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Battle Lines Drawn Over Transgender Protection Bill in Texas

There is going to be a fight in Texas and those on both sides of the transgender bathroom issue pledge all-out efforts.

Rev. Dave Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastor Council Action and US Pastor Council and his pastors say, “Equal rights for all, unequal rights for none.”

Democrat Senators Jose Rodriguez (El Paso), John Whitmire (Houston), Sylvia Garcia (Houston), and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (McAllen) have pre-filed a bill (SB 165) that essentially provides for similar transgender rights as under the failed Houston “HERO” “non-discrimination” ordinance. The bill says it relates “to the prohibition of certain discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; providing an administrative penalty; creating an offense,” including the filing of a “civil action.”

Among other things, the bill applies to “public accomodation[s],” discrimination by a state contractor or labor organization, employment practices, housing availability, among other things. The bill, if passed, would go into effect on September 1, 2017.

Rev. Welch calls the bill’s “language straight out of the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign national playbook.”

A text of the bill can be found at this link on the Texas Legislature website.

“Some Texas Democrats have apparently decided to continue the path of anti-faith, anti-family and anti-freedom demagoguery,” the pastor said. Rev. Welch leads an inter-racial, inter-denominational coalition of pastors who, as reported by Breitbart Texas, have led the effort against pro-LGBT ordinances in cities across the Lone Star State.

Welch was one of the “Houston Five” pastors who were subpoenaed by the City of Houston and openly gay Houston mayor Annise Parker during litigation over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (“HERO”). The then-chairman of the Harris County Republican Party dubbed the ordinance “Mayor Parker’s Sexual Predator Protection Act.” Among other things, the ordinance would have allowed Houston’s bathrooms, showers, and dressing facilities to be open to all, regardless of gender, gender identity, gender expression, or other predilection of gender behavior.

The issue, the pastors say, is individual religious liberty and the ability of “churches across Texas to defend their God-given rights of belief, free exercise of religion and speech for all people.

The HERO ordinance was soundly defeated by a city-wide vote of 61 to 39 percent after the issue went to a vote by City of Houston citizens, as reported by Breitbart Texas.

The author of the bill, Senator Jose Rodriquez said, “Gay and trans folks have the same values as anyone: to be secure in their livelihoods and to live a life of purpose, free from discrimination. An inclusive Texas is critical to recruiting top talent, attracting business, and maintaining a strong tourism industry.” Rodríguez added, “This session, we must also be mindful of lawmakers’ attempts to authorize discrimination, or even repeal the handful of local non-discrimination ordinances and policies that we do have in Texas. We simply can’t afford discriminatory legislation of the kind that only brought ridicule to other states.”

Incoming freshman legislator and lawyer Briscoe Cain (R-HD 128) told Breitbart Texas, “Our wives and daughters should not be exposed to troubled men in their bathrooms or locker rooms.” Cain worked as an attorney for Campaign for Houston and assisted in the efforts to defeat the HERO proposition.

Welch responded to the filing by saying, “The irrational commitment by local, state and national Democrat elected officials to attack God’s design of family, marriage and now even biological sex or gender as ‘fluid’ is one of the reasons for the uprising of the populace in the recent General Election.”

The group is calling on Texas legislators, both Democrat and Republican, “to defend equal rights, protection and freedom for all as well as basic decency, by refusing to sponsor, co-sponsor, speak for or vote for bills such as SB 165 which elevate gender confusion and sexual diversity to be equal in the law with race, ethnicity, religion or sex.”

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.

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