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Legislative Agenda – 2019

HELP US BUILD A TEXAS WHERE EVERYONE IS TREATED WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT

During the 2019 Legislative Session, Equality Texas fought to secure full legal and lived equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans.

SEIZING THE MOMENT

Our top priority in 2019 was working with champions of equality in the Texas Legislature to advance comprehensive non-discrimination protections for all LGBTQ Texans.

No one should have to worry about being fired from a job, evicted from an apartment, or turned away at the corner store because of who you are or whom you love. But in Texas, discrimination against someone on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression still isn’t prohibited by law.

According to a recent poll, 64% of Texans support non-discrimination laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. And in the 2018 midterm elections, more pro-equality lawmakers were elected to the Texas Legislature than ever before, including five openly LGBTQ lawmakers!

Sign up now for our legislative action alerts to find out how you can help us make progress on comprehensive non-discrimination protections in the next Legislative Session.

HOLDING THE LINE

Make no mistake. The enemies of equality responded to all the progress we’ve made by attacking our community on multiple fronts. In previous legislative sessions, we saw more than two dozen anti-LGBTQ bills filed. While you helped us defeat Dan Patrick’s divisive “bathroom bill” in spectacular fashion in 2017, a religious exemption bill that permits state-funded foster-care and adoption agencies to discriminate was signed into law.

The 2019 session was every bit as challenging. These were the biggest threats we monitored:

Preemption of local non-discrimination laws: Opponents of equality called for a law to “preempt” or block cities from passing local nondiscrimination ordinances. Six Texas cities—representing 5.6 million Texans—stepped up to fill the gap in state and federal law by updating their local laws to include some measure of protection for LGBTQ people and others within their jurisdictions. State preemption threatens to nullify these local protections and tie the hands of city leaders to address community needs. To learn more about our fight to defeat preemption of local non-discrimination laws, check out our Preemption Issue Brief.

Religious exemptions: Religious liberty is a fundamental American value, protected by the First Amendment and numerous state and federal laws. But religious liberty doesn’t give anyone special rights to discriminate against others just because of who they are. And yet the opponents of equality launched a coordinated effort to create religious exemptions in healthcare, in social services, in the workplace, in access to housing, in business, and even in government. The negative effects wouldn’t be limited to LGBTQ discrimination; everyone’s rights are at stake. To learn more about the threat posed by religious exemptions, check at our Religious Exemption Issue Brief.

Bathroom access: Barring transgender people from using public restrooms that are appropriate for them is an insidious form of discrimination that prevents them from participating in public life.  Every one of us needs access to restrooms throughout the day in order to do our jobs, attend class, or spend the day at the State Capitol participating in the democratic process. Barring transgender Texans from using the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity forces people to choose between personal safety and breaking the law. In 2017, you helped us defeat bills that would have targeted transgender Texans for such unfair and stigmatizing treatment. In 2019, we stoped them again!

IF YOU ATTACK ONE TEXAN, YOU ATTACK ALL TEXANS

HOW YOU CAN MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN

Our public education programs tell the stories of LGBTQ Texans and make the case for equality—winning hearts and minds. If you’ve been affected by discrimination, we want to hear from you! Share your story here.