HOUSTON – As the Senate prepares to confirm Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement, Texas local leaders and the ACLU of Texas announced “The Next Step” Declarations promoting recent local proclamations that defend abortion and LGBTQ rights.
In encouraging others to fight for the things that they care about, Justice Ginsburg said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” The Next Step is a movement in Texas to proactively honor her legacy through efforts to affirm Texans’ civil rights. Most proclamations state, “Whereas Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for gender justice, voting rights, abortion rights, the rights of immigrants, and the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals [city/county name] is committed to upholding and protecting those rights and Justice Ginsburg’s profound legacy.”
Five jurisdictions have adopted a proclamation or resolution as part of The Next Step movement: the City of El Paso, El Paso County, the City of Austin, the City of Houston, and Travis County – with Harris County expected to vote Tuesday. The measures have been adopted in the two weeks leading up to the Senate Committee vote on Justice Ginsburg’s replacement.
“For the first time, a coordinated effort of elected leaders from across the state are passing declarations that promise to defend the rights of every Texan,” said Drucilla Tigner, policy & advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Texas. “The majority of Texans believe abortion should be legal and that the rights of LGTBQ+ people should be protected, rights the Next Step movement pledges to defend.”
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dedicated her life to ensuring that our constitution provided equal protection under the law,” said Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “On the Supreme Court, she constantly reminded us that our country’s founding documents are meant to uphold equity and justice, and I am proud that Harris County is introducing a resolution to recognize her life and legacy of fighting for women, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups.”
“In El Paso we are committed to preserving the rights Justice Ginsburg fought for – rights that the majority of people in El Paso and in Texas believe in,” said El Paso City Representative Alexsandra Annello. “I am proud that the city of El Paso was the first jurisdiction to pass a resolution to honor her legacy, and to join so many other jurisdictions in this effort.”
“Austin has a long history of living the values of Justice Ginsburg,” said Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen. “I am especially proud to sponsor this resolution. As an attorney and a woman, I am honored to be able to recognize the accomplishments of a true trailblazer. She taught us much – to be strong, empowered, and committed to justice. I will honor her when I vote in one of the most important elections our nation has had!”
“Justice Ginsburg will forever be one of the greatest legal minds, and civil rights icons, of our generation,” said Houston District C City Council Member Abbie Kamin. “For many, including me, she's the reason we are able to practice law today. From her powerful dissents to her lasting jurisprudence, and so much more, her legacy will continue to have a profound impact on our country for years to come. It is up to us to continue the fight.”
Jurisdictions in Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley, and in West Texas have shown interest in passing similar measures.
In the last year, small jurisdictions in Texas have attempted to limit access to abortion within city limits, contravening constitutional protections for their residents. The Next Step movement affirms what most Texans believe – that access to abortion is essential health care. The local leaders championing The Next Step represent 4.3 million, with the number jumping to almost 7 million Texans once Harris County votes.
A video statement from the ACLU of Texas is available here.