Media Contact

Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas, (713) 325-7010, media@aclutx.org
DeAnne Cuellar, Equality Texas, deanne.cuellar@equalitytexas.org, 512-474-5475 (office), 210-896-9141 (mobile)
Nick Morrow, Human Rights Campaign, nick.morrow@hrc.org, 865-386-8244 (mobile)
Dan Quinn, Texas Freedom Network, dan@tfn.org, 512.322.0545 (office), 512.799.3379 (mobile)

January 19, 2017

Discrimination Laws Betray Guarantee of Equality, Risk the Same Economic Backlash That Has Damaged North Carolina and Other States

AUSTIN - Policy experts and advocates today warned that discriminatory legislation targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Texas betrays our nation’s fundamental guarantee of equality for all and carries serious risks for the state’s economy and reputation across the country.

At a briefing in the Texas Capitol, speakers pointed in particular to the damage done in North Carolina when that state’s lawmakers passed a sweeping bill—HB2—that barred local anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and required discrimination against transgender people in public restrooms and other facilities.

“In North Carolina, the anti-transgender law HB2 led to widespread economic loss – loss that we felt strongly in Greensboro when concerts and sporting events relocated due to the law,” said Mayor Nancy Vaughan of Greensboro, North Carolina, who spoke at today’s briefing. “I came to Austin this week to warn lawmakers about the disastrous consequences that these types of discriminatory laws can have. I hope the legislature heeds my warning and does not risk the reputation of the Lone Star State and the economic and social well-being of all of its citizens by pursuing harmful, anti-LGBTQ laws.”

So far, Texas lawmakers have filed or suggested they will file bills that would discriminate against transgender people, bar cities and other local jurisdictions from passing nondiscrimination measures protecting LGBT people, and allow individuals, businesses and organizations to use religion to refuse to obey anti-discrimination measures and other laws they oppose. Among the bills are:

  • SB 6 by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, which bars transgender people from using public restrooms and other facilities that are appropriate for their gender identity
  • SB 92 by state Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, which bars cities and other local jurisdictions from protecting LGBT people from discrimination in hiring, housing and public accommodations
  • SB 89 by state Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, which bars the state from enforcing any federal law or provision, such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling, that violate the Texas Constitution
  • SB 242 by state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, which endangers LGBT students by forcing schools to “out” them to their parents, even if a student fears abuse
  • HB 428 by state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, which allows organizations on public college and university campuses to use religion to discriminate against LGBT students
  • State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, has said he plans to file legislation that would allow businesses and individuals to use religion to refuse to obey laws that bar discrimination against LGBT people in hiring, housing and public accommodations.

These bills are similar to deeply controversial laws passed in Indiana, North Carolina and a few other states. North Carolina’s HB2 has cost that state thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development and major sports events like the NBA All-Star Game. The Republican North Carolina governor who defended and signed the bill into law, Pat McCrory, lost his reelection race in November.

The influential Texas Association of Business last fall released a study showing that passage of an anti-LGBT discrimination bill in Texas could cost the state 185,000 jobs and up to $8.5 billion due to boycotts and other actions taken by businesses and equality advocates from across the country.

Speakers at today’s briefing also pointed out that religious refusal laws like those advocated by Rep. Krause and Rep. King radically redefine religious liberty by allowing people to use faith as a weapon to harm others and to ignore laws everyone else must obey.

Organizations sponsoring or participating in today’s briefing included the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, Anti-Defamation League, Equality Texas, Human Rights Campaign, Texas Freedom Network and Transgender Education Network of Texas.

Briefing speakers:

  • State Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, authored San Antonio’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance. Contact: 512.463.0532
  • Mayor Nancy Vaughan of Greensboro, North Carolina. Contact: nick.morrow@hrc.org, 865.386.8244 (mobile), 202.216.1525 (office)
  • Karrie League, co-founder and co-owner of Alamo Drafthouse. Contact: karrie.league@drafthouse.com
  • Jared Lindauer, Executive Committee member of the Austin Anti-Defamation League. Contact: Jared@JLindauer.com, 512.695.7942
  • Kathy Miller; President, Texas Freedom Network. Contact: dan@tfn.org, 512.322.0545
  • Chelsa Morrison, Grapevine parent of transgender child. Contact: chelsa26@hotmail.com, 720.985.8129
  • Rebecca L. Robertson, Legal and Policy Director, ACLU of Texas. Contact: media@aclutx.org, 713.325.7010
  • Danielle Skidmore, transgender adult in Austin, parent, civil engineer, Human Rights Campaign volunteer. Contact: danielle.m.skidmore@gmail.com, 512.536.0748
  • Chuck Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Equality Texas. Contact: deanne@equalitytexas.org, 512.474.5475

Additional resources for reporters on this issue:

  • Marty Rouse, National Field Director, Human Rights Campaign. Contact: nick.morrow@hrc.org, 865.386.8244 (mobile), 202.216.1525 (office)
  • Claire Bow, Transgender Education Network of Texas. Contact: clairemarie.bow@gmail.com, 512.417.7076
  • Rev. John Elford, Senior Pastor, University United Methodist Church in Austin. Contact: jelford2409@gmail.com, 512.478.9837
  • Lauryn Farris, Transgender Education Network of Texas. Contact: lauryn7808@gmail.com, 210.240.0060, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault
  • Ted Rutherford, Communications Program Director, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, trutherford@taasa.org, 512.203.7791

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is a guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, the Legislature and Texas communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution.

Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization dedicated solely to securing full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom and individual liberties.

The Transgender Education Network of Texas works to further understanding of gender diversity in Texas and to end discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming Texans through social, legal, legislative and corporate education.

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