LGBTQ Groups Promise Vigorous Opposition to 'Discriminatory Legislation'

The group Equality Texas is putting together a muscular coalition to fight against the sole anti-LGBTQ bill making its way through the Legislature this session, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The bill would allow businesses to cite their religious faith in denying service to LGBTQ customers. It is in response to the case of the Colorado baker, who took his refusal to make a cake for a gay wedding all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Discrimination still shapes the daily lives of the LGBTQ community," said Samantha Smooth, acting Director of Equality Texas. "It is no wonder, in a state where you can still be fired, lose your apartment, or be turned away at the corner store, just because of what your are or who you love."

Smoot says support is growing in Texas for adding 'sexual orientation' to the list of factors that a person cannot be fired for, along with race, gender, veteran status, disability or age.

"A solid majority of Texas across all demgraphic groups, including White Evangelical Christians, now support non discrimination laws to protect thier non LGBT neighbors," Smoot said.

A non discrimination law is among Equality Texas' priorities for the current session.

Smoot released a study showing that 930,000 Texans now self-identify as LGBTQ, a group larger that the size of the city of El Paso.

"We are here to call on lawmakers to close the discrimination gap," Smoot said.

She was joined by religious and political leaders in her announcement event.

"There is a stark gap between the strong public support for equality in the state and the actual lived reality of many LGBTQ Texans.LGBTQ people experience worse outcomes across almost every metric, often as adirect result the legal barriers to equality that persist in Texas law," Equality Texas said.

The group's report, 'The Status of Texas Equality,' shows that LGBT Texans are far more likely to live in poverty than the average Texan.

"Gay and trans folks have the same values as anyone, we all know that," State Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) said. "to be secure in their livelihood, to live their lives free from discrimination, and this is critical to Texas attracting top talent, attracting business, and maintaining a strong tourism industry."

"Texas law retains its unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the Texas Family Code fails to address LGBTQ families at all. As a result, family courts struggle to apply laws regarding marriage, parenting, adoption, and divorce to LGBTQ Texans in the same manner as for other families. LGBTQ adults cannot count on the stability that comes from having the law uniformly and predictably applied. And the children of LGBTQ parents aren’t assured of the legal right to the continued love and support of both parents in the event of divorce," Equality Texas said in its report.

The group cited an ongoing effort to evangelical groups to prevent cities from offering the same spousal benefits to the same sex partners of city employees that are offered to traditional couples as one example where outdated state laws continue to cause problems for LGBTQ Texans. Equality Texas says some public school sex education curriculum still labels same sex relationships as being unhealthy and dangerous.

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