Monday, June 1, 2015

Bills Denying LGBT Rights Fail In Tx 84th Legislature

The Republican dominated Texas 84th Legislature adjourns today without passing any anti-LGBT laws. During the 2015 legislative session, Republican lawmakers introduced over 20 anti-LGBT bills. The proposed legislation followed four recurring legislative themes common to Republican dominated legislatures in other states:
  1. “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” (RFRAs), or “Turn the Gays Away” bills - like the bill passed in Indiana earlier this year. Many Texas business groups opposed these bills, pointing to the backlash over similar bills in Indiana and Arkansas that opponents consider discriminatory;
  2. Bills to opt out of recognizing legal same-sex marriages, intended to defy the U.S. Supreme Court, if it rules in favor of same-sex marriage, as expected, sometime this month. Nearly every House Republican sponsored a House bill that would have prohibited government employees from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill never reached a vote due to parlimentary procedure employed by House Democrats.
    • House Bill 1745, prohibiting license issuance by government employees, was filed by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, after a lesbian couple from Austin obtained a marriage license in February. Under a U.S. District Court Judge's emergency order, the Travis County clerk issued a license to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who have been together for 30 years. The Judge allowed the union because of Goodfriend’s ovarian cancer diagnosis and prognosis;
  3. “Bathroom Bills” that prevent transgender people from using the appropriately-gendered bathroom; and
  4. Bills prohibiting cities from passing local ordinances protecting LGBT rights.
Only one piece of legislation, allowing pastors to refuse to conduct gay marriages, passed during the 84th legislature.

In a symbolic gesture to their religious conservative political base, Senate Republicans did pass a nonbinding resolution affirming the Senate’s view of marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

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