There are three important bills going before the Texas House of Representatives this week. We encourage you to contact your representatives about these bills. If you don't know who your representative is, please visit Who Represents Me?, put in your address and look for your Texas State Representative. To find contact information for your representative, please visit Texas Tribune Directory and you can find their email address or phone number.
HB 71 Relating to the prosecution of the offense of indecency with a child.
I am a registered voter in your district and would like to ask you to support HB 71, authored by Rep. Gonzalez.
Currently under Texas law, it is legal for minors to engage in sexual relationships with somebody within three years of their own age... as long as the person is of the opposite sex. This law makes it a criminal act for a homosexual minor to engage in a sexual relationship.
HB 71, authored by Mary Gonzalez, would put an end to this unnecessary discrimination. This differential treatment of homosexual minors in Texas serves no secular purpose. The law is also likely unenforceable under the United States Supreme Court finding of Lawrence v. Texas, and as such is not only unnecessary but creates confusion within the legal code.
Removing this bigoted law from the books can serve as a gesture to the LGBTQ community in Texas, acknowledging that LGBTQ Texans are valuable members of our communities and will be treated equally under the law, as is required by Section 3 of the Texas Constitution's Bill of Rights.
Please support HB 71 as it comes to a vote on the House floor on Monday.
HB 3567 Relating to the rights of certain religious organizations and individuals relating to a marriage that violates a sincerely held religious belief.
I am a registered voter in your district and would like to ask you to oppose HB 3567, authored by Rep. Sanford.
This bill, especially in its current state, is too far reaching, specifically the portion that reads â... an organization supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organizationâ combined with ââ¦ or treat any marriage as valid for any purpose if the action would cause the organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief.â
I support the right of a church or religious organization from directly participating in a ceremony that contradicts their religious beliefs, but because of the portions of this bill quoted a moment ago, that is not the limit of what this bill would do.
For example, if a church runs a charter school, and that charter school extends health benefits to the spouse and families of their employees, could this charter school refuse to extend these same benefits to the spouse and family of a once-divorced employee, if the church that runs the charter school believes that re-marriage after their divorce is against the will of their god? Would this bill give the charter school this right to discriminate against this employee based on a previous divorce?
I respect the right of organizations such as churches to determine what they will or will not participate in, but in the example given above and many other potential instances, because of the portion of the law mentioned at the beginning, it is not the religious organization that is protected, but any organization âin connectionâ with a church. This bill would give freedom to discriminate far beyond the direct religious practices of a religious organization. Further, this bill would give special privileges to religious organizations not afforded to non-religious organizations, which is a violation of Section 3 of the Texas Constitutionâs Bill of Rights, which guarantees that no person or group will be given special treatment over any other group.
I ask that you oppose this bill as it comes before the House for a vote on Tuesday.
HB 4105 Relating to the issuance, enforcement, and recognition of marriage licenses and declarations of informal marriage.
From our friends at Equality Texas:
Cecil Bell's HB 4105 is scheduled for a vote on the House floor next Tuesday, May 12th. Texas lawmakers appear determined to repeat the same mistakes of Indiana and Arkansas. HB 4105 attempts to subvert any future ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of the freedom to marry by prohibiting the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state of Texas should not force county clerks to have to choose between following federal law or state law.
Pursuing a strategy to defy the U.S. Supreme Court will cost Texans millions in litigation and damage our economy.
We have to make sure every member of the House hears from us on this bill. Tell your lawmakers to stop the attack on Texas Families and VOTE "NO" on HB 4105.