Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Worst 10 Texas House Members on LGBT Issues

The 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature has come to an end. It was perhaps the best legislative session for queer Texans ever, but all was not rosy. Along with major victories on anti-bullying legislation and HIV medication assistance programs some truly hateful legislation was introduced. Fortunately all of the anti-LGBT legislation was, by and large, defeated, but it wasn't thanks to these people, the 10 worst members of the Texas House on LGBT issues:

#140 (tie)
Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)
Score: -4 points
Grade: F-

Having voted for both HB 1386, the teen suicide prevention bill and HB 2229, which makes permanent the Texas HIV Medication Assistance Committee, Kolkhorst has more good votes on the nine votes used in this scoring than any other member of the bottom ten. He authorship of HB 3098, however, insured her a place amongst the worst of the worst. The bill was the House companion to SB 723 and would have, among other things, banned opposite-sex marriage for people who have had their legally recognized sex changed. Fortunately the bill died in committee.
#140 (tie)
Linda Harper Brown (R-Irving)
Score: -4
Grade F-

Harper brown would have managed a perfect set of nine "nay" votes on LGBT issues this session if not for her support SB 2229, which makes permanent the Texas HIV Medication Assistance Committee (although she only voted for it after an amendment allowing a pilot needle exchange program in Bexar county was removed). What really solidified her spot on the bottom ten, however, was her co-authorship of HCR 110 which called on the Obama administration to defend the so-called "defense of marriage act."
#140 (tie)
Four Price (R-Amarillo)
Score: -4 points
Grade: F-


Price has an identical voting record to Harper-Brown and the other House member tied for #140th, Charles Schwertner - it's hard hard to say if they were copying from each other, or just playing from the same Teabagger playbook, but anyone who thinks DOMA is in anyway defensible deserves to be on a worst legislators list.

#140 (tie)
Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)
Score: -4 points
Grade: F-

See above Re: Harper Brown, Price - Schwertner begrudgingly supported making the HIV Medication Advisory Committee permanent after the needle exchange program amendment was removed, and co-authored HCR 110, how unoriginal.

#144 (tie)
Wayne Christian (R-Center)
Score: -10 points
Grade: F-

Christian manged to be only member of the House to pass anti-LGBT legislation this session with his amendment to require state universities that have LGBT resource centers to equally fund "family and traditional values" centers (the amendment was later removed by the Senate). If not for his "yea" vote on HB 1386, the teen suicide prevention bill, he would have been ranked the worst member in the House, but we have to give the guy some credit for being against teen suicide, right?
#144 (tie)
Erwin Cain (R-Paris)
Score: -10 points
Grade: F-

Cain voted against the best interest of the queer community on all nine of the record votes considered in this ranking. That, combined with his co-authorship of HCR 110 (which would have called on the Obama administration to defend the so-called "defense of marriage act") make his ranking as the third worst House member much deserved.

#144 (tie)
Dan Flynn (R-Canton)
Score: -10 points
Grade: F-

Like Cain (and Taylor and Zedler (below)), Flynn voted against the best interest of the queer community on all nine of the record votes considered in this ranking and was a co-author of HCR 110.
#144 (tie)
Van Taylor (R-Plano)
Score: -10 points
Grade: F-

Like Cain and Flynn (and Zedler (below)), Taylor voted against the best interest of the queer community on all nine of the record votes considered in this ranking and was a co-author on HCR 110.
#144 (tie)
Bill Zedler (R-Arlington)
Score: -10 points
Grade: F-

Like Cain, Flynn and Taylor, Zedler voted against the best interest of the queer community on all nine of the record votes considered in this ranking and was a co-author on HCR 110. Seriously, do these guys call each other the night before to make sure that their votes will match?
#149
Warren Chisum (R-Pampa)
Score: -14 points
Grade: F-

No list of Texas politicians who are bad on LGBT issues would be complete without Warren Chisum, the architect of Texas' version of the so-called "defense of marriage act." Chisum has announced that this will be his last session in the House, but he couldn't leave without throwing a few homophobic punches. Chisum's HB 2636 would have massively expanded the powers of the state Attorney General to interfere in same-sex divorce cases (Chisum himself attempted to interfere in a Dallas same-sex divorce case last year by filing a brief encouraging the judge to declare the divorce illegal). Luckily his attempt to expand the powers of state government died in committee. Only Chisum's support of the Texas HIV Medication Advisory Committee keeps him from taking the throne as the worst House member on LGBT issues.
#150
Paul Workman (R-Austin)
Score: -15
Grade: F-

Workman voted yea for "super" anti-bullying bill HB 1942 on one of the two recorded votes on the bill, that's the only good thing you can say about him. In addition to supporting Christian's attempts to defund campus LGBT resource centers Workman managed to out-Chisum, Chisum by filing HCR 110, which encouraged the Obama administration to defend the so-called "defense of marriage act" in court. Although the legislation would have had no binding effect on the federal government (and was defeated) signing on to it as a co-author became the easiest way this session for House members to prove their homophobic bona fides. Thank you, Paul Workman, you made it much easier to spot the bad guys.

The list of the Top 10 Texas House Members on LGBT Issues was published yesterday. We'll publish the full ranking of the 150 members of the House soon, and are working on a similar ranking of the 31 Senators. You can take a look at how LQ arrived at the scores if you'd like and and tell us what you think. Any ranking system like this naturally involves the biases of the people compiling the list. LQ welcomes comments, suggestions, rants and criticisms regarding the rankings

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