Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), Speaker of the Texas House, gave the state of Texas a gift last night (Tuesday, August 15) when he abruptly ended the First Called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature. Members of the Texas House were in the midst of debating needed reforms, and despite vocal objection, Straus brought the gavel down and adjourned. By doing so, Straus officially opened the primary election season for March 2018.
Thank you, Mister Speaker, for the gift of clarifying (yet again) to the whole state that the Texas House of Representatives needs a new speaker.
Now, the rest of Texas knows what we have seen and experienced in the Capitol since 2009: the obstructionist tactics of the leadership of the Texas House of Representatives. Maybe now House members will act to finally elect a Pro-Life, conservative speaker as their leader. If House members do not capitalize on this dictatorial leadership, if House members do not rebuke Straus’s thwarting of them, if House members do not accept this gift that Straus tied with a bow, they, too must go.
A mysteriously missing Pro-Life bill, property tax reform, privacy protection, and so much more died under Joe Straus this brutal summer.
At every step in the legislative process, Pro-Life advocates have had to work around, rather than with, the leadership of the Texas House to pass bills supported by the vast majority of the House members and the majority of Texans. House leadership thumbed their noses at Governor Abbott, killing many of the needed reforms set forth in his agenda for the First Called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature. An agenda, remember, that Straus with no qualifications or exception called a “pile of manure.” During the special session, Joe Straus and his hitman, Byron Cook of Corsicana, employed the same political tactics that have repeatedly killed Pro-Life measures.
Cook’s and Straus’ systematic slaughter of Pro-Life bills won’t end unless House leadership changes. Open season on Texas RINOs (Republicans-In-Name-Only) begins now, and our priority race is House District 8, (mis)represented by Byron Cook.
While we are thanking the speaker for the gavel that likely dashed the prospects of many of the moderates to return to office in the pink dome, we should thank him, too, for never being shy to reveal his management style that has for years caused the death of countless Pro-Life bills—thus causing the need for these special sessions. Whenever the speaker, Byron Cook, et al., kill Pro-Life bills and needed conservative reforms, we land in special session or with conservative measures being deemed “emergency items” when leadership’s apathy and hostility to these issues are under the microscope and when expedited rules facilitate the passage of Pro-Life and other bills.
So for not being Pro-Life in 2009, Mister Speaker, we thank you because Governor Perry knew that he needed to fast-track the Sonogram Bill through your deadly House in 2011.
So for not passing Medicaid reform in 2011, thank you, Mister Speaker. Because in the special session of 2011, we were able to add a rule to SB 7 to restrict funding for the abortion industry.
So for killing our bills in 2013, thank you, Mister Speaker and Byron Cook. You caused a special session in 2013 (two actually) during which four Pro-Life bills passed in one Pro-Life omnibus.
So for trying to hijack HB 3994 in 2015, Mister Speaker, we thank you because we were able to force the stronger version through Senate amendments so that pregnant teens are protected from predators.
And for trying to kill the bill on ban dismemberment abortions, yes, we’re appreciative of that, too, because….well, voters have really responded to knowing that the leadership of the Texas House is okay with helpless, fully formed babies being ripped from the womb limb by limb. So thanks for that, too.
And now, Mister Speaker, thank you for this month of blistering heat inside and outside the capitol. Because had you not killed Pro-Life bills during the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature, we would not be thankful for these four bittersweet legislative victories from this special session.
Passage of the DNR Consent bill marks a hard fought win from this special session. One in fact, that Chairman Cook singlehandedly nearly killed with political games and placing disingenuous demands on Pro-Life members. The Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) authorizes hospitals to end life-sustaining care against the wishes of the patient or the patient’s family and remains a deadly blemish on Texas’ Pro-Life record since 1999. While the DNR Consent bill is an important step, reform to the whole of TADA remains elusive, thanks to you, Mister Speaker and Byron Cook.
Passage of the Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform marks another win. The Senate passed this bill five times over three sessions, but the House killed the bill each time. Thank you, Mister Speaker. Finally, in the last few weeks, the loophole-free insurance bill was pried from Byron Cook’s death grip and has now been signed into law. The abortion reporting reforms passed in the special session are important, but they should have been in place for years in order to provide lawmakers with accurate information about abortions in our state. Codifying commonsense reporting requirements can hardly be seen as a major accomplishment in a Pro-Life state, Mister Speaker.
HB 14 would have prohibited municipalities from contracting with abortion clinics and their affiliates, which is the next step in fully defunding the abortion industry in Texas. Yet, without justification or explanation, House Bill 14 did actually die during this special session. The majority of Texans and the majority of House members support the legislation. And yet, one man blocked HB 14from passing. Thank you, Mister Speaker, for giving us more reason to expose Byron Cook in his re-election efforts.
Texans are demanding that their elected officials be held accountable for the political games that killed Pro-Life reforms. Thank you, Mister Speaker, for demanding such fealty to you and your henchmen that the wheels are finally in motion to oust you and replace you with a true, Pro-Life conservative.
Conservative Texans have spent too many sessions watching their top priorities languish in politically motivated committees and die in backroom deals. Texans demanded that their elected officials #PassThemAll. They must choose between the obstructionist policies of House leadership and the will of the people.
Elizabeth Graham Director, Texas Right to Life
It’s summer, and the marriage business is booming. During these hot summer months, wedding venues are cashing in and years of Pinterest dreams are finally becoming a reality.
But all year round, wary Millennials and hopeful newlyweds want to know the secret to making intimacy and marital bliss last. Among the many secrets and tricks for safeguarding your marriage, there is one piece of advice that often falls through the cracks, but interestingly enough, it’s divorce lawyers who are raising the alarm.
There, at the dreaded end, around a table full of grievances and wounds accumulated throughout the years, divorce lawyers have begun to notice a trend: Porn is ruining marriage.
In an informal meeting survey in 2002, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers questioned 350 divorce attorneys and found that roughly 60 percent reported that internet porn played a significant role in the divorces, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases.
It’s not just lawyers who are picking up on the trend. In 2005, Dr. Jill Manning, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in sexual addiction, pornography, or betrayal trauma, brought her research on porn and its connection to divorce before the Senate. According to Manning’s research, 56 percent of divorce cases involve one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
John Mathews*, Family Law and Divorce Attorney, has also found porn to be a prevalent problem within his practice. Mathews explains that, in most cases, spouses deny porn use. But during discovery, a process wherein each spouse is given a list of questions to answer under oath, and during the back and forth between spouses as he tries to understand the complaints, he sees clearly the role porn plays in crumbling marriages.
Mathews explains that porn is most often cited amongst complaints of “Constructive Desertion,” meaning the spouse is at fault for emotionally abandoning their partner and withdrawing from sexual intimacy. Mathews says that he has had several cases in which a husband can’t stop engaging with porn, causing him to withdraw from quality time that could be spent with his wife. Most often, Mathews explains, porn use takes its toll by creating false expectations for physical intimacy. “I have had many cases where the husband won’t even touch his wife and several cases in which the spouses have not had sex in three or four years,” Mathews says.
In recent years there has been plenty of research documenting the addictive powers of porn and its ability to ruin sexual intimacy. But it’s eye-opening to hear it from lawyers who document the couples’ stories, from “I do” to the piles of paperwork at the end.
The burning question then is: If divorce lawyers have been raising the red flag on porn use in marriage since 2002, why are we only just starting to hear about it in the past couple years?
In a humble and heartfelt open letter to readers in 2016, Dr. John Gottman explains that even today there are varying theories on how to manage porn use in marriage. According to Dr. Gottman, many marriage counselors recommend that couples merely accept porn use, especially by men, as natural and harmless. In fact, Dr. Gottman admits that in the past, he had even recommended porn use in the hopes of increasing intimacy for couples who were struggling with intimacy after the birth of a child. But, in his 2016 letter, Dr. Gottman corrected his recommendation and now stands by research that indicates porn is indeed destructive to intimacy.
“First, intimacy for couples is a source of connection and communication betweentwo people. But when one person becomes accustomed to masturbating to porn, they are actually turning away from intimate interaction. Second, when watching pornography, the user is in total control of the sexual experience, in contrast to normal sex in which people are sharing control with the partner. Thus a porn user may form the unrealistic expectation that sex will be under only one person’s control. Third, the porn user may expect that their partner will always be immediately ready for intercourse (see Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski). This is unrealistic as well.”
Dr. Gottman’s years of research on marital intimacy align with what divorce lawyers have been witnessing for at least the past fifteen years: Porn use destroys marital intimacy and significantly increases the chances that your marriage will end.
For those of us Millennials who are looking toward marriage with a discerning eye, this warning could not come urgently enough. The chances that your partner uses porn is high. According to a 2006 study, 84 percent of people ages 18 to 49 view porn. Yes, that likely includes that nice guy you met at church. Porn use is addictive, and you shouldn’t shame or vilify your partner if he uses, but when it comes to having a healthy relationship that can stand the test of time, couples who talk about porn and create boundaries to protect their marriage from it are much better off.
Want to know how to discuss porn with your partner? Read on.
*Attorney’s name was changed, at his request, to protect the privacy of his clients.
Photo Credit: Shelby Deeter