This Week @ the Texas Legislature: Attacking LGBT Equality

Click below for contact information of committee members.

Wednesday, April 15
House State Affairs Committee

On Wednesday, we will see yet another legislative hearing on a bill attacking LGBT Texans. This bill takes aim on a particularly vulnerable population — transgender teens.

HB 2801 by state Rep. Gilbert Peña, R-Pasadena, would subject any school district to a fine of $2,000 if it allows a transgender person to use a restroom, locker room or shower facility appropriate to his or her gender identity.

Here is a helpful story from The Advocate about how wrongheaded — and dangerous — this proposal is.

Call the members of the House State Affairs committee and tell them you oppose HB 2801. Tell them that:

  • Restricting trans students to bathrooms based on “biological sex” puts such youth at risk for increased harassment and stigmatization. Trans students are already at greater risk for harassment and violence.
  • This bill is based on the false fear that trans people, particularly trans women, threaten the safety of women and children. Experts have repeatedly debunked the myth that transgender non-discrimination laws give sexual predators access to women’s restrooms.
Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, TFN | 6 Comments

This Week @ the Legislature: Attacking Abortion Access

Click below for contact information of committee members.

Tuesday, April 14
House State Affairs Committee

Wednesday, April 15
House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee

Even after passing the most restrictive laws in the country, anti-abortion zealots in the Texas Legislature are back at it, trying to pass laws further squeezing access. They won’t stop until they’ve ended access to safe, legal abortion care for all women in Texas. Three bills with that goal will be heard this week in two separate committees:

Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence (Tuesday)

HB 723 by state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, would prohibit a court from appointing an attorney for a minor seeking an order authorizing consent for an abortion.

State Affairs (Wednesday)

HB 3446 by state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, forces abortion providers to post signs with state-mandated language about the prohibition against forcing a woman to undergo an abortion, an abuse hotline number, and other information.

HB 3765 by state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, adds even more rules dealing with parental consent for minors seeking an abortion.

Call the members of the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and the State Affairs committees and tell them you oppose these bills. Tell them Texas has already gone too far in restricting access to legal abortion care, and that politicians should TRUST women and families to make their own reproductive health decisions.

State Affairs (Wednesday)

Surprisingly, it’s not all bad news related to reproductive rights at the Texas House this week. On Wednesday the House State Affairs committee will take up “Marlise’s Law.” HB 3183 by state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, would strike a provision in Texas’ Health and Safety Code that requires pregnant women to be kept on mechanical support against their advance directives. The bill removes the pregnancy exclusions from the Health and Safety Code, which outlines the rights and procedures for end-of-life decision-making.

Call committee members and tell them you support giving pregnant Texans and their families the same end-of-life decision-making rights as people who are not pregnant. The Legislature trust women and their families to make their own decisions regarding end of life care.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, abortion, Reproductive health, TFN | 7 Comments

This Week @ the Texas Legislature: Attacking Muslim Americans

Click below for contact information of committee members.

Tuesday, April 14
Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee

For the second time this year, the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee will hear bills targeting Muslim Americans with thinly veiled discriminatory legislation:

HB 899 by state Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, would bar application of foreign laws and foreign forum selection in family law cases in state courts. This appears to be another attempt to promote fear-mongering over the mythical threat of Islamic law (Sharia) in Texas.

HB 3698 by state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, is a poorly veiled anti-Sharia bill that imposes regulations on nonbinding dispute resolution proceedings conducted by religious organizations.

Call the members of this committee and tell them you oppose these discriminatory bills because:

  • The U.S. and Texas Constitutions already prohibit courts from imposing any religious law as civil law.
  • The American Bar Association has made clear that bills like these duplicate safeguards already enshrined in federal and state law.
  • The Anti-Defamation Defamation League calls bills like these “a form of camouflaged bigotry” that treats “Muslim Americans as foreigners and anti-American crusaders.”
Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, Sharia law, TFN | 7 Comments

Tax-Credit Vouchers: An Attack on Public Education in Texas

As the Texas Senate prepares to take up a tax-credit voucher scam — as early as Tuesday — check out this video from the Southern Education Foundation. The Foundation’s three-minute video explains how direct vouchers and tax-credit vouchers undermine public education as tax dollars are siphoned off to private and religious schools.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, vouchers | 1 Comment

This Week @ the Texas Legislature: Vouchers on Senate Floor

Call your senator TODAY in opposition to this reckless raid on funding for neighborhood public schools. Click here to find the name and phone number for your senator.

Big moves behind the scenes tell us the Senate could take up a massive private school voucher bill this week. It’s critical that you call your senator TODAY and express your strong opposition to Senate Bill 4.

SB 4 gives tax breaks to wealthy interests that fund voucher “scholarships” at private and religious schools. An independent analysis has shown that the bill’s backers are dramatically underestimating the cost of this tax-credit scam — to the tune of billions of dollars in coming years.

Meanwhile, our neighborhood schools are still struggling with billions of dollars in state funding cuts the Legislature passed in 2011.

Please click here to find the name and phone number for your senator. When you call, tell them:

  • No matter what else supporters call SB 4, it’s nothing more than a backdoor voucher scheme. Texas can’t afford to fund two separate school systems: one public and accountable to taxpayers, the other private and unaccountable to taxpayers.
  • Every tax dollar lost to tuition subsidies is a dollar unavailable for neighborhood public schools still struggling with massive budget cuts passed by the Legislature in 2011.
  • Tax-credit vouchers in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania have been shown to be plagued by corruption and scams that benefit the wealthy.
Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, education, TFN, vouchers | 9 Comments

The Week in Quotes (April 5 – 11)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

continue reading »

Posted in The Week in Quotes | 1 Comment

Steven Hotze Hatesplains the Law

Where to begin with Steven Hotze? The Houstonian and head of Conservative Republicans of Texas last made headlines a few weeks ago when he brought Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to the Texas Capitol for a rally in defense of this state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Hotze was back in Austin on Wednesday to appear before the Texas House Committee on State Affairs to speak in support of House Bill 4105 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia. HB 4105 would prohibit state or local funds from being used to issue a same-sex marriage license or acknowledge a same-sex marriage in any other way — regardless of whether the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the ban on those unions in Texas.

During his testimony, Hotze, one of the most vicious anti-gay activists in all of Texas, got into a lengthy exchange with state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. Just in the four-minute clip you can hear above, Hotze:

  • Portrays the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples as morally equivalent to the Nazi’s mass murder of Jews
  • Argues that Texans should actively subvert any U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage
  • And, for the extremist cherry on top, equates gay people to alcoholics, murderers, adulterers, perverts, pornographers, rapists and embezzlers. In that order.
Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, Conservative Republicans of Texas, LGBT issues, marriage equality, Steven Hotze, TFN | 6 Comments

Another Important Step in Our Campaign to Stop Discrimination in Texas

Our campaign to stop discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans took another important step forward today. Along with our partners at Equality Texas and the ACLU of Texas, we stood with the state’s major business organization as well as a number of lawmakers at a Capitol press conference warning the Legislature against passing 20 bills promoting anti-LGBT discrimination. Here’s our joint press release with Equality Texas and the ACLU of Texas:

Texas lawmakers and the head of the Texas Association of Business joined with civil liberties organizations today in warning against bills filed this year that promote discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Texans, arguing that our state risks a backlash similar to that seen in Indiana and Arkansas.

Speaking at a Texas Capitol press conference this morning, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, spoke on behalf of legislators worried about at least 20 bills that would allow, promote or even require discrimination against LGBT Texans. Bill Hammond, president of the conservative Texas Association of Business, joined the legislators to emphasize business opposition to such discrimination. Representatives from Equality Texas, the Texas Freedom Network and the ACLU of Texas also expressed legal and civil liberties concerns.

Ellis voted for the state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which the Legislature passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority in 1999. That bill protects religious liberty from government overreach while including provisions to ensure that civil rights protections against discrimination aren’t undermined. The 20 proposed bills in Texas this year, on the other hand, are unnecessary for protecting religious freedom and would allow, and sometimes even require, discrimination or harm to others, Ellis said.

“These bills allow people to be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, denied public services the rest of us take for granted, and even turned into criminals simply because of who they are and whom they love,” Ellis said. “The Texas I love is better than that. This debate isn’t about businesses not serving someone they might object to, as that minimizes the seriousness of what’s at stake here.”

Rep. Anchia warned that the proposed bills would undermine or even sweep away nondiscrimination ordinances put in place in major cities across the state – including his hometown of Dallas.

“By undoing these protections, the Legislature would be sending a message that local control isn’t as important as some of my colleagues have long said that it is,” Anchia said. “They would be saying to the rest of the country that discrimination against our neighbors, our friends, our family members is more important. My own city and many others across the state have decided against that kind of discrimination, and the Legislature shouldn’t undermine our cities’ economic well being or our citizens’ civil liberties.”

The message to the rest of the country particularly concerns business leaders, said Bill Hammond, chief executive officer of the Texas Association of Business. TAB has not taken positions on all of the bills but does oppose the proposed constitutional amendments, SJR 10 and HJR 125. The two amendments are similar to “religious refusal” bills in Indiana and Arkansas that prompted major companies and organizations to withdraw plans to expand or hold major events in those states.

“Either of these two amendments would bring the same backlash to Texas,” Hammond said. “They also would lead to potentially enormous litigation costs, hurt our efforts to attract businesses and tourism dollars that keep our economy growing, and make it harder for employers to enforce laws and company policies barring discrimination against their workers and customers. Texas is a magnet for new businesses, talent and visitors. This legislation would immediately threaten our solid brand.”

Taken together, the proposed 20 bills would allow individuals and organizations to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations. The bills (www.tfn.org/discriminationbills) can be grouped into four broad categories:

  • Six bills, including the two proposed constitutional amendments, would allow businesses, government workers and other individuals to use religion to justify discrimination.

  • Five bills would sweep away nondiscrimination protections passed by municipal and other local governments.

  • Six bills openly seek to subvert any court ruling that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

  • Three bills would turn transgender people into criminals if they use a restroom that is appropriate to their gender identity. They would also turn employers and building managers essentially into bathroom police who must — under threat of fines and criminal prosecution — verify the gender of individuals using their restrooms.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, equality, LGBT issues, marriage equality, TFN | 5 Comments

Anti-Gay Hate Propaganda Has Eager Listeners at the Texas Capitol

The State Affairs Committee of the Texas of Representatives on Wednesday is set to hear testimony on one of the 20 bills in the current legislative session that promote discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans. House Bill 4105 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, would bar state and local officials from issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage.

Supporters of HB 4105 claim that they’re just trying to ensure that Texas retains “sovereignty” over marriage and the right to “define” marriage as a union between one man and one woman. But they’re using it as yet an opportunity to bash LGBT people as evil and perverted. See, for example, this appalling excerpt in a “Legislative Alert” today from the right-wing group Texas Eagle Forum:

The idea that homosexuals could marry is a ‘mirage.’ It is a counterfeit and a lie. It is wrong, first and foremost, because it violates God’s Divine Law in the Bible, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Secondly, it violates natural law.

The email also asks for supporters of “conversion therapy” to testify about “former homosexuals who have renounced and denounced the homosexual lifestyle.” And it wants people “who can testify to the future of sex education in Texas if homosexual marriage is allowed by our failure to take action with this legislation.”

Never mind that medical authorities have denounced “conversion” or “reparative” therapy as abusive and harmful. And never mind that Texas should change its wretched and failed abstinence-0nly policies on sex education no matter what happens with the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. Groups like Texas Eagle Forum will simply repeat the same propaganda at every opportunity.

Of course, they see no reason not to repeat the same lies over and over again. That’s because there are so many Texas lawmakers who buy into it. Check out this video clip from a pastor speaking against the freedom to marry for same-sex couples at what was essentially an anti-gay rally last month at the Texas Capitol. The speaker equates marriage for gay and lesbian couples to polygamy, pedophilia and incest. And he’s surrounded by Texas lawmakers — including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — applauding in agreement.

Posted in 2015 Texas Legislature, LGBT issues, marriage equality, Texas Eagle Forum, TFN | 10 Comments

The Week in Quotes (March 29 – April 4)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

continue reading »

Posted in The Week in Quotes | 2 Comments