Lawmakers in Texas are seeking to pass bills granting non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and banning conversion therapy through the Republican-controlled state legislature.
State Rep. Jessica González (D), the vice-chair of the new Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, plans to introduce a bill that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. State Rep. Celia Israel (D), a founding member of the caucus as well, re-introduced her proposal to ban conversion therapy in the Lone Star state.
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The “Save Chick-fil-A” law banned state and local governments from taking “any adverse action against any person” – including businesses – if they claim that their actions are based on their “sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage.”
The president of the group that pushed for the bill has said that the ultimate goal of Democrats passing LGBTQ legislation is to “ban the Bible.” He supports conversion therapy for LGBTQ children and has compared marriage equality to incest.
González has planned to introduce the legislation since the Supreme Court ruled that discrimination on the basis of “sex” as written in Title IX included sexual orientation and gender identity in Bostock v. Clayton Co. in June.
“We can’t look at this as being a partisan or political issue — it’s a human issue, and in order to create a change in mind, you need to create a change in heart,” she said at the time.
Israel has already filed House Bill 560, which would penalize health care providers “who attempt to change the sexual orientation of a child.” It’s her sixth year in a row introducing such a proposal.
“We’re facing a global pandemic, and aside from passing nondiscrimination legislation because it’s the right thing to do, there is good policy there… there’s solid research behind it that shows… our state will reap economic benefits for being inclusive and embracing diversity,” González told the Texas Tribune.
Citing the disappointing results for the Texas Democratic Party last year which only gained one seat each in the state Senate and House, González added, “despite the outcome of the elections in November and Democrats hoping to gain some seats to hopefully make it a little bit easier for us, our priority legislation hasn’t changed as far as the people who are supporting this bill.”
Israel also acknowledges that despite the slim chances her proposal may have, it’s still worth bringing to the floor. “The Legislature is built not to be a very productive body. But if you can have a robust hearing and have heartfelt testimony, that really resonates. That in it of itself is a victory,” she said.
“It can be a reminder to the opposition that when you promote [anti-LGBTQ] stuff, you’re promoting hatred and division, and that’s not the Texas that we all want.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently found that Texas was a “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality” in its annual State Equality Index.