Much of the opposition to the move toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people has been focused on the right of individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate. As troubling as that is, we’re also seeing politicians work to ensure that government takes a proactive role in discriminating against LGBT people.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is pushing the State Marriage Defense Act, legislation that if signed into law could accomplish two objectives. First, redefine marriage at the federal level to remove from hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples the federal government’s recognition of their marriages, and thus, any corresponding federal benefits they are afforded, now or in the future. And second, should the U.S. Supreme Court not find a right to marriage for same-sex couples, encourage states that do not wish to recognize those marriages to potentially nullify them.
In short, Sen. Cruz wants the federal government to actively discriminate against legally married couples if they happen to live in a state where their union isn’t legally recognized. It wouldn’t matter that they were legally married in another state.
U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, a Houston-area Republican, is sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives.
But Texas politicians aren’t the only ones who want government to take an active role in discriminating. Sam Brownback, the Republican governor of Kansas, this week signed an executive order ending discrimination protections for state employees who are LGBT.
Brownback in essence is telling supervisors in state offices across Kansas that they can fire, demote, harass or otherwise discriminate against employees — or refuse to hire them in the first place — just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. So public employees in Kansas who have been open about their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in the eight years when the anti-discrimination protections were in place in their state could now be tossed out of their jobs by a supervisor.
And, of course, the Texas Legislature this session will consider bills that would gut anti-discrimination protections passed by local governments anywhere in the state.
On Tuesday, February 17, clergy and faith leaders from across Texas will come to the Capitol in Austin to speak out for LGBT equality. They and other supporters will gather on the north steps of the Texas Capitol at 1 p.m. that day for a brief public event demonstrating the broad and deep support for equality in the faith communities of this state. Please join the gathering and stand in support of fairness and equality in Texas.