I was already planning to head to Austin on Monday to talk with Executive Director Dennis Coleman and Deputy Executive Director Chuck Smith at Equality Texas about the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature. Then Chuck told me that Equality Texas would be holding a press conference that same morning, and although he did not at first tell me what the press conference was about, I figured I had gotten lucky and could kill two birds with one stone.
Then this afternoon, I got a press release in my e-mail inbox with a title that linked gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns and Republican former First Lady Laura Bush and Equality Texas, and my interest level concerning this press conference went even higher.
Here’s what’s going on:
Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Rep. Mark Strama of Austin have already prefiled bills aimed at protecting children from bullying at school, and a scientific poll commissioned by Equality Texas shows that 80 percent of Texans support anti-bullying legislation. So Equality Texas is having a press conference Monday to talk about the problem of bullying, the results of the poll and what this legislation can do to address the problem.
Burns, who made headlines around the country in October with his emotional “It Gets Better” speech at a Fort Worth City Council meeting, will be there at the press conference to offer his perspective. And although the former first lady won’t be there in person, she is sending along a written statement expressing her support for the legislation.
I wish Mrs. Bush were going to be there in person, but having her written support is certainly better than nothing. And while some folks were disappointed that the campaign to get her to participate in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade fell through this year, I’d much rather have her speaking out against bullying than riding in a convertible down Cedar Springs.
The press conference is being held at 10 a.m. Monday in the Speaker’s Committee Room in the Texas Capitol.