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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 12, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 24
Texas legislature adjourns without action on anti-Gay bills
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Texas legislature adjourns without action on anti-Gay bills

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Texas legislature adjourned June 1 without taking action on a slew of anti-LGBT bills introduced by Republican legislators.

No less than 23 bills designed to limit LGBT rights or roll back advances that already have been made were before Texas lawmakers, including:

o Two constitutional amendments to allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers.

o Four proposed laws that would have had the same effect.

o Five bills that would have nullified local anti-discrimination ordinances.

o Six bills banning marriage licenses for same-sex couples in the event the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality.

o Three bills forbidding Transgender people from using the restroom that corresponds to their self-identified gender.

o Two measures to fine property managers who allow Trans people to use appropriate restrooms.

Even the conservative Texas Association of Business condemned many of these proposals as too extreme, and harmful to Texas's public image.

All the proposals died a well-deserved death when the state legislature adjourned without considering them. Since the Texas legislature only meets in odd-numbered years, the bills cannot be reintroduced until January 2017 unless Governor Greg Abbott calls a special session.

Only one anti-LGBT measure was passed and sent to Abbott for his signature. That bill, SB 2065, merely restates what the U.S. and Texas state constitutions already guarantee - the right of clergy to refuse to perform marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. Language allowing religiously affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and universities, to discriminate against LGBT people was stripped out in committee.

LGBT and civil rights groups were jubilant.

'Thanks to business leaders, corporations, child welfare advocates, and thousands of fair-minded Texans who stood up for equality against an onslaught of anti-LGBT legislation, the Lone Star State avoided needless catastrophe,' HRC Field Director Marty Rouse said in a statement. 'While stopping these assaults on LGBT Texans and their families was certainly a victory, the long battle ahead for full LGBT equality in Texas remains. Working alongside our local partners in the state, we are committed to addressing these challenges head on and advancing fairness and equality for LGBT Texans.'

'I hope that lawmakers who sponsored measures targeting lesbian, gay and transgender Texans recognize that the discrimination playbook they used this legislative session is utterly inconsistent with Texas values,' ACLU-Texas Executive Director Terri Burke added. 'Thousands contacted their representatives to say, we don't believe in mean-spirited laws that would allow people to use religion to discriminate or laws designed to harm LGBT people.'

'A fringe element in the Legislature certainly had its sights set squarely on the LGBT community this session,' Chuck Smith, Executive Director of Equality Texas, said.

'But we are very happy, after more than 10,000 office visits in the Pink Dome by Equality Texas staff, that all these blatantly discriminatory bills failed to pass. We're also happy that we were actually able to make progress on positive legislation that would help LGBT Texans and their families.'

'The passage of these bills would have been a big step backward for Texas at a time when a large and growing majority of Americans oppose discrimination against the LGBT community and support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples,' Texas Freedom network President Kathy Miller stated. 'So we're grateful that broad-based opposition from business, faith leaders and grassroots activists from across the state stopped that from happening.'

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