About Equality Texas

Vision

We envision a Texas where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans and their families have full equality in the hearts and minds of our fellow Texans and in all areas of the law.

Mission

Equality Texas works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.

The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.

From LGRL to Equality Texas: Our History

Fighting for Equality Since 1978

In 1978, a group of lesbians and gay men recognized the need to have our interests represented in the 66th session of the Texas Legislature. These men and women formed the “Human Rights Advocates.” This organization and its lobbyists were able to remove a previously-passed appropriates bill rider that mandated state-funded colleges and universities to discouraged the formation of lesbian/gay student groups on their campuses.

In 1980, lesbians and gays again recognized the need to be represented in the state government. Members of the Lesbian/Gay Democrats of Texas and the Texas Gay Task Force hired a lobbyist to monitor the 67th session and lobby on behalf of lesbian and gay interests.

During January of 1982, TGTF and LGDT called a meeting to address the lobby efforts of lesbians and gay men. At this meeting, the Lesbian/Gay Rights Advocates was created. In 1989, LGRA became “LGRL,” or the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. The Lobby hired a full-time Executive Director to fight for the rights of lesbians and gay men.

In 1990, the Allan G. Calkin Human Rights Education and Research Fund was established. The Calkin Fund operates as LGRL’s charitable arm. Its goal is to educate the public as to how policies regarding sexual orientation affect the lives of lesbian and Gay Texans.

In 2006, LGRL became Equality Texas. The change was made to reflect the enormous growth in the organization and represent the strength and diversity of the coalition that was galvanized during the campaign to defeated proposition #2.

Victories

  • Led the fight for stronger hate crime laws; helped pass the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act through the House; brought national attention to anti-gay hate crimes in Texas.
  • Defeated measures that would prevent gays and lesbians from serving as foster and adoptive parents.
  • Defeated the anti-gay marriage bills that would have prevented the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages and civil unions, 1997, 1999, and 2001.
  • Increased AIDS and HIV funding; facilitated the passage of the Omnibus AIDS bill; pressed for adoption of HIV grant programs and HIV services funding.
  • Won appointment of openly gay and lesbian people to state commissions.
  • Achieved the adoption of nondiscrimination policies protecting lesbian and gay employees in five major state agencies.
  • Defeated attempts to quarantine PWA’s; blocked proposed legislation to mandate HIV testing.
  • Working in coalition with other groups, defeated the enactment of initiative and referendum which would have subject us to anti-gay ballot measures.
  • Successfully lobbied for the passage of anti-redlining bills prohibiting discrimination on the basis of martial status which protects lesbians and gays.
  • Stopped legislation that would have prohibited state government from providing benefits to domestic partners.
  • Defeated efforts to deny funding for art with any homosexual content.

Our Staff

Austin

Houston

San Antonio

Our Board of Directors

Equality Texas

  • Steve Rudner, Chair – Dallas
  • Ruben Vogt, Vice-Chair – El Paso
  • Holt Lackey, Secretary – Austin
  • Trey McCampbell, Treasurer – Corpus Christi
  • Katie Coyne – Austin
  • Jared Duncan – Amarillo
  • Jennifer Guyot Wallace – Dallas
  • Harold Hardaway – Austin
  • Tina Toal Maness – Burleson
  • Sophia Parafina – San Antonio
  • Mark Phariss – Plano
  • Katie Sprinkle – Coppell
  • Julian Tovar – San Antonio
  • Jennifer Wright – El Paso

Equality Texas Foundation

  • José Andrés Araiza, Chair – Austin
  • Elizabeth Myers, Vice-Chair, Houston
  • Scott Elliff, Secretary – Corpus Christi
  • Trey McCampbell, Treasurer – Corpus Christi
  • Steve Atkinson – Dallas
  • Rev. Dr. Neil Cazares-Thomas – Dallas
  • Patrick Dickson – Houston
  • Adam Gonzales – Amarillo
  • Mike Grable – Austin
  • Felipe Gutierrez Ferrara – Fort Worth
  • Sam Hildebrand – Austin
  • Ryan Leach – Houston
  • Mark Niermann – Dallas
  • Steve Rudner – Dallas