When this 84th Texas Legislature session started in January, the Texas TBLG community was facing the daunting prospect of 24 filed punitive anti-BTLG bills. Four of those bills were aimed at criminalizing being transgender in the Lone Star State for our trans kids and adults.
People outside our state expected them to all pass seeing that we had a House with a 98-52 GOP edge, a 20-11 Republican advantage in the senate, and a new governor and lieutenant governor eager to placate the Tea Party wing.
But they misunderestimated our will to kill all of those bills, and especially the will of the Texas transgender community to make the Riddle and Pena anti-trans bills go away.
The LGBT pundits on the coasts also didn’t note that we Texans had several huge advantages going into this battle. The 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four and Super Bowl LI in 2017 are slated for Houston. We had a unified effort from several statewide LGBT organizations that had been organizing since November the Texas GLBT community would be playing defense in this session.
While the GOP had the numbers, the Democratic minority in the House and Senate had the legislative experience and seniority, and masterfully used the Texas legislative rules and parliamentary procedure to stall and thwart the egregiously bad bills at critical points.
It was a team effort that took several lobby days scheduled throughout the session of which yours truly attended two of them, people calling their state legislators and senators, cooperation between several state organizations, partnerships with out Texas business community, and yeoman’s work by our lobbyists in Austin. It also didn’t hurt that the disastrous publicity and economic damage to their economy that happened in the wake of Indiana passing their discriminatory RFRA got the Texas Lege’s attention.
Because of all that work and some fortuitous events, we go into the final hours of the 2015 session with those anti-TBLG bills dead for this session and the GOP oppressors being put in the position of passing a meaningless Texas senate resolution declaring marriage is between one man and one woman.
Short of any last minute attempts at amendments to bills further along in the legislative process, and the Texas legislative rules are strict about amendments this late in the session being attached to germane bills, we Texas LGBT folks will watch the clock strike midnight CDT for sine die and can mercifully exhale.
But TBLG Texans eyes will be nervously turned toward Austin all day until that moment.