State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, has again filed a bill that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Texas.
“An overwhelming majority of Texans believe that everyone should be judged on their capabilities and job performance,” Villarreal said in a press release sent out Monday by Equality Texas announcing the introduction of HB 238. “Hardworking, high-performing employees should not be fired just because they are gay or transgender.”
According to a 2010 Equality Texas poll, more than 70 percent of Texas voters support banning employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Villarreal has carried identical legislation in previous sessions, but the bill has never made it out of committee. Frankly, given a solid Republican majority in the House, its chances aren’t a whole hell of a lot better in 2013 — despite those poll numbers as well as an unprecedented recent endorsement from GOP Dallas Sen. John Carona.
And that’s extremely unfortunate, because the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, is also unlikely to pass the new Congress, meaning at least two more years during which LGBT Texans can be legally fired. Just. For. Being. LGBT.
“Most people incorrectly assume that it is already against the law to fire someone solely because they are gay or transgender,” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said in the group’s release. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that there is no statewide law in Texas to prohibit someone from being unfairly fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance. HB 238 would help protect hardworking Texans from being unfairly fired.”
Three cities in Texas — Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth — prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, those city ordinances are widely regarded as toothless because they lack the force of state or federal law.
A few years ago, Fort Worth passed a resolution in support of a statewide ban on anti-LGBT job discrimination. The Dallas City Council has failed to do so — despite the fact that Mayor Mike Rawlings is purported to have been working on this issue — costing the city points in the Human Rights Campaign’s recent Municipal Equality Index.
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