The Texas legislature is back in a special session called by Governor Greg Abbott (R) and the Senate has wasted no time passing troubling measures. Last week, the Texas Senate approved two bills that threaten religious freedom – a private school voucher bill and an anti-transgender bathroom ban.
The Texas legislature’s regular session ended just weeks ago, but lawmakers are already back in Austin for a special session. Governor Greg Abbott (R) was forced to call the special session after the state legislature failed to adopt must-pass legislation during the regular session: in a dramatic stand-off, the Senate had refused to pass key bills as retaliation for the House refusing to pass legislation that would discriminate against transgender people.
“We can influence national policy today,” writes Americans United’s 2017 essay contest winner Lekha Sunder in her first-place essay on Gloucester County School Board v. Gavin Grimm, the court case in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student from Virginia, challenged his school board for segregating him from his peers by forcing him to use a single-stall restroom in the nurse’s office, rather than the men’s restroom that aligns with his gender.
June marks Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the strides made toward LGBTQ equality and the many LGBTQ activists that fought to achieve them. This Pride Month and every month, Americans United is proud to stand with our LGBTQ neighbors and oppose discrimination in the name of religion.
The Texas legislature only meets every other year. So, with the last day of session rapidly approaching, the past few days – yes, even including the weekend – have been wild. The result: A lot of harmful policies are closer to becoming law. Here’s a roundup of the legislature’s troubling actions over past couple of days:
Gavin Grimm didn’t ask to be the face of the fight for transgender civil rights in America. But that’s just what he became when he asked his Virginia high school to recognize his humanity.
Tomorrow at 1 p.m., Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn will participate in an “Ask Me Anything” session on the social news site Reddit. This is your chance to pick Barry’s brain about the state of religious freedom and church-state separation in America. Barry will be retiring at the end of the year after 25 years with Americans United – so this is a great opportunity to ask him about the battles he’s fought and those he sees on AU’s horizon.
I decided to intern at Americans United because I wanted to learn more about communications and I wanted to be involved in a cause that I am passionate about. Separation of church and state is an important issue to me and I wanted to be able to promote it while growing professionally.
Tomorrow is President Donald J. Trump’s 100th day in office. Although he campaigned on his 100-day “Contract with the American Voter,” he no longer seems enthusiastic about the milestone. Perhaps that’s because he is facing criticism for failing to achieve any major legislative victories. One thing he has accomplished: He has caused real harm to religious freedom and has made promises to do even more.
Aimee Stephens worked for six years at a Detroit funeral home. Then, she came out as transgender and announced that she would begin to live publicly as a woman, which would include dressing consistent with her gender identity.
Two weeks later, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes fired her. Why? The funeral-home owner said Aimee’s behavior contradicted his religious beliefs.