UPDATE: TAMU Senate upholds veto of anti-gay bill, kills pro-LGBT resolution

TAMULGBT

UPDATE, 10 p.m.: The Senate has postponed the resolution in support of the GLBT Center, which effectively kills it, according to gay campus activist Camden Breeding. However, the Senate also upheld the veto of the anti-gay bill passed two weeks ago.

ORIGINAL POST: Two weeks after an anti-gay bill passed Texas A&M’s Student Senate to defund the campus GLBT Resource Center, senators are hoping to pass a resolution supporting the center.

The resolution, entitled, “The GLBT Resource Center Support Resolution,” aims to show support for the value of the campus center, as well as support “continued funding for the services that the GLBT Resource Center provides.”

Student Senator Robbie Cimmino said he spearheaded the resolution to show the community that the center is a needed resource that helps students come out, as well as educate them and support them when they come out.

“It isn’t about being gay for us,” Cimmino said. “It’s about being a resource for people who need it.”

He said the anti-gay bill drew 400 students to the Senate meeting and made LGBT students feel targeted. The student body president later vetoed the bill, which would have allowed students to opt out of funding the center with their activity fees if they had religious objections.

“There was a lot of tension and a lot of people felt discriminated against,” he said, adding that many senators who supported the bill for religious reasons didn’t realize the impact it would have on students.

Cimmino said many senators who backed the anti-gay bill will likely back the resolution after seeing the campus response.

“I think people will be genuinely supportive,” he said.

Camden Breeding, former president of the GLBT Aggies, said he also thinks the resolution will gain support when senators vote on it tonight.

“There’s a fair amount of support already,” Breeding said. “I’m hopeful.”

“This is an opportunity to enhance the campus climate for the LGBT community,” he added.

Read the resolution below.

—  Anna Waugh

UPDATE: Amendments targeting LGBT resource centers blocked, but threat remains

Rep. Wayne Christian

After seven hours of debate the House passed Senate Bill 1811 just after 1 a.m. today. SB 1811 is part of a series of “fiscal matters” bills that compliment the state budget. On Friday, Instant Tea reported that Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, pre-filed two amendments to the bill designed to defund LGBT resource centers from Texas universities and prevent schools from housing them on campus. (Read the full text of Christian’s proposed amendments to SB 1811 by going here and here.)

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, sponsored SB 1811 in the House. Before bringing the bill to the floor Pitts met with both the Republican and Democratic caucuses and explained that he would only support amendments that he deemed to be “perfecting” amendments. The sponsor of a bill can “accept” amendments, which usually means that they pass without a vote. The sponsor cannot block amendments, but other members often vote against amendments a sponsor opposes out of respect.

Pitts stuck by his guns, opposing all but 11 “perfecting” amendments. Although the House did pass some mostly Republican-sponsored amendments over his objections, for the most part they respected his opposition. Toward the end of the evening Pitts’ resolve began to fade and several amendments were allowed with the assumption that they would be removed later in the process.

While the House was considering SB 1811 the Senate passed Senate Bill 1581, another of the “fiscal matters” bills — this one dealing exclusively with education. Considering the late hour several of the members, including Christian, removed their proposed amendments to SB 1811 that dealt with education, assuming that the amendments could be offered to SB 1581, which is scheduled to be brought up in the House this weekend.

In addition to SB 1581, there are four additional fiscal matters bills still to be considered by the House: SB 7, SB 8, SB 22 and SB 23; any of which could be a vehicle for Christian’s amendments.

Students for Inclusive Resources is encouraging Texans to call their state representatives and ask them to oppose any attempt to defund or ban state universities’ LGBT resource centers. To look up contact info for your representative, go here.

—  admin