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Rep. Garnet Coleman Files Omnibus LGBTQ-Rights Bill

HB 2069 covers several unaddressed equality issues.

Texas State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (courtesy photo)

On February 23, Texas State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) filed HB 2069, a sweeping omnibus bill to protect LGBTQ rights in Texas. The bill addresses many issues that the representative has proposed in previous legislative sessions, including:

  • A constitutional amendment to repeal the current provision defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman (2009, 81R HJR 131).
  • Streamlining court procedures for changing names and gender markers on state-issued IDs (2007, 80R HB 1761).
  • Including protection for transgender individuals in the Texas hate crimes law (2007, 80R HB 1289). 
  • Repealing the classification of homosexual conduct as a criminal offense (2005, 79R HB 3215).
  • Prohibiting discrimination against or harassment of a public-school employee or student on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression (2005, 79R HB 376). 
  • A comprehensive employment non-discrimination act prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, labor organization membership, or housing (2005, 79R HB 2522).
  • Including LGBTQ individuals in Texas’ Romeo and Juliet law, which states that when a young adult over the age of 17 has consensual sexual relations with someone under the age of 17, but who is at least 15 years old, and there is no more than a four-year age difference between the two, the older party will not have to register as a sex offender (2013, 83R HB 3322)

The original language in Rep. Coleman’s bill referred to “sexual preference.” He has apologized for using that inaccurate term, and the language was changed to “sexual orientation” in the committee version of the bill. 

“I have filed numerous bills to protect the LGBTQ community, and fought against even more bad policies and bills [intended] to marginalize and discriminate against LGBTQ individuals,” Rep. Coleman said in a press release. “Despite many of my bills to protect LGBTQ rights failing to pass in the Texas Legislature, I believe it is important to continue to bring attention to these issues to raise the awareness of influential parties. Supreme Court justices read newspapers, too.

“The omnibus bill I filed today will pull together several of my past efforts into one piece of legislation to establish a baseline of protected rights for all LGBTQ Texans.”

Unfortunately, this bill will likely have a difficult road to travel during the 87th Texas Legislative Session. The current session is proving to be one of the most anti-LGBTQ legislative sessions ever seen. At least a dozen discriminatory bills have been filed that target Texas’ LGBTQ community. Also, several anti-LGBTQ Tea Party Republicans have been given power as chairs of important committees. One of the most contentious bills filed so far is HB 1458, filed by Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), banning transgender girls and women from playing on public-school sports teams “designated for participation by only biologically female students.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, at least nine other states have filed similar bills.

“This is bathroom bill 3.0,” said Angela Hale, a senior adviser at Equality Texas, in a Salon article referring to a previous bathroom bill that was proposed to bar trans people from using restrooms that match their gender identity. The bill went nowhere in 2017. “It’s very unsettling to transgender children who just want to live,” she added. “They don’t want to have to come to the Capitol and testify for every single legislative session, just so that they can go about their daily lives.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in his State of the State address in early February, prioritized “election integrity” (the code words for voter disenfranchisement), prohibiting defunding police, and protecting businesses and individuals from “frivolous” COVID-19 lawsuits. While he did not prioritize any anti-LGBTQ issues, he also did not address the protections that LGBTQ activists are proposing.

Of his bill, Rep. Coleman—who has represented Houston’s District 147 since 1991—said, “These proposed changes are long overdue. In particular, the current statute categorizing homosexuality as a criminal offense is not only overdue, but unconstitutional as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court. I hope my colleagues in the Legislature will see this bill as a common-sense protection of Texans’ rights, and I hope to finally see the passage of these important measures.”




Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and, among others.
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