Saturday, April 30, 2005

Great Moments in Texas Politics - Senfronia Thompson

JR 6 speech against discrimination by Representative Senfronia Thompson

I have been a member of this august body for three
decades, and today is one of the all-time low points.
We are going in the wrong direction, in
the direction of hate and fear and discrimination.

Members, we all know what this is about;
this is the politics of divisiveness at its worst, a
wedge issue that is meant to divide.

Members, this issue is a distraction from the real
things we need to be working on. At the end of this
session, this Legislature, this Leadership will not
be able to deliver the people of Texas, fundamental
and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It
does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax
relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education
system. It does not restore one child to CHIP who
was cut from health insurance last session. It does
not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World
access to health care. It does not do one thing to
care for or protect one elderly person or one child
in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to
protect one marriage.

Members, this bill is about hate and fear and
discrimination. I know something about hate
and fear and discrimination.
When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk
about "protecting the institution of marriage" as
well. What they meant was if people of my color
tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd
often find the people of my color hanging from a
tree. That's what the white folks did back then to
"protect marriage." Fifty years ago, white folks
thought inter-racial marriages were a "threat to
the institution of marriage."

Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian.
I read the good book, and do my best to live by it.
I have never read the verse where it says, "gay
people can't marry." I have never read the verse
where it says, "though shalt discriminate against
those not like me." I have never read the verse
where it says, "let's base our public policy on
hate and fear and discrimination." Christianity to
me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness-
not hate and discrimination.

I have served in this body a lot of years-and I
have seen a lot of promises broken. I should
be up here demanding my 40 acres and a mule
because that's another promise you broke. You
used a wealthy white minister cloaked in the
cloth to ease the stench of that form of discrimination.

So, now that blacks and women can vote, and now
that blacks and women have equal rights-you turn
your hatred to homosexuals- and you still use your
misguided reading of the Bible to justify your

You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you
can go home and brag. Brag about what? Declare
that you saved the people of Texas from what? Persons
of the same sex cannot get married in this State now.
Texas does not now recognize same-sex marriages,
civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships,
contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered
into in this State- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

If you want to make your hateful political statements then
that is one thing- the Chisum amendment does real harm.
It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid
thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers
of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint
ownership and support agreements.
You have lost your way- this is obscene.

Today, you are playing to the lowest common denominator-
you are putting aside the real issues of substance that we
need to address so that you can instead play on the public's
fears and prejudices to deceive and manipulate voters into
thinking that we have done something important.

I realize that gay rights are not the same as civil rights-but I can
guarantee you we are going in the wrong direction. I can not
hide my skin color. In fact, in most of the South, people as pink
as Rep. Wayne Smith were still Black by law if they had a great
grandparent who was African. I was unable to attend an
integrated and equally funded school until I got my Master of
Laws degree. There were separate and unequal facilities for
nearly everything.

I got second-hand textbooks even worse than the kind you're
trying to pass off on every public school student next year. I
had to ride to school on the back of the bus. I had to quench
my thirst from filthy coloreds-only drinking fountains. I had to enter
restaurants from the kitchen door. I was banned from entering
most public accommodations, even from serving on a jury. I
had to live with the fear that getting too uppity could get
you killed --- or worse. I know what third-class citizenship
feels like.

In my first term, one of my colleagues walked up and down
this aisle muttering about how Nigras should be back in the
field picking cotton instead of picking out committees.

So, I have to wonder about Rep. Chisum's 3/5 of a person
amendment. Some of you folks hid behind your Bible then,
too, to justify your cultural prejudices, your denial of liberty,
and your gunpoint robbery of human dignity.

We have worked hard at putting our prejudices against
homosexuals in law. We have denied them basic job
protections. We have denied them and their children
freedom from bullying and harassment at school. We have
tried to criminalize their very existence. But, we have also
absolved them of all family duties and responsibilities: to
care for and support their spouses and children, to count
their family's assets in determining public assistance, to
obtain health insurance for dependents, to make end-of-life
or necessary medical decisions for their life partners---
sometimes even to visit in the hospital, even to defend
our own country. And then, we can stand on our two
hind legs and proclaim, "See, I told you homosexual
families are unstable."

And nearly every one of you on this Floor has a homosexual
in their extended families.

Some of you have shunned and isolated these family
members. Some of you, even some of the joint coauthors,
have embraced them within your own family for the essence
of Christianity is love. Yet,you are now poised to constitutionalize
discrimination against a particular class of people.

I thought we would be debating real issues:education, health
care for kids, teacher's health insurance, health care for the elderly,
protecting survivors of sexual assault, protecting the pensions of
seniors in nursing homes. I thought we would be debating economic
development, property tax relief, protecting seniors pensions and stem
cell research, to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more
abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's
time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing

The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids-sweet
little vulnerable kids - out of the homes of loving parents and put them
back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's
disgusting. Today, we are telling homosexuals that just like people of
my ilk, when I was a small child; they too are second class citizens.

I have listened to all the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap.

Mr. Chisum, is a person who I consider my good friend and revere.
But, I want you to know that this amendment is blowing smoke to fuel the
hell-fire flames of bigotry. You are trying to protect your constituents
from danger. This amendment is a CYB amendment for you to go
home and talk about.

Senfronia Thompson is a proud and loyal Democratic State Representative from Northeast Houston/Harris County and currently represents District 141 from which she was first elected in 1972. Representative Thompson may be reached by email in Austin at or in Houston at

She is also serving her first term on the Democratic National Committee representing the Lone Star State having been elected at the Houston Convention in June 2004.

Sent by Carl Whitmarsh - proud Texas Democrat

No comments: