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20 anti-LGBT bills introduced in Texas Legislature

At least 20 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in the Texas Legislature this cycle, more than in any other state, according to a tally by the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Texas.

Leaders of the two civil rights groups say the anti-gay lawmakers are outside the mainstream in Texas, where polls increasingly show public opposition to discrimination against LGBT people.

“Business leaders in Texas have pushed back against proposed anti-LGBT legislation citing its negative consequences for the economic health and well-being of the state,”said Equality Texas executive director Chuck Smith. “The clearest way for the Lone Star State to demonstrate that it is truly an open and welcoming environment for everyone in the labor force is to pass pending legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

HRC national field director Marty Rouse said, “These bills are nothing more than despicable attacks on LGBT people and their families. It’s time for all fair-minded Texans to stand up and say enough is enough; these are our family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. It’s time to move forward and embrace fairness and equality for all Texans.”

The anti-LGBT bills include:

• SJR 10, HJR 55, HJR 125, HB 1355, which would allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and other minorities. These bills go beyond the religious protections already in Texas’ laws and the U.S. Constitution.

Similar legislation, including the newly signed law drawing so much controversy to Indiana, have been opposed by major companies including Apple and Wal-Mart out of concern that the measures undermine existing civil rights law and harm the business climate.

• HB 1556, SB 1155, HB 1911 and SB 343 would nullify all standing non-discrimination ordinances and resolutions and making any future nondiscrimination efforts by local governments illegal.

• HB 1747, HB 1748, HB 2801 and HB 2802, dubbed “bathroom surveillance bills,” would make it illegal for transgender people to use appropriate sex-segregated facilities, such as bathrooms, in accordance with their lived gender.

• HB 623, HB 1745, SB 673 and HB 4105 aim at stopping marriage equality in Texas by limiting the ability to use state funds or the ability of local officials to engage in activities that support the marriages of same-sex couples.

• HB 2555 would seek to provide that the prohibitions against marriage equality in the Texas Constitution and statutes would still be enforceable regardless of a federal court ruling on the issue.

• HB 3567 and HB 3602 seek to allow religious organizations and individuals to not recognize valid same-sex marriages.

• HB 3890 would prevent same-sex spouses in legally recognized marriages from receiving equal marriage benefits. Specifically, the bill would make same-sex marriages ineligible to qualify for public retirement benefits.

The civil rights groups identified four pro-LGBT measures offered in Texas: 

• SB 856 would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in employment, housing and public accommodations.

• HB 627 would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in employment.

• HB 2860 would prohibit discrimination in housing based upon sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

• HB 1522 would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in public accommodations.

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