A play about the long and ultimately successful efforts to pass a hate crimes bill in Texas is premiering this weekend in Austin. The play, Just Outside Redemption by Dennis Bailey, was inspired by the work of Dianne Hardy-Garcia, the executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) in the 1990s and when the Legislature finally passed the hate crimes statute in 2001. Dianne later served as a member of the Texas Freedom Network Board of Directors.
Dianne had worked relentlessly for years to include sexual orientation in the bill that became the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. Religious-right groups and anti-gay politicians repeatedly tried to undermine — with success until 2001 — all attempts to pass the legislation if it covered crimes tied to hatred or bias based on sexual orientation.
The Texas Freedom Network partnered with Dianne’s organization and others in support of the legislation. The story of its passage is a triumphant reflection on how citizen activists can persuade elected officials to enact laws that ultimately bend the course of history toward justice.
The play premieres this weekend at The City Theatre in Austin and runs until September 30. You can learn more about the play and get ticket information here.