On July 24, CNN aired a one-hour special report “Deep in the Pockets of Texas” with Ed Lavandera reporting. CNN Pressroom reports on the special here (originally June 24). CNN also offers the commentary on Texas far right politics, link here, by Casey Tolan, Matthew Reynard, Will Simon and Ed Lavandera.
The documentary covered the influence of two west Texas billionaire families, Dunn and Wills, on state elections. Both families believe in 'Christian nationalism', and believe that the church should direct the policies from the government (but not the other way around).
The family has influenced the legislature to pass some of the nation’s strictest laws on abortion, and on some aspects of LGBTQ issues (especially gender identity).
Texas had passed a law allowing private citizens to sue people connected with abortions, as a form of enforcement. Recently, it has passed laws legislating the presentation of sex and gender in public schools, and has aggressively promoted parents’ using private schools. It has also apparently passed a law banning any sexual reassignment interventions before age 18 even if medically recommended (it’s unclear if there would be an exception for a known biological disorder).
While there are many reports around the country of 'wokeness' in education and the apparent encouragement of young children to question their gender identity, it’s unclear how far this has gone. The best information I can find suggests that about 1 in 400 kids is medically transgender or has diagnosable gender dysphoria. These ought to be treated properly and discretely and handled with school system policy. More than that is woke gratuitousness.
I lived in Dallas from 1979-1988. At the time, Texas had a homosexual-only sodomy law, 21.06. In those days conventional sexual orientation, as opposed to gender identity, was a much bigger issue. Around 1980 there was a problem with a particular police officer coming into Dallas gay bars (like the TMC) and making false arrests for public lewdness. A few men were convicted, and this could have happened to me. Finally one man stood up and was acquitted at a bench trial and the problem stopped. Shortly thereafter, the AIDS crisis became more public and by early 1983 was causing deaths among gay men in Texas, about a year later than on the coasts. In the spring of 1983, a particular state assemblyman Bill Ceverha (from Amarillo) introduced a draconian bill 21.38 which strengthened the law to make it a felony and bar gays from most occupations. The bill was supported by a right wing group 'Dallas Doctors against AIDS' and was supported by language stating that (even private) male homosexuality was a public health menace because it could unpredictably "amplify" STD’s which, if they mutated, could threaten the general public at large. For example, HIV (the virus wasn’t identified until 1984) might become an arbovirus (like the putative ASFV speculated about in Charles Ortleb’s 'New York Native' – statistically that’s unlikely). Or an immunocompromised population might incubate new strains, something we have heard speculated recently with COVID. That was never really reported with HIV patients. And indeed, some other bloodborne diseases like HTLV-I (a leukemia) and Hepatitis C, and Zika (and arbovirus) never took root in the gay community. Ceverha’s bill was defeated 7-2 in committee.
But the accusations have come back with monkeypox (which WHO has just intensified by declaring a global emergency, with recommendations). According to an Axios story by Shawna Chen, Rochelle Walensky, two cases of monkeypox in children had “adjacency” (maybe household?) to men who had sex with men. This is covered more in my Twitter thread July 23. This would seem to add fuel to the fire to bring sodomy laws back, following on Clarence Thomas’s SCOTUS tirade on June 24 that could lead to the unraveling of Lawrence v. Texas (2003) next term.
Of course, moneypox could get accelerated on its own in day care centers, high school contact sports, and even heterosexual raves and lapdances (they exist, and not just in weekday soap operas).
Furthermore, gay men, probably because of small households and vaccine levels, have fared very well during COVID itself compared to more conventionally socialized populations in larger families.
Celine Gounder and data scientist Michael Donnelly have an article in StatNews on how dating apps could help control STD's.
P.S. On July 25, Apple News tweeted a major op-ed by John Blake (CNN) explaining Christian Nationalism. It is rather chilling.
I've lived in NYC, NJ, Texas (9 yrs), MN, and even MD, as well as VA (actually born in DC in 1943), so I keep up with politics in numerous places outside the DMV. Texas is #2 on the list. I had considered moving back there in 2017 when I sold the house, good thing I didn't.
(Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2022 at 10:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)