UPDATE, 2:35 p.m.: Jamie McCormick, a spokeswoman for Carona, said in an email, “Senator Carona is supportive of SB 538.”
State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, who made history last week when he stood up to anti-gay bigots and bucked the GOP line by voting in favor of a pro-LGBT bill, may get a chance to do it again this Wednesday.
Equality Texas issued an Action Alert moments ago urging constituents to call Carona’s office and express their support for SB 538, which would repeal Texas’ unconstitutional homosexual conduct law and which is scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, on which Carona serves as part of a 4-3 Republican majority.
Last week, the committee voted 4-1 to advance SB 1316, which would extend legal protections to sexually active gay and lesbian teens. SB 1316 was the first pro-LGBT bill to clear a committee in the Texas Legislature in 12 years. Carona joined three Democrats in voting to advance the bill. One Republican voted against it, while the other two were absent.
According to Equality Texas’ Action Alert today, Carona “has told our citizen lobbyists that he personally supports SB 538, as it would simply clean up the code and bring the statute into line with reality. However, he has said that he doesn’t believe his constituents support the bill.”
SB 538 would finally remove the “homosexual conduct” law from the Texas Penal Code — 10 years after it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas. From Equality Texas’ Action Alert:
As a constituent you have an enormous ability to affect policy. SB 538 will have a committee hearing this Wednesday, April 17th in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Senator Carona is a key member of this committee.
Please call Sen. Carona today at (512) 463-0116 and tell him that you support SB 538.
Carona’s office did not immediately respond to inquiries about his position on the bill Monday.
Last year, Carona expressed support for three other pro-LGBT bills in an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice. His statements drew condemnation from anti-gay groups like Texas Values and the Texas Pastor Council, and Carona appeared to cave to the pressure when he signed a letter supporting the Boy Scouts’ ban on gays.
Then came his watershed vote last week, which prompted Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz to tell Dallas Voice: “I seriously doubt that any Senate Republican other than Sen. Carona will support this bill.”
Saenz may be right, but with a Republican in the House also recently declaring her support for LGBT equality, he must also know it’s only a matter of time before justice prevails, even in Texas. And Carona will have a chance to bend the arc of the moral universe a little further in that direction Wednesday.