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Women’s reproductive healthcare rights must be restored


By Johnny Trlica

Commentary: In January of 1992, my sister and her husband were the parents of three young children, the oldest being five. They owned and operated a small machine shop in Pearland, Texas where they led a quiet but contented life.

The couple made a doctor’s appointment when my sister became concerned about a lump in her breast. Her worst fears were confirmed when she heard the words every woman lives in fear of: “You have cancer.â€

The cancer was very advanced, and her diagnosis was not good. But the doctor was not finished relaying news about her condition. She was also pregnant.

The doctors told her she had two options. One was to abort the pregnancy so the cancer could be treated as aggressively as her body would allow. Even so, her chances of beating the disease were not particularly good.

Option two was to try to bring the baby to term, and only treat the cancer to the degree that the chemotherapy and radiation would allow the unborn baby to grow and not be adversely affected by the treatment. Even still, she was given no assurances that either she or the baby would pull through.

It is important to understand that my sister, in 1992, had more healthcare rights than women in Texas do today. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, removing the federal constitutional right to abortion and allowing states to ban and restrict abortion access. Texas officials jumped at the opportunity to restrict women’s reproductive healthcare rights.

Texas is the largest state in the nation to ban nearly all abortions. There are no exceptions for rape or incest, and trying to prove a mother’s life is at risk can be a challenge. Texas abortion laws don’t make an exception for lethal fetal abnormalities, forcing some pregnant patients to carry pregnancies to term even if they are not expected to have viable outcomes.

Anyone who aids or abets an illegal abortion in Texas can be sued for wrongful death. This section of Texas abortion law is making doctors fearful of offering abortion to women as a healthcare option, even when the life of the mother is at risk. Doctors face criminal prosecution for abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

It is illegal to perform an abortion in Texas via the dispensing or mailing of the abortion-inducing medications mifepristone and misoprostol. Texas’ laws have narrow exceptions only to save the life or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function†of a pregnant patient.

Were these laws in effect in 1992, my sister most likely would not have had the options she was given.

State laws do not criminalize the person who has an abortion but Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president who is “proudly responsible†for killing abortion rights said, “There has to be some form of punishment [for women who have an abortion].†With that reasoning, would my sister have been arrested had she chosen to have an abortion?

My sister chose to try to bring her fourth child to term. The resolve and strength demonstrated during her pregnancy was awe-inspiring to behold. But she never doubted that she had made the correct choice.

In August of 1992, her baby was born at UTMB in Galveston. He was a month premature as the doctors induced labor, seeing that the mother’s health was failing, and the baby’s health would be in jeopardy otherwise.

A few days later, mother and child were released from the hospital and returned home to Pearland. On November 16, 1992, my sister, surrounded by her husband and four children, passed away quietly in her sleep. She was 34.

I learned a lot from my sister’s struggles those last few months of her life. One is to never underestimate the lengths a mother won’t go through for a child. Few people will know the sacrifices she made just to try to bring her child into the world.

Would my sister have been able to beat cancer had she aborted the pregnancy, we will never know. But it was her decision, a decision she was allowed to make, and I respected her for that.

I confess that I thought long and hard about telling my sister’s story in this context. I did not want to make her sacrifices and choices into a political statement although I am sure some will see it that way.

What I know is that as loving and caring as she was, and for whatever choices she made for herself, she would want her daughters and granddaughters to have the same rights and options as she did.

The views and opinions expressed in this aarticle are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the Montrose Star. Johnny Trlica is the editor of Houston Rainbow Herald Facebook page and has been published in several newspapers and magazines. He grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, lived for over 30 years in the Montrose and now resides in Galveston, Texas. He may be contacted at HRHeditor@gmail.com.

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Can’t Decide? Simply pick the one who is not out on bail 


By Johnny Trlica

Commentary: Should I go to JR’s or Barcode? Do I want a Shiner Bock or Bud Light? Should I sleep with my best friend or not? Decisions, decisions! Some choices are difficult to make.  

Should I take an Uber out or risk driving home from the male strip contest at Tony’s Corner Pocket? Do I want Taco Bell or Chapultepec? Do I buy a new BMW or keep my ’88 Pontiac Grand Am with the faulty brakes? Some decisions are easy to make. 

For assorted reasons, some voters are having an extremely challenging time choosing a candidate for president. The choice is between incumbent president Joe Biden, the Democrat, and the former president, Donald Trump, the Republican. 

Yes, they are both so old that they tuck their balls into their socks, but the similarities end there. Let’s sort things out.  

On the one hand, there’s the self-professed billionaire challenger who could not produce the $464 million bond he was required to pay as he appeals the judgment in his financial fraud civil trial. On the other hand, there’s the current president who is worth an estimated $10 million and is not facing 91 felony counts and is out on bail. He is also not a criminal defendant in a New York courtroom beginning on April 15. 

The Republican candidate is responsible for Roe v. Wade being overturned. His Democratic opponent is fighting to restore a woman’s reproductive freedoms. 

The orange guy was found liable in a sexual assault case and ordered by a court to pay his victim more than $80 million in damages. The other guy respects women and has nominated more women to federal courts than any other president. 

That same orange guy never met an anti-LGBTQ+ candidate he couldn’t proudly endorse. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, who Trump enthusiastically endorsed for Speaker of the House (for now) has views on the LGBTQ+ community that come straight out of the dark ages. “Homosexual relationships are inherently unnatural and, the studies clearly show, are ultimately harmful and costly for everyone,†Johnson wrote.  

Trump endorsed the G.O.P. nominee for governor of North Carolina who has described straight couples as “superior†to gay couples as well as equated LGBTQ+ people to “maggots†and “flies,” and referred to being gay and “transgenderism” as “filth.” 

Biden is an ardent Human Rights advocate and defender of LGBTQ+ equality. 

The Florida resident is responsible for torpedoing a bi-partisan border bill that included  $20 billion in funding for things like 1,500 new border agents, 4,300 asylum officers, and new innovative technology to detect and stop the flow of fentanyl. The current White House resident is ready to sign that bill when it gets to his desk. 

The 77-year-old candidate is a national joke as evidenced by his complete humiliation at the hands of Jimmy Kimmel during a live broadcast of the Oscars. “I’m really proud of something, I was wondering if I could share it with you. I just got a review and has there ever been a worse host than Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars? His opening was that of a less than average person trying too hard to be something that he is not and never can be,” Kimmel began to read. 

“Get rid of Kimmel and perhaps replace him with another washed-up but cheap ABC talent, George Slopanopoulos. He would make everybody on stage look bigger, stronger, and more glamorous. Blah, blah, blah, Make America Great Again,†he continued. 

The camera then cut to Jodie Foster as she laughed uproariously and clapped. 

“Oh. OK, now, see if you can guess which former president just posted that on Truth Social? Anyone? No?†Kimmel asked as the crowd cheered and laughed.  

“Well, thank you, President Trump. Thank you for watching, I’m surprised you’re still — isn’t it past your jail time?” Kimmel said, eliciting even more laughter and applause. 

The 81-year-old candidate has the character to laugh at himself. “One candidate’s too old and mentally unfit to be president,†President Biden said recently. “The other guy’s me.â€Â 

The (R) candidate cannot even win the support of his former vice-president. Mike Pence stunned MAGA world by announcing that he will not be endorsing his ex-boss for president, but then few of us would endorse a boss who just about got us killed.  

“It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year,†Pence said bluntly on Fox News.  

The candidate with a (D) next to his name has the whole-hearted support of his VP, and has never tried to kill her. 

If you are still undecided after knowing all this about the two candidates, there may be a psych hospital in your future, or how about you just go with the one who is not out on bail come election day.

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Court ruling could allow masturbating made a crime 


By Johnny Trlica 

Commentary: Having worked nearly thirty years in a psychiatric hospital by no means makes me an expert in psychology, but living to a ripe old age, I know crazy when I see it. The Alabama Supreme Court receives the Jack Nicholson in The Shining Award for the craziest ruling of the year (so far). 

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that fertilized eggs and embryos hold the same rights as children. Let’s repeat that. The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law. 

“The state Supreme Court decision centered on a lawsuit in which three couples sued an Alabama fertility clinic in 2020 for the ‘wrongful death’ of their frozen embryos, under a law meant to impose civil penalties for the deaths of children. The embryos were reportedly destroyed when a patient at the clinic accessed the cryogenic storage area where the embryos were kept and dropped the embryos on the floor. A circuit court judge had dismissed the lawsuit in the wrongful death suit, ruling that the statute did not apply to frozen embryos,†reported AI.com. 

The Alabama Supreme Court reversed that decision, with a majority of the justices ruling that fertilized eggs and embryos hold the same rights as children. 

“[T]he Wrongful Death of a Minor Act is sweeping and unqualified. It applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation. It is not the role of this Court to craft a new limitation based on our own view of what is or is not wise public policy. That is especially true where, as here, the People of this State have adopted a Constitutional amendment directly aimed at stopping courts from excluding ‘unborn life’ from legal protection,†the court wrote. 

Alabama has some of the strictest laws in the nation surrounding abortion. All abortion after the point of conception is illegal, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The state even attempted to outlaw women traveling to other states for their reproductive care, but the Department of Justice overturned that decision. 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022 sparked Republican-controlled states to write draconian laws regarding a woman’s right to seek an abortion.  

Ancient church doctrines believed that sex was dirty and evil, an idea that crept into Christianity from early Catholic teachings. Realizing that the act was necessary to conceive children, a compromise resulted in their teaching that sex should only be engaged in by married couples when they wanted to have children. 

The Alabama court’s decision should raise concerns on how far their religion-inspired insanity will take this nation. Will the ripple effects of the Alabama court and, with the Republican Party becoming increasingly radicalized, lead to the arrests of men who masturbate? If a frozen embryo is considered a child, should the warm semen, landing on a man’s stomach instead of impregnating a woman, be considered murder? Will right-wingers create nut police to track down masturbators? Will there be a Department of Seed Security?  

Many men masturbate several times a day, but when pleasuring one’s self becomes a crime, will they go on the down low? Do we form a secret society of masturbators, giving the old circle jerk new relevance?  

Sound crazy? Before dismissing the premise described above, consider the political atmosphere in these divided United States. Less than two years ago, a pregnant woman whose life was threatened by an unviable pregnancy could easily receive the healthcare she needed. Today, women are dying from not being able to access an abortion when needed. Alabama — and Texas, for that matter — have a complete ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest. 

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley jumped on the crazy train, agreeing that an embryo and semen is an unborn child. “I mean, I think embryos, to me, are babies,†Haley said during an interview with NBC News.  

The entire party is radicalized and will stop at nothing to win and send the entire nation back to the dark ages. They’ve already taken away abortion rights and attacked the rights of trans people. Many believe they will be coming for contraception and same-sex marriage next.  

If you think this column is far-fetched, remember that Missouri lawmakers are pushing bills that would allow for women who get an abortion to be charged with murder, Nazis were marching down the streets of Nashville last month, and people are buying five-dollar golden shoes for $399. 

Male masturbators may want to start perfecting their edging skills. We may long for the day when we thought the only negative about masturbation is that we would go blind, and not land us in county jail. 

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HRH Report

Today’s Headlines Reveal a Distorted set of Morals 


By Johnny Trlica 

Commentary: Before getting to the actual topic of this column, please allow me a little time to gloat. In September of last year, this writer made predictions about the upcoming NFL season.  

In that issue, I wrote, “The Bayou City’s NFL team begins play this month. They will not win too many games but most assuredly will win a title: The Hottest Head Coach Award. Former Texans player DeMeco Ryans was named the team’s new head coach in the off-season and if his team can look as pretty on the field as he does, it will be a good season.â€Â 

I was definitely wrong about the Texans’ win total but nailed the part about having the hottest coach and looking as good on the field as he does. The Texans had more wins this season than the previous three seasons combined. 

The September column also predicted a Kansas City/San Francisco Super Bowl matchup. Nailed it! 

Now for the topic of the day. 

“GOP candidate accused of supplying young men for disgraced Baptist leader Paul Pressler to abuse,†is the headline from LGBTQ Nation dated January 28, 2024. The story reports on a recently unearthed email from 2017. The repulsive email accuses former chairman of the Republican Party in Harris County, and staunch anti-LGBTQ+ activist, Jared Woodfill, of providing access to young men for former Texas judge and Southern Baptist leader Paul Pressler to sexually abuse. Woodfill is on the ballot next month as a candidate to represent House District 138 (Northwest Houston), along with his intentions to be Speaker of the House. 

“Utah lawmakers pass terrifying anti-transgender bathroom policing bill,†is The Advocate headline from January 27, 2024. This article informs readers about the hate-filled Utah House of Representatives passing HB 257, “a contentious bill that, if signed into law by Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, would become the first anti-LGBTQ+ bathroom ban of the year. The bill aims to stop transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, as well as restrict access to changing rooms in government-owned or operated facilities for transgender people of all ages.â€Â 

“Trump takes N.H. in blow to Haley’s candidacy,†highlights the ignorance of today’s Republican party. Dated January 23, 2024, the article lets us know that the twice impeached, over ninety times indicted, convicted sexual abuser, and convicted business fraudster, had won the New Hampshire Republican primary over his sole remaining opponent Nikki Haley. It’s more than a little terrifying that a major political party thinks that the wanna-be dictator, full of hate for anyone who opposes him, is their choice to lead the country. 

“Florida GOP lawmakers seek to ban Rainbow Pride flags in schools, saying they’re bad for students,†is Edge Media’s headline dated January 19, 2024. The column tells us about a bill advanced by Florida Republicans that would ban teachers and other government employees from displaying a rainbow flag. Flag displays that depict a “racial, sexual orientation and gender, or political ideology viewpoint†would be banned from any state or local government building, including public schools and universities. Opponents say the bill is inspired by hate.  

“Texas had more than 26K rape-related pregnancies after abortion ban, study says,†reports the Houston Chronicle in an article dated January 25, 2024. In it we learn that since the Supreme Court overturned a woman’s right to choose, more than 26,000 women and girls had rape-related pregnancies in Texas. Now that these babies are here, the next big question should be is Texas going to help these women raise these children they were, in many cases, forced to have? 

“GOP Governors Invoke the Confederate Theory of Secession to Justify Border Violations,†is the Slate headline from January 27, 2024. After the Supreme Court ruled that the razor wire on the Texas-Mexico border was illegal, Governor Abbott vowed to ignore the order. Republican governors across the country agreed with Abbott and escalated their conflict with the Biden administration over the southern border by invoking the same legal theory that slave states wielded to justify secession before the Civil War.  

Obviously, Republicans only believe in law and order when it’s the laws and orders they agree with. 

If these and other similarly outlandish headlines are not enough to make you register to vote, you are not paying attention. It’s almost like we are yelling “Fire!†in a crowded theatre, and no one is listening. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the MONTROSE STAR. Johnny Trlica is the editor of Houston Rainbow Herald Facebook page and has been published in several newspapers and magazines. He grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, lived for over 30 years in the Montrose and now resides in Galveston, Texas. He may be contacted at HRHeditor@gmail.com.

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It’s Trump that is poisoning our nation’s blood 


By Johnny Trlica

Opinion: Several years ago, I was asked, “Are you ready to switch?†That request came from a friend I’ll call Lisa, and was not concerning my sexual orientation, it was regarding my political affiliation.  

She had known my political leanings for some time and although sympathetic of her gay and lesbian friends, could not see her way to voting for the party that supported their rights. Instead, she voted with the party that actively campaigned against their rights. 

After almost eight years of Donald Trump poisoning the Republican party, I thought maybe, just maybe, Lisa had had enough. After all, surely all those indictments against the former president were bound to have changed her mind.  

In Washington, D.C., he faces four felony counts for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In Georgia, he faces thirteen felony counts for his election interference in that state. In New York, he faces thirty-four felony counts in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. In Florida, he faces forty felony counts for hoarding classified documents after he left office and impeding the government’s efforts to retrieve them. 

Lisa had witnessed an insurrection where Trump supporters attempted to stop the election certification process and more than 1,146 people have been charged with a variety of alleged offenses. 

She saw a jury find Donald Trump liable in a sex abuse case and the victim awarded over $5 million in a judgment. Lisa heard about a federal court issuing a $25 million settlement between students who were defrauded by Donald Trump and his now-defunct Trump University.  

She watched the Supreme Court of Colorado rule that Trump did engage in an insurrection against the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president.  

Lisa and her fellow Republicans have seen their party fall in line behind an evil man who shares none of their values and will stop at nothing in pursuit of fame, glory, and money.  

So, I broke the rule about bringing up politics over the holidays. I returned the question I was asked over a decade ago and asked my friend, “Do you remember several years ago when you asked me if I was ready to change parties? Well, now I’m asking you that.† 

You would have thought I asked her to strip and run naked down Main Street singing “WAP.†She was genuinely offended that I would ask her if she was ready to become a Democrat. She said, “You want me to become a Democrat?†with such disgust in her voice that it stunned me. She turned to others nearby and asked them in disbelief, “Can you believe he asked me if I was ready to become a Democrat?â€Â Â 

I quickly decided to drop the topic and changed the subject. What I realized in that moment is that too many Americans do not look at the opposite party as people with opposing views, but as utter enemies that are to be reviled and loathed. Even hated. 

How did we get to this point? Some people blame talk radio, or as many call it, hate radio. KTRH-AM, 740, is a prime example of spewing hate 24/7, except on the rare occasion when they throw in a sports or home gardening program. 

A lot of blame can be affixed to FOX News and its imitators Newsmax, OAN, and others. Viewers of those networks’ programs are fed a steady diet of racist and anti-LGBTQ+ hate-filled rhetoric.  

Given the steady diet of poison absorbed through the ears of conservatives, it should come as no surprise that when Trump uses Hitlerian phrases, they don’t blink. “They let — I think the real number is 15, 16 million people into our country. When they do that, we have a lot of work to do. They’re poisoning the blood of our country,†Trump said. “That’s what they’ve done. They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America, not just in three or four countries that we think about, but all over the world. They’re coming into our country from Africa, from Asia, all over the world. Illegal immigration is poisoning the blood of our nation.†(Adolf Hitler, responsible for the slaughter of over six million Jews during World War II, wrote in “Mein Kampf†that German blood was being poisoned by Jews.) 

Ultimately, we are all responsible for our actions and beliefs. Unfortunately, too many of us choose party over country and individual over personal morals and beliefs. And far too many of us can never admit we’ve been mistaken and double down. 

Before 2016, it’s like our nation’s politics had an I.V. trickle of poison dripping into its veins for at least a couple of decades. Donald Trump not only opened the valve but blew the vein.

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An open letter to Santa  


By Johnny Trlica

Opinion: Dear Santa, Little Johnny here. I bet you are surprised to get a letter from me since it has been a long time since I have written to you. Well, I’m all grown up now. What is it? 60 years or so? 

When I was younger my requests were simple. I remember wanting a furnished toy mobile home that came with a truck. And you delivered! I spent countless hours playing with it and rearranging the furniture inside. That was my first crack at interior design. You knew me well back then and I still have that toy. 

As I got older, I began having doubts about your existence. I never received the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, like the one in Smokey and the Bandit, that I wanted so badly. And I was an incredibly good boy that year, too. 

Then there was that time that I asked you for the Houston Oilers to “kick that door down†and go to the Super Bowl. You not only didn’t deliver on that one, but you also took my team away from me.  

Even so, I’ve decided to write to you again this year. Instead of bringing me something this Christmas, I want you to take something away. So Santa, please find it in your heart to take away the fear-mongering, truth-denying, gun-loving, conspiracy theory enabling, and in many cases the downright meanness that has infested today’s Republican party. 

Santa, can you help the right learn to love our children more than they love their guns? As you probably know, gun violence is the leading cause of death in school-age children. In 2022, our nation broke the record for school shootings. There were more than three hundred incidents of gun violence on school grounds including the mass killings at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. 

How about taking away assault rifles, the weapon of choice for mass murderers? Think of all the toys your elves could make with all that scrap metal.  

Mr. Claus, can you remove the right’s irrational fear of LGBTQ+ people, particularly the trans community? Like Rudolph, your red-nosed reindeer, trans folks are misunderstood and just want to be accepted for who they are. Ask Rudy. 

State legislatures all across the country have passed drag show bans, labeling them as sexually oriented adult entertainment. I’d like to invite you and Mrs. Claus to see a show and find out for yourself how fun they are. Bring along a few of the elves — the more the merrier. 

Santa, helps Republicans understand that a woman has a right to make her own decisions on her healthcare. Some states have enacted total bans on abortion, even if it jeopardizes the life of the mother. They do not consider if the pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest, or the age of the victim. That’s right Santa, they are mandating 10-year-old girls deliver a baby in some cases.  

So Santa, I guess I am asking for something after all. Can you please bring my Republican compatriots back to a moral center? Help them realize they have become extreme in their ideations; in fact, some would say they have become radicalized and mean.  

They laughed at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband being attacked with a hammer in his own home and made jokes about “walls.†They showed no empathy when kids drowned crossing the Rio Grand River. They showed no sympathy for kids being separated from their parents trying to immigrate, some of whom were never reunited. 

In denying the truth, they accepted lies about the 2020 election and the insurrection at the Capital; they were not tourists. They made life-saving vaccines a political game, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths.  

But that’s nothing, Santa, compared to how they defend Donald Trump. Even though he has 91 felony counts in four criminal cases and has no morals or ethics, they defend him and repeat his lies. A jury found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing a woman and awarded her $5 million in a judgment and they laughed at his victim. 

He made fun of a reporter with disabilities and made jokes about Mr. Pelosi’s attack. 

A Colorado court determined unequivocally that Donald Trump committed an “insurrection against the Constitution,†under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and they shrugged it off. Santa, please restore the Republican’s belief in our Constitution and of our legal system and courts and help them realize that the courts are not fixed against their hero.  

Santa, you know most of them are good boys and girls, err, people. But somewhere along the way, they got misdirected to the land of misfit conspiracy theories and lies. Perhaps like that night when Rudolph helped guide your sleigh, you can help guide them back to truth, fairness, reality, and being nice people.    

And dear Santa, it’s not too late to bring me that 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. 

Love, Johnny.

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Houston mayoral race presents a win-win situation   


By Johnny Trlica

Commentary: The leading candidates in next year’s presidential sweepstakes are two octogenarians, or close to it, that most Americans find are too old for the job. The current president, if he wins re-election would be 87 while the former president would be 83 when leaving office in 2029. 

According to a recent NBC News poll, 74 percent of registered voters say they have either major or moderate concerns that Biden, at age 80, doesn’t have the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term while 47 percent have the same concerns about Trump, at age 77, not having the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term. 

And 62 percent of voters have either major or moderate concerns about Trump facing different criminal and civil trials for alleged wrongdoing, including trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The former president faces 91 charges in his four criminal indictments. They include 44 federal charges and 47 state charges, all of them felonies. 

Another 60 percent have the same number of concerns about Biden’s possible awareness or involvement in the business dealings of his son, Hunter, including alleged financial wrongdoing and corruption. 

The two leading candidates in the Houston mayoral race are no spring chickens themselves, but unlike the presidential race, neither is facing criminal charges, as of today.  

If age is a determining factor to Bayou City voters, John Whitmire is 74 and Sheila Jackson Lee is 73, voters will need to look elsewhere. A recent poll from the University of Houston’s Hobby School showed Whitmire with 34 percent and Jackson Lee with 31 percent and most likely heading for a runoff. 

Age not being a factor, Houston’s LGBTQ+ community, unlike the prospective presidential choices, cannot go wrong with either candidate as both have a long history of being advocates on issues affecting our community.  

A strong case can be made for both likely runoff opponents.  

The case for John Whitmire 

Texas State Senator John Whitmire was an LGBTQ+ ally when being an LGBTQ+ ally wasn’t cool. The former brother-in-law to legendary Houston mayor Kathy Whitmire has marched in Pride parades, attended candlelight vigils for fallen LGBTQ+ victims of crime and been an outspoken advocate for drag and trans rights. 

Earlier this year while in the Texas Senate, Whitmire voted against Republican sponsored bills that call to: ban sexually explicit performances by drag queens and others in the presence of children, ban sex-changing drugs and “sex mutilation surgery†in children and require transgender student athletes to play against those of their biological sex. 

In April of this year, Whitmire voted against a bill that would repeal “woke diversity, equity and inclusion trainings†at state universities. 

Equality Texas said, Whitmire’s been in the legislature for 42 years and is still going strong. He’s exactly the type of elected official the LGBT community needs on our side.â€Â 

The case for Sheila Jackson Lee 

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is seeking a return to her old stomping grounds, having served on the Houston City Council from 1990-1995. Since then, she has represented Texas’ 18th Congressional District in Washington. 

Always present at important LGBTQ+ events, Jackson Lee is endorsed for mayor by the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus. She pledged to the organization to pass an equal rights ordinance for the city and to hire a director of LGBTQ+ affairs for her cabinet, if she is elected mayor. 

During her time in Congress, Jackson Lee voted present on the Defense of Marriage Act. In 2009, she voted for the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill that expanded the federal hate crime law to cover crimes biased on the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2010, she voted for the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act. 

Jackson Lee has supported the Equality Act, a bill that would expand the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and has criticized Republican representatives who oppose the legislation on religious grounds. 

A split endorsement 

Houston’s LGBTQ+ community is in an enviable position. The two leading candidates in the mayoral race are strong proponents of equal rights for all marginalized communities and we cannot go wrong should either one become the next mayor.  

Both John Whitmire and Sheila Jackson Lee have decades long histories of serving the public. Age should never play a factor in deciding an election; the candidate’s ability to serve and their stance on the issues are what matters. 

Both Whitmire and Jackson Lee are qualified to lead the fourth largest city in the nation. Whitmire will have strong connections in Austin while Jackson Lee will have strong connections in Washington. Vote for either candidate on November 7. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the MONTROSESTAR. Johnny Trlica is the editor of Houston Rainbow Herald Facebook page and has been published in several newspapers and magazines. He grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, lived for over 30 years in the Montrose and now resides in Galveston, Texas. He may be contacted at HRHeditor@gmail.com.  

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‘Leave it alone’ post works both ways  


By Johnny Trlica

Commentary: A viral post attributed to country music singer Hank Williams Jr. portends to encourage people to live and let live. Reading between the lines, it also has a darker side that takes the right-wing mantra of being oppressed and being reduced to second-class citizenship. 

Williams’s Facebook post shares a long-winded quote that tells people to “leave it alone†if they are offended by something. The post mentions statues, Gone With The Wind, the Bible, police and military bases, among other things. It accuses others of using intimidation, blackmail and force to get their way. Projection much? 

The shared post begins with: “Hank Williams Jr. just climbed the charts with this post! Posted by Hank Williams Jr. “If you are offended by something then leave it alone. Cracker Barrel offends you, then eat somewhere else, but I like it so leave it alone. A statue offends you, then don’t go see it, but I like to see them as my history, so leave them alone.â€Â 

It continues with diatribe about vegetarians, then segues into Gone with the Wind, worshipping God, and the left wanting the Bible banned. (We don’t.)  “So don’t read it, but don’t say I can’t. Leave it alone,†the post adds.  

The post finishes with, “You don’t like the names of military bases, but I do, so leave them alone and stay away from them. You don’t like the police force, then don’t call them when you are in trouble, but leave them alone so I feel safer having them. 

“Why are the things you want so much more important than what I want? Are your demands greater than my likes? Is it because you use intimidation, blackmail, and force to get your way- that you do? Let’s make a deal. I will leave what you like alone, and you leave what I like alone, and the world will be a better place for everyone. 

“Copy And Paste if it so moves you to do so, but it’s exactly how I feel!! ENOUGH already people!!! WAKE UP AMERICA.â€Â 

While all of that may sound good but when it is put into practice, the hypocrisy becomes evident. Hank should have aimed his directions at conservatives since they are the ones attacking every group that does not agree with them. They are the ones that are going to school board and city hall meetings demanding books be banned. They are the ones enacting anti-trans laws and anti-drag laws.  

“Texas banned more books from school libraries this past year than any other state in the nation, targeting titles centering on race, racism, abortion and LGBTQ representation and issues, according to a new analysis by PEN America, a nonprofit organization advocating for free speech,†writes Texas Tribune. 

Book banning enthusiasts argue that some books, many exploring queer identity and LGBTQ+ themes, include sexually explicit content inappropriate for students. In addition to LGBTQ+ books, classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, and The Diary of Anne Frank have been targets. In the name of protecting students, conservatives are doing harm to them by denying them the education and information they desire. 

School librarians and school board members opposing such book bans have been attacked and harassed. 

Earlier this year, Fox26 reported, “The League City council voted 5-3 for an ordinance that will ban the use of tax dollars to purchase, or stock selected books in the League City Library.â€Â 

So much for “I will leave what you like alone, and you leave what I like alone.â€Â Â 

Katy ISD removed from elementary schools’ titles that include, “Eric Carle’s illustrated classic Draw Me a Star, Judy Blume’s coming of age novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Dr. Seuss’ Wacky Wednesday and Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess, all of which have been in circulation for more than 40 years,†reported Click2Houston. 

What happened to, “So don’t read it, but don’t say I can’t� If you don’t like Dr. Seuss books, leave them alone.  

Banned Books Week is being held October 1 through 7, 2023. The theme of this year’s event is “Let Freedom Read!â€Â 

Books aren’t the only thing right-wingers have their panties in a wad about. The Texas legislature passed, and Governor Greg Abbott signed, a law that effectively bans being in drag in public.  

“Are your demands greater than my likes?†No! If you don’t like drag queens, don’t be one, but leave them alone.   

A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction against Senate Bill 12, keeping it from going into effect. 

Now comes the real kicker. That viral post by Hank Williams Jr. being spread across the internet, is fake. There is no evidence Williams ever posted such a statement and Williams’ manager confirmed the claim is false, says Reuters News services. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the Montrose Star. Johnny Trlica is the editor of Houston Rainbow Herald Facebook page and has been published in several newspapers and magazines. He grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, lived for over 30 years in the Montrose and now resides in Galveston, Texas. He may be contacted at HRHeditor@gmail.com. 

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Texas’ war on drag and trans people shifts into high gear 


By Johnny Trlica 

Commentary: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!â€Â 

Correction: Make that the Abbott Zone. In this dark and dreary zone, a drag queen can be arrested for walking from Eagle to JR’s. A trans person can serve time for singing along with the Cher song playing over the Kroger speakers.  

Unfortunately, what is happening in Texas is not a science fiction television series from the 1950s. The attacks on the drag/trans community are real and Texas Governor Greg Abbott is the generator of this twisted script. 

A new law essentially banning drag in public went into effect in Texas on September 1. On June 18, Abbott signed Senate Bill 12, a law banning “sexually oriented performances,†which critics say is an attempt to ban drag performances in public, with a goal of eliminating them altogether. 

Under the measure, businesses are prohibited from hosting “sexually oriented†performances that feature nudity, “sexual conduct,†or appeal to the “prurient interest in sex†that take place in the presence of minors or in a space where minors can view them, or face fines of $10,000. 

Drag performers and other “adult-oriented†entertainers are prohibited from performing in public or in spaces viewable by minors. As written, the law can be interpreted as banning drag queens at Pride parades and events or walking from one bar to another. If found to have violated the law, they will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, face up to a year in jail, and be fined $4,000 or both. 

Under the language of the law, “sexual conduct†is defined as the exhibition or representation, whether actual or simulated, of sexual acts, genitals, devices designed to stimulate genitals, breasts, or buttocks, or “sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics.†This could mean that performers wearing padded bras or prosthetic breasts could be found in violation of the law. 

LGBTQ advocates fear that because the law is so broad, any individual who does not wear clothing conforming to stereotypical or traditional gender norms could potentially be accused of being “in drag†in public, thereby allowing law enforcement to harass, arrest and prosecute transgender people for leaving home dressed as the gender by which they identify. 

Well-known Houston entertainer Lana Blake told MONTROSE STAR: “Abbott is vile. And doing anything and everything to be as hateful as possible. The hatred being the point. He’s put that horrible floating contraption with razor sharp blades in the Rio Grande to literally kill people fleeing oppressive countries. He’s killing people at our southern border and refuses to back down even after the Biden administration told him to remove the device. But I digress…. 

“Drag is not a crime. It’s not sexual. But even if it is sometimes, I perform in establishments that are 21 and up (so no children are around). What the f*ck are you trying to accomplish here, Mr. Abbott? I already said, ‘The hatred is the point!’ I am just trying to go to work and pay my bills and taxes. You, sir, are attempting to stop that for no other reason than to be a bully! 

“The major concern I have is for the trans community. If I, a trans woman, go to the grocery store and happen to be singing the song playing on the sound system (as I do quite often) and a mother with her child ‘clocks me’ as being trans, she can have me arrested for that act because I am ‘performing in drag in front of her child.’ 

“ITS COMPLETE MADNESS AND I’M ABSOLUTELY ANGRY AND SCARED! ABBOTT AND HIS CRONIES MUST BE STOPPED!â€Â 

Cristina Andrews and Shanice Monroe prepared a joint statement for MONTROSE STAR. “We feel very strongly against the law. It affects us in many ways because we, as trans performers, are affected in everyday life and professional life. We are seasoned entertainers who have been performing since 1997 on Galveston Island. We’ve made a family in this art form and have even walked in the Mardi Gras parade in Galveston in front of children and their parents,†reads the statement. 

The pair were featured in a documentary about drag and the LGBTQ community where they were seen handing out Mardi Gras beads to kids. They pointed out that they along with other performers at their home bar, Robert’s Lafitte, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for toys and school supplies for children.  

“We are not perverts, molesters, or anything they are saying about us. Drag is an art form about expression, freedom, confidence, self-respect, pride and love. We, as artists and entertainers, are role models, not to just kids, male and female, but to adults,†added Cristina and Shanice. 

Elections have consequences and Texas has chosen to place a party in power that seeks to single out a small minority group, no matter the hurt or damage it causes, to further their agenda. An agenda where exerting their will over others is all that matters. This isn’t the Twilight Zone. This is real! 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the Montrose Star. Johnny Trlica is the editor of Houston Rainbow Herald Facebook page and has been published in several newspapers and magazines. He grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, lived for over 30 years in the Montrose and now resides in Galveston, Texas. He may be contacted at HRHeditor@gmail.com. 

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YOU’RE NOT PARANOID | The G.O.P. really is out to get you 


By Johnny Trlica

Commentary: It’s been said that just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. While you may in general just worry too much, many marginalized groups are starting to recognize that the G.O.P. really is trying to harm them. Their actions speak volumes.  

LGBTQ+ 

There was a plethora of anti-gay legislation introduced and an alarming number enacted into law over the last few months. We all know about Florida’s governor and his campaign against the LGBTQ+ community. He is building his entire presidential bid on being anti-woke. 

We continue to see state legislatures advancing bills that target transgender people and limit local protections; in June, we saw the U.S. Supreme Court allow the use of religion to discriminate. 

Many state bills target transgender and non-binary people for discrimination, such as by barring or criminalizing healthcare for trans youth, barring access to the use of appropriate facilities like restrooms, restricting trans students’ ability to fully participate in school and sports, allowing religiously motivated discrimination against trans people or making it more difficult for them to get identification documents with their name and gender. 

How soon before we begin seeing signs on businesses’ doors reading, “Straights Only� 

Books that mention gays and lesbians are being banned across the nation, as well as drag shows.  

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a measure where drag performers and other “adult-oriented†entertainers are prohibited from performing in public, or in spaces accessible by minors. 

Women 

In 2022 after the Supreme Court — yes, that same Supreme Court — struck down Roe v. Wade, Republican lead states, including Texas, couldn’t wait to start enacting their anti-abortion laws. With a law that went into effect on July 1, 2022, abortion is completely banned in Texas with very limited exceptions. 

In removing a woman’s freedom to choose, Texas forces women to travel out of state to get an abortion unless they qualify for an exception. Exceptions are very limited and include: saving the pregnant person’s life and preventing serious risks to the pregnant person’s physical health. Rape and incest do not qualify as an exception. 

The Texas Tribune reports: “Despite exceptions to the law, the number of monthly abortions in Texas has dropped into the low single digits. Women are nearly dying from pregnancy complications, or dying after having to travel out-of-state for abortions or facing million-dollar lawsuits for helping friends acquire abortion medication. An unknown number are having babies they never planned for.â€Â 

Postnatal care and assistance are mostly non-existent as the Texas G.O.P. remains a pro-birth party and after that you are on your own.  

Blacks 

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court (there they go again) effectively ended the use of affirmative action in college admissions in a decision delivered in June. By a vote of 6-3, (all six nominated by Republican presidents), the justices ruled that the admissions programs used by the University of North Carolina and Harvard College violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which bars racial discrimination by government entities. 

Affirmative Action was enacted to level the playing field for Black people to remedy institutional racism and historical prohibitions against them from educational and employment opportunities in the United States. 

Any number of elected Republicans will tell you that racism no longer exists in America. 

Immigrants 

For a party that claims to be following the teachings of the Bible, the G.O.P. must have skipped the chapter about how to treat immigrants. Matthew 25:35 reads: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.â€Â Â 

Nowhere in the Bible does it say to push the immigrant back into the river. I cannot find the verse that says to lock immigrant children in cages, nor the part about separating kids from their parents. Yet, that is what today’s Republicans support.  

Texas troopers working Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star initiative were ordered to push young children into the Rio Grande River and not give immigrants water, according to internal emails exclusively reviewed by the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle. 

The July 3 email sent by a Department of Public Safety trooper to their superior details previously unreported incidents witnessed in Eagle Pass. Texas recently set up miles of barriers using barbed wire and buoys in the river, according to the Associated Press. 

In an email, the trooper reported that a pregnant woman having a miscarriage was caught in the wire in June. It also said a four-year-old girl passed out from heat exhaustion as she attempted to pass the barrier and was pushed back by Texas National Guard soldiers.  

“I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane,†the trooper wrote in the email. 

Reading comments in posts about this incident, reveal the complete lack of empathy and sympathy present in today’s G.O.P. 

In Conclusion 

Cruelty, blind faith in a con man, insurrection and fascist enthusiasts, and inhumane treatment of people who don’t look, act, or love like they do is today’s Republican party. Until they realize how shameful their actions are, stay on your guard. You are not paranoid. They really are out to get you.  

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the Montrose Star. Johnny Trlica is the editor of the Houston Rainbow Herald’s Facebook page and has been published in several newspapers and magazines. He grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, lived for over 30 years in the Montrose, and now resides in Galveston, Texas. He may be contacted at HRHeditor@gmail.com.