Texas to Consider Arkansas-Style Anti-Gay Law

Texas to Consider Arkansas-Style Anti-Gay Law March 5, 2015

The state of Arkansas passed a law forbidding local governments from implementing any law that protects against anti-gay discrimination and now a legislator in Texas has filed a bill to do the same thing there. I have no idea how likely it is to pass, but this is Texas, after all.

A Fort Bend County Republican has introduced a bill that would bar cities from adopting or enforcing non-discrimination ordinances that include protected classes not contained in state law. Texas law doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

As a result, state Rep. Rick Miller’s House Bill 1556 would undo LGBT protections passed by numerous cities, including Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and Plano. Altogether more than 7.5 million Texas are covered by such ordinances.

“HB 1556 will prevent local governments from expanding business regulations beyond limitations established in state law,” Miller told the Observer. “Competing and inconsistent local ordinances interfere with economic liberty and discourage business expansion. By promoting instead of restricting business growth, this bill is about job creation and an improved state economy, both of which have a direct, positive impact on Texas citizens.

Ah yes, the same argument made in Arkansas to pretend that it’s just about continuity for businesses, not about enabling discrimination against gay people because he thinks they’re icky. This is an absurd pretext, of course. If he actually believed that, he would be pushing for uniformity in regulations that actually affect businesses — zoning regulations, health department standards, building codes, property taxes, and so forth. For that matter, he could just as easily achieve that uniformity by passing a law to forbid such discrimination statewide rather than eliminating it statewide. But he isn’t. Because it’s all about discrimination, not regulatory uniformity.

But here’s something very interesting:

Rep. Miller’s son, Beau Miller, an openly gay 41-year-old Houston attorney, is an HIV and LGBT activist. Miller said he was “extremely disappointed” to learn about his father’s bill.

“If the bill progresses through the Legislature, I’m sure there will be a robust conversation about the impact not only on minority communities, such as the LGBT community, but also on local rule in Texas,” Beau Miller said.

Thanksgiving dinner is gonna be awkward — if they have any relationship at all.

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