Tell John Cornyn to Withdraw Support for Judicial Nominee Jeff Mateer

We call upon Senator John Cornyn to publicly withdraw support from Jeff Mateer, who is nominated for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.  We request that the senator vote against his confirmation both in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate Floor.

Mateer has called a first grader part of “Satan’s plan” because she is transgender. Regardless of where Sen. Cornyn stands on civil rights for the LGBT community, surely he can agree that someone who would make such a cruel and biased statement is not fit to serve as a judge.

We were heartened to hear that Sen. Cornyn is reviewing with his staff the new information that has come to light about Jeff Mateer, and we believe the only appropriate response to the nominee’s bigoted remarks about Sen. Cornyn’s LGBT constituents (and his other disqualifying statements) is for the senator to immediately withdraw his support.

Mateer doesn’t believe the Constitution protects  any LGBT civil rights. He says, “I’ve read the 14th Amendment thousands of times…I don’t see anything about right to same-sex marriage. I don’t see anything saying right to homosexuality. I don’t see anything about right to privacy.”

But that’s not surprising from someone who doesn’t even believe the Constitution protects religious freedom, saying that there is no “provision in the Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state verbatim.”

We encourage the senator to take his role of advice and consent on behalf of Texas, and as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee very seriously. If he rubber stamps this unfit judge, he puts loyalty to President Trump above ensuring that the people of Texas can rely on an fair and decent judiciary.

Call to Action

Please call Sen. Cornyn today and say:

Thank you for reviewing the new information that has come to light about Jeff Mateer who is up for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Calling a young child part of “Satan’s plan” because she is transgender makes Mateer unfit to serve on the federal bench. Please publicly withdraw support from this nominee and vote against his confirmation in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate Floor.

October 19: Sarah Kendzior in Austin

We are excited to kick off our new speaker series, “Understanding Autocracy,” with the writer Sarah Kendzior. Get tickets below or on Eventbrite.

Kendzior has been eerily prescient about the Trump administration.

Her essay “We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump,” published on November 18, 2016, stands alongside works by Masha Gessen and other experts on authoritarianism as a roadmap for what to expect, and what we can do about it.

Kendzior’s writing appears in The Globe and Mail and many other publications, and she is a frequent guest on NPR, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, CBC News, BBC World Service and other broadcast outlets.

As part of a new series called “Understanding Autocracy,” Indivisible Austin is proud to host an opportunity to hear Sarah Kendzior speak and answer your questions.


Indivisible Austin strives to be a vocal ally for marginalized communities. A portion of proceeds from our Understanding Autocracy speaker series will go toward local organizations working to change systemic injustice and inequity. These are two organizations we are supporting.

Austin Justice Coalition is a grassroots, activist-led organization addressing community needs, increasing political involvement, empowering communities, and criminal justice reform at the local level.

Mama Sana Vibrant Woman is a community organization that works to facilitate access to culturally appropriate and quality, prenatal and postnatal care for women of color in Austin and Travis County.

Our Commitment to Showing Up

Re-posted from TX21 Indivisible with minor edits and permission:

It hasn’t been a week since the Charlottesville terrorism, and it’s the only thing on some of our minds. Organizers in particular, many of whom have been recruiting people to show up to all the things for seven months running, are asking ourselves whether personal risk has been materially escalated or if it’s always been this high. In the end, every activist must choose for themselves how and when they will show up, and that has been true since forever. It just feels like the stakes are really high now.

With that in mind, and knowing that many of us are committed to showing up, please be sure to exercise caution and make safe choices. A few suggestions:

  • Read / re-read this protest safety document, authored by George Schorn.
  • If you can, take a protest safety course. Let us know when you see training opportunities!
  • If you’re worried about being publicly identified, google yourself preemptively and see what information is available about you on the internet. And then take steps to scrub whatever you wouldn’t want a rabid militia member to know about you.
  • Attend rallies and protests with a buddy. Stick together and keep each other calm, cool-headed, and safe.
  • Make sure that your phone battery is charged and, if possible, bring an extra battery so you can be connected at all times.
  • Let others who are not attending know where you’ll be, and when you should be home. Have a check-in plan for after the event.
  • If there’s an “alt-right” / white supremacist / hate protest and you opt out of the counter-protest, consider contributing to a fundraiser like this one, so you can protest with your dollars instead.
  • “Sheet-caking” as per Tina Fey’s recommendation has not been proven an effective activist technique, but you can decide for yourself.

With appreciation for everything you’ve done and continue to do to fight for progressive values for all,

TX21 Indivisible

 

Ask Michael Dell to Resign from the Manufacturing Council

***UPDATE August 18, 2017***

Michael Dell sent a statement to employees. While it decries “hatred, violence, racism, and terrorism racism,” it does not mention the manufacturing council or the president’s comments.

***UPDATE August 16, 2017***

Trump shut down the Manufacturing Council after several CEOs quit.

Michael Dell was not among those quitting. (A meeting of the council was scheduled for later in the day, and it was widely expected that the council would disband on its own.)

Michael Dell’s silence is confounding. It doesn’t matter that he is a major Republican donor; many Republicans have issued strong statements condemning hate groups and Trump’s tacit endorsement of those groups.

If Michael Dell wants to continue attracting talent from Austin’s diverse workforce, he needs to condemn the president’s statements, and explain his decision to stick with the council when other CEOs were fleeing. Because no one wants to work for a leader who lacks moral clarity.

***Original post below***

In January, Donald Trump announced the creation of a Manufacturing Council to work with the administration’s efforts on job creation. The council consists of business leaders from a broad range of industries. It’s a largely symbolic council; they seldom meet, and it’s unclear, what, if any jobs have been created as a result. But symbols matter — especially now, when hate groups draw inspiration from Nazism and other dark forces of history.

In the aftermath of the white supremacist domestic terrorism in #Charlottesville and the Trump administration’s inadequate response, a diverse coalition of activists are pressuring the members of the council to resign. Austin-area Indivisible groups will join those pressuring these CEOs.

We have decided to start local with Michael Dell. As CEOs resign, we will move on to others.

This is a campaign that needs social media to be successful! Companies have staff specifically tasked with monitoring social media, watching out for negative tweets and comments about their brand in real time. Join us in creating a tidal wave of demands that Michael Dell denounce this administration’s tolerance for bigotry and hatred, and its cozy relationship with white supremacists and anti-Semites, and resign from the Manufacturing Council.

What you can do:

  1. Tweet @Dell and @MichaelDell, asking Michael Dell to resign from this council. Retweet others who are doing the same. (Suggested hashtags: #QuitTheCouncil #DitchDell.)
  2. Visit the Dell Facebook page and write a post with your concerns, and send them a direct message, too.
  3. Call Dell at 1-800-624-9897 and demand that Michael Dell leave the Manufacturing Council.

Ben Wikler of MoveOn has an insightful Twitter thread about why social media pressure works on brands and companies:

 

 

Charlottesville Solidarity Vigils (will be updated as events unfold)

We’ve included vigils taking place in the Congressional districts that include Austin, though some locations are far afield. If you know of other vigils, please let us know! You can comment on this post directly and we’ll get a message. These vigils have been organized by different groups. We’ve included a link to an event page where applicable.

Sunday, August 13

Bastrop
7:30 p.m.
Bastrop County Courthouse Gazebo, 804 Pecan Street, Bastrop, TX 78602

Brenham
8 p.m.
Brenham Courthouse, 100 E Main St # 304, Brenham, TX 77833

La Grange/Fayette County
8 p.m.
Fayette County Courthouse, 151 N. Washington St., Rm. 102. La Grange, Texas 78945

San Antonio
8 p.m.
Travis Park, 311 E Travis St, San Antonio, TX 78205

Austin
9 p.m.
City Hall, 301 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

Wednesday, August 16

Round Rock
7 p.m.
St. Paul AME Church
407 N. Sheppard St., Round Rock, Texas 78664

Saturday, August 19

Wimberley
8 p.m.
Blue Hole Regional Park
100 Blue Hole Ln, Wimberley, Texas 78676

 

 

Statements from Our Lawmakers on the White Supremacist Violence in Charlottesville

These are in chronological order.

The offensive behavior displayed in Charlottesville is an attack on our American values. Racism and violence have no…

Posted by John Carter on Saturday, August 12, 2017

 

 

 

 

Why I Risk Heat Stroke For Healthcare — A Texas Protester’s Story

Guest post by Emily Wolinsky, posted with permission

It’s July in Texas. I’m not sure if those of you who are not from Texas understand just how hot it becomes at this time of year for people living in this state, but this kind of sweltering sweatfuckery is hard to for most non-Texans to comprehend unless you live it. To paint a picture — Just a few days ago, my friend said she woke up on the ground. She was outside working and passed out from the heat. Most people would go to the hospital after passing out like that — Not here and not most Texans. She just picked herself up off the ground, dusted off her jeans, drank a bottle of water, and got back to her yard work.

Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: 1 Year In Nursing Facility = $82,128, Care at Home = $25,254, TrumpCare (the word “care” in quotes) is not fiscally responsible! Vote No! = Save Lives!
Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: 1 Year In Nursing Facility = $82,128, Care at Home = $25,254, TrumpCare (the word “care” in quotes) is not fiscally responsible! Vote No! = Save Lives!

So yesterday, when I arrived at the location of the second pro-healthcare/anti-deathcare rally that I’ve attended in a week in Austin — in July — at the “Peak of Hell Fire” time of day — you probably can imagine that going out into this heat wasn’t my or anyone’s idea of a dream way to kick back after a long day of work. Yet, me and around two hundred “liberal snowflakes” like me grabbed our protest signs, bottles of water, and our bullhorns, and dragged our asses out to the sidewalks surrounding this posh hotel in northwest Austin where Cruz was set to speak that evening. Our purpose — To go and telepathically tell Ted Cruz that he was a piece of shit for the millionth time.

And wowee was it hot yesterday. Heat like this makes one tired, irritable, nauseous, listless, and more adjectives that describe misery. You get to a rally like this, see all the people, and shout the chants, “Kill the bill” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Ted Cruz has got to go” the first ten times with plenty of twangy gusto, but each minute the sun bores down, the words get a bit softer, a bit softer, until you feel your lips moving, but no sound is coming out. You start to wonder if just your mere presence is enough. Eventually your protest sign, with the message you spent hours contemplating in craft-mode in your air conditioned office that afternoon, no longer serves as a sign, but a shield that protects you from the torture of the closest star in our galaxy.

After about ninety minutes, you ask yourself — “Why am I here? Does any of this matter? Will any of this change Ted Cruz’s mind and make him a real human man?” You start to feel overcome with doubt and despair and then you take a second and look around.

Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: We fight today for what you will become tomorrow. Hashtag Save Medicaid.
Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: We fight today for what you will become tomorrow. Hashtag Save Medicaid.

You see people of all ages surrounding you. Many of these people are women — young and old. You see people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to get around. You see people from all sorts of economic backgrounds. You see people with signs that discuss their form of cancer, which was treated thanks the Affordable Care Act. You see people who are obviously still sick and frail under trees, fanning themselves, hanging on for their lives. You see and hear people who are scared — who say they will die without Medicaid. You see people holding signs that say they are veterans and they feel betrayed by our politicians who have sold themselves out to corporations. You see people chanting with their hands using American Sign Language. You listen to thoughtful and intelligent commentary between the chants going on between strangers. You hear people with a sense of humor who try to make a few jokes to lighten this heavy mood. You hear and see one liberal snowflake after another liberal snowflake — And guess what? We aren’t melting. We are hot, but we will not melt.

We won’t melt because there’s a reason for all of this. People matter. Healthcare matters. Our lives and livelihoods have now morphed into budget line items, which are under threat to be crossed out by a man inside the air conditioned hotel holding the red pen. We are fighting for our lives and Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Greg Abbott, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, the G.O.P., cancer, disability, old age, PTSD, blindness, deafness, poorness, and worst of all — the Texas sun will not stop us.

The police are called by the hotel manager. We are getting too close to the large oak trees surrounding the hotel for shade. We need to get further away because we pose a threat. We with our wheelchairs, and our cancer scarves surrounding our scalps, and our orthopedic shoes, and our chants, need to stay out of Ted Cruz’s dark shadow. Ted Cruz is scared…Of Us.

And you know what? He should be.

Four things you can do to stop SB4

The time has finally come–the Texas House of Representatives is going to debate and vote on SB4 on Wednesday.

SB4 is the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill that will undermine community policing efforts and will affect our neighbors, our workforce, kids in our schools, and the relationship between police and our communities. This doesn’t just affect the immigrant community, it impacts everyone who may be asked to prove he or she is a citizen.

Here are 4 things you can do to help stop this terrible bill:

  1. Call your Texas House rep and ask them to vote AGAINST SB4:
    “Hi, my name is ________ and I am calling to demand that the Representative OPPOSE Senate Bill 4 in any form. [My family / Texas students / Texas children] deserve/s to live without fear, and to live lives of dignity and prosperity. Please tell the Representative that Texans OPPOSE SB 4 and they must too.”
  2. Join Indivisible Austin’s emergency conference call TONIGHT at 8 p.m. with representatives from United We Dream and Workers Defense Project
    Dial-in Number: 1-(712) 770-8067
    Conference Code: 409542
  3. Join Texans from across the state at the Capitol on WEDNESDAY to fill the gallery–let our representatives know we’re watching
    There are several events scheduled at the Capitol on Wednesday:
    9am – TRUST Coalition press conference, WEST Steps of the Capitol (*location changed from South to West steps*)
    10am – Person to Person Outreach for Representatives Going Into the House Chamber
    6pm – Prayer Vigil in the Rotunda
  4. Call, text, or email your friends and family members in other parts of the state and ask them to do #1!
    Here’s a target list of Texas House reps who need to hear from their constituents! Our representatives in Austin are on the right side of this issue, but there are reps across the state who need phone calls.

We have ONE LAST CHANCE to stop SB4 and protect immigrant families in our state. Please join us in rising to the challenge to #StandIndivisible and give it all we can!

April 25: Emergency Conference Call on SB4: “Sanctuary Cities” Bill

Our next conference call is on the night before the full Texas House votes on SB4, the “Sanctuary Cities” bill. We are lining up guest speakers, including Jose Garza of Workers Defense Project and Chris Valdez and Karla Perez Ramirez of United We Dream. Watch this space for more detail.

WHAT: Indivisible Austin Conference Call

WHEN: Tuesday, April 25 at 8 p.m. CT

HOW: Call 1-(712) 770-8067 / Conference Code: 409542

Facebook event

About Karla Perez Ramirez

Karla is the statewide coordinator for the United We Dream UndocuTexas campaign and a beneficiary of DACA. She is a second year law student at the University of Houston Law Center and Board member of United We Dream. English/Spanish.

About Chris Valdez

Chris works with United We Dream on Texas communications, is a court-appointed special advocate through Child Advocates in Harris County and is based in Houston. English dominant/Spanish proficient.

About Jose Garza

Jose Garza, Executive Director, Workers Defense ProjectJose Garza is Executive Director of the Workers Defense Project. Jose, who started at WDP in January 2016, is a native Texan who has devoted his career to the fight for working families and immigrant families. His homecoming to WDP is inspired by a “deep belief that this state can be a place where working families can get ahead.” (Barragan, AAS)

Jose started his career in Washington, D.C., where he worked for Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, attended law school at Catholic University, and worked for a federal district judge. He returned to Texas for the first time in 2006 to work on the border as an assistant public defender at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and then as an assistant federal public defender in the Western District of Texas.

In 2010, Jose returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Deputy General Counsel for the House Com­mit­tee on Education and Labor. He went on to work as Special Counsel to the National Labor Rela­tions Board, and most recently he served Secretary Tom Perez as a senior policy official at the U.S. Department of Labor. Garza brings extensive experience working with local, state and national labor organizations to build opportunity for working families and immigrant families.

 

Protections for Trans Students Rescinded – Call Your State Reps

Our new affiliate, TX Lege Indivisible, has a writeup on Trump’s overturning of transgender student protections and what you can do about it.

On Wednesday the Trump administration announced that it would be rescinding federal rules that simply allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that they choose.

So what does this announcement mean? It means that the issue is pushed back to the states, squarely into the court of Dan Patrick and Texas leaders at the local level, which is where lawsuits will likely begin.

So what are we going to do? There’s an excellent discussion of the brass-tacks way forward at the local-level here, but to summarize, this is going to require a lot of pressure on local and state lawmakers. In Texas, we can start by calling our state reps and demanding that they oppose #SB6. Aside from being needlessly cruel, there’s just no reason for it.

Read the whole thing here.