COALITION OF CIVIL LIBERTIES GROUPS, PARENTS AND ADVOCATES CALL ON TEXAS LAWMAKERS TO
DeAnne Cuellar, Equality Texas, 512-474-5475 ext. 06
Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas, (713) 325-7010, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jose Medina, Texas Freedom Network, 512-804-8061
Susan Risdon, Red Media Group, 214-226-6741
AUSTIN — A diverse coalition of LGBTQ equality, civil rights and religious freedom groups gathered with grassroots advocates at the Capitol today to demand state lawmakers focus their efforts on legislation that would acknowledge the rights and human dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans instead of proposals – most notably Senate Bill 6 — that would amount to state-sanctioned discrimination.
The coalition made the plea at All In For Equality Day, the largest gathering during the current session of the Texas Legislature focused on achieving full LGBTQ equality for all Texans. It comes during a legislative session in which lawmakers have filed numerous bills that would directly impact the LGBTQ community.
The gathering was a joint effort of Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Transgender Education Network of Texas and Human Rights Campaign.
The Morrisons from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area are the proud parents of a transgender daughter, 8 year-old Marilyn Morrison. “I think our kids need to be treated fairly,” said Andrew and Chelsa Morrison. “I think our kids need to be protected from discrimination, and I’m here today to make sure my child is protected under the law. We are not fighting about bathrooms. We are fighting for our children’s lives.”
“It is the responsibility of all of us to educate ourselves so these false attacks can be exposed for what they are, a solution where there is no problem to perpetuate discrimination against LGBTQ Texans,” said Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas. “Lt Governor Patrick appeals to the worst chapters of our history, in which discrimination runs rampant and understanding and compassion are absent. Transgender students, like transgender adults, don’t want to cause any problems. They simply want to use the bathroom when the need arises. The lt. governor’s bill threatens our children and threatens the Texas economy.”
“We were here today, as the leading advocates of sexual assault victims in the state of Texas to tell you that SB6 does nothing to help victims of sexual assault,” said Christopher Kaiser, General Counsel for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. “This discriminatory bill is not about protecting women or children and will do nothing to protect women and children. This bill will not protect victims of sexual assault. That is why nearly every sexual assault and domestic violence agency in the United States strongly opposes these discriminatory bathroom bills.”
A number of the proposals filed by lawmakers this year are religious refusal bills, which would allow businesses and individuals to refuse to obey anti-discrimination laws.
“These bills are a shameful misuse of religion as a weapon to divide, and they amount to a radical redefinition of religious freedom to allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and to impose their religious beliefs on others,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “We should never allow politicians to turn this country’s cherished principle of religious freedom into the right to pick and choose which laws to obey.”
“While our state should be focused on funding public schools and reforming child protective services, some lawmakers are instead prioritizing mean-spirited policies that target LGBTQ Texans, refugees, immigrants and women,” said Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas. “To make matters worse, they’re hiding behind religion to do it. Freedom of religion is our birth right as Texans, and guaranteed to everyone by the Constitution. But freedom of religion does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others or to discriminate against people they don’t like. Today at the Capitol, hundreds of Texans are demanding that lawmakers do better.”
Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working solely to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom and individual liberties.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is a guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, the Legislature and Texas communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution.
The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) is an organization dedicated to furthering the gender diverse equity in the State of Texas. We work to accomplish this through education and networking in both public and private forums. Through our efforts we strive to halt discrimination through social, legal, legislative and corporate education.