March 1, 2019
It’s Not Pie: Equal rights for others doesn’t mean fewer rights for you
“It’s time for Texas — and indeed our nation — to stand up for the rights of everyone, including the LGBTQ community and trans kids like my son, Max. We’ve done it before for other minority groups, and we can do it again. Anything less, quite frankly, is un-American.”
What to expect from the Texas Legislature in 2019:
The League of Women Voters of Texas tracked 30 anti-LGBTQ bills in the 2017 legislative session (that includes both the regular session and the special session). That is the highest number of anti-LGBTQ bills ever proposed by any state in a single year! And thanks to your hard work calling, lobbying, emailing, and writing to your legislators, we were able to defeat 29 of them! Thank you, League!
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said the bathroom bill is dead. Which is very good news. But League members shouldn’t get too complacent in this area. Though 2019 is shaping up to look slightly different, many people are still expecting some version of anti-transgender legislation to be proposed anyway -- only this time instead of being touted as a way to “protect women’s safety and privacy”, it will instead be masked under the code words “religious liberty” and “local control”.
Why we’re expecting this:
In June 2018, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of a baker in Colorado who refused to bake a specialty cake for a same-sex wedding. Many conservatives mistook this as a win for the cause of religious liberty, which they interpret as giving them the ability to discriminate based on a “sincerely held religious belief.” However, the ruling was actually more about how the baker’s case was treated in a lower court, and not at all on the grounds of free speech or religious liberty. Still, many have twisted or misunderstood the ruling to give themselves permission to promote anti-LGBTQ laws, thinking (falsely) that there is legal precedence to do so.
Additionally, in the last session, we saw multiple attempts by the Texas legislature to reverse comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinances that exist in a handful of Texas communities. These ordinances protect LGBTQ residents and were passed by a majority of voters during their local elections. Removing these ordinances puts LGBTQ people at risk of discrimination and harassment in their communities, and also strips the people of their democratic vote and voice, and the League of Women Voters of Texas worked hard in 2017 to ensure that these ordinances -- and the democratic process that put them there in the first place -- stayed intact.
Lastly, we have seen a July 2018 ruling from the Texas Supreme Court that removed a plastic bag ban that the city of Laredo had passed, thereby removing a community’s right to local control. There is some legal precedence for this now, and the League of Women Voters of Texas is watching this carefully.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental American Value and human right. But what religious freedom has always been and what it should always be is a shield to protect religious minorities from government persecution, and what it should never be is a sword to inflict harm on already marginalized people.” -Sarah McBride, HRC National Press Secretary