The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
Texas House members debated whether to ban gay conversion therapy for minors during a hearing Wednesday night.
The Dallas Morning News reports this is the first time state lawmakers have formally addressed the controversial practice.
The psychological community has largely rejected gay conversion therapy as unproven and potentially harmful; 16 states have banned it for kids.
— Lauren McGaughy (@lmcgaughy) May 1, 2019
The bill’s author is State Rep. Celia Israel. The Austin Democrat is only the third openly gay member of the Texas Legislature. She told the House Committee on Public Health there is no room for partisan divide when it comes to conversion therapy.
“Families of all political persuasions – or frankly no political persuasions – are having conversations in their homes over the well-being of their children. Some of these children are finding the strength to say, as I never did at a young age, ‘Mom, dad: I’m gay,’” Israel said during the hearing.
Under the bill, state-licensed counselors and therapists would be penalized if they tried to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Mike Hendrix testified in favor of the bill, saying he was a victim of conversion therapy between the ages of 7 and 13.
“No child, no living creature, should ever have to endure what I have endured simply because of their sexual orientation. No child in the great state of Texas should be subjected to torture simply because they are who they are, and no so-called health care professional be such if they endorse or condone what happened to me,” Hendrix said.
Bill opponents claimed its passage would be an assault on religious liberties, and that many people have been helped by the practice. The bill was left pending in committee.
A judge in San Antonio will hear arguments Thursday over whether Texas should clear future political maps with the federal government.
The state is set to redraw these boundaries in 2021. This hearing is part of a larger challenge to the state’s 2011 political maps, which courts found intentionally discriminated against racial minorities.
Michael Li with the Brennan Center for Justice told KUT News Texas officials are arguing this isn’t necessary because those maps were changed following a court order.
“The plaintiffs would say, on the other hand, the fact that they passed discriminatory maps and had to be slapped down on that suggests that in the next round of redistricting in 2021 that there is at least a need to watch, to have extra eyes on the process.” Li says.
Li says the hearing will be a test of a Voting Rights Act provision that’s still in place after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the law in 2013.
Blue Origin successfully launched and then landed a rocket at its West Texas site Thursday.
It’s the commercial space company’s 11th test flight and the fifth trip for the reusable New Shepherd vessel. The booster returned to earth first, followed by the capsule.
The capsule was carrying a record 38 payloads into space, including nine NASA-supported experiments.