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Steve Hotze

LGBT anti-discrimination bills voted out of House committee

One bit of good news this week.

In an unprecedented vote, a House committee on Wednesday approved two bills to prohibit housing and employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Dallas Republican Rep. Jason Villalba split with his party and provided the tie-breaking vote for both bills, which passed the House Committee on Business and Industry by one vote. Democrats have pushed both measures for years without success.

While the two bills still have very far to go before they could become law, Villalba said it was time Republicans begin to agree on the need to extend greater rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans.

“It was time for people from all across the political spectrum to acknowledge that LGBT citizens from the great state of Texas are Texans,” Villalba told The Dallas Morning News after the vote. “Will other Republicans follow my lead? I doubt it, but the time has come.”

House Bill 225 by Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, would prohibit businesses from discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. House Bill 192, by San Antonio Democrat Diego Bernal, would make it illegal to refuse to sell or rent to someone because of these same

Johnson, who has authored the employment measure for at least two legislative sessions, said this is the most progress his bill has ever made.

This is as far as these bills will go, but just getting them approved by a committee is a big deal, as it had never been done before. To me, the best part of this story is what persuaded Rep. Villalba to say Yes.

The final straw, said Villalba, was “that email that I got.”

The weekend before the vote on Johnson’s bill, Hotze sent a text en masse to House Republicans urging them to support Senate Bill 6 — the “bathroom bill” that would bar transgender people from using the restroom that matches their gender identity — or else the face political retribution of being placed on a list of Republicans who oppose the measure.

The texts were personalized. “Dear Jason,” his began, “Greetings! Do you support SB 6?”

What came next was a link to a blog Hotze wrote on April 27 that called LGBT people perverted and accused Republicans who oppose the bathroom bill of being “willing to sell out the safety of their mothers, wives, daughters and granddaughters to protect their financial interests.”

“No one should be considered a minority deserving of preferential treatment, because of their chosen sexual perversion, their so-called ‘gender identity’ or the types of sexual acts in which they engage. These are all chosen behaviors,” Hotze wrote. “Take this thought process to its natural progression; what would prevent some activist judge from ruling that those who practice prostitution, transvestitism, pedophilia or bestiality are part of this class deserving of special protection because of their sexual orientation?”

The text continued, “If you do not respond, then you will be considered a ‘No’ on SB 6. …Please respond today.”

“I saw that, and I’m like, ‘That’s enough,’ ” Villalba said. “I cannot stand on the sidelines when people who claim to share my political philosophy are so hateful.

“I don’t want to live that example. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. Believe me, he will be. In 20 years we’ll look back on these days and we’ll be astounded that there was ever a time in our country where people would discriminate against others merely because of their sexual preference.

Yes to all of that. Nothing could be sweeter than shoving Steve Hotze’s own words right down his throat. Kudos to Rep. Villalba for seeing the light, and to Rep. Johnson for pushing him to seek it out.

What next for HERO?

Before I get into some thoughts about how to approach a second attempt at passing a non-discrimination ordinance for Houston, let me begin by dispensing with this.

HoustonUnites

2. HERO Will Be Back

The lopsided defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) will send the next mayor and city council back to the drawing board at the start of 2016. They would be expected to, in relatively short order, pass a new Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that is very similar to the ordinance that was just repealed, with one principal exception. The revised version of the ordinance would modify the public accommodation component of the repealed ordinance so that it does not apply to discrimination based on biological sex in regard to access to private facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms and showers.

A relatively expeditious passage of this revised equal rights ordinance would ameliorate, though not entirely erase, the short-term negative impact of the lopsided “No” victory on Houston’s image nationwide. The rapid adoption of this new ordinance also would largely eliminate the risk of Houston losing conventions, sporting events, corporate relocations and corporate investment as a consequence of the Nov. 3 HERO repeal. And, since this new equal rights ordinance would address the principal public critique of the “No” campaign, it would be virtually bulletproof against any future repeal efforts.

All due respect, but that gives way way waaaaaaaaaaay too much credit to the leaders of the anti-HERO movement. The people behind this – Woodfill, Hotze, the Pastors Council – have a deep-seated loathing of Mayor Parker and the LGBT community in general, which is what drove their opposition to HERO. Changing the wording in the ordinance in this fashion would not suddenly turn them into fair-minded and honorable opponents who would have engaged in a debate on the merits of this law. That’s not who they are, that’s not what they do, and thinking that making some sort of “reasonable” accommodation to them would be rewarded with reasonable behavior on their part is as deeply naive as thinking that if President Obama had just tried to accommodate Republican concerns about the Affordable Care Act then no one would have ever screamed about death panels. The way to beat people like this is to make it clear to everyone watching that they are the raving lunatics we know them to be. If there’s a way to insert some legalese into HERO 2.0 to make it double secret illegal for anyone to harass and assault people in bathrooms while still providing protection for people who just need to pee to do their business, then fine. Do that for the sake of having the talking point. Just don’t fall for the idea that this somehow “takes the issue off the table” or forces the opposition to behave like rational beings.

Now on to the main discussion.

As supporters of Houston’s equal rights ordinance pieced together how the law came to suffer such an overwhelming defeat at the polls Tuesday, political scientists and even some campaign supporters pointed to what they said was a key misstep: poor outreach to black voters.

Majority black City Council districts were among those most decisively rejecting the law Tuesday, including District B and District D, where 72 percent and 65 percent of voters, respectively, opted to repeal the law. Overall, complete but unofficial results showed 61 percent of voters against the law and 39 percent for it.

Heading into the election, polling showed black voters, traditionally more socially conservative, were the most likely to be undecided on the issue, said Bob Stein, a Rice University political scientist.

In the same polling, supporters did best with black voters when they presented the argument that repealing the ordinance would jeopardize the city’s economy and events such as the Super Bowl and NCAA.

Well, Houston will not be getting the college football championship game in the next few years, though the committee making that decision says local politics had nothing to do with it. San Antonio’s bid for the game was also denied, so I’d tend to believe that. Neither the Final Four nor the Super Bowl appear to be going anywhere, which is what I would expect – these are big events that take a lot of time to plan and execute and thus aren’t easily relocated, and I never believed that NFL owners would embarrass a fellow member of their club like that. A big national outcry might have an effect, but I seriously doubt Houston’s non-discrimination ordinance is on enough people’s radar for that. While I do believe that the HERO rejection will make it harder for Houston to land events like these going forward – the NCAA spokesperson vaguely alluded to that in the statement about the Final Four – this was always my concern about making such specific claims, given that we had no control over them.

Monica Roberts, a transgender black woman and GLBT activist, called the Houston Unites effort a “whitewashed campaign” that failed to adequately respond to the bathroom issue and reach out to the black community in a meaningful way.

On her popular blog, TransGriot, she wrote that the warning signs that the law could go down by a significant margin were present early on.”

“The Black LGBT community and our allies have been warning for months that action was needed in our community IMMEDIATELY or else HERO was going down to defeat,” she wrote. “We pleaded for canvassing in our neighborhoods, pro-HERO ads on Houston Black radio stations and hard hitting attacks to destroy the only card our haters had to play in the bathroom meme.”

But even ads featuring Houston NAACP president James Douglas endorsing the ordinance were not enough to erode critics’ lead with black voters.

Douglas said he was hesitant to comment on what might have worked with black voters because he had not seen the results broken out by precinct.

“I’m not sure what supporters could have done,” Douglas said. “Most of the people I’ve talked to said it was all about the restroom fear. They literally see it as ‘I don’t want that to happen to someone that I know.'”

Councilman Jerry Davis, who represents the majority black District B that includes Fifth Ward and Acres Homes, said outreach in the black community was simply “way too little, way too late.”

Davis is among the 11 council members who voted in favor of the law. As he visited polling sites in his district Tuesday, he said residents’ skepticism about the ordinance had not budged during the past year.

“You can’t win this debate at the polls; it’s too late,” Davis said. “Voters were confused. They wanted to understand that this was an equal rights law, that it would help them. But instead they couldn’t get this visual out of their heads of a man entering a woman’s restroom. Opponents told that story over and over and over again until it was too late for Houston Unites.”

University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said opponents were first out of the gates with their messaging, framing the debate around the bathroom issue, and supporters never caught up.

“The pro-HERO folks needed to have a public face much earlier than they did,” Rottinghaus said. “There was no personality to HERO, and I think that hurt the pro-HERO folks because it wasn’t clear what people were voting in favor of.”

This is the discussion now, and there was a lot of it happening behind the scenes before. I’m going to address it by talking about what I’d like to see happen for the next time.

By now we know that many African-American voters supported Sylvester Turner and voted against HERO. That’s disheartening, but it does provide a way forward. If elected, Mayor Turner would start out with a much higher level of trust and goodwill with these voters than Mayor Parker (who never received a significant level of support in African-American precincts) ever had. He will have an opening and an opportunity to bring forth another version of HERO (modified as needed with whatever legal mumbo-jumbo about bathrooms) and restart the discussion. This is how I would suggest going about it:

1. Acknowledge what happened, and assert the need to try again. I have no doubt that Sylvester Turner is capable of delivering a speech that acknowledges the problems with HERO that led to its defeat at the ballot box, while simultaneously emphasizing the need for our city to have an ordinance in place that does what HERO did. He could do this as part of his inaugural address, or he could wait for the State of the City in April, but sooner would be better than later. Acknowledge what happened, state the need for action, and call on everyone to join him.

2. Get out of City Hall and bring the conversation to the neighborhoods. Have a Council hearing in Acres Homes and/or Sunnyside. Have community meetings in multiple places all over the city (like Metro did with bus system reimagining) like multi-service centers and schools and wherever else is suitable, with some during the day and some in the evening and some on weekends to accommodate people’s work schedules. Have a brief presentation up front, then devote most of the time to letting the attendees speak so you can answer their questions and hear their concerns and address any good points they bring up that you hadn’t previously thought of. Mayor Turner himself needs to lead these meetings and make it clear that he supports doing this and is asking the people in attendance to join him. Note that I’m not just suggesting African-American neighborhoods for these meetings, either. Have them in Latino neighborhoods, and in Alief and out on Harwin and Bellaire Boulevard. Have plenty of folks who speak Spanish and Vietnamese and Chinese with you, and make sure any printed and electronic materials are multi-lingual as well. If we’re not talking to the people, we can’t complain if someone else is.

3. Roll out an advertising campaign along with this ongoing conversation. We know that the antis had a messaging advantage because they got their ads out first and we had to respond. They were already organized by the time the Supreme Court stuck their nose into things, while we had to get up and going from scratch. We can’t let that happen again. The next version of HERO needs to be sold from the beginning, so we can be the ones to set the tone and the message. In this day and age, that means setting up a PAC, tapping a few deep pockets to fund it, and getting going with the ads, for TV and radio and print and the Internet and whatever else you can think of. Treat it like a campaign, because that’s what it is. If the complaint from this election is that too many people didn’t know what HERO actually did, then this is the way to make sure that doesn’t happen with HERO 2.0. Be very clear and very thorough about who is protected, how it works, why we need it, and so forth. By all means, lean heavily on the business and economic argument, though as noted above be careful on the specifics. The lack of this kind of campaign has been a problem with lots of legislative initiatives in recent years – Obamacare and Renew Houston, for instance. There’s plenty of news about them while they’re being done, but the vast majority of communication to people who don’t consume a lot of news comes from opponents, not supporters. That can’t happen this time. Sell it like a new product coming to market, and sell the hell out of it.

4. Mayor Turner has to be the face of all this. Am I the only one who has noticed that Mayor Parker was largely invisible during the pro-HERO campaign? I’m sure some of that is because of a wholly understandable desire on her part to stay out of the Mayor’s race, and some of that was a strategic calculation that having her front and center would not be an asset in African-American neighborhoods. Whatever the case, this is the Mayor’s initiative, and the Mayor needs to be the focal point for it. Given that a lot of the people he would need to persuade to support this proposal are already supporters of his, there’s no other way to do this.

Now it may well be that a Mayor Turner will not be terribly enthusiastic about spending his time and political capital on this issue. There are plenty of other things on his to-do list, and there’s only so much time in the day/week/year. It’s going to be on HERO supporters to hold his feet to the fire and get him to devote time and energy to this. HERO may have lost this week, but Sylvester Turner isn’t going to win in December without a big showing from HERO proponents, and I’m sure he knows that. I’m sure he also knows that the business community is concerned and is expecting him to take action on this. The time to act is sooner rather than later, but it won’t happen without a push.

Does this guarantee a better outcome? Of course not. The haters will never go away, and some number of people we’d like to persuade won’t buy it. Some people will argue to wait till some undetermined later date when the things they deem to be higher priorities have been solved to their satisfaction, and others will come up with new and more egregious lies to tell. I’m sure there are things I’m not thinking of, and I’m sure some of the things I’m suggesting are much easier said than done. I think we all agree that for all the good work that Houston Unites and others did, there were things that could have been done differently. Some of that was a lack of time, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling. No one knew we needed to be prepared to wage a campaign like this. All I’m saying is that this time we do know, so we may as well start preparing for it. Danny Surman, who has another perspective on what happened, has more.

A further look into anti-HERO financing

Regular commenter Mainstream has been investigating the complex money trail of the various anti-HERO factions and documenting it in the comments for the 8 day finance reports: Pro- and anti-HERO post. I’m putting his two most recent entries here to make sure everyone sees them; they were left late Thursday night:

BagOfMoney

The funding for the anti-HERO forces is much more complicated to analyze, because they formed multiple committees, and filed much of their reporting with the State Ethics Commission, rather than with the City of Houston.

All of the interrelated committees have Bart Standley as their treasurer, and the names of the groups include Conservative Republicans of Texas, Conservative Republicans of Harris County, Campaign for Texas Families, Citizens for Restoration (of theocracy).

Former Congressman Tom Delay is being paid by the Campaign for Texas Families about $1400 for travel associated with events, through his Sugar Land based First Principles LLC.

The Campaign for Texas Families gets its money from Conservative Republicans of Texas.

The Campaign for Houston is shown donating $79,000 to Conservative Republicans of Harris County, and the Conservative Republicans of Texas gave $2500 to the Conservative Republicans of Harris County.

Jeff Yates’ consulting company gets paid $80,000 for “advertising expense.”

Harris media in Austin is also being paid. Gulf Direct, which is Kevin Burnette, also in Austin, is also a consultant.

There is a separate statewide Campaign for Houston committee whose main donors are former failed congressional candidate Peter Wareing ($20,000), and Jack A. Cardwell ($25,000) a trucking executive from El Paso who has donated gobs of money to mostly Republicans, but even some Democrat officeholders.

I am not sure what to make of all the back and forth transfers between these committees, and the fact that the reporting is only being done in Austin, and not with the Houston filings.

And I see nothing on the Campaign for Houston filings to correlate with the reported donation of $79,000 to Conservative Republicans of Harris County.

[…]

Digging deeper, I found the $79,000 transfer from Campaign for Houston to Conservative Republicans of Harris County.

I also found $100K for TV to David Lenz Media and $120K to Big Bucks for TV and Radio.

Donors to the state PAC for Campaign for Houston include: County Commissioner Jack Cagle ($1000), city controller candidate Bill Frazer ($500), County Court at Law Judge Clyde Leuchtag ($50), State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst ($5000), voter registrar Mike Sullivan’s office employee Valoree Swanson ($100), former losing congressional candidate Ben Streusand ($2500), former losing judicial candidate Ric Ramos, a family lawyer whose wife is a judge ($15,000), former losing judicial candidate Don Self ($2000), Terry Lowry of the Link Letter publication ($1000), car dealer Mac Haik ($5000), and Alan Hartman ($100,000).

One needs to know who one’s enemies are. My sincere thanks to Mainstream for his diligence and persistence.

The animus that drives HERO opposition

I have often spoken of my contempt for the leaders of the HERO opposition, for their lying and their willingness to demonize their fellow man. There are a number of people who deserve that scorn, but this guy belongs up at the top.

When conservative firebrand Dr. Steven Hotze unsheathed a sword in August while speaking at a conservative rally that doubled as a campaign launch against Houston’s nondiscrimination ordinance, even some politically aligned with the longtime anti-gay activist were taken aback.

In an incendiary, lengthy address, Hotze went on to link America’s war against Nazi Germany to the war on gay rights, urging all gay Houstonians to flee to San Francisco. The sword, he said, was meant to represent God’s word, the strongest weapon against the gay community.

“The homosexuals are hate-mongers,” Hotze said at the time. “They hate God, they hate God’s word, they hate Christ, they hate anything that’s good and wholesome and right. They want to pervert everything.”

But since the speech, which played out on Twitter and drew media attention, Hotze largely has dulled his rhetoric against gay rights, at least when it comes to the equal rights ordinance now before voters. Instead, Hotze quietly has bankrolled opponents and stuck to the campaign’s biggest talking point: that the law would allow men, including sexual predators, into women’s restrooms.

This message is notable for its stridency and for what ordinance supporters say is its fear-mongering inaccuracy, but also because it shunts aside Hotze’s decades-long war against gays and lesbians. The campaign instead aims only at transgender residents, and in particular transgender women, who were born male but identify as female.

Evidence suggests the strategy is a politically savvy one.

Despite recent social and legal victories for gays and lesbians – from growing public acceptance to earning the right last June to marry in any state – research and polling data show transgender residents are starting from nearly scratch. Supporters say that makes the protections extended to transgender residents under the law even more crucial.

“Transgender people are at least 20 years behind the larger gay and lesbian community in terms of public understanding and acceptance,” said Michael Silverman, director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. “The vast majority of Americans still report that they do not know anyone who is openly transgender. That lack of knowledge and lack of acceptance creates a gap that our opponents attempt to fill with misleading information designed to scare people.”

[…]

Opponents’ targeted approach is the one they must take, said ACLU of Texas director Terri Burke, having been forced by growing acceptance to abandon anti-gay rhetoric.

That Hotze has been relatively muted on the issue of sexual orientation in recent months is in stark contrast to his approach when City Council passed the law 11-6 last year. While opponents were gathering thousands of signatures in an effort to force a repeal referendum, Hotze emailed conservative Steven Baer and cast the law as part of a “tide of homosexual perversion sweeping over the country,” according to emails obtained by the Chronicle.

Hotze, through Woodfill, declined to be interviewed for this story.

“Let’s collaborate and join forces. Houston, Texas is ground zero on this issue,” he wrote. “We will repeal the pro-homosexual ordinance here and breath fire into the hearts of our brethren across Texas and the nation.”

See also this story, which looks at this from the perspective of being transgender. People who oppose HERO have a variety of reasons for doing so. I don’t find any of those reasons meritorious, but some of them are more respectable than others. But whatever one’s reason may be for opposing HERO, this is what the rest of the country will hear and internalize if HERO is defeated. I don’t know about you, but if I opposed HERO for some technical reason that had nothing to do with Steve Hotze’s seething hatred, the fact that I was nonetheless on the same side as Steve Hotze would make me awfully uncomfortable. You may say that it’s not fair for you and your reasonable objections to HERO to be lumped with a raving maniac like Hotze. Well, last I checked life wasn’t fair, and so unless you’re out there publicly denouncing the likes of Hotze and his hate, how is anyone who doesn’t know you to tell the difference? I guarantee you, there are only two possible post-referendum narratives that will appear in the media. One is that Houston beat back an effort to repeal its equal rights ordinance. The other is that anti-gay groups prevailed in their effort to repeal said ordinance, with the likes of Hotze and Jared Woodfill and Dave Wilson out there in the spotlight getting the attention and becoming for at least a little while the public face of our town. If you don’t like that idea, then the one thing you can do about it is not be on their side when you go vote. Because if you are on their side when you vote, your own reasons for doing so won’t matter. No one’s going to hear you when you try to explain.

8 day finance reports: Pro- and anti-HERO

First, from the inbox:

HoustonUnites

Houston Unites has raised nearly $3 million in support of Proposition 1 from late August through last Saturday, according to the campaign’s finance report submitted to the city today. Almost 75 percent of all donors were from Houston.

“Compared to the handful of wealthy opponents funding the rollback of needed protections for African-Americans, Latinos, women and veterans, we have put together a massive, diverse grassroots coalition backing Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager of Houston Unites. “We anticipate this to be the closest of races, so these final days are critical for HERO supporters to keep investing in the campaign.”

Highlights of the finance report include:

  • More than 85 percent of the total donors to Houston Unites were from Texas.
  • More than 1,100 of the 1,500 total donors were from Houston.
  • Total raised was $2,971,491.
  • More than $100,000 was raised online from more than 1,000 donors.

Here’s their report. Here also are the reports for the Human Rights Campaign for HERO PAC, the Business Coalition for Prop 1 PAC, and the anti-HERO Campaign for Houston PAC. In case you’re wondering, the name Bob McNair does not appear anywhere in that report. I assume this is because he had merely pledged to give $10K before having his mind changed, so with no money actually changing hands there’s nothing to report. Those of you who are more in tune with the legal requirements, please correct me if I’m wrong on that. There’s also the No On Prop 1 PAC, but they had not reported as of yesterday, so the antis do have more than this, we just don’t have all the details yet.

I did not scan through the Houston Unites report last night – I may do so later, and we have their summary, so we’ll go with that for now. The Business Coalition has four donors – cash donations from Bret Scholtes ($500) and Haynes & Boone LLP ($5,000), and pledges from the Greater Houston Partnership ($71,760) and United Airlines ($10,000). They spent all their money on print ads – $77,500 in the Chronicle, $9,760 in the Houston Business Journal – which may sound weird until you remember that the average age of a Houston voter in this election is expected to be about 69. Newspaper print ads seems like a reasonable way to reach that demographic.

As for the Campaign for Houston, they listed 45 contributions, for a total of $62,495 raised. Forty-one came from individual donors, 21 of whom were non-Houston residents (one Houston person gave twice), with two familiar names: Andrew (son of Phyllis) Schlafly, and former HCC Trustee Yolanda Flores (no middle name given, but the ZIP code points to her). One donor listed in this group rather than the “corporations or labor unions” line item on the subtotals cover sheet page 3, was TriStar Freight, which gave $2,500. Don’t ask me why they did that, I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is the names of the three corporate donors:


Contributor Name             Amount
===================================
Trinity Equity Partners LLP  50,000
Texas Outhouse Inc            5,000
The Education Valet Inc         250

I shit you not (sorry not sorry) about that middle one. They list $88,195 in expenses, of which a bit less than $45K is for media buys. They’re running that disgusting bathroom ad during the evening news, or at least they did last night on KPRC at 6. I have no idea how many of those spots that kind of money can buy. This Chron story documents the ad wars; I can confirm that the pro-HERO folks have mail going out as well, one of which landed in my box yesterday. Campaign for Houston also lists a $50K outstanding loan, which isn’t detailed on this form but is presumably the same Hotze loan from their 30 day report.

Other 8 day reports are coming in as well – you can find them here and by searching here. I’ll do my best to update the Election 2015 page as we go this week.

Steven Hotze in his own words

Media Matters sat in on a conference call of professional haters, and, well, see for yourself.

Fox News hero and prominent Texas conservative Dr. Steven Hotze warned supporters during a conference call that gay activists want to overturn laws prohibiting pedophilia, calling gay people “perverted and deviant.”

On September 10, Conservative Republicans of Texas leader Steven Hotze held a “Marriage Battle Plan” conference call with supporters, aimed at laying out a “battle plan” for combating “pro-homosexual rhetoric and propaganda” in federal courts. The call, which also featured Texas GOP chairman candidate Jared Woodfill, was pitched as “a meeting that liberals will be talking about for years.”

During the call, Hotze warned that “perverted and deviant” homosexuals were attempting to overturn laws against pedophilia in order to recruit young boys into homosexuality — a sentiment Woodfill didn’t contest:

Hotze repeated the myth that gay people have lifespans “20 to 30 years shorter than the average person,” calling homosexuality “an unhealthy lifestyle” that “needs to be stopped”:

Hotze warned that, if same-sex marriage were recognized in Texas, children would be taught how to be gay:

He asked listeners to “stand up and fight” against homosexuality, comparing it to cancer:

Woodfill added that the gay “political agenda” included pushing for “universal acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle”:

In addition to Woodfill, Hotze’s conference call also featured Brian Camenker, president of the fringe anti-gay hate group MassResistance.

There’s audio at the post in each place where you see a colon above, so click over and have a listen. I like to think that I’ve lost my capacity to be surprised by this sort of thing, but every time I do someone like Steven Hotze goes and does something like this. I have not lost my capacity to be amazed at the amount of lying that people who consider themselves to be disciples of Christ are willing and able to do. This is what we’re up against, not just in the HERO fight but overall. They’re a dying breed but they’re still here now and they won’t go quietly. You want to help deposit them into the garbage can of history, you need to show up and vote, this year and every year.

Hotze sues Obamacare

You would think that once the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional that that would settle things, but then you would not be Steve Hotze.

It's constitutional - deal with it

It’s constitutional – deal with it

Steve Hotze, a Houston-area physician and major Republican campaign donor who has built his career around alternative medicine, says he is filing suit against the federal government to try to prevent the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act in Texas.

He’ll announce the suit, to be filed against U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, on Tuesday morning in a press conference hosted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Hotze, the president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, said his suit will address “new and unconstitutional problems that stem from Obamacare.”

“It is imperative that Texas challenge this unwarranted federal overreach and ensure that Texans maintain the most innovative and economically viable health care system in the country,” he wrote in a statement.

Hotze has built a lucrative practice in suburban Houston around nontraditional therapies and treatments for allergies, thyroid problems and yeast infections. He’s best known for promoting natural progesterone replacement therapy for women, a treatment the FDA has questioned the effectiveness of. As recently as 2011, he had a daily health and wellness show on Republican Sen. Dan Patrick’s Houston radio station, KSEV.

At first I thought this was just another example of wingnut rage against the machine, another desperate act by another impotent Obama hater who doesn’t care about the millions of people that lack access to health care. But then I remembered that Hotze is not a traditional doctor as we tend to think of them, and as a commenter on that Trib story suggests this may simply be about reforms in Obamacare affecting his own bottom line. It’s not clear to me how or why that might be the case, however, since alternate medicine is largely included in the Affordable Care Act, and as that Press story notes, insurance companies had already refused to pay for Hotze’s drugs, supplements, and what have you that you could only get at his in-house pharmacy. The Trib story is now updated, and it fills in some details:

The lawsuit presents two constitutional challenges: First, it argues that the ACA violates the rule that requires revenue-raising bills to begin the U.S. House, because the original bill began as a tax credit bill for veterans —not a revenue-raising bill. Second, the lawsuit argues that the ACA violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution by essentially requiring citizens to pay money to other citizens by compelling employers to pay private insurance companies for health coverage.

Because Hotze’s business, Braidwood Management, has more than 50 employees, the law requires him to purchase employee health insurance or pay a $2,000 penalty for every full-time employee above a 30-employee threshold.

“This is going to be a huge expense. I’m grateful that Dr. Hotze is stepping forward,” state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said at the press conference. “I think he’ll have the support of many business owners and people around the state.”

Hotze said Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott were made aware of his intention to file a lawsuit, and none objected. Dewhurst was originally scheduled to speak at the press conference but did not attend.

The state of Texas will not be involved in pursuing or paying for the lawsuit. Hotze plans to cover the costs of the suit and has established a legal defense fund for other individuals and businesses to donate to his cause.

I’m not a lawyer, and having read numerous analyses when the first lawsuit was filed about how it was going to get slamdunked by SCOTUS I’m not going to say that it’s bogus and doomed to fail. But I will note that none of Perry, Dewhurst, or Abbott bothered to show up to Hotze’s press conference, and none will be helping out with it. I mean, if Greg “I sue the Obama administration for fun” Abbott isn’t right there holding Hotze’s hand, that suggests to me that maybe he’s not all that high on the merits of the suit. Indeed, Texas Politics adds on about that:

Phillip Martin of the progressive activist group Progress Texas said: “Hotze’s lawsuit appears to be a copy-cat lawsuit of one already filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation. As the Department of Justice has already stated, the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act actually began as House Resolution 3590. It went through a ‘gut and amend’ process in the Senate, and became the law as it is today. In the history of the Supreme Court, only 8 “Origination Clause” cases – like the one presented by the Pacific Legal Foundation and copied, months after the fact, by Hotze – have been heard, and not once has the court invalidated an act of Congress because of it.”

The Progress Texas blog cites that same Houston Press story I linked to above, which includes a summary of some of Hotze’s wacko beliefs. I haven’t seen a copy of the lawsuit itself so I can’t tell you any more about it, but hopefully it will appear online eventually. The Observer has more.