It has been a busy week on the political stage both in Texas and on the national level. Many new policies and nominations have been put in place that will drastically affect the lives of many LGBTQ people in Texas and across the country, including children, parents, immigrants, adults, and students. Here is what you need to know.
HB 3859 went into effect September 1st
HB 3859 went into effect on Friday, September 1st. This legislation passed by the Texas legislature during the regular session and signed by Governor Abbott permits a Texas child welfare provider to refuse to serve children, families, relatives and foster and adoptive parents if doing so conflicts with the provider’s “sincerely held religious beliefs”; to provide “religious education” to the children and families it serves; and to deny those it serves access to contraception, abortions or abortion-inducing services.
With HB 3859 now in effect, child welfare providers can legally refuse adoption agreements and foster care services based on someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, religion, or marital status. Texas now has the broadest, most discriminatory child welfare religious refusal act in the United States. HB 3859 is not only discriminatory to qualified foster and adoptive parents, it also puts thousands of youth in care in jeopardy.
Equality Texas, the Family Equality Council, and Lambda Legal have compiled a fact sheet about Texas’ License to Discriminate in Child Welfare Law. We intend to continue to fight this discriminatory legislation, likely through the courts.
SB 4 Temporarily Halted
On Wednesday, September 6th, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia temporarily halted part of SB4, the “Show me your papers” bill which was set to go into effect. If SB 4 survives lawsuits and is eventually put into effect, the law would subject LGBTQ people of color to discriminatory stops and unjust questioning about their immigration status by local law enforcement. In the end, if SB 4 is enacted, LGBTQ people who have fled violence in other countries will be at risk for deportation.
We encourage LGBTQ people threatened by SB 4 to know their rights, and to visit our equality coalition partner ACLU of Texas for additional resources.
President Trump moved on Wednesday to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provided safety and protection for nearly 1 million undocumented young people. According to a recent study, there are over 75,000 LGBTQ DREAMers in the U.S. and over 36,000 of them have participated in DACA. At a time when immigrants and Texas-born families are diligently working together to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey, an end to DACA would further rip our families apart, and unjustly instill fear within our communities. Equality Texas stands with our local and national coalition partners in denouncing the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA and will continue to work with and provide resources to those affected by this change. For additional resources, please visit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
San Antonio ISD Nondiscrimination policy under attack
Earlier this month, San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) students called for Bexar County’s first school district protections for their LGBTQIA classmates and friends. By sharing student stories, young people stood up and took charge. The proposal passed unanimously, adding sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the list of protections in SAISD’s nondiscrimination policies.
Now, the inclusive policy is under attack. Activist outsiders, including the extremist anti-LGBTQ group “Texas Values” are calling for SAISD to roll back protections for vulnerable students. Young people, parents, and allies must again stand up and speak out against discrimination in our schools.
Equality Texas is working with local students, families, and civic engagement groups such as MOVE San Antonio, PoltiQueers, Fiesta Youth, and others to defend the policy from those who want to undo the progress we have made in San Antonio public schools. Join this Monday to stand in solidarity with San Antonio ISD students, parents and friends.
Extreme Judicial Nominations
On Thursday, President Trump nominated two political extremists to federal judgeships for the Eastern and Northern districts of Texas. Jeff Mateer is a former employee and Matthew Kacsmaryk a current employee of First Liberty Institute, an anti-LGBTQ hate group with a history of discrimination targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual
and queer people under the guise of religious liberty.
By nominating associates of this hate group, the President is using his office to ensure policies will be created and spearheaded to advance anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and places of business all under the
guise of protecting religious liberties.
Equality Texas will continue to monitor these issues and others as they come up and as always, will continue to make sure that we forward appropriate resources to our members.
Thank you again for your continued support during these trying times,
Chuck Smith, CEO Equality Texas
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