We’re hearing that major companies with headquarters or a significant presence in Texas are starting to push back against a number of anti-LGBT discrimination bills nearing votes in the Texas Legislature this week. Most of it’s happening in private meetings, apparently. But earlier this afternoon, Pamela Colloff from Texas Monthly tweeted that oil and gas giant BP reached out to her about “the anti-discrimination debate playing out in the Texas statehouse.” The full BP statement wasn’t available in the tweet, but it says in part that “BP opposes discrimination of any kind.”

Times are changing. BP spokesperson in Houston just reached out to me to make sure I knew BP’s stance on LGBT rights. pic.twitter.com/bhPWyy4bdG

— Pamela Colloff (@pamelacolloff) May 12, 2015

We got this news around the same time we learned today that the Texas House could be voting Wednesday on a measure that would allow child welfare service providers that contract with the state to use religion to discriminate. Working with our coalition partners at the ACLU of Texas and Equality Texas, we sent out the following urgent memo to reporters:

LEGISLATION ALLOWING CHILD WELFARE SERVICE PROVIDERS TO USE RELIGION TO DISCRIMINATE FILED… Read More

Move over Indiana. The religious right’s campaign to enshrine in Texas law discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families is putting the Lone Star State in the national spotlight.

In fact, all eyes will be on Texas when the House votes Tuesday on whether to defy a potential U.S. Supreme Court supporting the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. Both the Senate and the House are set to vote on other legislation that would also open the door to discrimination in Texas.

We wanted to alert you to a couple of related events. Michelangelo Signorile is bringing his national Sirius XM radio program to Austin May 18-19 to cover the battle over LGBT equality at the Texas Capitol. The journalist and bestselling author has chronicled the modern movement for LGBT equality since the 1980s. So if you’re a Sirius XM subscriber, make sure to tune in to the show May 18-19.

Signorile will also be speaking and signing copies of his new book, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality, at BookPeople in Austin on May 18. Click here for more on that event.Read More

Want to know a big reason the Texas House is dragging the Lone Star State into the public relations firestorm that engulfed Indiana this spring, when the legislature there moved to enshrine discrimination against LGBT people in state law? It’s what religious-righters want, and they hold the Texas Republican Party in their grip.

In fact, Steven Hotze, head of the Conservative Republicans of Texas, this week vomited out another anti-LGBT screed to religious-right activists. In an online post Monday, Hotze demanded that lawmakers pass House Bill 4105 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia. Bell’s legislation would bar state and local officials from granting or recognizing licenses for same-sex marriages even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the state ban on those unions. HB 4105 is now set to go to the floor of the Texas House on Tuesday (May 12).

Hotze’s rationale for passing such a bill? From his Monday post:

Wickedness needs to be called wickedness. The practice and promotion of sodomy and sodomatrimony is wicked. The homofascists intend on forcing Christians and everyone else to accept, condone, affirm and even celebrate sodomy as normal. The homosexuals want it taught to children starting in kindergarten so they can sear their consciences and more easily recruit your children… Read More

The Texas Legislature appears on the verge of passing Indiana-style legislation that discriminates against gay and lesbian families, barring same-sex couples from getting married even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the state’s ban on those unions. We just sent out the following press release:

Civil liberties and LGBT rights organizations today joined in warning the Texas House of Representatives against passage next week of legislation intended to subvert a potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage and lock in discrimination against gay and lesbian families.

HB 4105 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, is set for debate and a vote on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 12.

The bill would prohibit local and state officials from granting, enforcing or recognizing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, and it bans public funding from being used to do so. The bill’s supporters have said their goal is to defy a potential Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

HB 4105 is one of more than 20 proposed bills in the Texas Legislature that would enshrine in state law discrimination against gay and… Read More

We bet Steven Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, nearly burst a blood vessel last week while writing his email rant attacking the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples.

The long screed to his email list calls on readers to contact Texas legislators in support of HB 4105 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia. (It also asks for money — “to protect Biblical marriage,” of course.) HB 4105 would bar the use of state or local funds to license or otherwise recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple. The law also bars state and local employees from granting or recognizing such a license.

Hotze — like Rep. Bell — insists the law is needed in case the Supreme Court strikes down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. HB 4105 and other bills that promote and even require discrimination against LGBT Texans and their families would lead to months and maybe years of litigation if the Supreme Court strikes down the marriage ban. That would impose great harm, financial and otherwise, on loving families simply trying to exercise their constitutionally protected rights.

Some excerpts from Hotze’s rant:

This law will enable Attorney General Ken Paxton to safeguard Texas against… Read More