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Lege Week 9 Wrap-up: 60 days in, 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 80 days to fight

As of this morning, 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed that directly target our community, and there’s still a full day left of bill filing. To put that in perspective, as of today’s numbers, Texas bills account for almost 30% of all anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed nationally. 

This is a drastic escalation from our opposition. Last session, only 19 total anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed. This surge of direct legislative attacks only highlights that these bills aren’t being filed to actually solve problems, but to distract from the true emergencies Texans are facing, from the pandemic, to the economic crisis, to fixing the electric grid. 

It is urgently important for all Equality Texan to take action right now to hold the line and protect the humanity and well-being of our community. No action is too big or small. Click here to review all the various ways you can get involved right now.

Today is the deadline to file bills. Next week, we’ll share with you the full picture of what our community is facing in the next few months of session.

NEW & NOTABLE

This Monday, March 15, two pro-LGBTQ+ bills will be the first good bills to get a hearing this session, in the Criminal Jurisprudence committee: HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin), which would eliminate the gay/trans panic defense, and HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston), which would make sure that transgender Texans are covered by the James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act. 

If you’d like to provide written testimony on these or any other bills, we will ensure it gets to the committee through this portal. If you’re vaccinated and feel safe going to the Capitol, please contact rachel.hill@equalitytexas.org to learn more about how we can support you.

The first anti-LGBTQ+ bill to get a hearing this session was SB 247 (Perry), which would allow someone licensed under the state bar of Texas (like attorneys) to refuse service without disciplinary action to anyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, if that individual violates a “sincerely held religious belief” of the licensee. Equality Texas was able to coordinate in-person and written testimonies. Thank you to everyone who provided written or in-person testimony on this bill.

BILL FILINGS

Yesterday Representative Jessica González and Senator José Menéndez filed HB 3860 and SB 1540 respectively that introduced new modern legislation that will proactively protect our community and ensure that every single Texan, including LGBTQ+ Texans will be treated equally under Texas law. 

Of the new anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed this week, we saw three bills banning transgender youth participation in sports, two bills banning best-practice life saving medical care for transgender youth, two bills that would endanger local nondiscrimination ordinances, a bill that would allow doctors to refuse medical care based off their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” and a bill that would prohibit teachers from talking about inequity or oppression in class. 

The end of bill filing and start of committee hearings means we’ve entered the phase of the legislative session most focused on public input. Now more than ever is the time to get involved in our work at the Capitol. We’ll keep you up to date on which bills are moving so that you can contact your legislators and share your story with written testimony. You can also donate to help increase our capacity to mobilize constituents in key districts as the session heats up. 

No action is too big or small. What will you do to protect LGBTQ+ Texans today?

BILL MOVEMENTS AND NEW IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS

  • HB 2693 (Toth, R-Spring) & SB 1311 (Hall, R-Rockwall) – These bills would prohibit a physician or other health care provider from performing affirming, life-saving transition-related care and would punish any doctor who did provide best practice transition care by revoking their license to practice. Additionally, the bills would prohibit professional liability insurance from covering transition related care. 
  • HB 3083 (Krause, R-Fort Worth) – This bill would prohibit most penalties for  pharmacies or pharmacists, including terminating licensure, accreditation, grants, or contracts, for refusing service due to a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”
  • SB 1206 (Hall, R-Rockwall) – This bill would prohibit any state official or branch of state government from enforcing a federal executive order, unless that executive order has been voted into law by the U.S. Congress. Executive orders are an important policy making tool by the U.S. executive branch (including the president).
  • SB 1148 (Perry, R-Lubbock) – This bill would prohibit any minor from amending their birth certificate to match their gender identity. This can make it difficult to navigate day to day situations where one needs to show an ID, like getting a driver’s license or getting a job.
  • HB 3455 (White, R-Hillister) – Prohibits schools from organizing certain co-ed (mixed gender) sports and bans trans youth (K-12 and collegiate) from participating in sports by requiring them to participate according to the gender on their birth certificate. It dangerously leaves the door open for anyone — a coach, fan, or player — to accuse and humiliate any kid of not belonging.    
  • HB 3860 (J.González, D-Dallas) & SB 1540 (Menéndez, D-San Antonio) – These bills introduce new modern legislation that will proactively protect our community and ensure that every single Texan, including LGBTQ+ Texans will be treated equally under Texas law.

The below pro-LGBTQ+ bills will be heard in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Monday, March 15 at 2 PM:

HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin)HB 73 would limit the legal defense known as gay/trans panic. This legal defense, which claims that a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression can trigger violence against another person, was debunked by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. 

HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston) –  The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act authorizes enhanced penalties for violent crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. The law should be updated to include gender identity and expression. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, anti-LGBTQ violence, particularly against transgender women of color, is on the rise. Hate-related homicides spiked 86% in 2017 and in 2019 Texas was tied for the most transgender murders in the nation.

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For Immediate Release: Equality Texas Praises Filing of Nondiscrimination Legislation

March 11, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512.289.2995 angela.hale@equalitytexas.org

 

Equality Texas Praises Today’s Filing of New Comprehensive Non-Discrimination State Legislation that Modernizes Language and Protections for LGBTQ+ Texans by Vice Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus, Representative Jessica González and Senator Jose Menéndez

 

Austin, Texas – March 11, 2021- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ+ Texans, today praised the filing of new modern legislation that will pro-actively protect our community and ensure that every single Texan, including LGBTQ+ Texans will be treated equally under Texas law.

This bill would extend non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations.  The only way to achieve the freedom for LGBTQ people to live, work, earn a living, raise our families, and contribute fully to our communities is to pass a comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination law that protects all people, including LGBTQ people.

Currently, Texas is one of 27 states where there are no protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Texans can get married on Sunday and the very next day get kicked out of a restaurant or evicted from their apartment or turned down for a lease because of who they are or who they love. State legislation will guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ+ people.

“Equality Texas has been working with Rep. Jessica González for the last year and a half on a comprehensive non-discrimination bill that will provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing and public spaces. Many Texans are not aware that LGBTQ people can legally refused housing or denied services because of who we are. This is unkind, unfair, inequitable and unacceptable. We are committed to ensure Texas finally lives up to the promise for equality for all,” said Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez.

All Texans — including LGBTQ+ people — should be able to live, work, and access services like banks and medical care without fear of harassment or discrimination. Inequality perpetuates a culture that does not work for Texans.

“The good news is that 70% of Texans – including majorities in both parties and all major religious groups – already support the idea of nondiscrimination protections for their LGBTQ neighbors, coworkers, family members, and friends,” said Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas. “Passing a comprehensive nondiscrimination law isn’t just the right thing to do to ensure LGBTQ+ people have the same opportunities to live, earn a living and contribute to their communities. Diversity and inclusion is a 21st century imperative and an economic study by economist Ray Perryman shows embracing equality will drive job creation in Texas and help our economy recover from the pandemic.”

Equality Texas’ top state offensive priority is to pass the comprehensive non-discrimination bill HB 3860 authored by Texas Representative Jessica González and SB 1540 by Senator Jose Menéndez through the Texas Legislature. Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ+ Texans. Opponents of LGBTQ+ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in Texas to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage and access to basic public services and businesses. The comprehensive non-discrimination law would ensure that all LGBTQ+ Texans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination.

The Perryman study examines the expected economic impacts of a statewide, comprehensive nondiscrimination law covering employment, housing, and public spaces for LGBTQ Texans and visitors. The Perryman Group found that in the first biennium, such a law would create $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenues, and in the 2021-2045 period, it would create 700,000 new jobs, more than $1.3 trillion in gross product, and $130 billion in tax revenues for state and local governments.

Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, half of LGBTQ+ people, including Texans live in the 27 states that still lack comprehensive statewide laws.

 

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Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.

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Lege Week 8 Wrap-up: URGENT — Take action to protect trans kids in Texas!

March 6, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has made banning trans kids from sports one of his legislative priorities. Texas trans kids don’t deserve to be targeted with a mean-spirited bill that only affirms the discriminatory athletic policy that already exists in Texas. Unfortunately, in addition to SB 29 of Patrick’s priority bill list, we are particularly concerned with the House companion bill HB 1458. And we have reason to be worried. Similar bills have been filed in more than two dozen states, and just this week Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina joined North Dakota and South Dakota in advancing their bills.

Earlier this week Representative Swanson sent out a letter to House members asking them to co-sponsor this bill, rife with misinformation about “defend[ing] the equality achieved by women.” This is not what the bill does. This bill opens the door to “bathroom bill”-like invasive physical exams and puts a target on the back of transgender youth and every girl who plays sports. Any child can be accused of not belonging and all accused children will be forced to prove their case.

We must ensure that each and every Representative understands the threat this bill poses to all of us. 

Please send an email to your representative now to let them know that our most vulnerable youth should be protected from discrimination, not used a political pawns for a solution in search of a problem.

To better understand what’s at stake and learn how to talk to your legislator about supporting and affirming trans kids in and out of the classroom, join us Monday for an informative webinar. We know these bills will continue to move during the session and we need as many allies as possible ready to offer testimony.

Issue Briefing: Transgender Sports Bans

March 8, 2021 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

The Texas Legislature is underway and we’ve already seen a priority placed on anti-LGBTQ+ bills. This is an issue briefing on Transgender Sports Ban legislation. Our policy experts will give you an update on the issue and then we will pivot to providing talking points and working together to submit virtual testimony. You can shape the narrative on discriminatory legislation and show that Texans are overwhelmingly opposed to these bills!

 

Bill Movement 

HB 1458 (Swanson, R-Spring) This bill bans trans youth (K-12 and collegiate) from participating in sports, based on the undefined term, “biological sex.” It dangerously leaves the door open for anyone — a coach, fan, or player — to accuse and humiliate any girl of not belonging. The bills could lead to accused children being forced to undergo invasive examinations and other privacy-violating tests. This week, it was referred to the committee on State Affairs.

HB 610 (Swanson, R-Spring) This bill would allow any individual to bring suit against any local law that establishes regulations or requirements for licensed professionals that go beyond state law. Because Texas does not have statewide nondiscrimination protections, all local nondiscrimination ordinances establish requirements beyond state law, and would be a target. This week, it was referred to the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee.

SB 247 (Perry, R-Lubbock) This bill would allow anyone licensed under the state bar of Texas to refuse service without losing their license to anyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, if that individual violates a “sincerely held religious belief” of the licensee. This week, it was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee and has been scheduled for a hearing Monday, March 8 at 9:00 AM.

HB 1399 (Krause, R-Fort Worth) This bill would discourage doctors from providing best practice transition care by prohibiting professional liability insurance from covering transition related care. This week, it was referred to the House Public Health Committee.

HB 1424 (Oliverson, R-Houston) This bill would allow any medical professional to object to any medical procedure that violates their “ethical, moral, or religious beliefs” even if the procedure in question is live-saving care. This week, it was referred to the House Public Health Committee.

HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston) The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act authorizes enhanced penalties for violent crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. The law should be updated to include gender identity and expression. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, anti-LGBTQ violence, particularly against transgender women of color, is on the rise. Hate-related homicides spiked 86% in 2017 and Texas had more deaths than 48 other states. On Friday, it was referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence committee.

 

Don’t forget that between our weekly updates, you can follow the movement of bills we are watching on our Legislative Bill Tracker.

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Lege Week 12 Wrap-up: have you been keeping up with the Lege?

March 4, 2021 by Debi Jackson

This week we kept a close eye on movements in both the Texas Senate and House. As we mentioned in our last update, the Senate State Affairs committee, despite overwhelming opposition in the hearing, voted to move the transgender sports ban, SB 29 (R- Perry) to the next step in the legislative process. We’re now waiting to see when Senator Perry will put it on the Senate Intent Calendar. Once it’s on the Intent Calendar, it will be eligible for debate on the floor.

Ask your Senator to oppose SB 29 now and then record it as video testimony.

Meanwhile in the Texas House, Republican freshman Representative Bryan Slaton has made three separate attempts to add an amendment banning best practice, evidence-based transition care for transgender youth to completely unrelated bills. While explaining his amendment, Representative Slaton spread the same dangerous misinformation about transition care that is in HB 68 (R – Toth) and the five other bans on affirming healthcare filed this session. A big thank you to Representatives Senfronia Thompson, Victoria Neave, and Joe Moody for halting these insidious attacks.

In other issues, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick took aim at businesses who opposed harmful voter suppression bills in the Senate, calling them “corporations who don’t share our values.” He chastised them not only their opposition to SB 7, but also for their actions standing up for transgender Texans during the bathroom bill in 2017. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 70% of Texans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Texans.

 

Week in Review

This week Equality Texas coordinated in-person and written testimony for the following hearings:

 

Bill Movements and New Developments

These are some upcoming opportunities for action:

 

There are fewer than 60 days of session remaining. Thank you for following along every step of the way.

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Lege Week 7 Wrap-up: Movement in the wrong direction

February 27, 2021 by Debi Jackson

A lot happened in the Texas Legislature this week, and it’s not what most Texans want to see.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced his 2021 legislative priorities. While there are a few needed priorities included, such as reforming the state’s electrical grid, expanding broadband access, and first responders pandemic care, the majority seem to be familiar anti-equality hot buttons that will make his supporters happy at the expense of other Texans.

Texans need access to critical health care. Texans need secure homes and utilities. It’s a shame — but not a surprise — to see Patrick pander to his base rather than prioritize the needs of those most at risk. We’ll keep an eye on these, as the Lt. Governor only shared the names. We’ll wait to see who the authors will be and what the bills fully entail.

Most likely, SB 29 on his list, will be another anti-trans youth sports ban like SB 373 we saw filed by Senator Perry earlier this year.

BILLS ARE MOVING

The Lt. Governor wasn’t the only one focusing on bills that would harm some of our most vulnerable Texans. Several of the most anti-LGBTQ+ bills were assigned to committees this week.

HB 68 (Toth, R-Spring), which would alter the statutory definition of “child abuse” to include affirming, life-saving transition-related health care for trans youth, was referred to the House Public Health Committee. If passed, medical and mental health professionals who offered transition-related support to adolescents and teens could be charged with abuse and face subsequent penalties.

HB 70 (Swanson, R-Spring) would require legislative oversight of agency rules and would increase barriers to any agency in Texas that attempts to bring their practices into alignment with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock to prevent discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It has now been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.

HB 369 (Craddick, R-Midland) would impact those living with HIV and deepen the stigma associated with it, and likely deter people from getting tested or accessing treatment, because the bill would add increased penalties to crimes when a defendant is “afflicted with a communicable disease.” But this bill does not account for a person’s undetectable viral load and similar laws have been shown to disproportionally impact transgender people and people of color. This week, it was referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

We did see two new good bills filed this week. HB 2045 (Lopez, D-San Antonio), which would create a task force and report on the housing needs of LGBTQ+ seniors and HB 2355 (Reynolds, D-Missouri City) which creates a task force to study legal and societal barriers to transgender equality. The bill filing deadline is March 12th.

TAKE ACTION

This week our opponents have put their words into action by tangibly elevating two incredibly harmful issues for transgender youth: banning best practice, life-saving healthcare for transgender adolescents (HB 68Toth R-Spring) and barring transgender youth from sports (SB 29author forthcoming). We need to ensure that all our legislators, particularly the members of the House Public Health Committee, understand the real harms done by this legislation.

Please call or email your legislator and tell them that these are not priority issues for the people of Texas, particularly when we’re still in the midst of a deadly pandemic and recovering from last week’s storm.

If you know any affirming healthcare professionals, faith leaders, or sports fans, please share these sign-on letters so that we can activate our community as these issues unfold. And then ask those people to share the letters with five others to sign. We can show our strength in numbers.

  

There are so many important issues that should be addressed. We cannot let our legislators prioritize riling up their base or making their donors happy at the expense of Texan’s urgent needs. When you attack one Texan, you attack all Texans. And focusing on social issues rather than basic needs is an attack on all Texans.

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For Immediate Release: Equality Texas Releases Statement from CEO Ricardo Martinez on the Passage of the Equality Act Through the United States House of Representatives

February 25, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512.289.2995 angela.hale@equalitytexas.org

 

Equality Texas Releases Statement from CEO Ricardo Martinez on the Passage of the Equality Act Through the United States House of Representatives

Federal Legislation Will Protect all LGBTQ+ Americans

 

Austin, Texas – February 25, 2021- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ+ Texans, today released a statement from CEO Ricardo Martinez on the passage of the Equality Act through the United State House of Representatives.

“The Equality Act will provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. President Joe Biden made a promise to stand with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure America finally lives up to the promise on which it was founded: equality for all. We urge the United States Senate to follow the House and pass the Equality Act and for President Biden to sign it into law to ensure equal rights for all LGBTQ+ people,” said Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez.

Half of LGBTQ+ Americans live in states without adequate civil rights protections including Texas. Texans can get married on Sunday and the very next day get kicked out of a restaurant or evicted from their apartment or turned down for a lease because of who they are or who they love. Federal legislation will guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ+ people under our nation’s existing civil rights laws. Additional state legislation will codify those protections under state law. LGBTQ+ people still face discrimination in nearly every aspect of their lives, including employment, military service, starting a family, and obtaining a driver’s license with their accurate gender marker.

It’s time for our elected officials to listen to their constituents, show leadership and make passage of the Equality Act a priority. All Americans — including LGBTQ+ people — should be able to live, work, and access services like banks and medical care without fear of harassment or discrimination. Inequality perpetuates a culture that does not work for this country.

“That’s why the top national priority for Equality Texas is to pass the Equality Act through the U.S. Congress and have President Biden sign it into law, and our top state priority is to pass Texas Representative Jessica González’s comprehensive non-discrimination bill through the Texas Legislature. The Equality Act and a comprehensive nondiscrimination law passed into Texas Law are the best vehicles for ensuring equal rights under the law for LGBTQ+ Texans and Americans, and will guarantee that LGBTQ+ individuals are protected under the law,” said Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas.

Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ+ Americans. Opponents of LGBTQ+ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in states across the country to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage, and access to basic public services and businesses. The Equality Act would ensure that all LGBTQ+ Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home.

The Equality Act has broad and deep support across lines of political party, demographics, and geography, with 83 percent of Americans saying they favor LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, including 68 percent of Republicans and a majority in every state in the country.

Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, half of LGBTQ+ people live in the 29 states that still lack comprehensive statewide laws

President Biden has vowed to make enactment of the Equality Act during his first 100 days as President a top legislative priority. Biden will also direct his Cabinet to ensure immediate and full enforcement of the Equality Act across all federal departments and agencies.

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Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.

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Lege Week 6 Wrap-up: help us make sure the legislature prioritizes real emergencies

February 19, 2021 by Debi Jackson

We hope that you are staying warm and safe during this extreme winter storm. Like many around the state, our staff has experienced the power outages, burst pipes, and water shortages as our infrastructure struggles to keep up.  

If you are in need of support, the Texas Mutual Aid Directory has resources for shelter and food assistance, especially for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. 

An “unprecedented” winter storm on top of a “once in a generation” global pandemic is exhausting and overwhelming. Individual Texans are working around the clock, through informal networks of mutual aid, to make sure that their families have basic needs like shelter, water, and food despite the lack of government response. We are so proud of everyone who has gone above and beyond to ensure their neighbors’ safety and concurrently mourn that community has needed to lead the response during a pandemic and after a year of unimaginable loss, isolation and uncertainty. When legislators reconvene next week, they should be laser-focused on the urgent needs of our state: disaster response, infrastructure reform, and pandemic recovery. 

Bills that target the LGBTQ+ community, like the dozen that have already been filed, have no place at the Capitol. These bills would shut the LGBTQ+ community out of basic services like healthcare, would ban transgender kids from playing sports, and would undermine local nondiscrimination ordinances. 

These bills do nothing but target an already marginalized community in the wake of two major state emergencies that are threatening lives. Forcing LGBTQ+ Texans, particularly transgender children, to come to Austin to testify for access to basic rights is unconscionable. 

That doesn’t mean that legislators won’t do it though. These bills are already moving in other states, including anti-trans bills, similar to HB 68 (Toth, Spring) and HB 1399 (Krause, Fort Worth), that have moved through the Utah State House and a key Alabama Senate committee. 

Let’s make sure our legislators know that Texans are watching, and steadfastly oppose any legislation that would further marginalize our Texas LGBTQ+ community.

We’re working on three important sign-on letters where folks can band together virtually to impress upon legislators the overwhelming opposition to anti-LGBTQ+ — particularly anti-transgender youth — legislation. The more signatures we have, the more pressure our elected officials will feel to not even hold a hearing on these dangerous bills. Please sign on and share these forms with at least 5 people you know who want to make sure the legislature prioritizes the real emergencies that Texans are facing right now. 

     

There are 100 days left during this legislative session. We will continue to monitor happenings at the Capitol while you focus on your safety and well-being during these extraordinary times. We hope to see you and inspire you during our Advocacy Week, March 15-19.

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Lege Week 5 Wrap-up: Take action to protect access to healthcare

February 13, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Imagine if a clerk at the hospital where you are seeking care could deny you admittance, or an emergency room doctor could turn you away at the hospital door when you are having a heart attack, or any number of emergencies just because you are gay or transgender or perceived to be. New bills have been filed in the Texas Legislature that target your health care, and if passed, could put the lives of LGBTQ+ Texans at risk.

Texans know this is not right. That’s why 70 percent of Texans agree that our community should not be the target of discrimination.

This week, the Chair of the important House Public Health committee, Representative Stephanie Klick (North Richland Hills), added her name to a sweeping anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare refusal bill, HB 1424 (Oliverson, Houston). This bill would prevent our community from accessing any healthcare procedure — including emergency critical care — if a physician or hospital employee deems it against their “ethical, moral, or religious beliefs.” That means that any “physician, nurse, staff member, or employee” of a hospital could violate their Hippocratic Oath by turning away members of our community who are in need of life-saving medical care.

Personal ethical, moral or religious beliefs do not give anyone special rights to discriminate or determine whether someone in our community lives, dies, or receives proper healthcare. Everyone should be able to visit a hospital or their doctor without fear they will be denied healthcare and other basic rights.

IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION

While HB 1424 would allow discrimination against any LGBTQ+ Texan, HB 68 (Toth, Spring) targets transgender youth. HB 68 would ban transgender youth from accessing affirming, evidence-based best practice healthcare by reclassifying it as child abuse. For transgender youth who are insistent, consistent, and persistent about their gender identity, parents, guardians and medical experts work together to provide age-appropriate care. This is a thoughtful and lengthy process that is personal and private to each family. Classifying standards of care for adolescents and teens as child abuse sets a dangerous precedent for all Texans by allowing non-expert lawmakers to criminalize care that is life-saving and consistent with prevailing medical standards.

We need you to ask the doctors, therapists, and healthcare professionals in your life to sign this pledge so that when these bills move, we have a strong foundation of support for transgender youth and the professionals that affirm them.

Beyond the harm HB 68 would cause transgender young people, it would also penalize physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, educational psychologists, and any other person designated or licensed as a mental health or behavioral science professional who provides evidence based best-practice medical care for  trans youth and open them up to the related penalties.

These professionals are often the first people who teach families with kids who come out as transgender how to navigate a world that isn’t built for trans people. They offer support, resources, and crucial guidance that can truly make the difference between life and death. Let’s make sure they’re supported.

 

MORE WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

Remote Advocacy: 3 Ways to Safely Organize During a Pandemic

February 22, 2021 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

 

Story of You: An Interactive Session Crafting Your Personal Story

March 1, 2021 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

 

Phone Bank for Equality (Virtual)

Wednesdays, February 17th – May 26th,  6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

 

The 87th Texas legislative session has begun and due to the pandemic, we will have limited opportunities to visit the capitol in person. Join us on Wednesdays during session for different phone bank initiatives to engage Equality Texans across the State!

Stay strong, we’re also tracking over 31 pro-LGBTQ+ bills that have been filed by our champions in the legislature. We are making progress, despite these newest attacks. We will always fight to protect our community, and together, we’ll create a Texas that recognizes the full and lived equality of all of us.

 

In Community,

The Equality Texas Team

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We need you this Lege Session! Here’s how to get involved.

February 8, 2021 by Debi Jackson

We need advocates like you to speak out, show up and help us defeat negative bills. We also need your help in passing bills that would extend protections for LGBTQ+ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations and eliminate the harmful practice of “conversion therapy.” 

The Texas Legislature is doing things a little differently under the pandemic, but there still are some basic rules they have to follow to pass bills. Watch the two webinars below to learn how the legislative process in Texas works.

Lege 101: Understanding the Texas Legislature

New to following the state legislature? Get an insider’s overview of how the Texas Legislature works. The legislature is a body of elected officials who debate and vote on bills that impact our daily lives. Learn about the process, the people, and the challenges to pass and kill bills.

Lege 201: Deeper Dive into the Texas Legislature

Go beyond the basics and join us for a deep dive into the twists and turns of the legislative process. Learn about zombie bills, why the Calendars Committee is so important, and all of the pressure points where your voice has the most impact.

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Lege Week 4 Wrap-up: Anti-LGBTQ+ Tea Party Republicans have been given power

February 6, 2021 by Debi Jackson

We are in week four in the 2021 Texas Legislative Session, and this is proving to be one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ legislative sessions we have seen. At least a dozen discriminatory bills have been filed that target our Texas LGBTQ+ community. 

Also, several anti-LGBTQ+ Tea Party Republicans have been given power as chairs of important committees. These lawmakers have a proven track record of attacking our community, and we are now in dangerous territory with them at the helm. They have the sole discretion on which bills move forward in the process. The sheer number of these bills and COVID-19 restrictions at the Capitol due to the pandemic will make it more difficult for us to fend off these attacks, but we can do it with your help.

We’re holding our #TXlege Town Hall on Wednesday, February 10. Join us and find out how you can get involved in our fight for equality at the Capitol.

WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST

Just this week, the author of many anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation, including last session’s notorious “Chick-fil-A bill,” and the Chair of the powerful Senate State Affairs Committee Bryan Hughes tweeted this misinformation about a bill that is targeting transgender girls participating in sports as their affirmed gender:

Along with Bryan Hughes, there is a small group of other Tea Party lawmakers who have made targeting the LGBTQ+ community their priority.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic it is disheartening to see that lawmakers would rather prioritize bathroom bill 3.0. than focus on getting our 29 million Texans vaccinated and on the economic recovery of the state. 38,000 Texans have already lost their lives!

STATE OF THE STATE

In this week’s State of the State Address, Governor Abbott listed his top priorities for the session. They are Emergency Issues, which unlike other bills, can be taken up in the first 60 days of the session. 

Gov. Abbott issued five emergencies for legislative action. Those include, in his words:

  1. Expanding rural broadband access; 
  2. Prevent local defunding of police;
  3. Bail reform; 
  4. Election integrity; and,
  5. Liability protection from COVID-related lawsuits.

Lawmakers go back to the Capitol on Tuesday. To defeat all of the negative bills this legislative session, we will need courageous folk to share their story, submit written testimony and to dispel the misinformation being spread about our community. Please connect us with any LGBTQ+ athletes, LGBTQ+ affirming coaches, parents of transgender children, and physicians (in Texas). The fight cannot be solely the responsibility of the few who continue to relive the trauma of defending their humanity at the capitol. Let’s step up and make some noise.

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