Contact Clay Jenkins and Elba Garcia and ask them to add transgender protections

Above is a screen grab of the transgender-less amendment to Dallas County’s employment nondiscrimination policy that was approved by the  Commissioners Court earlier today. The sexual orientation-only amendment can also be found on page 113 of the Commissioners Court Briefing Agenda for today. As we reported earlier, County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, who spearheaded the amendment, said they thought sexual orientation included gender identity/expression, and apparently they didn’t consult with anyone from the LGBT community about the amendment. This includes lesbian Sheriff Lupe Valdez and gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who both have nondiscrimination policies for their county departments that protect transgender employees. Moreover, no one from the LGBT community contacted Jenkins or Garcia in the last three months to ensure that this amendment was drafted properly and on track for approval. We all share the blame for this, including this newspaper. Now, the Commissioners Court will have to be asked to go back and amend the policy again, which will take months and possibly draw opposition from the religious right — with its bogus claims about restroom abuse. This is extremely unfortunate, but that’s the row the LGBT community must now hoe. An entire segment of the community has been left out of this policy — a segment that is in fact more likely than gays, lesbians or bisexuals to suffer employment discrimination. After the jump is a letter from Resource Center Dallas sent to both Jenkins and Garcia responding to the new policy. If you’d like to contact Jenkins and Garcia to thank them for adding sexual orientation to the policy and ask them to also add gender identity/expression, here is their info:

Clay Jenkins
411 Elm Street, 2nd Floor • Dallas, Texas 75202 • 214.653.7949
clay.jenkins@dallascounty.org

Dr. Elba Garcia
411 Elm Street, 2nd Floor • Dallas, Texas 75202 • 214.653-6670
elba.garciadds@dallascounty.org

—  John Wright

Equality Texas sets LGBT lobby day for March 7

Equality Texas hoping for more than 400 to participate in lobbying effort; Stonewall Democrats, TENT planning weekend gatherings

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Equality Texas is calling on the LGBT community and its allies to converge on Austin on March 7 to lobby the Texas Legislature on a slate of already-filed bills.

Bills filed include anti-bullying legislation; a bill to prohibit of insurance discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression; a bill allowing both same-sex parents to be listed on an adopted child’s birth certificate; a bill banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression; and a bill to repeal Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, the sodomy statute that has been ruled unconstitutional.

In addition, Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston has filed a joint resolution to repeal the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Coleman has filed a similar resolution in each legislative session and, as is past sessions, the resolution is not expected to pass.

Dennis Coleman, executive director of Equality Texas, asked that people planning to attend the lobby day pre-register on his organization’s website.

Those who do register in advance and indicate an interest in a particular bill will be sent to offices of legislators who will hear those bills in committee.

The day begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. followed by a press conference at 9 a.m. Rep. Garnet Coleman and the parents of suicide victim Asher Brown are expected to speak.

Dennis Coleman

Dennis Coleman said that an hour of orientation is meant to put people at ease, teach them to simply tell their own stories and put together small groups of people that pair first-timers with more experienced lobbyists.

“Lobbying is about telling your own story,” Dennis Coleman said. “You never know who you’ll meet.”

Legislators are lobbied daily, Dennis Coleman said. Sometimes the lawmakers are in their offices and receive constituents. Other times those constituents meet with the lawmaker’s legisltive director. He said that senators and representatives who are allies need to hear support from their districts, but opponents need to hear from the LGBT community as well.

He said Equality Texas is working with legislators on bills that would benefit the LGBT community and hasn’t had to spend much time this session fending off discriminatory legislation.

Local representatives have taken the lead in proposing much of the positive legislation.

Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth submitted a bill prohibiting bullying in public schools. That law would also address cyberbullying.
Rep. Mark Strama of Austin filed similar legislation in the House.

Rep. Roberto Alonzo of Dallas wrote HB 208 that would prevent insurance discrimination. The bill would keep insurance companies from refusing to insure, charging a different rate or limiting coverage in amount, extent or kind because of bias or prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Dallas Rep. Rafael Anchia authored HB 415, the bill that would repeal language that states that only a mother and father may be listed on the birth certificate of an adopted child.

Lobbying will begin at 11 a.m.

“That should give people a chance to visit about three offices before lunch,” Coleman said.

Equality Texas is providing a continental breakfast in the morning as well as lunch. After lunch, constituents will visit offices until 3 p.m. followed by a one-hour debriefing session.

Coleman said more than 200 people are already registered but he’s hoping for 400. Among those participating are members of Stonewall Democrats who will be in Austin for a weekend conference.

Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who is openly bisexual, will be the opening keynote speaker for the Texas Stonewall Democrats Caucus statewide conference on March 5.

The conference takes place at the Hilton Garden Inn on 5th Street. Among the weekend’s other highlights, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, will lead a roundtable discussion on transgender issues on Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon, the Transgender Education Network of Texas will hold its second Transgender Caucus, also at the Hilton Garden Inn.

To register for Lobby Day, visit EqualityTexasLobbyDay.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Study: Gays earn less, suffer more in Oklahoma

Men in same-sex couples in Oklahoma earn 26 percent less than their straight married counterparts, according to a new study on employment discrimination against LGBT people in the Sooner State.

The study, released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, also concludes that LGBT Oklahomans are frequently subject to harassment and discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The study estimates that there are between 43,000 and 57,000 LGB people working in Oklahoma, along with as many as 6,800 transgender people.

Expanding the state’s nondiscrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity would have little impact on state agencies, resulting in only 21-29 additional complaints per year, according to the study.

“Laws that provide protection from discrimination not only benefit employees, but also help businesses recruit and retain highly-skilled employees,” said study co-author Lee Badgett.

To read the full study and press release, go here.

—  John Wright

Villarreal files Texas ENDA bill

State Rep. Mike Villarreal

Texas state Rep. Mike Villarreal, a Democrat from San Antonio, today announced that he has filed HB 665, which would prevent employment discrimination in Texas based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

According to a statement e-mailed by Villarreal’s office, HB 665 would “end a discriminatory atmosphere that drives away well-educated professionals that would otherwise benefit the Texas economy.” Villarreal said: “Many other states and several large Texas cities have protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s time for Texas to join in stopping unfair employment practices that hurt our economy and hard-working Texans.”

According to the press release, Villarreal has filed similar legislation in both of the last two sessions of the Texas Legislature.

HB 665 was filed on Jan. 14.

—  admin

Mid-term elections to determine 8 Dallas, Tarrant House seats

Scandal could hurt area’s lone House Democrat, but Johnson still expected to win re-election

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

As the midterm elections grow closer, Republicans are hoping to ride a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment to majorities in both houses of Congress. That would mean hanging on to the seven seats already held by Republican incumbents in Dallas and Tarrant counties, and possibly ousting a longtime Democratic incumbent who has recently been rattled by scandal.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas has held the District 30 seat in the House since 1992 and hasn’t faced a serious challenge to re-election — until this year. In early September, her Republican opponent, Stephen Broden, released documents showing that Johnson had funneled several thousand dollars in Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her own relatives and to the children of one of her top aides.

Johnson has since apologized, repaid the scholarships herself and restructured her committee that allocates scholarship funds. But the scandal has given Broden a seemingly secure foothold in his campaign for what has long been considered an unassailably Democratic seat.

Johnson’s district includes a large LGBT population, and Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said this week that if Broden were to defeat Johnson, it would be a significant blow to those LGBT constituents.

Johnson has long been considered one of the community’s staunchest allies in the U.S. House. She has consistently received a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which ranks Congress members based on their votes on LGBT issues.

Johnson has supported federal legislation to ban employment discrimination against LGBT people (ENDA), federal hate crimes laws including LGBT people and efforts to repeal the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military (DADT), according to the nonpartisan website OnTheIssues.org.

She has voted against an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment and a bill that would have banned adoption by gays and lesbians, the website notes.

OnTheIssues.org ranks members of Congress, based on their voting records and stated positions on specific issues, on a spectrum ranging from “hard-core liberal” to “hard-core conservative.” Johnson, according to the website, is a hard-core liberal.

Broden, on the other hand, has publicly stated his opposition to legislation banning anti-LGBT discrimination in employment and to LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation. The candidate recently appeared on The Glenn Beck Show on Fox News, and said that the hate crimes law is “used to knock Christians around and keep them silent, from speaking out in America today,” and that employment non-discrimination legislation is “bullying people and pushing Christians into hiring people they should not hire.”

On his campaign website, Broden lists “Family and Faith” among the issues important to him, saying: “As the family goes so goes the nation. I will fight for policies that strengthen marriage, not destroy it. I firmly believe that our nation was founded on the principles of the Judeo-Christian heritage. These principles are the bedrock of our success as a nation and as a people. Our nation’s traditions of faith are under attack by the forces of political correctness. I intend to reinforce those principles and traditions while serving in our nation’s capitol.”

Moore said this week she expects Johnson to win re-election, but not by as wide of margins as in the past.

“I think he [Broden] is going to hurt her [Johnson],” Moore said. “I don’t think he will win, but he will hurt her. She has had 80 percent to 100 percent approval ratings [from her constituents] all along, but I think this race will be a wake-up call for her.”

Moore acknowledged that Johnson “has surely made some mistakes,” but said Stonewall Democrats are still endorsing her re-election bid.

“She has been an exemplary representative for her district and for civil rights through the years, and we still strongly endorse her. But this [scandal] is a big chink in her armor, and she needs to get out there and work to win some voters back,” Moore said.

Libertarian J.B. Oswalt is also running for the District 30 seat. Moore said she knows nothing about Oswalt, or any of the Libertarian candidates on the ballot, and Dallas Voice was unable to find a website for Oswalt.

According to CampaignMoney.com, as of the latest reporting deadline, he had not raised any campaign donations, nor had he reported any campaign expenditures.

District 3
Republican Rep. Sam Johnson has held the District 3 seat in Texas’ Congressional delegation since he was first sent to Washington in a special election in 1991, and like his Democratic colleague in District 30, has rarely faced any serious opposition to his re-election.

Moore, however, said Democratic candidate John Lingenfelder is putting up a good fight this year.

District 3 has been called “the most Republican district” in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex — the office having been held by a Republican since 1968 — and Sam Johnson has been one of the most conservative lawmakers in Congress during his 20 years in office.

He has consistently received a score of 0 percent from HRC, having voted against ENDA, against hate crimes legislation and against the repeal of DADT. He has voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and in favor of a bill that would have banned adoption by same-sex couples in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his 0 percent rating by HRC, Sam Johnson has received a 7 percent rating on civil rights issues by the ACLU, an 11 percent rating by the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

OnTheIssues.org classifies Johnson as a “hard-core conservative.”

“Sam Johnson is pretty vehement on our issues, and he is vehemently against us,” Moore said. “Still, he’s not one of the ones who is out there authoring or championing legislation against us. He just always votes against us. He is pretty much just a seat warmer.”

Lingenfelder asked for and received Stonewall’s endorsement, and Moore said he is “a good guy who’s running a pretty good campaign. But like always, beating an incumbent will be hard, especially in some of the outlying regions of the district.”

She added, “We always try to do what we can to support a Democrat running against an entrenched Republican like Sam Johnson, the kind who aren’t really moving toward anything but are just holding the ground they have.”

The Libertarian in the District 3 race is Christopher J. Claytor of Plano. On his website, Claytor says he is “habitually devoted to the principles that the United States was founded on: personal freedom, individual responsibility and limited government as stated in the Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights.”

His primary focus is promoting “fiscal responsibility and smaller government,” and according to his website, Claytor is “socially tolerant, desiring that every American should be able to live their life the way they want, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same.”

District 5
Republican incumbent Jeb Hensarling faces challenges from Democrat Tom Berry and Libertarian Ken Ashby in his bid for re-election in District 5.

Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Berry in that race. But, Moore said, “I haven’t seen a lot out of his campaign, and I’m really not willing to comment on that one.”

Berry’s website includes no information on LGBT issues, focusing instead on Berry’s call to “put America back to work.”

Hensarling is another Texas Republican with a consistent 0 percent rating from HRC. He also earned a 17 percent rating from the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

He has voted against ENDA, against the hate crimes law and for the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment. OnTheIssues.org describes Hensarling as a hard-core conservative.

Ashby lives in Plano, but Dallas Voice was unable to locate a website for the Libertarian candidate. CampaignMoney.com lists no donations to or campaign expenditures by Ashby.

District 6
District 6 has long been a Republican stronghold, with Rep. Joe Barton winning re-election easily in every election since he first took the seat in 1984, following Republican Phil Gramm who left the House to campaign for — and win — one of Texas’ two seats in the Senate.

But his comments to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a congressional hearing on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in which Barton apologized to Hayward for the Obama administration’s “shakedown” of the company, may have opened the door to his opponents this time around — at least a tiny crack.

OnTheIssues.org ranks Barton has a hard-core conservative, and his votes on LGBT issues have always shored up his conservative credentials. He voted against ENDA, against repeal of DADT and against hate crimes legislation, and for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Barton has a 0 percent ranking from HRC, a 7 percent ranking from the ACLU, a 19 percent ranking from the NAACP and a 0 percent ranking from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

David Cozad, his Democratic opponent, has the endorsement of Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats. A spokesman for the group said Tarrant County Stonewall had endorsed the full slate of Democratic candidates, but was not actively working for Congressional candidates because “we are a state PAC, so there are limits to what we can do for federal candidates.”

Cozad’s website does not include information on LGBT issues.

Libertarian Byron Severns is also challenging Barton. Severns’ website does not include information on LGBT issues, but does note that he is pro-life and advocates for the reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

CampaignMoney.com lists no donations or campaign expenditures for Severns.

District 12
Rep. Kay Granger became the first Republican woman to represent Texas in the U.S. House when she won her first term in Congress in 1996. Her only serious challenge to re-election came in 2000 against Democrat Mark Greene.

Like other North Texas Republicans, OnTheIssues.org ranks Granger as a hard-core conservative, and HRC has consistently given her a 0 percent rating on LGBT issues. She has received a 14 percent ranking from the ACLU and a 22 percent ranking from the NAACP.

Granger has voted against ENDA, hate crimes legislation and repeal of DADT, and she voted for the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment.

Granger faces Democrat Tracey Smith and Libertarian Matthew Solodow in the 2010 election.
Smith also has the endorsement of Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats, but his website includes no information on LGBT issues.

Solodow also does not address LGBT issues on his website.

District 24
Republican incumbent Kenny Marchant has no Democratic challenger in the general election, but does face opposition from Libertarian David Sparks.

Marchant, who lives in Coppell, won the District 24 seat in 2004 from longtime incumbent Democrat Martin Frost after the district was significantly reconfigured by the Texas Legislature in 2003. Marchant was in the Texas House and serving on the Redistricting Committee at the time District 24 was redrawn.

Since being elected to Congress, Marchant has voted against ENDA, against the hate crimes law and in favor of amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

He has been given a 0 percent rating by HRC, a 22 percent rating by the NAACP and a 0 percent rating by Americans for Separation of Church and State. OnTheIssues.org calls Marchant a hard-core conservative.

Sparks is a minister who lives in Carrollton, and according to his website the primary issues of his campaign are “lower taxes, less government and more personal liberty.” However, his website also describes him as “an unwavering advocate of pro-life and pro-family values.”

District 26
Democrat Neil L. Durrance of Denton is challenging incumbent Republican Michael C. Burgess in District 26, and Moore said the Democrat is “a good guy with a good record in Denton County.”

Durrance is “a very strong candidate, and he has a really good chance in this election,” Moore said.
She said Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Durrance in the race.

Burgess first won the District 26 seat in 2004 after defeating Scott Armey in a Republican Primary runoff. Scott Armey was the son of longtime District 26 Congressman Dick Armey and was expected to win the race, however local media reports that he had used his influence to get county jobs and contracts for his friends.

Burgess has carried on Dick Armey’s congressional legacy of being an opponent of LGBT rights, voting against ENDA and for the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment.

He has a 0 percent rating from HRC, a 36 percent rating from the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

OnTheIssues.org describes Burgess as a hard-core conservative.

Libertarian Mark Boler is also running for the District 26 seat. Dallas Voice was unable to find a website for Boler’s campaign, and CampaignMoney.com lists no donations and no campaign expenditures for him.

District 32
Incumbent Republican Pete Sessions faces Democrat Grier Raggio and Libertarian John Jay Myers in his bid for re-election in District 32, and Moore called the possibility of a Democratic win in that race “the holy grail.”

“We keep trying to win that one, and trying hard,” Moore said. “There have been some more or less significant candidates running in that district, but Sessions is still there.”

Moore said Raggio has “a good name and a significant history in Texas politics, and I really hope we do pull that one out. It would be cause for celebration, for sure.”

Raggio is an attorney whose parents were also attorneys well known for their work in civil rights. His mother, Louise, was a national leader in winning equal rights for women, and his wife, Lorraine, is a civil district judge in Dallas County.

Moore said that Stonewall Demo-crats have endorsed Raggio, adding that “there are three levels of candidates that we endorse. There are the advocates who really get out there and fight for us. There are the allies who vote with us but don’t initiate legislation on our behalf. And then there are the ‘do no harm’ candidates, the ones who don’t fight for us or always vote with us, but who don’t fight against us, either.

“Grier Raggio is certainly not a liberal. He is very moderate in a lot of ways, but he has been very supportive of Stonewall Democrats, and he has been supportive of our fiscally supportive issues like ENDA,” Moore continued. “When it comes to [same-sex marriage], he is a middle-of-the-roader, someone who supports civil unions but not marriage. But given that district, he is probably the only kind of Democrat who could possibly win. And given who is in there now, I will gladly wear a Raggio sign ’til Election Day if that will get him elected.”

Sessions was first elected to Congress in 1996 as the District 5 representative, and was re-elected twice before redistricting in 2000 made that district more Democratic. He then moved to District 32 and won that congressional seat in 2002.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Sessions has consistently voted against LGBT issues, including ENDA, DADT repeal and hate crimes legislation. He has voted in favor of the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sessions has gotten a 0 percent rating from HRC, a 7 percent rating from the ACLU, an 8 percent rating from the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

Sessions has, in the past year, appeared at meetings of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, and last month received an award from the national Log Cabin Republicans organization for “serving [the] country with distinction in the model of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater.” Sessions had agreed to attend Log Cabin’s national dinner, at which the award was presented, but canceled shortly before the dinner in order to attend a House GOP Caucus meeting.

Myers, on his website, does not specifically address LGBT issues, but lists “personal freedom” as one of his priorities.

“Any government that dictates morality and invades privacy is not a small government,” Myers’ website says.

“What part of America being a free country do they not understand?”

Although not specifically mentioning same-sex marriage, Myers does address the issue of marriage in general on his website:

“The reality is that marriage is none of government’s business. People do not have to ask permission to get married; it’s their right to do so with whomever they please, whenever they please. When we surrender the power of marriage to government by asking for their permission, we give them the power to deny our rights, just as recently happened in Louisiana when a couple was denied a marriage license on account of their skin color. We should never give power over marriage to government. People are free to retain that power themselves,” his website says.

Anti-Democrat wave?

Although Republicans are hoping to ride the energy of the Tea Party movement to majorities in both houses of Congress, Moore said this week she thinks the idea of voters being anti-Democratic or anti-incumbent are too simplistic.

“I don’t think it’s anti-Democratic, and I don’t think it’s anti-incumbent,” Moore said. “I think it’s anti-inheritance. And by that, I mean that the ones who have held their seats forever and done nothing will get ousted. … People are really paying attention now, and they are not giving anyone a free pass anymore. If you are an incumbent who’s doing a good job, you’ll be OK. But if you have been just a seat warmer, then you are in trouble.”

Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, did not return calls seeking comment for this article.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

South Bend, Ind. council puts off gay-rights ordinance

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A divided South Bend City Council has put off a vote on a proposed ordinance extending employment discrimination protection to gays and lesbians.

About 200 people packed the meeting room Monday night, July 26 as council members heard two hours of public debate about the proposal.

Councilman Oliver Davis, one of the measure’s three sponsors, sought the continuance when it became clear he lacked the five votes needed for a majority on the nine-member council.

Opponents of the measure wore red stickers declaring, “Special Status (equals) Special Rights,” while supporters wore white buttons that read, “30-10 Yes!” in reference to the ordinance’s number.

Patrick Mangan, executive director of Citizens for Community Values, a conservative group opposing the measure, argued the proposal would undermine the rights of employers and that there was no evidence of current unfair treatment of homosexuals.

“They have not been treated intolerantly,” Mangan said. “In fact, they have been treated tolerantly, even when a majority of society disagrees with their lifestyle.”

Supporters urged the council to adopt the ordinance, which also would make discrimination against bisexual and transgendered people illegal.

“South Bend describes itself as a 21st century city and a part of being a 21st century city is recognizing the growing diversity of the community,” supporter Abby Smith said.

Former Gov. Joe Kernan, a former mayor of South Bend, told council members failure to adopt a gay rights ordinance would hurt the city’s image.

“The failure to pass 30-10 sends the message that we as a community are intolerant and we are better than that,” Kernan said.

The South Bend Tribune reported that councilwoman Karen White is the swing vote among the nine-member council. She said the proposal’s language was too vague and that she wanted more time for city attorneys to work on it before she decided how she would vote.

Concerns were raised about how religious organizations would be covered by the proposed ordinance, which the council voted 5-4 to table indefinitely.

“I don’t mind taking the time to review the religious exemptions,” said Davis, the ordinance sponsor. “I wanted us to be clear that for 34 years the Human Rights Coalition has understood what the religious language was when it came to other discriminations, but if that means we need to take some more time to see how that applies, I’m OK with that.”

—  John Wright

Texas AG Greg Abbott argues that he can’t be sued for discriminating against gay employees

Greg Abbott

Last November we reported on a lawsuit filed by Vic Gardner of Tyler, who alleges that he was forced out of his job with the state attorney general’s office for being gay.

Jason C.N. Smith of Fort Worth, who’s representing Gardner in his suit against a former supervisor and AG Greg Abbott, reports that the case is set for a hearing in an Austin district court next Tuesday.

Smith said the AG’s office has field a motion seeking to dismiss the case, on grounds that Abbott can’t be sued for damages for discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

Although Texas has no statute prohibiting anti-gay job discrimination, courts have held that gay and lesbian government employees are protected by constitutional principles such as privacy and equal protection, Smith said. Still, he said it’s possible that Abbott would appeal the case all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.

“My hope is that the Texas Supreme Court would follow the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court and hold that gays are protected under the constitution,” Smith said. “I think certainly the law is very clear. It’s just a matter of whether they’re going to play politics with the gay community.

“Greg Abbott’s record both as a Supreme Court justice and as Texas attorney general, he’s not one who’s embraced giving everyone equal rights, so it doesn’t surprise me that he doesn’t s think folks who are fired because they’re gay should be able to recover damages,” Smith added.

Garder, who’d worked for the AG’s child support division for about three years, says he resigned after repeatedly being unfairly disciplined. Despite Gardner’s above-average job performance, according to the lawsuit, Gardner’s supervisor had directed him to “not be so out.”

Gardner is seeking reinstatement to a similar position and back pay, as well as a declaration by the AG’s office that he was discriminated against and a pledge not to do so going forward.

A spokesman for Abbott’s office has declined to comment on the case.

—  John Wright

DART committee to be briefed Tuesday on proposal to add transgender protections

A proposal to add transgender protections to DART’s nondiscrimination policy will be presented to the transit agency’s Economic Opportunity & Diversity Committee on Tuesday.

DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said tomorrow’s agenda item is merely a staff briefing, and committee members won’t vote on the proposed policy change until a recommendation is presented in May. If the committee approves the recommendation at that time, it would proceed to the agency’s Board of Directors, which likely would take a final vote in June.

“We’ve still got a few meetings to go through, but that’s the standard practice for any policy change,” Lyons said. “We’re following through on what we said we would do with this issue in the conversations with the Resource Center.”

Lyons added that while tomorrow’s meeting is open to the public, the committee won’t take input from the audience.

The proposal to add trans protections comes in the wake of an outcry from the LGBT community over DART’s attempt to intervene in a familiy court case to oppose a bus driver’s gender-marker change.

Tomorrow’s meeting is at 1:30 p.m. in DART Conference Room C, on the first floor of the agency’s headquarters at 1401 Pacific Ave. in Dallas.

—  John Wright