Governor of Texas Abbott, Atty. General Paxton inaugurates measures against abortion and gay rights
“People are still in shock deer, and we are in an incredibly toxic political environment right now,” said Oni Blair, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “But we have to recognize that nothing is on the table right now. All of our rights and freedoms — from LGBTQ equality, to voting, and even birth control — could be at risk.
The group has trained hundreds of abortion rights advocates as part of its Texas Abortion Access Network over the past few months and has prevailed – so far – in a lawsuit that has led a judge to issue a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that will allow doctors to continue doing abortion procedures at certain clinics in Texas until a July 12 hearing.
In an interview on the cable channel NewsNation shortly after the overthrow of deer Paxton told anchor Leland Vittert last week that he would be “willing and able” to defend any state sodomy-banning laws that come before the Supreme Court in the coming months. The issue arose because, in his concurring opinion in the abortion case, Justice Clarence Thomas questioned High Court rulings establishing same-sex marriage and the right of married couples to use contraception and , in the Texas case, prohibiting the criminalization of same-sex intimacy.
“Yeah, listen, my job is to uphold state law, and I will continue to do that,” Paxton told Vittert. “It’s my job under the Constitution, and I’m certainly willing and able to do it.” (Paxton in May won the Republican nomination for a third term despite a seven-year-old securities fraud indictment, a separate FBI corruption investigation and a bar review into his effort to nullify the US election. 2020. Paxton has denied wrongdoing in all of these cases.)
Paxton’s remarks have chilled the LGBTQ and human rights community in Texas, who fear that in the coming weeks the conservative state and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will take on other long-running protections date governing bodily autonomy and gay rights, threatening progress. decades of struggle.
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“We’ve fought a valiant fight here, and we’ve been attacked from every direction,” said Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of Equality Texas, an LGBTQ rights group. “It’s none of the government’s business that we have sex with. They entered the doctor’s office and the classroom; now they want to break into the room. It is an excess of government power. »
Neither Paxton’s office nor Abbott’s spokeswoman Renae Eze responded to calls or emails seeking comment.
Martinez said his group successfully fought most of the 76 anti-LGBTQ bills proposed to the Texas legislature last year, a significant increase from less than 20 introduced in the previous session in 2019.
Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston, said the overthrow of deer is the “first domino of many other rights restrictions that Texas Republicans have long sought”.
He said Texas officials could seek criminal penalties for sodomy and attempt to enforce the state’s 2005 same-sex marriage ban, which was overturned in 2014.
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The state legislature could also codify into law Abbott’s new directive — based on a nonbinding opinion from Paxton — that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services consider gender-affirming treatments for transgender children. like abuse. Three families of transgender children – one of whom allegedly attempted suicide – are now suing the state.
Rottinghaus noted that Paxton has always used his office to advance a conservative social agenda and in this regard it is no surprise that he is at the forefront of the movement. shape the post-deer legal world in Texas. After the court’s ruling was announced, Paxton closed his office for the day and created a holiday to honor the ruling, while Abbott said the court had “properly overruled”. deer and that he would continue to work with the state legislature to “save every child from the ravages of abortion.”
Texas abortion law, which took effect on September 1, banned the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy – before many realize they are pregnant – and did not allow exceptions for rape victims , sexual abuse or incest.
The Texas Republican Party has drifted to the right over the past two decades, accelerating this movement since the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Republicans now hold all elective state office and supermajorities in both legislative houses, partly because of gerrymandered district lines. The US Department of Justice sued Texas in December, alleging the state violated voting rights law by diminishing the power of Latinos and other minorities, the majority of whom vote for Democrats.
“Everywhere you look there’s a Republican ready to pursue right-wing politics,” Rottinghaus said. “They feel very politically free to push a conservative case in the state.”
The Texas GOP clearly led the way at its annual convention this month in Houston.
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Republican activists have passed a resolution rejecting the result of the 2020 presidential election and calling President Biden an illegitimate president. Delegates also called for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and, in the party platform, called homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice”.
Congressmen also vigorously booed and formally reprimanded U.S. Senator John Cornyn for his role in crafting a bipartisan gun bill passed after the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in during which 19 students and two teachers were killed.
“What we’re really seeing is a Republican party playing almost completely grassroots,” said Kirby Goidel, a political science professor at Texas A&M University. “Abbott went from being a low-key governor to thinking he was going to be challenged in a primary and actually moving to cover his flank.”
Abbott’s rhetoric — about guns, the border, “pornography” in school libraries and transgender rights — has grown increasingly extreme in recent months, which has served him well so far. in an election year in which he fended off conservative challengers in the primary. His Democratic opponent, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, has focused on abortion rights and gun control as major issues, but Abbott has a comfortable lead in the polls, ranging from 5 to 11 percentage points.
Abbott and another Republican governor, Ron DeSantis of Florida, battled for dominance and control. trump coat legacy before the midterm elections. Although he was less energetic Abbott on abortion, DeSantis mounted a high-profile campaign against the Walt Disney Co. for its opposition to Florida’s bill banning the teaching of gender issues to third graders and younger – dubbed the draft “don’t say gay” law. by naysayers — and fought hard against Biden’s coronavirus vaccine recommendations.
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Texas Democrats’ long-term dreams of turning the state into a fully diverse state in their direction have recently appeared more distant, with the latest sign arriving with the victory of Republican Mayra Flores, who won a special election in the 34th district. of Congress dominated by South Texas Latinos. month. Republicans have made gains among Hispanic voters in South Texas in recent years — the Flores District opted for Biden by four percentage points, a far smaller margin of victory for Democrats than in the 2012 presidential election cycles and 2016.
Democrats’ hopes hinge on the party continuing to garner two-thirds of the vote among the growing Latino population, according to Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. And it’s not a sure thing, he said Flores’ victory and Trump’s 2020 gains in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere should be “warning signals for Democrats.”
The Supreme Court’s decision overturning deer and the potential implications for the LGBTQ community — along with recent disruptions and threats of Pride events by right-wing extremists — have cast a cloud over the Rio Grande Valley Pride Parade, according to Joe Colon-Uvalles, a Brownsville resident and campaign specialist with the Planned Parenthood Federation.
On Saturday, South Padre Island revelers cheered and waved rainbow flags, but also heard local drag queen Luna Karr urging the crowd to register and vote.
“We are ready to face any fight. We need to protect ourselves from anyone – including the attorney general – who threatens our rights,” Colon-Uvalles said. “It’s a scary world right now that we live in.”
Scott Clement contributed to this report.