UPDATE, 10 a.m., May 28: State Sen. Eddie Lucio, R-Brownsville, announced Wednesday night that he was withdrawing from Senate consideration the bill he had revised to include language barring state and local officials from providing or recognizing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Earlier in the day, state Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, passed up a final chance to amend onto an agency sunset bill a measure allowing child welfare service providers that contract with the state to use religion to discriminate in matters involving foster care, adoption and other placement services. The failure of both measures is a major victory for supporters of equality in Texas.

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Lawmakers filed more than 20 bills promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Texans this year. Just one or two remain alive after some drama at the state Capitol Tuesday night. But we can’t stop fighting yet.

Midnight Tuesday was the deadline for the Texas House to pass Senate bills on second reading. As the deadline neared, we prepared for a battle over shameful legislation allowing child welfare agencies that contract with the state to use religion to discriminate. The sponsor of that measure, state Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, had already tried to pass… Read More

We’ve been warning that this was possible — no bill is ever entirely dead until the Legislature goes home. We just sent out the following press release:

Just two weeks after it died in the Texas House, a measure designed to subvert a potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage has been suddenly revived in the Texas Senate.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, chair of the Senate Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, added to an omnibus bill on county government — HB 2977 by state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston — core language from state Rep. Cecil Bell’s failed HB 4105. HB 4105 would have barred state and local officials from licensing, enforcing or recognizing a same-sex marriage even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. HB 4105 died in the House two weeks ago.

The committee first approved the revised HB 2977 Monday night. The committee took a second vote today after some committee members objected that Sen. Lucio hadn’t told them that the marriage language had been added to the bill. Sen. Lucio, a Democrat, voted with three… Read More

It was a hectic Sunday at the Texas Legislature. Thank you to tall who took action and contacted your reps during the holiday weekend.

Here’s what happened on what turned out to be not much of a holiday for legislators.

Sanford’s anti-LGBT amendment State Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, did not get an opportunity to offer an amendment allowing discrimination against LGBT people who want to provide loving homes to children. The amendment may be offered again as early as Tuesday when the House debates Senate Bill 206. Here’s some background on Sanford’s proposal. And you can tell legislators you oppose the amendment by going here.

Cruel anti-abortion amendment State Rep. Jonathan Stickland. R-Bedford, pulled down an amendment that would force a pregnant person to carry a nonviable fetus to term. Stickland did so in lieu of another anti-abortion measure, SB 575, which almost died last night before being revived at the last minute. This late move, by the way, involves Rep. Stickland reportedly almost getting into a physical altercation with a Republican colleague.

HB 3994 HB 3994 was not heard in the Senate as was expected Sunday. The bill would… Read More

We’re down to just 12 days left in the 2015 legislative session in Texas, and attacks on LGBT equality are becoming increasingly desperate. Rumors are swirling about potential amendments to SB 2065, which is scheduled for debate by the Texas House on Thursday.

Religious-right groups are clamoring for passage of SB 2065, which they say will prevent clergy from being forced to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs. But the Constitution and state law already protect that right for clergy, and no one has proposed changing that.

So what is the religious right up to now? This could be the last gasp for mean-spirited legislation like state Rep. Cecil Bell’s “Defy the Supreme Court” effort to block marriage equality in Texas, or state Rep. Scott Sanford’s proposal to allow discrimination against LGBT families in the adoption and foster care system. Either of those previously dead bills could rise tomorrow as an amendment to SB 2065.

It’s time to take to email and the phones again to tell your state representative: Vote NO on any discriminatory amendments to SB 2065.

So far this legislative session, supporters of equality have blocked efforts to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination in state law. Don’t let up now.

On Monday, for the second time in less than a week, legislation promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people hit a roadblock in the Texas House. That’s good news. What’s not is that the lawmaker promoting that discrimination amendment was willing to put abused and neglected children at further risk so that he could push a shameful political agenda.

Monday’s action came during debate on SB 206, the sunset reauthorization bill for the Department of Family and Protective Services. During the debate, Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, proposed an amendment allowing child welfare service providers that contract with the state to use religion to discriminate.

Sanford’s intent, of course, was to promote discrimination against LGBT people seeking to care for children in the state’s protective services system. But his amendment would go far beyond that by also allowing providers to discriminate against people of other faiths, interfaith couples and anyone else to whom the provider has religious objections. As written, the amendment could also make it difficult for the state to stop service providers from forcing lesbian and gay minors into abusive and discredited reparative “therapy” programs that seek to change someone’s sexual orientation.

Opponents, mostly House Democrats, were rightly appalled. So state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, used a… Read More