Rankings of legislators are always tricky. It’s difficult to include all the little things that happen behind the scenes, the influence of members on each other, or the true motivations or beliefs of individual members. That said, it’s important to acknowledge the public actions of the people elected to represent us. In compiling this worst 10 list we considered public votes, authorship of pro- and anti-LGBT legislation, filing of resolutions acknowledging the LGBT community and committee votes on issues affecting the LGBT community. Behind the scenes work and advocacy are not included.
There is certainly room for debate. We’d love to hear your opinion of the bottom 10. How’d your representative do? Did we score them too harshly? Too favorably? Share this list with your friends and let’s have a conversation about how the people elected to represent us did over the last five months.
You can see the full math behind how this list was developed HERE.
#10 (tie) Cecil Bell, Jr.
If Cecil Bell wanted to use this session to become a nation-wide figure of derision and an embarrassment to the entire state of Texas then he accomplished his goal. If that’s not what he wanted then the quick succession of four (four!) anti-marriage bills attempting to do everything from taking away the salaries of county clerks who comply with marriage court rulings, to giving the Secretary of State the ability to shut down county marriage license offices to requiring the Attorney General to keep a list of Texans married to someone of the same gender (huh?) accomplished it anyway. We get it Cecil, you really don’t like the freedom to marry – everyone’s convinced – you can stop now.
#10 (tie) Pat Fallon
Last December four Collin Co lawmakers were so incensed that Plano City Council was considering a (flawed) non-discrimination ordinance they co-signed a letter to the council full of misinformation and fear mongering. Fallon brought that fear with him to the legislative session. Co-authoring 6 anti-LGBT bills and joint authoring HB 2802, Gilbert Peña’s anti-trans bathroom bill. Fallon’s mate in the #10 spot, Cecil Bell, may get all the attention, but Fallon’s attacks on the LGBT community this session were just as foul.
#9 (tie) Matt Shaheen
Like Fallon, Shaheen was part of the cabal of Collin County lawmakers so incensed by the Plano Equal Rights Ordinance that they decided to sign onto everyone else’s anti-LGBT bills, but Shaheen saw Fallon’s six co-authorships and raised him a joint authorship on HB 1911, Jeff Leach’s attempt to outlaw non-discrimination ordinances all together.
#9 (tie) Matt Krause
Krause was last session’s “winner” of worst House member. He slips eight spots this session and almost avoided the top 10 altogether but for filing HJR 125.
Early in the session Rep. Villalba filed the identical HJR 55, but after talking with his constituents and the business community Villalba understood that the proposed constitutional amendment would have had the effect of undermining local non-discrimination ordinances. Since that wasn’t something Villalba wanted to do, he issued a public statement that he would no longer be working to pass HJR 55. That’s when Krause stepped in, proudly proclaimed that undermining local non-discrimination ordinances WAS something he wanted to do, and filed the identical HJR 125 – which promptly went nowhere. For always being willing to step up to the plate and file anti-LGBT legislation, Krause lands on this list.
#7 (tie) Scott Turner
This session, Turner was probably known best as the guy who tried to unseat speaker Straus and failed spectacularly. Which may also be why he’s known as the guy who failed to pass any legislation. But that’s not what earned him his spot on this list. Co-authoring eight different anti-LGBT bills is how he wound up on this list.
#7 (tie) William ‘Bill’ Zedler
Last session Bill Zedler tried to close down LGBT resource centers at Texas state universities. This session, it seems, he’s has mellowed a bit, only managing eight co-authorships of anti-LGBT legislation. The way things are going, Dr. Zedler may be leading the pride parade next session, but nobody hold your breath on that one.
#5 (tie) Jodie Laubenberg
The third of the quartet of anti-LGBT Collin County lawmakers, Laubenberg matched the co-authoring skills of Fallon and Shaheen and added signing onto Krause’s doomed HJR 125 for good measure. Laubenberg is the dean of this list, having served longer than anyone else in the bottom 10. While many of her cohorts have learned to temper their homophobia with a little compassion, Laubenberg’s still going strong – holding her own with all the freshman on this list.
#5 (tie) James White
If you wrote an anti-LGBT bill in the 84th Legislature and were looking for a co-author James White was your guy. He managed to rack up eight co-authorships of anti-LGBT legislation and one joint-authorship (of HB 1911, Jeff Leach’s attempt to override local non-discrimination ordinances). It’s only his votes in support of Sylvester Turner’s homeless youth study and Joe Deshotel’s gestational agreements bill that kept him out of the #4 spot.
#4 Matt Rinaldi
Rinaldi squeaked into his house seat with less than 100 votes and promptly began signing onto anti-LGBT bills. Like James White, he managed 8 co-authorships of anti-LGBT bills and 1 joint-authorship (Molly White’s HB 2553, a state RFRA that out-Indianas Indiana’s). Unlike James White, Rinaldi voted against every Equality Texas endorsed bill on the floor. Also unlike James White, Rinaldi seems to have been so distracted by signing onto other people’s bills that he forgot to pass any of his own legislation. Ooops…
#3 Jeff Leach
Leach was one of the four Collin County lawmakers who wrote a letter to Plano City Council last year full of misinformation and scare mongering in an effort to end consideration of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. He followed up by authoring HB 1911, which tried to do at the state level what he was unable to do at the city level and repeal all city non-discrimination ordinances via legislative override. The business community was swift in responding, pointing out that top job candidates and companies weren’t moving to Texas because of the lack of such protections and that repealing the existing ones would damage the state’s business friendly reputation. Fortunately HB 1911 and the other 7 anti-LGBT bills Leach co-authored all failed. Still, give him credit – Leach did vote for Mary González’ Romeo and Juliet equalization legislation in committee (before voting against it on the floor). The guy has a heart and he genuinely does care about kids. With a little more time and a little more exposure to people who’ve had different experiences than himself, he might just come around. Only time will tell.
#2 Drew Springer, Jr.
Drew Springer makes the list for attacking children. During the debate on HB 1, the state’s biannual budget, Springer tried to add riders prohibiting school districts from offering benefit plans that were inclusive of their employee’s same-gender partners and to prevent transgender students from participating in school sports. Springer’s understanding of the issues is so poor that it’s unlikely that either of his amendments would have had the effect he intended (due to syntax and construction that can only be described as byzantine). But, thanks to the thousands of Texans who contacted their representatives in opposition, and the deft maneuvering of Rep. Celia Israel and Rep. Dr. Alma Allen, Springer was persuaded to pull both riders from consideration. Additionally, Springer joint authored three of Cecil Bell’s four anti-marriage bills jumping him from his #5 spot on last session’s worst list to the #2 spot. He likely would have been #1 were it not for the astounding ineptitude demonstrated by…
#1 Molly S. White
For a freshman lawmaker Molly White had an outsized impact on the 84th legislature’s regular session… and not in a good way. White grabbed headlines when she refused to allow Muslim Texans visiting the capitol into her office unless they “renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.” She followed that up a month later by refusing to meet with LGBT constituents. It’s difficult to understand why someone seeks an office charged with representing the people if that person is unwilling to – you know – meet with the people – but Molly White must have some method to her indecipherable madness. In amongst all that not meeting with people, White found time to author HB 2553 (a state RFRA so broad it makes the one Indiana passed look like a Sunday School picnic) and HB 2555 (a “let’s ignore the Supreme Court if it rules on marriage – lalala I can’t hear you…” bill so blatantly unconstitutional even Cecil Bell wouldn’t sign onto it), as well as co-author 8 other anti-LGBT bills.
Unfortunately for the constituents of White’s District 55, not only was she too busy to meet with them, she was too busy filing blatantly unconstitutional bills to actually pass any legislation. White’s lack of attention to the actual business of the legislature and her preference for controversy over substantial legislation meant that her Bell County constituents were effectively robbed of any representation in the Texas House this session. That’s not how representative government is supposed to work and it’s not what the fine people of District 55 deserve.