Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Love The Official President Barack Obama White House Portrait!

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For those of you who not only miss the No Drama Obama Administration days and how effortlessly cool he looked in his tan suit, it's back in his official White House portrait.

Unlike the portraits that were unveiled in 2018 for POTUS and FLOTUS 44 that are in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, these are curated by the White House Historical Association and hang in the White House.

President Obama and the First Lady chose the artists who created them in early 2017, but the contracts are negotiated by the White House Historical Association and kept confidential.

The Obama Portraits Tour | National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery paintings of POTUS and FLOTUS 44  were created by Kehinde Wiley for President Obama and by Amy Sherald for First Lady Michelle Obama.

For the last 40 years, there has been an East Room ceremony that occurs at the tail end of a president's first term in which the current president invites his predecessor to unveil the official White House portrait. 

The First Ladies: Claudia (Lady Bird) Johnson: potus_geeks ...
Although Lady Bird Johnson had hosted Eleanor Roosevelt and Bess Truman for their portrait unveilings, and Richard and Pat Nixon hosted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1971, the first unveiling ceremony involving a sitting president and his predecessor didn't take place until 1978, when then President Jimmy Carter hosted Gerald Ford.

President Barack Obama welcomes former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush back to the White House to unveil his formal Presidential portrait that will hang form this point on in the White House. Photo by ImageCatcher News Service/Corbis via Getty Images.
The Obamas invited George W and Laura Bush to the White House in 2012 for their portrait unveiling. 

Out Here 2: DEFined For The Rest of Us
But with Forever President Obama not interested in setting foot in a Trump White House, and the White House Grand Wizard still jealously (and racistly) hating on Barack Obama and trying to blame him for his misadministration's failures, it's clear that tension between the two is at Defcon 2 levels and probably will be for a while.

Obama justifiably put him on blast recently for Trump's massively incompetent response to the coronavirus pandemic, and of course Orange Foolius responded in his usual petty and vindictive manner.
So look for that portrait ceremony to happen if Joe Biden happens to become (and I pray he does) the 46th POTUS. Michelle Obama Official Portrait First Lady Photo ...
Looking forward to seeing what Forever First Lady Michelle Obama's official First Lady portrait looks like as well.  If it turns out better than her official First Lady photo, I wouldn't be surprised.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Mad About The Partisan SCOTX Ruling? Punish Them At The Polls!

Texas Supreme Court Ruling In Online Defamation Case Could Set ...
I and other peeps in the Lone Star State are justifiably angry about the predictable ruling that came out of our all Republican Texas Supreme Court (SCOTX) on May 15.

Wouldn't be surprised if they were probably motivated by and 'scurred' of the fact that four of them are facing reelection this November and possibly may not be sitting in those cushy leather seats next year.

After taking L's at the state district court and 14th Court of Appeals level on the question of expanding mail in ballot access in the midst of COVID 19 fears, indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) appealed to the Republican controlled Texas Supreme Court to halt progress on getting mail in ballot voting in place in time for the 2020 election this November.

There are fears that another nastier wave of COVID 19 will strike this fall.  We have already witnessed 70 people testing positive for the Trump Virus after another GOP controlled state Supreme Court in Wisconsin issued partisan rulings that forced people to vote in person during their primary back on April 7.
Wisconsin election ridiculous; voters who braved coronavirus inspiring
Wanting to avoid that disastrous scenario, Texas voting right advocates and the Texas Democratic Party have been pushing for expanded access to mail in ballots for this upcoming election.

But fears of another blue tsunami coming November 3 have skittish Republicans being hypocritically opposed to expanding mail in ballot access, a method they frequently use.

UPDATE: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Files Lawsuit Against ...
Paxton cited their usual 'voter fraud' talking points lie to weakly justify opposing it in a letter he sent to the SCOTX last Wednesday urging them to halt progress on expanded mail in ballots, 

"Among the State’s highest and most profound interests is protecting the integrity of its elections," Paxton wrote Wednesday. "To advance that interest, the Texas Legislature requires almost every voter to vote by personal appearance at a designated polling place, where trained poll workers confirm the voter’s identity before issuing him a ballot."

Yeah right, miss me with that BS, since you Republicans are committing much of the voter fraud you claim to be trying to prevent.  You're also cynically using COVID 19 as a new tool to try to suppress turnout.

Voting by Mail (Absentee Ballot)
The partisan SCOTX ruling means that while the merits of the case are being decided, nothing can happen until the appeal of the state district court case moves forward through the legal system.

And while we wait for Lord knows how long that to happen, that delays efforts for Lone State State election officials to get prepared to implement and administer an election that uses vote by mail ballots.

While Patton and Texas republicans by extension were pleased with Friday's ruling, Texas Dems and voting rights advocates justifiably put the partisan unjust ruling on blast.

1 on 1: Gilberto Hinojosa
''This is a dark day for our democracy.  The Republican Texas Supreme Court is voting to force the people of Texas to choose between their health and their right to vote.  They would have Texans die, just so they can hold on to power, "said Texas Democratic party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa. 

"Voters should have the ability to vote by mail during a pandemic if they feel their health is in danger. Every single justice who ruled today should be ashamed of themselves.  They are the new Republican death panel, Hinojosa added. .

Yeah Chairman Hinojosa, the Republicans in Texas and everywhere else in the US , including the White house, have made it clear they want the rest of us who aren't 1% cishetero conservative white males to die.

And while we wait for that to happen, that delays efforts for Lone State State election officials to get prepared to implement and administer an election that uses vote by mail ballots.

So yeah, be mad about this ruling.  But just being angry about this ruling doesn't do squat to change the fact that all nine seats on the Texas Supreme Court are still GOP controlled.

But punishing them at the polls will. 

As I like to say, the best way to get back at a politician who pissed you off is to make then an EX-politician.  Translation: I take my anger at the stuff Republican politicians do by heading to my fave early voting location and firing them.

Texas Supreme Court to hear public school finance case
Four members of the GOP SCOTX have terms expiring in 2020.  They are Jane Bland in Place 6, Jeffery Boyd in Place 7, J. Brett Busby in Place 8 and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht .

They are being opposed by Democrats Kathy Cheng, who is running for Place 6, Judge Staci Williams for Place 7, and Judge Gisela Triana in Place 8.  Judge Amy Clark Meachum is running for SCOTX Chief Justice.

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Cheng is a Houston area attorney who previously ran for SCOTX Place 6 in the 2018 cycle, won in the primary, but unfortunately lost in the general election to then incumbent Justice Jeff Brown.  After winning that full four year term, he was subsequently appointed to a federal judicial bench by Trump. 

That has given Cheng another shot at the Place 6 seat, this time against Bland, who was appointed to the seat by Governor Abbott in September 2019.

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Judge Staci Williams has served as the judge of the Dallas based 101st District court since 2014. 
She handily won reelection to her 101st District Court bench in 2018, and will be the Democratic candidate for SCOTX Place 7 taking on Justice Boyd..

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Judge Gisela Triana has served since 2018 as a judge on the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals Place 6 seat, based in Austin.  She will be the Democratic nominees for the SCOTX Place 8 seat held by Justice Busby, who like Bland, was appointed to fill the seat by Governor Abbott in February 2019.

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Judge Amy Clark Meachum, who currently serves on the 201st District Court, in Travis County (Austin for you non Texans) is running for Chef Justice.   She has served on the 201st bench since 2010, and was reelected in 2014 and 2018

Normally only two to three SCOTX judges are up for reelection in a cycle.  Because we had one move up to the federal bench after the 2018 election, we have a rare opportunity as liberal progressive Texans to potentially flip four seats and dramatically speed up the day the Texas Supreme Court flips to Democratic control

That tantalizing possibility of the SCOTX speedily flipping has Greg Abbott, Potty Dan Patrick and other Texas GOP politicians quaking in their cowboy boots.

So yes, I'm painfully aware that elections matter, and since we have for now partisan election of judges in the Lone Star State,  having Democratic judges matters

OutSmart Magazine on Twitter: "The OutSmart staff lost a former ...
The late Nikki Araguz Loyd, if she were still with us, would tell you how much it matters. 
She lost the first round of her trans marriage case in state district court, but it was overturned at the Democratically controlled 10th Court of Appeals level. 

It was waiting for a hearing at the SCOTX level when the Obergefell SCOTUS marriage case dropped and made her and the Texas trans community a winner.

I'm still pissed off about the partisan July 2015 SCOTX ruling that forced the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance onto the 2015 ballot and its subsequent repeal that November.

It's past time to end Texas Republican control of the SCOTX, and we liberal progressive Texans need to seize the opportunity to do so now.   Will do us no good to flip the Texas House and start the process of flipping the Texas Senate if a conservative SCOTX remains to stymie any progressive legislative and legal progress Texas sorely with their partisan rulings. 

Texas Supreme Court says coronavirus restrictions on business 'may ...
It's also past time that the SCOTX looked like and reflected the diversity and life experiences of all Texans, instead of being overwhelmingly comprised of conservative white males

By electing Judge Amy Clark Meachum, Judge Gisela Triana, Judge Staci Williams and Kathy Cheng this November, you will ensure that the SCOTX not only looks like the people of the state of Texas, you will ensure that the Texas Supreme Court finally has fairness and justice on it.

So let's get that party started, shall we?

Happy Dallas Transgender Day Of Visibility!

Murdered Trans Woman, Muhlaysia Booker's Family: 'It Was Someone ...
One year ago like every Black trans Texan, I was shocked and angered to learn that Muhlaysia Booker, who had survived a brutal videotaped attack on her in a South Dallas apartment complex just a month earlier by Edward Thomas, was found murdered on Dallas' east side.   

While we trans Texans remember her death and are reminded justice still hasn't been served yet in this case, I do have some positive news to share about this May 18 day thanks to Pocaphontas Duvall Crowe.

Image may contain: R PocaphontasDuvall Crowe, closeup
She, and the ladies of the Dallas based Transfusion Radio show have been working with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, the Dallas City Council, the House of Rebirth and the Silver Pride Project to create recognition in the city of the fact that many of the 1.4 million people who call Dallas home are trans.

Today has been declared by Dallas city officials as Dallas Transgender Visibility Day!

From the City of Dallas proclamation:

WHEREAS, Dallas Transgender Day of Visibility will help raise the visibility of transgender people in the city of Dallas and address issues that members of the community face, and  
WHEREAS, during Dallas Transgender Day of Visibility, transgender people and their allies will educate the public about who transgender people are, share experiences and stories, and advance advocacy around the issues of discrimination, prejudice, and violence that affect transgender people, and 
WHEREAS,  the City of Dallas recognizes the significant contributions made by transgender people and affirms that they are a vital and important part of our community, and 
WHEREAS,  Dallas Transgender Day of Visibility will honor the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence, including the Black trans women murdered last spring in the City of Dallas, and 

WHEREAS, May 18 was chosen as Dallas Transgender Day of Visibility in order to honor  and celebrate the life of Muhlaysia Booker, who will never be forgotten. 
NOW,THEREFORE, I, Eric Johnson, Mayor of the City of Dallas, with support from Mayor Pro Tem Adama Medrano,  Councilmember Omar Narvaez, Councilmember Adam Bazaldua, and Councilmember Chad West, do hereby proclaim that May 18, 2020 be recognized as
                             DALLAS TRANSGENDER DAY OF VISIBILITY   
Mayor Eric Johnson (@Johnson4Dallas) | Twitter
The proclamation is signed by Mayor Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem Medrano, and Councilmembers Narvaez and West.

This is a historic day for trans Dallasites, and Crowe couldn't be prouder of her city.  .While she lamented the fact that these COVID 19 times have prevented the City Hall ceremony that would have accompanied such a momentous occasion, she did have this to say about the Dallas Trans Visibility Day proclamation and the process that shaped it.

As to why this date was chosen, Crowe said in a Facebook post to me

Jury convicts Dallas man in videotaped assault on trans murder ...
"May 18th also marks a year's passing in the death of our so-loved sister, Muhlaysia Booker. We chose that date because it was her murder that caused an international audience to recognize that trans women of color were in grave peril here in Dallas and throughout this entire country." "This proclamation pays tribute to a woman whose life was cut short; but even in death she managed to elevate our community as she did so often in her brief time with us. Our visibility began on this date. This is a fitting tribute for her incredible contribution," she wrote.
News from Dallas City Hall - Dallas Examiner
"In better times, we would have been invited to celebrate this day at City Hall. Since gatherings are impossible for now we must rely on social media to announce this achievement. Please support the efforts of the House of Rebirth and share these glad tidings with your contacts." Crowe added,"This is a shining moment in our history. This is the moment that the men and women governing Dallas paid tribute to the transgender community. On Monday, they will announce to the world that the City of Dallas respects and will stand with us.

As well they should, since trans people are an undeniable part of the city of Dallas, and that point gets driven home with each passing year. 

What happens in Dallas is also of major interest to me because it is not only Black Trans Advocacy Coalition's (BTAC) headquarters city, my mom grew up there until her junior year of high school and I still have relatives and friends living in the area .

While Dallas has had anti-discrimination ordinances protecting trans people on the books since 2002, the Dallas Black trans community still felt invisible to city leaders, the LGB community and the rest of the city's citizens.

Hopefully this Dallas Transgender Visibility Day is another step forward in changing the perceptions of how Dallas' Black trans folks see themselves and how they are treated by the city moving forward.

Congrats to Poca, Transfusion, the Dallas trans community and their allies!  Enjoy this momentous day!

Monday, May 04, 2020

Even Though 'Rona Spiked My Birthday, It's Still All Good

The name [monica] is generated on Happy Birthday Images. Download ...
Well, like everyone else who has had a birthday since the middle of March, mine was wrecked by 'Rona. 

Image may contain: 26 people, including Bex Walton, Libra Audacious Valentino-Frantz, Danae Collier, Taliyah Cassadine Smith, Nia Ebony, Chanel Haley, Nicole Richardson, Angelina Nordstrom and Jessica Zyrie
I was supposed to be on the other end of I-45 in Dallas today awaiting the start of the 2020 edition of BTAC and celebrating it with my BTAC fam.   Instead I'm in Houston feeling a little bummed about it.

Tiff's Treats Cookie Delivery: Warm, Fresh Baked Cookies Delivered ...
Actually, I'm feeling a lot less bummed because I received a delivery of Frenchy's chicken for lunch from Emmett Schelling and for dessert a delivery of Tiff's Treats chocolate chip cookies and Blue Bell ice cream from Rachel Gonzales and her family..

But not gonna lie.  I was really looking forward to celebrating my birthday at BTAC this year.

Must It Be May 2019 - How many have you read?
As of this writing I've had 400 birthday messages on my Facebook page, another ten on Twitter, and five calls at this point.  So yes. I'm definitely feeling the love from you peeps around the world, and it's making this birthday a little less sucky.

Instead I'm counting my blessings.   I'm way over the 35 average age that a Black trans woman lives to  before her untimely death.   I have a roof over my head, I'm relatively healthy, and still look fab for my age.

I thank everyone who took the time out of their busy days to text, write, e-mail or call me.   It meant a lot and really helped me get out of the funky mood I was in

But there's always room for improvement and for me to keep striving to be a better version of myself.   And to borrow the slightly edited words of my esteemed trans elder Miss Major for PG consumption, I'm still effing here.

Burning Birthday Candles In The Form Of 58 Fifty Eight For Cake ...
I'm starting my 58th trip around the sun on this space rock.   So what will I wish for when I blow out the birthday candles?   Good damned question.

Tommie Ross Makes Houston Pride History!

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In the over 42 year history of Pride Houston, while we have had trans people be elected or named as  honorary grand marshals, we have never had a Black trans person be elected as one.

Phyllis Frye (2006) and Jenifer Rene Pool (2012) were the first and second trans women elected as  Grand Marshals, while Lou Weaver was the first trans masculine person elected as a Pride Houston Grand Marshal in 2017.

I tried to make that historical breakthrough happen in 2017, but something else that was far more important forced me to divert attention from that potentially historic grand marshal campaign. 
I ended up having to make multiple trips to Austin to help kill Potty Dan's and Lois Kolkhorst's anti-trans SB 6 bill.

Local Trans Women of Color are 2019 Pride Honorary Marshals ...
Last year Dee Dee Watters, Atlantis Narcisse and I were named along with Ana Andrea Molina as honorary grand marshals as Shannon Baldwin became only the third Black woman ever elected as a Houston Pride Grand Marshal. 

Photo of Pride Houston’s 2019 Female Grand Marshal: Shannon Baldwin
Carolyn Mobley (1993) and Fran Watson (2016) preceded Baldwin in making that history..

Houston Pride – OutSmart Magazine
Last year also saw Harrison Guy become the first ever Black person elected as a male identifying  Pride Houston Grand Marshal while Mike Webb became the first ever nonbinary one.

Congrats to Austin D Williams for becoming only the second ever Black male identifying Grand Marshal.

The Black trans breakthrough happened this year, as Tommie Ross became the fourth Black woman overall and the first ever Black trans woman to be elected as a female identifying Pride Houston Grand Marshal!.   Nikki Araguz Loyd was posthumously named as a 2020 honorary grand marshal.

So including the honoraries, we have now seven Black women, four of them trans identified, serving in the expanding sorority of Pride Houston Grand Marshals. 

The total number of trans people who have either been elected or named as honorary Pride Houston Grand Marshals is now up to nine people.

But back to talking about Tommie making history. I couldn't be happier for her.   Not only do I have much love and respect for her, she is the epitome of elegance and class for our community.

She also has much love and respect in our Houston TBLGQ+ community as evidenced by her grand marshal win..

Pride Houston - Home | Facebook
The 2020 Houston Pride has been delayed until this fall, but I do want to congratulate Tommie for once again being an elegant history making trailblazer for our community.