the 1980s pushed through–reading intervention, accountability standards, testing. even the governor says test scores are up — something that’s been happening since, well, the 1980s reforms. so vouchers seem like a pretty radical idea to me. you might disagree, but opposing vouchers is hardly “dangerous.” in fact, i can think of far more dangerous groups in texas, right and left. tfn seems pretty middle of the road — unless you happen to be on the far right or the far left.

  • TFN opposes just about every type of education reform proposed in Texas. They oppose most teacher accountability measures, they oppose any kind of administrative reorganization, they oppose charter schools, they oppose privatized school management, and of course they were against the recently defeated test plan for vouchers – a voucher system specifically tailored to help inner city youth and designed to completely exclude anyone who could afford to attend private school without it. Opposing that bill says that they don’t care about improving educational opportunities, they just care about preserving the disastrously failing system as it exists.

    I also find some of their other initiatives really troubling. Even though I agree with everything on its agenda, I find their Texas Faith Network initiative incredibly cynical and duplicitous. Why assume the trappings of religion to promote secularism. It’s sleazy and I’m sure it’s not fooling anyone.

    Let’s see, what else. They support increasing funding for CPS, an organization which needs to be torn down and completely redesigned from scratch before it gets another cent. They supported the ridiculous and unnecessary hate crimes law which passed in 2001.

    Like a lot of organizations their links page tells a good bit of the story. All the links are to leftist groups. Not one link to any kind of organization which has a politically neutral or conservative perspective yet supports freedom issues. If they were truly interested in freedom they’d have the CATO institute in there at the very least. But that’s just it. They’re not about freedom, they’re just about promoting a leftist agenda.

    Dave

  • Silas Kain

    If the government is going to get into the business of telling us who we can and cannot marry I would fervently support a Constitutional Amendment banning Texas marriages. No offense to the handful of good Texans that may remain but why would anyone on God’s Green Earth want to marry a Texan? Everyone knows that the “Yellow Rose of Texas” was a drag queen.

  • Steve

    >>But that’s just it. They’re not about freedom, they’re just about promoting a leftist agenda.<< well, it's good that you finally listed some specific points when you labeled tfn a group promoting a leftist agenda. but i have to say that your examples say more about you than about tfn. first off, i should tell you that my job for a nonpartisan group includes monitoring advocacy organizations in texas, so i'm very familiar with tfn. you have some of your facts wrong. for example, tfn does not oppose accountability measures for teachers nor "any" administrative reorganization proposals. in fact, the group has taken no overall position on either issue. tfn also has not opposed the concept of charter schools -- but it has been highly critical of a system that has included such lax accountability and oversight that many charter schools have been utter financial and academic disasters (wasting millions of tax dollars). fortunately, the legislature and the education commissioner have both moved this year to tighten accountability and oversight rules for the charter system. tfn is taking a wait-and-see approach on how those new standards work. you are correct that tfn opposes school privatization and vouchers, but it's a gross oversimplification and simply dishonest to say that such opposition means the group wants to preserve "a disastrously failing system as it exists." tfn, right or wrong, simmply argues that the solution to public education problems are not privatizing schools and turning over tax dollars to private schools, and the group has provided considerable research that shows why it has taken those positions. the group has also identified reforms it believes have been successful in improving schools. simply to dismiss opposition to something you want as evidence that your opponent is so evil as to want to perpetuate failure is terribly simplistic and, frankly, dishonest. you also have made some other curious points. you criticize tfn for wanting to increase funding to CPS -- yet that's exactly what the governor and the republican-controlled house and senate have also moved to do because of widespread agreement that the system is so woefully underfunded that children are at terrible risk. are those state leaders leftists, too? tfn also has not opposed privatizing some CPS services because the senate sponsor of the CPS reform bill has agreed that private service providers must meet basic rules and standards meant to protect the children they serve. you have stated that you agree with tfn on issues like opposing the marriage amendment and bans on gay foster parents. i suspect that you also oppose textbook censorship, support chuch/state separation and think it's wrong to throw tax dollars to religious groups to do with as they please with no oversight or regulations. yet you said in your very first post that anything tfn supports has to be a "bad idea." does your agreement with tfn on any issues make you a leftist, too? finally, i'm a bit puzzled by your criticism of the texas faith network. that part of tfn simply includes clergy who believe that not all people of faith see the issues of the day through a christian conservative prism. its members appear to be deeply spiritual and supportive of the idea that religion and faith are an important part of american culture. in fact, tfn's board includes ministers. it's hardly cynical for a group to oppose religious extremists by including in its own membership people whose faith has led them to more mainstream views about issues of the day. none of this is meant to imply that you are an uneducated idiot. but you have chosen, for whatever reason, to caricature and categorize as "shrill" and "leftist" a group on which you may have some fundamental disagreements (although sometimes by misunderstanding or distorting the group's positions) -- but also some agreement on a variety of issues. your desire to demonize the group really does say more about you than it does about tfn. most of tfn's positions are remarkably middle-of-the-road, representing the same positions taken by many texans and, in fact, both democrats and republicans in government. i guess i would encourage you to learn more about the group by listening a bit more to what its spokespeople say than simply to label the group as "leftist" and "one of the most dangerous" groups in texas. such simplistic labeling is a disservice to the groups you criticize and represents a failure to demonstrate simple intellectual honesty.

  • >>well, it’s good that you finally listed some specific points when you labeled tfn a group promoting a leftist agenda. but i have to say that your examples say more about you than about tfn.< < Well, it's an opinion, so obviously it's going to reflect on me. >>first off, i should tell you that my job for a nonpartisan group includes monitoring advocacy organizations in texas, so i’m very familiar with tfn. you have some of your facts wrong. for example, tfn does not oppose accountability measures for teachers nor “any” administrative reorganization proposals. in fact, the group has taken no overall position on either issue.< < The overall impression they give is unqualified support for the TEA and the educational establishment and resistence to any form of change or reform. If you can't reach that conclusion from reading their public statements and their website then you are just as blinded by biases as you claim that I am. >>tfn also has not opposed the concept of charter schools — but it has been highly critical of a system that has included such lax accountability and oversight that many charter schools have been utter financial and academic disasters (wasting millions of tax dollars). fortunately, the legislature and the education commissioner have both moved this year to tighten accountability and oversight rules for the charter system. tfn is taking a wait-and-see approach on how those new standards work. < < The tone of all their statements on charter schools is extremely negative. It's clear that they oppose the entire concept. They clearly oppose anything which empowers parents and takes control away from government. >>you are correct that tfn opposes school privatization and vouchers, but it’s a gross oversimplification and simply dishonest to say that such opposition means the group wants to preserve “a disastrously failing system as it exists.” tfn, right or wrong, simmply argues that the solution to public education problems are not privatizing schools and turning over tax dollars to private schools, and the group has provided considerable research that shows why it has taken those positions. the group has also identified reforms it believes have been successful in improving schools. simply to dismiss opposition to something you want as evidence that your opponent is so evil as to want to perpetuate failure is terribly simplistic and, frankly, dishonest.< < IMO freeing our school children from the oppression of the current system is the single most important issue in Texas today. To oppose measures to save children from this exploitative system is, frankly, evil. Opposing vouchers on the idea that they benefit the wealthy more than the poor I can at least understand. Opposing the recent voucher program here in Texas which was tailored only to benefit the poor and those with exceptionally bad schools can only be explained by a doctrinaire refusal to accept any kind of non-traditional educational reform. Opposition to that bill exposes them as purely partisan and not at all interested in genuine educational improvement. >>you also have made some other curious points. you criticize tfn for wanting to increase funding to CPS — yet that’s exactly what the governor and the republican-controlled house and senate have also moved to do because of widespread agreement that the system is so woefully underfunded that children are at terrible risk. are those state leaders leftists, too? tfn also has not opposed privatizing some CPS services because the senate sponsor of the CPS reform bill has agreed that private service providers must meet basic rules and standards meant to protect the children they serve.< < You seem to be under the mistaken impression that I support Gov. Perry and his quasi-fascist big government cronies in the legislature. What CPS needs is reform and oversight. More money might be appropriate, but the priority should be controlling their abuses. >>you have stated that you agree with tfn on issues like opposing the marriage amendment and bans on gay foster parents. i suspect that you also oppose textbook censorship, support chuch/state separation < < Yes, but I do it on civil libertarian grounds, not because it's part of a leftist agenda. >>and think it’s wrong to throw tax dollars to religious groups to do with as they please with no oversight or regulations.< < I'm not actually sold on this one. If church groups are the best way to privatize these kinds of programs I'm for it, though I'd rather see it done through tax credits for private donation. >> yet you said in your very first post that anything tfn supports has to be a “bad idea.” does your agreement with tfn on any issues make you a leftist, too?< < As I said, there are things civil libertarians and leftists agree on. And I did go a bit hyperbolic in condemning them. >>finally, i’m a bit puzzled by your criticism of the texas faith network. that part of tfn simply includes clergy who believe that not all people of faith see the issues of the day through a christian conservative prism. its members appear to be deeply spiritual and supportive of the idea that religion and faith are an important part of american culture. in fact, tfn’s board includes ministers. it’s hardly cynical for a group to oppose religious extremists by including in its own membership people whose faith has led them to more mainstream views about issues of the day.< < Sorry, it just comes off as a cynical group designed to create a false front for a basically secularist agenda. I'm a secularist too, but I find it offensive to try to hide behind religion to win some credibility with the fundamentalists. >>none of this is meant to imply that you are an uneducated idiot. but you have chosen, for whatever reason, to caricature and categorize as “shrill” and “leftist” a group on which you may have some fundamental disagreements (although sometimes by misunderstanding or distorting the group’s positions) — but also some agreement on a variety of issues. your desire to demonize the group really does say more about you than it does about tfn. most of tfn’s positions are remarkably middle-of-the-road, representing the same positions taken by many texans and, in fact, both democrats and republicans in government. i guess i would encourage you to learn more about the group by listening a bit more to what its spokespeople say than simply to label the group as “leftist” and “one of the most dangerous” groups in texas. such simplistic labeling is a disservice to the groups you criticize and represents a failure to demonstrate simple intellectual honesty.<< I'll concede that they're not the worst advocacy group in Texas. They still are on the wrong side of some of the most important issues, and clearly exist to push a blanket leftist agenda and support an undesirable statist status-quo which I find objectionable. Dave