AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of gay rights advocates demonstrated at the Texas state Capitol on Monday, lobbying state lawmakers to support a number of civil rights bills introduced by Democratic lawmakers, including the freedom to marry.
Equality Texas, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, organized the gathering of more than 500 attendees, who spent the day having “face-to-face” conversations with lawmakers about the bills and the rights they would guarantee, reported KUT Radio.
Along with calling for gay marriage rights, they backed measures that would place the names of both gay parents on birth certificates and make discrimination by employers and insurance companies illegal.
More than 20 anti-discrimination and pro-LGBTQ bills have been filed in the current legislative Session, but observers say the bills stand little chance in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso), told the crowd the fight for equal rights is tough but necessary. She is the only current Texas lawmaker who does not identify as heterosexual. She describes herself as pansexual, a te rm for people who are attracted to different gender identities, male or female.
Article continues below“I didn’t realize the amount of backlash it would cause, all over the state and all over the country,” she told the crowd. “But it was people like you today who gave me the courage to be my authentic self and to start to change this place, because this place should no longer, not be open and not be inclusive.”
Chuck Smith, the executive director of Equality Texas, praised the lawmakers who introduced the bills and said he was optimistic that the group would eventually get them passed by meeting with lawmakers in person.
“They just need to hear from enough of us to give them the strength to do the right thing for the people of Texas,” he said.
Christian conservative groups hold huge sway in the Legislature, particularly among rural and suburban Republicans. These groups oppose legal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation. Texas voters overwhelmingly approve d a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2005.
Democrats have already filed three joint resolutions calling for a new statewide vote on gay marriage.
A poll released last week by Equality Texas showed a minor plurality of voters now favor legalizing same-sex marriage — the margin was 47.9 percent in favor, compared to to 47.5 percent opposed.