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The state of equality 2019

From Equality Texas:

IN 2019, THE STATE OF EQUALITY IS: OUT OF STEP WITH TEXAS VALUES

As the 2019 Texas Legislature approaches the mid-point, Equality Texas has surveyed the current state of equality and concluded that urgent legislative action is needed. Public support for equality has never been higher. But from kindergarten to the retirement home, LGBTQ people still experience worse outcomes across nearly every metric and, for many, equality remains stubbornly out of reach. The 86th Texas Legislature must act to remove the antiquated legal barriers that put LGBTQ Texans at a marked disadvantage compared to their neighbors.

VISIBILITY & ACCEPTANCE

According to an analysis by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, approximately 930,000 Texans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer. If LGBTQ Texans were a city unto themselves, they’d be the 5th most populous municipality in the state, just behind Austin, and significantly larger than El Paso.

LGBTQ people are more visible in their communities than ever before: according to a 2017 study, 70% of Americans report that they have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian, while the number of Americans who say they personally know someone who is transgender has nearly doubled, from 11% to 21%.

Public support for equality is also at an all time high in the state. The Public Religion Research Institute recently analyzed Texans’ attitudes and reported that 64% of Texans support non-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people. That strong support is consistent across political party, religious affiliation, demographic group, and region of the state. Similarly, a solid majority of Texans oppose laws that permit permit religiously motivated discrimination.

However, as detailed in this report, 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 a direct result the legal barriers to equality that persist in Texas law.

There’s a lot more, so go read the rest. See here for more on the referenced poll. While the 2018 elections produced results that are more in line with the attitudes that Texans have expressed towards LGBTQ people, the Lege is still way out of step.

It’s no surprise that the bigots in the Texas legislature are mounting a serious, multi-pronged assault on the LGBTQ community.

But events this week at the Capitol have made it clear just how serious the fight will be this session.

We have a number of pieces of bad news to report:

  1. Two new religious refusal bills have been filed in the Texas Senate, bringing the total to four. SB 1009 by Sen. Brian Birdwell (Granbury) would allow government officials to refuse to marry couples based on “sincerely held religious belief.” And SB 1107 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (Brenham) would let health care providers refuse care to members of our community.
  2. SB 15 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (Conroe), the ‘preemption’ bill which would gut local ability to set policies like paid sick leave, today was given a rush-assignment for a committee hearing in Senate State Affairs. This bill is a potential vehicle for amendments that could gut nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Texans living in six major cities. That hearing has now been scheduled for this Thursday morning.
  3. HB 1035 by Rep. Bill Zedler (Arlington), arguably the most poisonous of the religious refusal bills because it is so sweeping, had been thought by Capitol insiders to be ‘dead on arrival’–but today, HB 1035 was referred to the House State Affairs committee.

Just how bad are these bills?

HB 1035, titled the “Free to Believe Act,” creates special rights to discriminate for people who hold anti-LGBTQ religious beliefs. This bill would empower anyone who holds those views to fire or refuse to hire, refuse to rent or sell housing to, refuse to serve or sell goods to, refuse to provide healthcare, and refuse to issue marriage licenses to LGBTQ Texans. HB 1035 even includes a “bathroom bill” clause.

SB 1107 and HB 1035 would allow health care providers to refuse medical care to LGBTQ people and families–the sole exception being life-saving measures.

SB 1009 not only would allow government officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples, it would also let them discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.

Make no mistake, these people are determined to roll back the progress we have made.

Now would definitely be a good time to contact your State Rep and your State Senator and let them know that you oppose these bills. The Current has more.

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8 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Trump is using his bully pulpit as US President to try and outlaw the criminalization of homosexuality, world wide. Here’s why that is a bad thing:

    https://www.out.com/news-opinion/2019/2/19/trumps-plan-decriminalize-homosexuality-old-racist-tactic

  2. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Bill, no he isnt. The largest number of state aligned murders of Gay persons has been in Russia. Trump refuses to even criticize those killings and bars refugees from that pogrom from asylum.

    Regarding these bills. Note that none of them require that the medical services refused be provided at all, much less locally, timely, at the same price, or in their insurance network. It doesnt define emergency either, meaning that clause will be worthless. And denials do occur. I had to switch my primary care physician because he refused to refer me to a specialist. He told me I shouldnt be having sex. My issue had nothing to do with sex, marriage, or gender identity and was medically necessary. Luckily, I live in Harris County. Had I lived in Abeline or Grimes County, I might have had to wait until the problem required surgery. And still, right here in Houston, I had to suffer needlessly because my PCP refused to treat me.

    These bills are just designed to deny LGBTQ persons medical care.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Regarding HB 1035 and medical treatment, here’s what it says:

    “declines to participate in providing:(1)AA treatment, counseling, or surgery related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning; or(2)AA psychological, counseling, or fertility services.(b)AA This section may not be construed to allow a person to deny visitation, recognition of a designated representative for health care decision-making, or emergency medical treatment necessary to cure an illness or injury as required by law.”

    If you are a transexual, or want to be one, why would you even WANT to demand treatment for your illness or disorder, from someone who doesn’t believe in the whole concept? Say I buy a historic house and want to totally customize it into something totally modern and different, and not keep true to the home’s original look. Why would I even want to go to a craftsman who does historic home renovation and ask that craftsman to do a job totally out of character and not in his skill set? I’d go to a contractor that does modern renovation work, not to a historical preservationist.

    I don’t think most people would do that, unless they were trying to make some sort of political point, like driving past 100 cake shops to find one who doesn’t want to customize a cake for a gay couple.

    Full disclosure: I didn’t read the whole bill, so there could be something I might find objectionable elsewhere it it. Just not this part.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    Tom,

    If you are dissatisfied with your doctor, vote with your feet. Find a new doctor. The medical field is just like any other business, it’s based on customer service and personal relationships. You obviously weren’t satisfied with your doctor’s response to your issues. I’m on your side. You are the customer, and you should get what you want. If that doc can’t (or won’t) provide the service you want, then 1) contest the bill, and 2) find another doctor.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t like the HMO insurance model of using a primary care doc as a gatekeeper, either. Most people that think they need a specialist really DO need a specialist, and they shouldn’t have to waste time and money going to an intercessor to ask permission to do that.

  5. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    HB1035 defines a religious organization as any person who claims to be a minister. That means everyone. And it includes all medical procedures, home rentals and public accommodations.

    By the way, why dont you take off of work to see your doctor, wait for an appointment, then get told you are a freak and then have to wait a month for the medically necessary referral?

    And if you live in Abilene, there might not be any doctor that will treat you for anything, because they could (will) claim that strep throat is related to your marriage or gender.

    Hospitals, built by taxpayers are run by religious groups. This allows them the ability to deny ALL services to married or sexually active Gays and Transgendered persons.

    And if refused unfairly? No recourse unless youre willing to wait 4 years for treatment and spend 250k on a lawsuit because theres no recourse to the medical board.

  6. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    And then theres the crowding out principle. If you live in an anti Gay place like East Texas, there might not be enough business to justify multiple doctors. Straight people can see a doctor in Tyler, but Gay people have to drive to Dallas, for example.

    This bill ensures that LGBTQs will be denied health care available to straight people or will have to face extra costs or delays.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    Tom,

    I see your point, and I can empathize with you. Questions: Let’s just say none of these bills pass and we just go with the status quo. What does that mean to you? I am assuming you just considered that initial doctor visit a waste of your money and time, so you found another doctor. What else can you do currently, and what would you WANT to do, as a result of that ill treatment by the doctor?

    What recourse does somebody in Podunk, East Texas have if they have the same issue, given the current laws?

  8. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    I want the following:
    1) A ban on any doctor or medical professional that was either trained at government expense (including training at taxpayer funded residency hospitals) or who uses any government funding to practice (including admitting rights at taxpayer funded hospitals or participation in taxpayer funded clinical studies) to be barred from discrimination by law, with recourse to a professional and impartial medical board.
    2) Strict liability for any insurance company or taxpayer funded entity that does not provide the exact same service to LGBTQs as they do to straights. That means the same wait, the same number of providers, at the same price and the same coverage in the same location. Basically that means that to enforce non discrimination, insurance companies will either have to refuse to allow discriminatory doctors access to their system or provide PPO service to LGBTQs at HMO rates. In small markets, the PPO option isnt a real option though.
    3) Every doctor or facility that wishes to discriminate must state the following in all listings, signage, and advertising “we refuse to treat LGBTQs equally” so that everyone knows that they are bigots.
    4) Any case of discrimination should result in legal liability for the discriminator for any additional costs resulting from that denial. In the event of an adverse medical result from that denial, punitive damages should be applicable.