The State of Texas: November 12, 2015
Romeo Rose has returned with a documentary (sorta), and anti-HERO activists are really upset over an old law.
Kiss and Tell
Remember Romeo Rose? He’s the Austin man whose 2013 Craigslist post seeking the perfect partner went viral thanks to its very, er, specific requirements. Anyway, it appears he’s back on the viral dating market, attempting to create a “Discovery channel” documentary about his quest for a kiss. One man “interviewed” for the position (undercover, obvi) but selflessly documented the exchange for all the world to see.
No Relief — Conservative activists partly responsible for bringing down the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance have now focused their attention on Dallas. Dallas has had an anti-discrimination ordinance, which includes protection for transgender people, in place for thirteen years, so if dudes have been going into ladies bathrooms, they’ve been very, very sneaky about it. Either way, the Dallas City Council is now being targeted by conservatives after unanimously approving “separating transgender residents from gay and lesbian residents in the law, mirroring language in a 2014 charter amendment that residents overwhelmingly approved to extend protections to gay and transgender city employees,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick issued a statement blasting “officials who are totally out of touch with Texas values,” as well as assuming the revamped ordinance is new (it isn’t), and claiming the vote was done in a closed session (it wasn’t). In addition, potty activist Jared Woodfill, who helped in anti-HERO efforts, said “the same core group that helped defeat the ordinance here 61 percent to 39 percent will deploy similar tactics in Dallas and seek to force a repeal referendum. Woodfill’s group will help collect signatures, send letters to Dallas City Council and organize with local conservatives.” In an ironic twist, the Houston Press notes that Woodfill is currently defending a man who has admitted to fondling and taking photos of women without their consent in bathrooms. Based on the story, it doesn’t appear the man disguised himself as a woman at the time of the incidents, but alcohol was involved.
Going Through the Motions — Another day, another round of legal bickering in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony fraud case. Last week, Paxton’s legal team filed several motions to have the three charges dropped, claiming, among other things, that the previous judge had shared privileged information with his wife who in turn told others; and also that prosecutors shared information from a sealed indictment with the media. Now, a motion filed by prosecutors claims that they definitely didn’t violate laws mentioned in the latter complaint. Not that they aren’t covering in case they did: “Even assuming they did violate a rule, they wrote in their motion, such a disciplinary violation ‘does not entitle him to the pre-trial windfall he seeks unless he can show the violation affected his substantial rights or deprived him of a fair trial,'” writes the Dallas Morning News. “Paxton’s sole reason for filing this pleading is to cast the special prosecutors as the bad guys in the court of public opinion,’ they wrote.” Apart from the prosecution’s maybe-we-did-maybe-we-didn’t tactic, they’ve also been dropping pop culture references. As the Morning News notes, “Last week it was the 1978 film Animal House. This week, they turn to television. ‘Paxton has taken a page from the play book of Don Draper, the Madison Avenue advertising executive on Mad Men, who told a colleague embroiled in a similar strait, ‘If you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation.’” Here’s hoping everyone turns to Netflix and chill next week.
Objection — Prosecutors in the Twin Peaks shooting case were successful in getting all 106 of their filed indictments approved by a grand jury earlier this week. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that some of the defense lawyers aren’t pleased with the one-charge-fits-all approach that has been the practice of authorities since those bikers were arrested and thrown in jail. “They are practicing law in a way that is unique to McLennan County,” Houston attorney Paul Looney told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “Nobody else in Texas treats people the way they are treating people. All these fill-in-the-blank charging affidavits and indictments. … These people are entitled to be treated individually, whether they are being arrested and booked or making bonds. They are also entitled to individual assessment when they are going before a grand jury.” Like the arrest affidavits, most of the indictments were identical. After the grand jury reportedly took nine hours to indict all 106 people, one lawyer did the math and discovered that if they did actually worked nine hours straight, without a bathroom break, it would mean each defendant’s case was reviewed for a total of five minutes. Unsurprisingly, most of the lawyers quoted in the story are, like attorney Jay Norton, “quite frankly shocked and surprised” by the grand jury’s process.
Loving Lucifer — The Houston Press has a pretty wonderful story about the Greater Church of Lucifer, which opened its doors just around Halloween in touristy Old Town Springs. As with just about anything, a closer look reveals a lot of normal people doing everyday things. “Among the Luciferians are lawyers and surgeons, metalheads and grease monkeys, DJs and gamers and geeks and grandmas. They are former Mormons and Muslims, ex-Buddhists and Baptists, Bible Belt born-agains who have since grown up,” writes Leif Reigstad. From the get-go, the story makes clear that these Luciferians aren’t, like, blood-drinking, baby-killing Satanists, but people who “spend Christmas with their families, exchanging thoughtful gifts and sending out cards that say ‘happy holidays.’ On Easter, they decorate eggs.” Still, when you dress up like devil worshippers and your biweekly meeting “oscillates between a goth fantasy lit bookclub, a philosophy seminar at a community college and a group therapy session for marginalized young adults,” you’re bound to run into trouble. As the story notes, there’s been lots of attention paid to the church (it set up shop in downtown Old Town Springs), not just for being different, but for attracting protests. But it’s the details of the church and its seemingly huckster leader that makes this story a really fun read.