UPDATED: Texas Senate holding hearing on bathroom bill Friday, phone bank Thursday

Sen. Joan Huffman

UPDATE: HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz needs volunteers to staff a phone bank Thursday, July 20, from 4-8 p.m., to call constituents and remind them to contact their state senators and state representatives and urge those elected officials to vote against anti-transgender bathroom bills during the special session of the Texas Legislature.

Ruiz stressed that phone bank is not necessary because training will be offered on site. She also said that while those participating will have access to a laptop, it would help if volunteers who are able to bring a laptop and mouse would do so.

The phone bank will be set up at the Dallas County Democratic Party office, 4209 Parry Ave. Email Ruiz at Criss.Ruiz@hrc.org for information and to volunteer.

Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has announced there will be a hearing on Sen. Lois Kolkhorst’s anti-transgender bathroom bill at 9 a.m. Friday, July 21, at the Texas State Capitol.

The actual language of this version of the bill has not been released. Opponents of the discriminatory bill have established a Facebook page to post updates about the hearing.

Opponents are also organizing ride-sharing/carpool efforts to get people to Austin for the Friday morning hearing. Check here to sign up to participate.

In HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz is working to set up a Dallas-area phone bank for Thursday, July 20, to get volunteers to call constituents and remind them to call their state senators and representatives to express their opposition to this and other bathroom bills. Check back here for updates.

—  Tammye Nash

Time for rainbow crosswalks in the Crossroads

The crosswalks at the Crossroads. Pretty, huh?

Ever cross the street in front of Hunkys or JR.’s? Notice those pretty crosswalks?

Pretty?

Pretty ugly.

Who are the straight people at Dallas City Hall who don’t get it? We can fix that for you.

When the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force asked about painting the crosswalks at the Crossroads — the corner of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs roads — the group was told “We don’t do that.” Several times.

Well, yeah we do.

The new crosswalks at Lemmon Avenue East and McKinney Avenue

This is the new crosswalk painted at the corner of Lemmon Avenue East and McKinney Avenue adjacent to West Village in so-called “Uptown.”

When the LGBT community is told “no” and “Uptown,” a community that encroached on Oak Lawn, is told “yes,” we have a problem.

Some history:

If you look at the city plat, “Uptown” doesn’t exist. “Uptown” was a developer’s creation. Ironically, the first use of the term “Uptown” was by LGBT community leader and businessman Mike Grossman. In the early 1990s, he opened a real estate company called Uptown Realtors. That company was based in an old Victorian house on the east side of the Katy Railroad tracks — now the Katy Trail.

The first building boom along McKinney Avenue began along with the re-bricking of the street and the re-installation and then the expansion of the old McKinney Avenue Trolley. But developers had a problem. McKinney Avenue was part of Oak Lawn and Oak Lawn was synonymous with — oh horrors — gay and worse — AIDS. So that part of Oak Lawn was rebranded “Uptown.” Straight people could feel comfortable living in Uptown, but not in Oak Lawn. Kind of the way people hate Obamacare but love the Affordable Care Act.

So after repeatedly being told “we don’t do this,” imagine our surprise when we found this:

I thought we don’t do that in Dallas.

Well, apparently we do. Just not in Oak Lawn.

Look. What we’re asking for is this:

This, which will do a number of things. First is safety. How many car/pedestrian accidents have there been along Cedar Springs Road? Several resulted in fatalities. The brightly painted crosswalks are much more visible than the faded white markings.

Second, it will be good for business. What? Business? Oh, did that perk up some Dallas ears? Yes. Business. It will encourage renewed interest in Cedar Springs. It will bring people back to the Crossroads to see the rainbow crosswalk and stay to shop, eat out and visit a bar. And the more people who do that, the more tax revenue is generated for the city.

Let me break that down a little further: When I ate at home last night, tax revenue generated was $0. When I ate at Hunky’s on Wednesday, the bill for two of us was about $18. Tax revenue generated was $1.45. Multiply that by thousands of people who will come to see our rainbow crosswalk over the next few months.

Thousands of people? Absolutely. I took this picture on Tuesday morning:

While I was taking it, three other people walked by, stopped, looked and admired. On a Tuesday morning. Before 10 a.m. Not all the West Village stores were even open yet.

So my question to the City of Dallas is this: Are you going to paint the crosswalks at the Crossroads rainbow colors or should we just do it ourselves? Or will the painted crosswalk in Uptown be removed? As far as I see it, that’s the choice.

“Uptown” can have this amenity while Oak Lawn can’t just isn’t an option.

—  David Taffet

Study finds LGBT youth and adults in Texas vulnerable to stigma and discrimination

Texas’s legal landscape and social climate contribute to an environment in which LGBT people are at risk of experiencing stigma and discrimination, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

State laws in Texas do not protect LGBT people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and local ordinances protect less than one-fifth of Texas’s residents from such discrimination,” said Christy Mallory, State & Local Policy Director and Anna M. Curren Fellow at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report.  “Additionally, Texas ranks in the bottom quarter of states in terms of social support for LGBT people, although support is increasing over time.”

Texas is home to an estimated 770,000 LGBT adults and 158,500 LGBT youth.  The study documents the prevalence and impact of several forms of stigma and discrimination against LGBT individuals in the state, including harassment and discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; harassment and bullying in schools; and family rejection. 

Stigma and discrimination can negatively impact LGBT individuals’ health and wellbeing,” said Brad Sears, Executive Director and Roberta A. Conroy Scholar of Law and Policy at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report.  “Research shows that these experiences can lead to economic instability and poorer health for LGBT people.”

In terms of economic stability:

About one-quarter of LGBT adults in Texas report that they do not have enough money for food compared to about one-fifth of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data.  Similar proportions of LGBT and non-LGBT people report that they do not have enough money to meet their health care needs.

30 percent of Texas LGBT adults and 26 percent of non-LGBT adults report having a household income below $24,000, according to Gallup data.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 17 percent of respondents in Texas were unemployed, and 34 percent were living in poverty.

LGBT adults and youth in the state are also more likely to experience certain health outcomes that have been linked to experiences of stigma and discrimination:

LGBT adults in Texas are significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder and to report binge drinking than non-LGBT adults, according to data from the 2015 Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

LGB students in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, were about three times more likely to have seriously considered suicide than non-LGB students in the past year, according to data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

LGB students in Houston and Fort Worth were also more than twice as likely as non-LGB students to report smoking cigarettes in the past month, and were also more likely to report drinking and marijuana use, according to data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The study found that stigma and discrimination against LGBT people in Texas negatively affect the state, businesses, and the economy in a number of ways, including by:

Reducing employees’ productivity and employers’ ability to recruit and retain talented employees;

Increasing LGBT individuals’ reliance on public benefits;

Reducing lifetime achievement of LGBT youth; and

Increasing costs associated with higher incidence of major depressive disorder and binge drinking among the LGBT population.

The study called The Impact of Stigma and Discrimination Against LGBT People in Texas concluded that if Texas were able to move toward creating a more supportive environment for LGBT people, it would likely reduce economic instability and health disparities experienced by LGBT individuals, which, in turn, would benefit the state, employers, and the economy.

—  David Taffet

Lesbian couple wins housing discrimination suit in Colorado

Tonya and Rachel Smith and their children (Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal)

Today (Wednesday, April 5), just a day after Lambda Legal lawyers and their client Kimberly Hively won a 7th Circuit Court ruling declaring that federal law — Title VII — protects lesbians and gays from employment discrimination — a district court judge in Colorado has ruled that the federal Fair Housing Act protects LGBT people against discrimination, too.

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said it is the first time a federal court has ruled that the Fair Housing Act’s sex discrimination prohibitions apply to discrimination based on stereotypes about sexual orientation and gender identity.

U.S District Judge Raymond P. Moore ruled that a Boulder County property owner violated both the federal Fair Housing Act and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to rent a housing unit to Rachel and Tonya Smith, a same-sex couple, one of whom is transgender, and their children, because she worried their “uniqueness” would jeopardize her standing in the community.

“This is a tremendous victory for Rachel and Tonya, their children, and LGBT people, couples and families across the country,” Gonzalez-Pagan said. “This is two federal courts two days in a row that have said that laws prohibiting sex discrimination protect LGBT people. It sends a strong message: discrimination against LGBT Americans in housing and employment is illegal and will not be tolerated.”

Gonzalez-Pagan said the facts in the case “are indisputable: Deepika Avanti refused to rent to Tonya and Rachel Smith because they are women in a same-sex relationship raising children together and Rachel is transgender.

“Her concerns about Rachel and Tonya’s ‘uniqueness’ and ‘unique relationship’ were discrimination, pure and simple, and we are grateful that the judge agreed,” he added.

In the court’s opinion Judge Moore wrote:

“In this case, the Smiths contend that discrimination against women (like them) for failure to conform to stereotype norms concerning to or with whom a woman should be attracted, should marry and/or should have children is discrimination on the basis of sex under the FHA. The court agrees. Such stereotypical norms are no different from other stereotypes associated with women, such as the way she should dress or act (e.g., that a woman should not be overly aggressive, or should not act macho), and are products of sex stereotyping.”

Tonya Smith said she and her family are “delighted with this ruling. We were so shocked and upset by Deepika’s emails, that simply because of who we are she wouldn’t rent to us. … No one should ever have to go through what we went through, and hopefully this ruling will protect other couples like us who are trying to provide safe homes for their families.”

Gonzalez-Pagan said that while anti-LGBT discrimination is housing is a pervasive problem “it is very much underreported. In many instances, LGBT people who are either overtly or subtly discriminated against in housing do not report the discrimination because of their immediate need to find housing or due to the costs of pursuing a claim. Property owners who engage in this kind of discrimination must be held accountable.”

In addition to Kimberly Hively’s victory in the 7th Circuit Court on Tuesday, Lambda Legal is currently appealing a suit against an Illinois senior living facility for failing to protect a resident from sex- and sexual orientation-based harassment.

 

—  Tammye Nash

7th Circuit: Title VII prohibits anti-LGBT bias in employment

 

Ruling by full panel overturns 7th Circuit’s previous decisions

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

Kimberly Hively

For the first time ever, a federal appeals court has ruled that a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment also prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.

In an 8-to-3 decision handed down Tuesday, April 4, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which covers the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, reversed a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit in which an employee alleged her employer discriminated against her because she is a lesbian.

The appeals court remanded the case back to district court.

“We hold only that a person who alleges that she experienced employment discrimination on the basis of her sexual orientation has put forth a case of sex discrimination for Title VII purposes,” the court concluded.

But that was a big “only.”

Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex in employment. Though some district courts have made similar rulings, no other federal appeals court has done so, according to Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal, which represented the employee in this case.

And Davidson has speculated that, if the question goes to the Supreme Court, its ultimate resolution “will control other federal laws barring sex discrimination, including Title IX — which governs discrimination in federally-funded educational programs — along with the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Pay Act, section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act — which bars discrimination in health care and health care insurance — and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.”

Writing for the majority, the 7th Circuit’s Chief Judge Diane Wood, a Clinton appointee, acknowledged that the decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech required taking a “fresh look” at previous rulings by federal appeals courts “in light of developments at the Supreme Court extending over two decades.”

The case was brought by Kimberly Hively, a part-time math teacher for a small community college in Indiana.

Over the course of her 13 years at Ivy Tech Community College, Hively applied for a full-time position six times and was rejected each time. In 2014, the college declined to renew her part-time contract.

Hively said she believed she was being discriminated against because she is a lesbian.

The district court judge, a Reagan appointee, dismissed the lawsuit, saying that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — which prohibits sex discrimination — does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The lower court judge noted that the 7th Circuit, acting in previous cases, had ruled “Congress intended the term ‘sex’ to mean ‘biological male or biological female,’ and not one’s sexuality or sexual orientation.”

A 7th Circuit panel upheld that decision, saying it was “presumptively bound” by that same precedent.

The majority’s decision acknowledged that the lower courts were bound by precedent and made clear it did not have the authority to add “sexual orientation” to the list of protected categories in Title VII. But the majority opinion said it “must decide what it means to discriminate on the basis of sex … .”

In looking to Supreme Court decisions for guidance, the 7th Circuit relied heavily on Oncale v. Sundowner, a case in which the high court said that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination (and sexual harassment) includes same-sex sexual harassment.

It also relied heavily on Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, in which the high court ruled that Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination because of “sex” included discrimination against an employee based on expectations for an employee’s appearance and behavior based on their biological sex.

“Any discomfort, disapproval or job decision based on the fact that the complainant — woman or man — dresses differently, speaks differently or dates or marries a same-sex partner, is a reaction purely and simply based on sex,” wrote the majority.

The majority said it also considered strongly the Supreme Court’s rulings in several landmark LGBT-related cases: Romer v. Evans, which struck down a state ban on local ordinances prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination; Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down state laws banning consensual sexual relations between same-sex adults; U.S. v. Windsor, which struck down the federal law that prohibited any recognition of marriage between same-sex couples for federal purposes; and Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state laws banning marriage between same-sex partners.

“The logic of the Supreme Court’s decisions, as well as the common-sense reality that it is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex, persuades us,” wrote the majority, “that the time has come to overrule our previous cases that have endeavored to find and observe that line.”

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the decision “opens the door to a new era for LGBTQ plaintiffs under federal sex discrimination law.”

“With this historic decision, the 7th Circuit is the first federal appellate court to acknowledge that discrimination because a person is gay, lesbian or bisexual can only reasonably be understood as discrimination based on sex,” Minter continued. “The court deserves credit for rejecting the tortured rationales of older decisions and undertaking a principled analysis, based on the Supreme Court’s affirmation in Price Waterhouse and other cases, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be broadly construed to prohibit the full range of sex-based discrimination.”

Greg Nivens, employment fairness program director for Lambda Legal, noted, “In many cities and states across the country, lesbian and gay workers are being fired because of who they love. But with this decision, federal law is catching up to public opinion — 90 percent of Americans already believe that LGBT employees should be valued for how well they do their jobs, no who they love or who they are. Now through this case and others, that principle is backed up by the courts.

“This decision is a game-changer for lesbian and gay employees facing discrimination in the workplace, and it sends a clear message to employers: It is against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” Nevins said.

Lambda Legal CEO Rachel Tivens added, “Love won again today. … Our movement is about love and pride — pride in yourself and your work, and the freedom to love and to be treated equally.”

Hively, who now takes her case back to the district court for a trial on the merits, said, “I have been saying all this time that what happened to me wasn’t right and was illegal. Now I will have my day in court … . No one should be fired for being lesbian, gay or transgender, like happened to me, and it’s incredibly powerful to know that the law now protects me and other LGBT workers.”

Selise Berry, founder and Ceo of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, said that the 7th Circuit’s ruling proves that “checks and balances set up in this country are working just as they should,” and she noted that the 7th Circuit is “one of our most conservative courts.”

“The courts ruled in line with what our country’s largest corporations have known for decades — that having a diverse and authentic workforce is not just the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do,” Berry said.

© 2017 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Hearing set on anti-LGBT HB 3859, a ‘religious refusal’ bill

The Texas House State Affairs Committee is holding a hearing tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29), at 10:30 a.m. in Room 140 of the John H. Reagan Building, on HB 3859, which would allow child welfare providers that contract with the state to discriminate against LGBT families in foster care and adoptive placements.

So if you care about the well-being of children in the Texas foster care system and those up for adoption, and if you care about the rights LGBT Texans, you might want to think about heading to Austin tomorrow for that hearing.

The bill was introduced by Wichita Republican Rep. James Frank.

Ali Lozano, outreach and field coordinator for Texas Freedom Network, said that HB 3859 is one of “at least 17 bills” filed in this session of the Texas Legislature that would allow people to use their personal “religious beliefs” to discriminate against LGBT people.

“This is our first chance to reject this perversion of religious freedom,” Lozano said in an email message. “If we are going to stop this and other ‘religious refusal’ bills, we’ve got to turn out and resist in the same numbers and with the same fervor as we did for SB 6 (aka, the ‘bathroom bill’).”

Equality Texas CEO Chuck Smith reiterated that urgency.

“Using religion to refuse service to LGBTQ people is discrimination,” Smith said in a separate email. “The primary consideration for a child welfare agency or organization and its employees should always be the best interests of the child — not advancing the interests or beliefs of a state contractor. HB 3859 would allow the religious beliefs of child-placing agencies to be placed above the needs of our most vulnerable children. That could jeopardize the health and well-being of children in our system.”

Smith also pointed out that HB 3859 would allow state contractors to discriminate against single or divorced people, interfaith couples people of different religious faiths or denominations.

“This is morally wrong and legally problematic,” Smith said, ending with a plea to those that oppose the bill to “come to the Capitol complex … and register in opposition to HB 3859.”

Go here to watch a short video on how to register in opposition to the bill.

Equality Texas offers these talking points for anyone interested in testifying against the bill.

This page allows you to rush a message to members of the State Affairs committee urging them to oppose HB 3859, and this one lets you send a message urging your representative to oppose all of the anti-LGBT religious refusal bills.

—  Tammye Nash

Trump signs order creating loophole for anti-LGBT discrimination

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

President Trump on Monday, March 27, signed what Lambda Legal calls a “very disturbing” order giving federal contractors a large loophole through which to discriminate against LGBT people.

The White House released a copy of the executive order, signed by Trump, on Monday afternoon. The order revokes all or part of three previous executive orders concerning federal contracting.

Of greatest concern to LGBT people, Trump’s executive order revoked President Obama’s 2014 Executive Order 13673, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, that required that companies receiving large federal contracts be able to demonstrate that they have complied for at least three years with 14 federal laws, several of which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender stereotyping or gender identity.

By taking away the requirement that federal contractors be able to demonstrate that they have not violated these federal laws, according to Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Camilla Taylor, “this administration has made it extremely difficult to enforce these federal laws as applied to federal contractors.”

“It’s sending a message to these companies…that the federal government simply doesn’t care whether or not they violate the law,” Taylor said.

Among those 14 laws implicated are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex in employment. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argued that discrimination based on “sex” included discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The ADA and Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination based on HIV infection and other disabilities. And the Family and Medical Leave Act, under the Obama Department of Labor, was held to include employees caring for a same-sex spouse, even if the employee lived in a state that did not recognize marriage of same-sex couples.

The 14 affected federal laws and regulations affected by the new Trump executive order also includes Executive Order 11246, signed in 1965 by President Johnson, which prohibited federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Four years later, President Nixon added discrimination based on disability and age.

In 1998, President Clinton added sexual orientation. And in 2014, President Obama added gender identity, plus prohibited federal contractors, too, from discriminating against their employees based on these categories.

President Obama’s signing of what was called Executive Order 13672 was hailed by many LGBT activists as protecting “millions” of LGBT workers from discrimination. It applied to companies who sought federal contracts in excess of $500,000.

Taylor said that companies seeking such contracts had to demonstrate that they had not violated the federal laws listed in the previous three years. And federal agencies could not award contracts to such companies unless the companies were able to “explain mitigating factors.”

Taylor said “the substance of the laws are still there” and Lambda would do everything it can to “make sure companies understand their obligation not to discriminate.”

© 2017 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Robo-calling for hate (so we need to ask Jane Nelson to vote against SB 6)

This is the “cartoon” posted on the homepage of CRTXNews.com today, just so you get an idea what kind of website it is.

 

Dr. Steven Hotze

I just got word from a friend that, as hearings on Dan Patrick’s bathroom bill get underway before the Senate State Affairs Committee in Austin, robo-calls are going out from Houston GOP activist Dr. Steven Hotze encouraging constituents to call Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to urge her to vote for SB 6.

My source, who said he has gotten several calls at work since about 11 a.m., says the calls say encourage Nelson to support SB 6 “to keep men out of women’s restrooms.” He said the calls are going out under the guise of being from CRTXNews.com, “a Brietbart-esque bullshit website.” Hotze is listed as the website’s publisher.

Hotze, in case you are wondering, is the right-wingnut who in July 2015, announced the founding of “Real Marriage: One Man/One Woman for Life,” a group he said would campaign against the cultural influence of “homo-fascists.” He said the organization was necessary to fight same-sex marriage because the homosexuals “want to intimidate individuals, churches, schools and families to celebrate those that participate in anal sex. That’s what they love and enjoy: anal sex. And that’s bad, that’s evil. It’s a terrible thing to try to do and they want to try to teach it to kids in schools. Kids will be encouraged to practice sodomy in kindergarten.”

Hotze, founder of Hotze Health and Wellness Center in Houston, is a high-dollar GOP donor and a longtime conservative leader in the party.

So, maybe Sen. Nelson needs to hear from some folks about how SB 6 is nothing but hatefulness and discrimination and encouraging her to vote against it. Her number is 512-463-0112,

—  Tammye Nash

HEADS UP: TFN warns that CPS reform bills could include anti-LGBT discrimination

 

The Texas Freedom Network today warned that conservatives in the Texas House of Representatives are likely to try to amend bills aimed at reforming the states Child Protective Services agency to allow discrimination against LGBT foster and adoptive parents.

Ali Gorczynski, outreach and field coordinator for TFN, said that there is “a concerted effort behind the scenes to amend legislation reforming CPS with language that would permit discrimination against LGBT individuals in the state’s child welfare system,” and that HB 4 and HB 5, both scheduled for debate today, are being targeted.

According to a warning posted on the TFN website, “We understand there may be an effort to amend the bills to allow child welfare providers contracting with the state to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBT families wishing to adopt or offer a foster home to a child in need.”

HB 4, authored by Mesquite Republican Rep. Cindy Burkett, would allow the Department of Family and Protective Services, “subject to the availability of funds, [to] enter into a caregiver assistance agreement with each relative or other designated caregiver to provide monetary assistance and additional support services to the caregiver,” based on the family’s need.

HB 5, authored by Wichita Falls Republican Rep. James Frank, would, in part, amend the Texas Family Code so that rules governing adoption decisions would fall under the purview of the Family and Protective Services commissioner, rather than the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission.

TFN urged Texans to “call your state representative and tell them to oppose any amendments permitting discrimination” as soon as possible.

“This effort is being masked as ‘religious freedom.’ But no matter what they call it, allowing faith-based child welfare providers that receive taxpayer funds to refuse to serve same-sex couples is discrimination. Let’s stop this before it goes any further,” Gorczynski wrote.

If you aren’t sure exactly who represents you in Austin, check here for names and contact information.

—  Tammye Nash

Paxton gets injunction allowing medical professionals to discriminate against transgender people

Texas AG Ken Paxton

Well, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton started off the new year in the same old homophobic vein, issuing a Jan. 1 press release crowing over a federal district court’s decision to issue an injunction against portions of the Affordable Care Act that prohibited health care professionals from discriminating against transgender people.

The regulation was set to go into effect on Sunday, Jan. 1.

Paxton filed suit against the regulation prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals in some health programs back in August on behalf of Texas, two other states and the Franiciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network. The suit claims that the regulation redefines term “sex” to “thwart decades of settled precedent” and impose “massive new obligations” on health care providers.

Paxton and his cohorts argued that the rule violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act because by compelling religiously-affiliated health organizations to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by “forcing them to choose between federal funding and their livelihood as healthcare providers and their exercise of religion.”

Of course, folks who aren’t right-wing homo/transphobes have a different view of the regulation. As Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow told the Texas Tribune back in August, the regulation “doesn’t force an individual to do anything in particular” but instead clarifies that health care providers can’t deny services or insurance to someone because they’re transgender.

“The example unfortunately used by individuals who oppose this is that this is going to force doctors to provide transition surgeries to children [but] this doesn’t take away a doctor’s ability to make informed decisions in the best interest of their patients. What the doctor can’t do is say, ‘I won’t treat you because you’re transgender.’”

Paxton’s Jan. 1 press release announcing the injunction, claims that “Not only does it require taxpayers to fund all treatments designed to transition to a different sex, it also forces health care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services. Under the new rule, a physician that believes that certain treatments are not in a patient’s best interests may be in violation of federal law. And a physician that, for religious or conscientious reasons cannot perform a particular procedure, chooses to instead refer a patient to another health care provider may also be determined to be in violation of this new rule.

The press release quotes Paxton as saying, “This striking example of federal overreach under Obamacare would force many doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in Texas to participate in sex-reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if it violates their best medical judgment or their religious beliefs. I will always fight to protect the constitutional rights of Texans.”

Unless, of course, it’s a constitutional right or a doctor’s “best medical judgment” he doesn’t agree with, like the right to marriage equality or reproductive decisions. And Kenny-boy is always going to fight “federal overreach,” but that doesn’t mean that he and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick can’t reach out and tell local school districts how to handle their business.

The injunction came from U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, in Fort Worth. This is the same judge who issued the injunction against the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance on how school districts should treat transgender students (you know, not discriminate against them).

We’re not saying that Paxton and his cronies hand-picked O’Connor to hear these two cases regarding regulations banning discrimination against transgender people because they know he’s a right-winger who would rule in their favor — but then, we don’t need to say that because Law.com said it for us.

—  Tammye Nash