LGBT rights in Texas

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LGBT rights in Texas
Map of USA TX.svg
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal since 2003
Gender identity/expression Transgender people can change gender after surgery
Discrimination protections No statewide anti-discrimination laws, some city protections
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
Same-sex marriage legal since June 26, 2015
Adoption Yes

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Texas may face legal challenges and discrimination not faced by other people. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in the state. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges. Texas has a hate crimes statute that strengthens penalties for certain crimes motivated by a victim's sexual orientation, although it has never been invoked. Gender identity is not included in the hate crimes law. There is no statewide law banning anti-LGBT discrimination. However, some localities in Texas have ordinances that provide a variety of legal protections and benefits to LGBT people.

Despite Texas' reputation as a socially conservative state, a majority of Texans support same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people.[1]

Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Until the U. S. Supreme Court in 2003 declared sodomy laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas, certain sexual acts between persons of the same sex were a criminal offense in Texas, termed "deviate sexual intercourse",[2] The offense was a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.[3] As of January 2018, Texas was one of the three states to still have statutes criminalizing same-sex sexual acts, alongside both Oklahoma and Kansas.[4][5] The Legislature has failed to act on several proposed bills that would repeal the Texas statute.[6]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Marriage[edit]

The first legal challenge to Texas' ban on marriage between two people of the same sex came in 1972 when Travis Co Attorney Ned Granger requested an opinion from Attorney General Crawford Martin on the legality of issuing such licenses. Martin issued an opinion that, despite the lack of a specific prohibition against same-sex marriage in statute, it was not legally permitted.[7] In 1973, the Texas Family Code was amended by House Bill 103 to explicitly state that a marriage license may only be issued to a man and a woman. HB 103 became effective on January 1, 1974.[8]

In 1997, Texas banned the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Additional legislation in 2003 forbade the recognition of any same-sex marriages or civil unions. In 2005, voters approved a referendum that added those restrictions to the Texas Constitution.

On February 26, 2014, Judge Orlando Luis Garcia, of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, found that Texas's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.[9] On April 23, 2014, Judge Barbara Nellermoe, of the 45th Judicial District Court of Bexar County, found that Texas's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.[10] Both cases were appealed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.[11][12]

In February 2015, two state judges in Travis County held the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. One ordered the recognition of a common-law marriage between two women and the other order the county clerk to issue a marriage license to two women. They obtained their license and wed before Attorney General Ken Paxton obtained stays from the Texas Supreme Court and asked that court to void the marriage license.[13]

On June 26, 2015, the United States legalized same-sex marriage nationwide due to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.[14]

Domestic partner benefits[edit]

Map of Texas counties and cities that offer domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City offers domestic partner benefits
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  County or city does not offer domestic partner benefits

Austin,[15] Dallas,[16] Fort Worth,[17] El Paso,[18] Houston,[19] and San Antonio[20] provide health insurance to domestic partners of city workers. In 2001, 52% of Houston voters approved Proposition 2, an amendment to the city charter prohibiting the city from providing domestic partner benefits for city employees.[21] The amendment, however, specifically permits benefits to be provided to "legal spouses" of employees, and in November 2013, the city's legal department determined it would be unlawful to continue to deny spousal benefits for legally married same-sex couples.[22]

The Pflugerville Independent School District allows domestic partners of district workers to be included in the district's health insurance plan, although the workers must pay the entire cost of the coverage as they do for any dependent.[23][24]

Dallas County pays cash subsidies to help cover the cost of individual insurance policies purchased by the domestic partners of county employees. The amount of the subsidy is the same as the amount the county contributes to the group insurance plan that covers county employees, which in October 2012 was $300 per month. The county was unable to add the domestic partners to the group plan because the two other counties participating in the plan, Denton and Tarrant, opposed it.[25][26]

Travis County allows the domestic partners of county employees to participate as dependents in the county's group insurance plan.[27]

El Paso County provides health benefits to unmarried partners of county employees.[28]

Bexar County allows county employee benefits to be extended to domestic partners.[29]

2013 Texas Attorney General opinion[edit]

In April 2013, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, in response to a legislator's request, provided his legal opinion that the Texas Constitution prohibits a political subdivision of the state from providing benefits based on a status like "domestic partnership" because it is "similar to marriage".[30] In response, officials in Travis County and Fort Worth defended the legality of their domestic partnership benefits,[31] as did those in other jurisdictions who minimized the significance of the opinion.[32][33] The Austin Independent School District decided in June 2013 not to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of its employees,[34] but changed its position in August 2013.[35]

Discrimination protections[edit]

State law[edit]

As of 2013, Texas state law does not protect employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.[36] Since at least 1999, no bill prohibiting discrimination by employers based on sexual orientation or gender identity has made it out of the committee stage in the Texas Legislature.[37] During the Legislature's 2013 regular session, House Bill 238[38] introduced by Representative Mike Villarreal, House Bill 1146[39] introduced by Representative Eric Johnson, and Senate Bill 237[40] introduced by Senator Leticia Van de Putte would have prohibited this kind of discrimination; however, all these bills died in their respective committees.[41][42][43] Judge Lee Rosenthal of the Southern District Court of Texas has ruled that sexual orientation and gender identity fall under Federal Protections.[44] However, in April 2018, a federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that, although a woman hadn't proven she had been discriminated against for being transgender by the company Phillips 66, if that had been proven, then the woman would have "had a case" under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[45] The judge, who had been appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, cited other recent cases as shaping the final decision.[45]

Texas state law does not protect persons from housing or public accommodations discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.[46] House Bill 2215 introduced by Representative Jessica Farrar in the Legislature's 2009 regular session would have prohibited this kind of discrimination;[47] however, the bill died in the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee of the House of Representatives.[48]

Texas state law also does not protect persons from insurance discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. During the Legislature's 2013 regular session, House Bill 206[49] introduced by Representative Senfronia Thompson, House Bill 541[50] introduced by Representative Robert Alonzo, and Senate Bill 73[51] introduced by Senator Rodney Ellis would have prohibited this kind of discrimination; however, all these bills died in their respective committees.[52][53][54]

Counties with LGBT protections[edit]

County Protections for Applies to
Bexar County Sexual orientation and gender identity County employment[55]
Dallas County Sexual orientation and gender identity Private employment, county employment and county contractors[56][57]
Walker County Sexual orientation and gender identity County employment[58]

Cities with LGBT protections[edit]

Map of Texas counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

The following Texas cities have ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public accommodations, city employment, private employment and city contractors.

Austin,[59] Dallas,[60] Fort Worth,[61][62] Plano[63] and San Antonio[64][65] prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in private and public employment, housing and public accommodations.

Denton has protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for housing, public accommodations, city employment and city contractors.

El Paso has protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for public accommodations and city employment.

Arlington, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Houston, Mesquite and Waco have protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for city employment only.

Grand Prairie,[66] McAllen and Round Rock have a city policy prohibiting city employment and city contractor discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.

Status of non-discrimination protections in Texas' top 20 cities[edit]

City Protections Applies to
1 Houston Sexual orientation and gender identity City employment and city contractors[67]
2 San Antonio Sexual orientation and gender identity Private employment, city employment, housing, public accommodations and city contractors[64][65]
3 Dallas Sexual orientation and gender identity Private employment, city employment, housing, public accommodations and city contractors
4 Austin Sexual orientation and gender identity Private employment, city employment, housing, public accommodations and city contractors[68]
5 Fort Worth Sexual orientation and gender identity Private employment, city employment, housing, public accommodations and city contractors
6 El Paso Sexual orientation and gender identity City employment and public accommodations[69]
7 Arlington Sexual orientation and gender identity City employment[70]
8 Corpus Christi Sexual orientation and gender identity City employment[70]
9 Plano Sexual orientation and gender identity Private employment, city employment, housing, public accommodations and city contractors[71]
10 Laredo No protections
11 Lubbock No protections
12 Garland No protections
13 Irving No protections
14 Amarillo No protections
15 Grand Prairie Sexual orientation City employment and city contractors[72]
16 Brownsville Sexual orientation and gender identity City employment
17 Pasadena No protections
18 Mesquite Sexual orientation and gender identity City employment[70]
19 McKinney No protections
20 McAllen Sexual orientation City employment and city contractors[70]

School districts with LGBT inclusive policies[edit]

The following school districts have both employee welfare and student welfare policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression: Dallas ISD,[73][74] Fort Worth ISD,[75][76] Austin ISD,[77][78] and Houston ISD.[79][80]

El Paso ISD has similar protections, worded as "gender stereotyping and perceived sexuality."[81][82]

Cedar Hill ISD has protections for sexual orientation only.[83][84]

University LGBT non-discrimination policies[edit]

The following universities have non-discrimination policies for students and employees based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression: Texas A&M Commerce, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, West Texas A&M,[85] University of Texas at Austin,[86] University of Texas San Antonio,[87] University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas Pan American, University of Houston (all locations), University of North Texas (all locations), Texas State University,[88] Rice University, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University[89] and Our Lady of the Lake (employee protections only).

The following universities have non-discrimination policies for students and employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity: University of Texas El Paso,[90] Sam Houston State University and Lamar University.

The following universities have non-discrimination policies for students and employees based on sexual orientation only: Texas A&M International University,[91] Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M Galveston, University of Texas Arlington,[92] University of Texas Tyler, University of Texas Brownsville, University of Texas Permian Basin, Texas Tech University, Texas Women's University (student protections only), Texas Southern University, Angelo State University, Midwestern State University (student protections only) and Southwestern University.

The following universities have non-discrimination statements for sexual orientation for on-campus housing: Texas A&M College Station, University of Texas at Dallas, University of North Texas (all campuses), Southern Methodist University, University of Texas El Paso, Sam Houston State University, Texas A&M International University, Texas A&M Galveston, Texas Tech University, Angelo State University, Southwestern University, Texas Women's University, Texas A&M University Kingsville, Texas A&M University Texarkana and Tarleton University.

The following universities have non-discrimination statements for roommate selection/roommate requests based on sexual orientation: Texas A&M University- Commerce, University of Texas- San Antonio, Texas State University, Georgetown University, Rice University, Lamar University and University of Texas-Tyler.

Rates of discrimination in Texas[edit]

LGBT flag map of Texas

Overview[edit]

Approximately 429,000 LGBT workers in Texas are vulnerable to employment discrimination absent explicit statewide legal protections, according to a 2015 report co-authored by Christy Mallory, Senior Counsel, and Brad Sears, Executive Director at the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute. Currently, some localities in Texas prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private sector employment, while other localities protect local government workers or employees of local government contractors from such discrimination. Approximately 86% of Texas' workforce, however, is not covered by these laws."[93]

Gender identity discrimination[edit]

In response to a national 2010 survey, 79% Texans felt that these people were experiencing harassment or mistreatment at work, and 45% reported that they were not hired, 26% reported that they were fired, and 22% reported being denied a promotion because of their gender identity or expression.[93]

Public opinion on non-discrimination laws[edit]

Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls find that 79% of Texas residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.[93]

In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 73% of respondents from Texas said that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be prohibited in the U.S.[93]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

In Texas, any adult may adopt a child without regard to the adult's sexual orientation or gender identity.[94] Lesbian couples can access IVF and assisted insemination treatment.[95]

Texas statutes do not prohibit same-sex second-parent adoptions or adoption by a same-sex couple and state courts have on occasion approved such adoptions. The Texas Courts of Appeals has not considered the question directly but has said that a lower court's approval of an adoption by a same-sex couple did not represent a "fundamental error".[96]

A court may not issue a supplemental birth certificate for a child adopted by two men or two women.[97] The primary purpose of the certificate is to prove the parent/child relationship to outside entities, such as schools, insurance companies, and passport offices.[98] On November 15, 2012, Representative Rafael Anchia introduced House Bill 201 to the Legislature's 2013 regular session.[98] The bill would have deleted the prohibition against issuing a supplemental birth certificate for a child adopted by two men or two women.[99] The bill died in the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee of the House of Representatives.[100]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

In 2009, the Texas Legislature authorized a court order relating to a person's sex change to be acceptable proof of identity for a marriage license.[101]

For geographical areas under the jurisdiction of the Texas Court of Appeals in San Antonio, the 1999 case Littleton v. Prange defined that, for purposes of determining the validity of a marriage, a person's sex is determined at birth and is not changed by surgery or drug therapy.[102] This ruling allowed a person born male who transitioned to female to marry a woman in that court's jurisdiction.[103][104] In February 2014, the Texas Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi held that state law had changed since Littleton and now recognized sex reassignment, so that parties to a lawsuit contesting whether or not a marriage was an invalid same-sex marriage or a valid different-sex marriage needed to have their dispute heard by a trial court.[105]

In order for transgender people to change their legal gender on their birth certificates, they must undergo sex reassignment surgery and a name change.[106]

In August 2017, the Texas Legislature adjourned without voting on a "transgender bathroom bill", which would have restricted transgender people's access to public bathrooms.[107] Governor Greg Abbott had made it a priority to pass the legislation.

Other legal and policy issues[edit]

Sex education[edit]

The Texas Department of State Health Services has developed model education programs on AIDS and HIV; however, Texas law requires that the "materials in the education programs intended for persons younger than 18 years of age ... state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense...."[108] In practice, few school districts include that language about homosexual conduct in their sex education materials.[109] This law also has not been modified since Lawrence v. Texas.

Romeo and Juliet Law[edit]

Texas provides an affirmative defense to a person who has engaged in unlawful sexual contact with a child under 17 years of age, if the person is not more than three years older than the child. This defense, however, does not apply if the person and the child are of the same sex.[110] Texas has been the only state to make such a distinction since the Kansas Supreme Court found a similar Kansas statute to be unconstitutional in 2005.[111] During the Legislature's 2013 regular session, House Bill 2403[112] introduced by Representative Mary González, House Bill 3322[113] introduced by Representative Coleman, and Senate Bill 1316[114] introduced by Senator John Whitmire would have repealed this distinction; however, none of these bills was passed by its chamber of origin.[115][116][117]

National Guard[edit]

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor in June 2013 invalidating Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the U.S. Department of Defense issued directives requiring state units of the National Guard to enroll the same-sex spouses of guard members in federal benefit programs. Texas National Guard officials initially refused to comply, instead requiring Guard members to travel to federal facilities to do so.[118] Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on October 31 said he would insist on compliance.[119] On November 26, Texas agreed to conform with DoD policy stating that state workers would be considered federal workers while enrolling same-sex couples for benefits.[120]

Hate crimes law[edit]

On May 11, 2001, Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 587,[121] popularly but unofficially known as the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act,[122] which strengthened penalties for certain crimes motivated by a victim's race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, or sexual preference. This legislation did not cover gender identity.[n 1] House Bill 3324 introduced by Representative Garnet Coleman in the Legislature's 2013 regular session would have added gender identity or expression to the hate crimes law;[123] however, the bill died in the Criminal Jurisprudence committee of the House of Representatives.[124]

In the first decade after the law took effect on September 1, 2001, local law enforcement agencies had reported about 200 crimes per year as hate crimes. However, fewer than one case a year on average has been successfully prosecuted in Texas as a hate crime.[125]

Politics[edit]

The Texas Republican Party holds all statewide offices in Texas and controls both houses of the Texas Legislature.[126] Its 2012 party platform contained numerous statements against LGBT rights.[127]

Republican Governor Rick Perry signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage to oppose same-sex marriage;[128] Perry also dismissed the Lawrence v. Texas U. S. Supreme Court decision as the product of "nine oligarchs in robes".[129]

The Texas Democratic Party added certain LGBT rights to the party's platform in 1980,[130] and included same-sex marriage rights in its 2012 platform,[131] becoming the first Democratic state party in the southern United States to do so.[132]

Public opinion[edit]

Since 2009, Texans between the ages of 18 and 29 have increasingly supported same-sex marriage at a faster rate than that of the general population. In June 2009, the University of Texas found that 49% of that age group supported same-sex marriage as opposed to 29% of the general population. In February 2013, it found that 59% of them did so, while only 37% of the general population had the same opinion. Opposition from Texans between the ages of 18 and 29 dropped 12 points in the same period, from 28 to 16%. At the same time, opposition from the general population in Texan dropped 5 points, from 52.7% to 47.5%.[149] Glengariff Group, Inc., in conjunction with the pro-LGBT rights Equality Texas Foundation, found that support in that age group rose from 53.6% in 2010 to 67.9% in 2013, while within the general population in Texas, support rose from 42.7% to 47.9%.[150]

More recent polls have found that a majority of Texans support same-sex marriage. A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll, for example, showed support for same-sex marriage in Texas at 55%. 34% were opposed and 11% were unsure.[1]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2003)
Equal age of consent Yes/No (Since 2003, although Romeo and Juliet laws don't apply to LGBT people.)
Anti-discrimination state laws for sexual orientation No/Yes (Certain cities have protections)
Anti-discrimination state laws for gender identity or expression No/Yes (Certain cities have protections)
Hate crime laws include sexual orientation Yes (Since 2001)
Hate crime laws include gender identity or expression No
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (Since 2015)
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2015)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2015)
Yes (Required surgery)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2015)
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
MSMs allowed to donate blood No/Yes (Since 2015, 1 year deferral period)

Support organizations[edit]

Transgender Education Network of Texas[edit]

The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) is an organization that works to further gender diversity equity in the U.S. state of Texas.[151] As of 2016, the organization was registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in the United States. [151]

The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) was founded in 2002 as the Austin Transgender Ordinance Initiative.[152] TENT's main work is in education, advocacy, and empowerment,[151] and works in both public and private forums within each of these tiers in order to prevent discrimination against transgender, non-binary, and intersex people in Texas. It also supports pro-transgender legislation in Texas.[153]

TENT is a member of the Austin GLBT Chamber of Commerce.[154] Community advocacy work includes working in partnership with other organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, Anti-Defamation League of Central Texas, Equality Texas, Human Rights Campaign and the Texas Freedom Network.[155]

In addition to offering "cultural competency" seminars, workshops and presentations itself to a variety of organizations,[151] TENT has also collaborated with other research and education initiatives. One such research collaboration aimed to understand and improve the education of transgender-related health topics within Texas nursing programs' curricula.[156]

One of the organization's primary focuses has been collecting the testimonies of transgender, non-binary, and intersex people and their allies in Texas.[151] Many of these testimonies were collected specifically in reaction to the proposal of Texas SB6, a "bathroom bill" intending to limit bathroom access based on the sex listed on one's birth certificate. The organization maintains a record of testimony provided to the Texas State Senate's committee of State Affairs regarding SB6 by transgender, non-binary, and intersex people and their allies on its website.[157][158]

In March 2018, as part of a coalition with other Texas LGBTQ groups, ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, and Lambda Legal, created an online portal called TxTransKids.org, designed to provide support network and resource center for elementary and high school transgender students and their families.[159]

Nashville controversy[edit]

On May 21, 2018, members of the TENT as well as the Transgender Law Center were "denied service" at the Elliston Place IHOP in Nashville, Tennessee.[160][161] The IHOP issued an apology.[160][161]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "(a) In the trial of an offense under Title 5, Penal Code, or Section 28.02, 28.03, or 28.08, Penal Code, the judge shall make an affirmative finding of fact and enter the affirmative finding in the judgment of the case if at the guilt or innocence phase of the trial, the judge or the jury, whichever is the trier of fact, determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected the person against whom the offense was committed or intentionally selected property damaged or affected as a result of the offense because of the defendant's bias or prejudice against a group identified by race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, or sexual preference. (c) In this article, "sexual preference" has the following meaning only: a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality." "Article 42.014 of the Code of Criminal Procedure". Statutes.legis.state.tx.us. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 

References[edit]

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  55. ^ Sanchez, Sam (February 27, 2018). "Bexar County Adds LGBT Protections to EEO Policy". Out in SA. 
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