If it’s true “As Texas Goes, So Goes the Nation” the national LGBTQ community is gearing up for a tremendous fight! Since Trump was elected it seems like Texas Republican legislators are having a competition to see who can write the most discriminating bills against the LGBTQ Community.
I am sitting in the state capitol in Austin, Texas as I write this waiting to testify against HB 2899. It does only one thing: ban cities from passing nondiscrimination protections. It also would make void any municipal nondiscrimination ordinances already in place. This is the Texas House’s alternative to the SB 6 Senate “Bathroom Bill” that has just been sent over to the Texas House.
This would eliminate all existing ordinances protecting the LGBTQ Community that are in place in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, El Paso and Austin. More devastating is the fact that it would take away the ability of cities or municipalities to create future ordinances that protect any group that is discriminated against. The state legislature would be the only entity allowed to determine what laws would be created.
There are currently 26 proposed Anti-LGBTQ bills that would not only override any current LGBTQ protections in Texas but also try to allow Texas legislation to take precedent over federal law. Equality Texas has a complete list of all the pro and con bills submitted this session on their website (link). Here are three examples:
HB 1813 by Flynn — This would enable county clerks to delegate issuing marriage licenses to other county clerk officials when issuing that marriage license conflicts with the clerk’s sincerely held religious beliefs thus creating a “Religious Exemption” policy
HB 2899 by Simmons — This would prevent any local authority or municipality from offering nondiscrimination protections not normally provided in state law; it would repeal any current local protections that cover more than state law.
SB 242 by Burton — If a parent requests, a school employee must disclose any personal, direct, or incidental knowledge regarding a child. SB 242 would mean if a student had come out to a teacher or counselor and a parent asked teacher would be required to share this information, even if the student had asked the teacher/counselor not to discuss this private information.
There are also 40 proposed Pro-LGBTQ bills in this session. The problem in Texas is that it mirrors the current 3 branches of our Federal government. All three are held by Republicans and can therefore stop any bill from moving forward should they decide to do so. You can read the complete list on the Equality Texas website (link).
We’ve been sitting and waiting since 8:00 a.m. to testify against HB 2899. Knowing that we are waiting the state representatives added an Anti-LGBTQ amendment to TX HB 100, a bill regulating Uber. So that now adds 1 more bill to the Anti-LGBTQ Republican agenda. Also, HB 2899 has been moved to the last one on the agenda for the day.
Update: Well, It finally happened! At 2:30 a.m. I finally was allowed to testify after waiting 16 hours. As it turned out the majority of the people, businesses and city representatives that testified were against the bill. The few people supporting the bill were preachers and religious organizations which was expected. The best news is that the majority of the committee seemed to take the view of the groups against this legislation. The icing on the cake is that Speaker Joe Straus of the Texas House had come out a few weeks before this and said this was a “non-issue” and was not a problem in the city of San Antonio that he represents.