Competing bills tackle LGBT protections in Texas

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A group of progressive lawmakers used Texas Independence Day on Monday to introduce a sweeping gay-inclusive anti-discrimination bill while another lawmaker fired back with a proposal to undo non-discrimination ordinances in cities across the state.

Add those measures to the several proposals – some gay-friendly and others not so much – facing Texas lawmakers this legislative session.  

First, the good, via Equality Texas:

That’s why today—Texas Independence Day—Senator José Rodríguez, along with co-authors Senators Rodney Ellis, Sylvia Garcia, Kirk Watson, and John Whitmire, introduced Senate Bill 856, a state-wide anti-discrimination bill that would prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodation, housing, and state contracting based upon sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.

And the bad, via the Texas Observer:

A Fort Bend Republican has introduced a bill that would prohibit cities from enforcing ordinances protecting LGBT people against discrimination.

State Rep. Rick Miller’s (photo) House Bill 1556 would bar cities from adopting nondiscrimination ordinances that include protected classes not contained in state law.

Texas law doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. If passed, Miller’s bill would undo LGBT protections passed by numerous cities, including Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and Plano. Altogether more than 7.5 million Texas are covered by such ordinances.

Miller's measure apparently goes further in dismantling LGBT protections, like Houston's Equal Rights Amendment, than does Sen. Don Huffines' S.B. 343.

Rodríguez is the Democrat that has also proposed striking “homosexual conduct” from the state penal code in S.B. 148 and repealing the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage with SJR 13.

“I chose today – Texas Independence Day – to file this important legislation because Texas values – such as hard work, opportunity, and the Golden Rule – are the reason why Texas remains strong 179 years later,” Rodríguez said in a prepared statement. “That is why we must act definitively to ensure everyone in the Lone Star State is treated fairly and equally.”

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