Sunday, February 11, 2007

ntl celebrates black history: senfronia thompson

State Representative Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, stood on the House floor in Austin back in 2005 and said the following poignant words:
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.
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 hatred.
Thompson was talking about the 2005 referendum to constitutionally ban same-sex unions in the state of Texas (a measure that would eventually be voter-approved).

Called "a Democrat to watch," Senfronia Thompson has long been a supporter of equal rights. Her opposition to the discriminatory marriage bill was not the first time she took a stand. She was one of the lawmakers that, in 2003, left the state in protest of Tom DeLay's redistricting fiasco.
Thompson demonstrated her staunch principles last spring when she and 51 of her House colleagues walked out of the Legislature and checked into a motel in Ardmore, Okla. Their absence denied the Republicans the quorum they needed to carry through a scheme by Rove and DeLay for a midterm redrawing of the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts.
Thompson has never been afraid to stand up to the Republicans in power, either. After the famous 2003 walkout, returning Democrats were treated unfairly and consistently undermined by the majority. Thompson openly objected to this treatment.
The Republican leadership also unleashed a full-scale vendetta against the Democrats, with $57,000 fines on each of the Democrats for their walkout. “We must pay it out of our own income, not from campaign funds,” Thompson said. The Republicans also reduced the expense allowance for Democratic staff members to $200 per month. The staff workers parking privileges have been revoked and their vehicles are ticketed and towed if they park in Capitol parking lots. When Democrats attempt to speak, their microphones are turned off.

During floor debate on redistricting, Thompson displayed her disgust at the GOP’s arrogant disregard for House procedures. She walked up to the podium holding up the House rulebook, thick as a Manhattan phone directory, and dropped it with a bang on the floor. The widely respected Texas columnist, Molly [Ivins], wrote that Thompson’s act was an eloquent protest against what she called the “creepin’ fascism” of the Republicans.
“The Republicans in Texas didn’t want to play by the rules,” Thompson said. “Or they make the rules up as they go along. Their aim is to terminate the Democrats.”
In 2006, Thompson ran for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Predictably, she was defeated by incumbent Tom Craddick. But once again, she wasn't afraid to take a stand, even when the odds were stacked against her.

Born in 1939 in Booth, Texas, and raised in Houston, Thompson has served in the State House longer than any other African-American, and longer than any other woman in Texas history. In addition to her numerous achievements, Thompson was named 1995's “Woman of the Year” by the bipartisan Texas Women's Political Caucus.

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