Steve's Soapbox

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Texas Priorities ? Getting Prop 2 Passed Trumps everything else !

Texas Leads Nation in Household Hunger
Fri Oct 28,10:12 PM ET
AUSTIN, Texas - A higher percentage of Texas households were at risk of going hungry over the past three years than in any other state, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Between 2002 and 2004, more than 16 percent of Texas households at some point had trouble providing enough food for all their family members, the USDA report said.
In nearly 5 percent of Texas households, at least one family member actually went hungry at least one time during that period because the household couldn't afford enough food. That's the fourth-highest rate in the country.
Nationwide, 11.4 percent of households were at risk of going hungry during that period, and 3.6 percent of U.S. households had at least one member go hungry, the USDA said.
The latest national figures were higher than in the previous three-year period. Between 1999 and 2001, an average of 10.4 percent of households were at risk for hunger, and an average of 3.1 percent of households experienced hunger.

Gay marriage amendment waste of time, money
By Ty Meighan
October 30, 2005

AUSTIN - A group called ''No Nonsense in November'' is leading the fight against Proposition 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot. Unfortunately, this proposed constitutional amendment is nothing but nonsense and a waste of time and money.
Passed by state lawmakers earlier this year, the proposition is intended to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Lawmakers couldn't pass school finance and other important matters this year, but they managed to put before voters an amendment that targets gays.
Aren't we proud of our elected officials?
Many of us would agree marriage should be between a man and a woman. But that doesn't mean it belongs in the Texas Constitution. It's a feel-good issue that allows politicians to crow about doing something to promote family values.
Of course, the Texas Constitution has been amended many times over the years. But shouldn't it be amended only for important issues facing Texas? This isn't one of them.
Proposition 2 is a highly emotional and politically charged issue - and both sides are at each other full throttle in an attempt to sway voters. There have been press conferences, phone campaigns and heated debates. And it's all a waste of time because the amendment is not needed in Texas. Gay marriage is already illegal in Texas.
Don't believe proponents who say this about protecting the sanctity of marriage in Texas. Many backers of the amendment are driven by a fear and hate of people who live a different lifestyle than they do. Don't believe me? Check out this excerpt from one hate-filled flyer being distributed by amendment supporters.
''Marriage is the vehicle heterosexuals use to raise children,'' the flyer begins. ''Raising children is an extremely important job that involves a lot of time, money, effort, energy, love, blood, sweat, tears, good times and some bad times. Homosexuals, by definition, do not have or raise children yet they very arrogantly and selfishly demand the special rights, benefits and privileges of marriage.''
The flyer, which is subtitled ''Stop the Massive Power and Money Grab by Greedy Homosexuals,'' is littered with derogatory comments about gay people. This type of ignorance ignores the fact that thousands of abused and unwanted children in Texas have found love and caring in the homes of gay couples. These are children that married couples abused and neglected.
But there are other disturbing aspects of this proposition.
Not only is the proposed amendment unnecessary, it could have unintended consequences. The wording appears to outlaw any marriage because it prohibits the state from ''creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.''
Texas voters should reject this clumsily written amendment that could have unintended consequences. Of course, proponents dispute that it outlaws marriage and say no judge would interpret it that way.
When this proposed amendment was debated in the Legislature earlier this year, legal experts said the amendment would not threaten traditional or common law marriages.
''The language for Proposition 2 has been reviewed by the Legislature and some of the state's top attorneys,'' said Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, a key supporter of the amendment.
But why would voters support such a poorly worded amendment to the Texas Constitution? And why risk the possibility of this amendment having such unintended consequences?
If approved, Texas would be one of more than a dozen states to have a state constitutional ban on gay marriages. But other states have specified that the bans won't affect traditional marriage.
Early voting runs through Nov. 4 and the election is Nov. 8. Turnout for constitutional amendment elections is generally low, but Proposition 2 is certain to bring out a larger number of voters. Voters should reject this unnecessary and misguided amendment and tell lawmakers to stick to more important issues facing Texas. Trust me, there are plenty of them.
Ty Meighan is chief of the Scripps Howard Austin Bureau and can be reached at 512-334-6640 or

Oct. 29, 2005, 8:00PM

It stinks when the Klan supports your amendment

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

STATE Rep. Warren Chisum apparently was surprised when the Ku Klux Klan announced plans to hold a pre-election rally in Austin in support of his constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.
He shouldn't have been, because flies are attracted to garbage wherever they may find it.
Chisum, a Republican from Pampa, isn't a cowardly cross-burner who takes delight in bashing African-Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. But his sponsorship of Proposition 2 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot offers the KKK another opportunity to do what it does best — promote prejudice and hatred, albeit of a different brand than produced the racial lynchings of not so many years ago.
I am not equating the debate over whether homosexual couples should be allowed to marry to the long, often bloody civil rights struggle of blacks and Hispanics in America.
But the effort to lock a ban on same-sex marriages into the Texas Constitution is prejudicial and hate-provoking and made worse by the fact that it springs from motivations that are primarily political, not legal.
Attracting the public, although unsolicited, endorsement of the Klan, a group synonymous with hate, speaks volumes about the proposal.
Chisum and other public officeholders promoting the proposition, including Gov. Rick Perry, contend it is necessary to "protect" the institution of traditional, heterosexual marriage in our state. Nonsense.
Traditional marriage is under attack from a host of social ills, including poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, narcissism and plain ol' immaturity.
But it is under absolutely no danger from a gay or lesbian couple who wants their commitment to be legally recognized as a marriage.
Even if such governmental intrusion were necessary, which it isn't, Texas already has a law that recognizes only heterosexual marriages.
Adding that restriction to the constitution, which would make it harder to repeal and perhaps help protect the state policy against lawsuits, is the political equivalent of piling-on.
Rather than protecting marriage, the governor and other Proposition 2 promoters are pandering to the large number of Texans, many on the right wing of the Republican Party, who for one reason or another fear or hate homosexuality.
Many Texans who vote for Proposition 2 will be trying to impose their religious beliefs on governmental policy, which is bad enough.
But, even worse, others will be brandishing their prejudices against a minority group, participating in a form of gay-bashing that, in effect, is being sanctioned by the highest levels of state government.
Small wonder that the Klan decided to come buzzing in for an anti-homosexual marriage rally a few days before the election. Hate fests are its kind of party.
A spokesman for this particular Klan group, the Texas arm of the American White Knights, said the group doesn't wear robes or hoods in public and doesn't shout racial obscenities. No amount of prettying up, though, will remove the stench of intolerance.
Meanwhile, arms flailing in the air, Chisum is trying to put as much distance between himself and the Klan event as possible.
"I have absolutely nothing to do with it," he told Houston Chronicle reporter Polly Ross Hughes.
"I didn't ask them to come and do this, and they're doing it on their own — not with my approval."
I am sure a Klan rally was one of the last things that Chisum wanted before Election Day. But when you play footsie with prejudice, you risk stepping into something disgusting.
Robison is chief of the Chronicle's Austin Bureau. (