News Roundup: Beto O’Rourke Announces His Policy Plan For LGBTQ Americans

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJune 12, 2019 1:21 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced a three-part plan Wednesday morning outlining how he would strengthen the rights of LGBTQ Americans. The release coincides with Pride Month and the third anniversary of the shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 were wounded.

The former El Paso Congressman discussed the plan ahead of a run with dozens of supporters along the Hudson River in New York City.

O’Rourke said, first, if elected president, he will use executive action to reverse President Donald Trump’s policies.

“We will reverse the transgender troop ban to make sure that the service of every single American is welcomed in our armed forces,” he said.

In addition to reversing Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, O’Rourke said he would also direct the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate crimes against transgender people.

The second piece of the Texas Democrat’s plan is to work with Congress to create nationwide protections for LGBTQ people.

Last, he said he will strive to protect those populations around the world through his foreign policy efforts.

O’Rourke has released other presidential policy proposals, including ones on voting rights and climate change.

A group that represents some of Houston’s biggest oil refiners is suing the Trump Administration over a recent decision on ethanol-blend gasoline. Travis Bubenik with Houston Public Media explains, it’s the latest chapter in an ongoing political fight between corn farmers and Big Oil:

If you’ve ever seen an E-15 label at the gas pump – that’s what we’re talking about here. That kind of gas is blended with higher-than-usual amounts of corn-based ethanol, and for years it’s been banned during the summer because it can lead to higher smog levels in hot, sunny conditions. The EPA is lifting the ban, but the group American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers is suing to block that move. The group has said in regulatory filings that year-round E-15 sales would cut into refiners’ profits. President Trump has had to walk a careful tightrope here, as both industries are big supporters. But for now, at least – pending the legal fight – the corner farmers have won out on this front.

Six out of 10 Texans have become more supportive of rights for transgender people, according to a new public opinion survey.

The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute interviewed 1,100 people, including 150 Texans.

Robert Jones is CEO of PRRI. He says one issue on which Texans are divided is over so-called bathroom bills. These are measures that would require a transgender person to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex assigned to them at birth. Forty-four percent of the Texans surveyed favor these laws, and 44% oppose them.

“And they’re divided fairly strongly along party lines on this question, with the majority of Democrats supporting transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice and Republicans opposing that,” Jones says.

A so-called bathroom bill failed to pass the Texas Legislature in 2017. The measure faced strong opposition from LGBTQ and business groups.