Activists gathering for State of the State conference in Austin

Posted on 15 Apr 2010 at 5:59pm
By JOHN WRIGHT | News Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Equality Texas Foundation hosting daylong event to educate LGBTs on current Texas policies and how to work to change them

AUSTIN —Hundreds of LGBT activists from across Texas will gather at the Capitol on Saturday, April 17 for the second biennial State of the State Policy Conference.

The daylong conference is hosted by the Equality Texas Foundation in off legislative years. This year’s installment will feature more than 60 experts in panels and plenary sessions on topics from safe schools to hate crimes to workplace equality.

Chuck Smith, interim executive director at Equality Texas, said the goal of the conference is two-fold: to educate people about current policy on LGBT issues in Texas, and to show them what they can do to change it.

"If you really do want equality, this is like the nuts and bolts," Smith said. "You can stand on a street corner with a sign and demonstrate, and you might get your picture on the news, and that is helpful, but if we’re talking about changing laws, this is how you change them."

Smith said he expects up to 150 people to attend the conference, and panelists will include four members of the Texas House. The conference will aim to build momentum for next year’s session, when Equality Texas will again be trying to pass the state’s first pro-equality legislation since 2001.

"It’s not impossible to achieve progress in the state of Texas, but it does require a lot of work, and it requires continuous work," Smith said. "This is kind of an update, and a pat on the back and a kick in the butt to keep at it."

The conference is free and includes a breakfast and lunch. Online registration will continue through Friday, April 16 at www.EqualityTexas.org. Those who show up at the door without registering can get in but may not be able to eat.

The conference will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Room E2.002 of the Texas Legislative Conference Center at the State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave. in Austin.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 16, 2010.

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