This legislative session, Texas state Republican lawmakers proposed a record number of bills that would limit LGBT equality, but with the session about to end, almost all of those bills have failed to advance. Still, the lawmakers managed to find a way to voice their disapproval before the session runs out.
The chance to pass standalone anti-LGBT bills expired weeks ago, but this week, there were several attempts to attach those measures as amendments to bills still under consideration. One, mirroring a bill previously introduced by Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. (R), would have banned taxpayer funds from being used for licensing same-sex couples’ marriages, an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s expected marriage equality ruling. Another would have granted a “license to discriminate” to state child welfare agencies that refuse to serve same-sex couples for religious reasons. A third problematic bill also died this week, one that would have granted prosecutors access to medical records of HIV-positive defendants, making it easier to charge people with using HIV as a weapon, even though the state has no HIV criminalization law.
Late Wednesday, however, the Senate did vote 21-10 pass a resolution rejecting same-sex marriage. It was resolved that the Senate “hereby affirm the preservation of the present definition of marriage as being the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife and pledge to uphold and defend this principle that is so dearly held by Texans far and wide.”
Only one bill passed this session that had anti-LGBT implications, though its actual impact will be minimal, if evident at all. The so-called Pastor Protection Act, SB 2065, simply ensures that no religious official ever be required to solemnize a marriage, nor will any religious organization have to provide services related to that solemnization. Given no religious official has ever been forced to violate his or her tenets in such a way, this measure would only prove problematic if a court interpreted “religious organization” more broadly to allow discrimination in public accommodations.
There won’t be a law punishing businesses for allowing transgender people to use the bathroom, nor will there be a law prohibiting municipalities from protecting LGBT people from discrimination. With only a few days remaining and little opportunity left for attaching anti-LGBT measures to other bills, it seems Texas’ LGBT community is safe from legislatively-enforced discrimination for now.