One of the most remarkable outcomes of the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature is the complete failure of the broadest legislative assault on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community anywhere in the country. It’s so remarkable in large part because Texas is deeply red state in which religious-right/tea party activists make up a powerful part of the Republican Party’s base.

Moreover, consider that while anti-LGBT discrimination bills were failing in the Texas Legislature, they were passing in other states. For example, North Carolina’s lawmakers are on the verge of allowing public officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses to any couple whose relationship violates that official’s religion beliefs. Lawmakers in Alabama are getting closer to scrapping marriage licenses altogether — for everyone. They would force couples to enter into a contract and file it at the local courthouse. This process could create new obstacles for same-sex couples even if the Supreme Court rules they have the constitutional right to marry.

Following last November’s elections, religious-right and tea party groups in Texas confidently prepared their campaign to enshrine in state law discrimination against LGBT people in a wide range of areas, including marriage and public services. When the Texas Legislature convened in January, observers worried were that many… Read More

As the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature comes to a close today, the Texas Freedom Network is joining with our fantastic coalition partners to celebrate the complete failure of the religious right’s broad legislative assault on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We just sent out the following press release:

While bills promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have passed legislatures in states such as Indiana, Arkansas and North Carolina this year, civil liberties and LGBT-rights groups are celebrating the failure of similar bills in the Texas Legislature. Four of those groups issued the following statements on today’s close of the 2015 legislative session in the Lone Star State:

Kathy Miller, President, Texas Freedom Network “It’s frustrating that some lawmakers wasted so much time and energy pushing a ‘culture war’ agenda that would do nothing to fund our schools, repair crumbling bridges and roads or keep our economy strong. The passage of these bills would have been a big step backward for Texas at a time when a large and growing majority of Americans oppose discrimination against the LGBT community and support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. So we’re… 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

As this year’s legislative session nears an end in Texas, major bills promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are stalled. So what happens if none of those bills passes? Our neighboring state to the east might be providing one possible answer.

On Tuesday a legislative committee in Louisiana essentially rejected a sweeping, Indiana-style discrimination bill. That legislation would allow individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate against legally married gay and lesbian couples. Hours later, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal thumbed his nose at state lawmakers and issued an executive order imposing the discrimination policy on his state anyway.

This desperate political gamble by Jindal, who is pushing for the support of religious-righters in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination next year, has already been met by a storm of criticism (including charges of hypocrisy).

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is praising Jindal:

“Great step by a strong leader,” Paxton tweeted today, before cynically equating religious liberty with discrimination.

Paxton is one of the most strident opponents of LGBT equality, especially the freedom to marry. He has insisted that Texas lawmakers pass legislation that would help him resist a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling this… Read More

While some Texas legislators and far-right groups continue to push measures to block the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples, a new Gallup poll shows their views are shared by a steadily shrinking minority of people across the country.

The poll released today shows that a record-high 60 percent of Americans say that marriages between same-sex couples should be legally recognized and have the same rights as traditional marriages. Just 37 percent said they oppose same-sex marriage.

Back in early 2009, when Barack Obama became president, support for same-sex marriage stood at just 40 percent. It stood at just 37 percent in 2005, the year after President George W. Bush promoted a federal constitutional amendment banning such unions during his re-election campaign. That was the same year Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Now, however, support for same-sex marriage has reached new highs among Democrats, Independents and even Republicans nationwide, Gallup says. Todays’ poll showed that 76 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Independents and 37 percent of Republicans support same-sex marriage. Opponents of same-sex marriage were more likely to insist that any political candidates they support share their views on the issue.

Texas is just one of… Read More