For the first time I can recall, non-LGBT media outlets in Texas are reporting on the fact that it’s perfectly legal for employers here — and in about 30 other states for that matter — to fire someone just for being LGBT. Which is critically important because, as Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith tells Austin’s Fox 7, 80 percent of the public wrongly believes that LGBT people are already protected against employment discrimination. Again, just to be clear, we’re not. Except in Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth — which have city ordinances — you can legally be fired in Texas just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Coincidentally, Fox 7’s story highlighting transgender woman Lisa Scheps’ story of workplace discrimination aired on the same day that Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, filed SB 237, which would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination statewide. Equality Texas’ Daniel Williams says it’s the first time a version of the bill has been filed in the Senate, where one Republican at least, Dallas Sen. John Carona, told Dallas Voice recently that he would vote for it. The House version was again filed this year by Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, who’s also interviewed in the Fox 7 story. Even the Dallas Observer posted something about Van de Putte’s bill. The Observer says the bill’s chances of passage in the Republican-dominated Legislature are “almost zilch,” and that’s probably true, but just getting the media to report on it is progress.
Watch Fox 7’s report below.