Texas House Committee Approves Two LGBT Rights Bills

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 4, 2017 6:13 pm

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

A Texas House Committee has approved two bills that would ban housing and employment discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, statewide.

Lauren McGaughy, a reporter with the Dallas Morning News says the success of these bills seems unprecedented.

“Because this has been a session where it’s been marked by anything but moving forward on LGBT rights, it’s been marked more by bathroom bills and other things the LGBT community say could be harmful to them,” she says.

Rep Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) is behind the bill that would prohibit businesses from discriminating against employees because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Johnson has been trying to pass legislation like this for years. He told McGaughy why he’s been pushing for this bill.

“He spoke very passionately about the fact that he views LGBT rights as the next frontier in the civil rights movement,” McGaughy says, “and he was actually quite upset with the fact that the state hasn’t protected LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace and said that it bothered him. He said that ‘there’s this type of bigotry that’s accepted and I don’t want to associate with it.’”

The bills passed out of a House committee with the help of another Dallas lawmaker.

Republican Rep. Jason Villalba broke with his party, voting in favor of both anti-discrimination bills.

The measures now head to the Calendars Committee where they could be scheduled for a full vote in the Texas House.

The fatal shooting of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards by a Balch Springs police officer is drawing national attention.

Wednesday, at the Agape A-M-E Church near Fair Park in Dallas, the national president of the NAACP, Cornell Brooks, had a clear message.

He say that too many tears have been shed over the loss of children and young men to police violence.

“We are going to put this to an end,” Brooks said. “And that means we’re going to step up our resistance, our protest, disobedience. And we need to be clear….Be prepared for unrest…unless we get reform.”

Brooks told the crowd of about 75 to get ready for marches, demonstrations and possibly arrests.

Jordan Edwards’ family released a statement this week asking the community to refrain from protests and marches in their son’s name – and said that they do not condone violence or threats made against Balch Springs police or law enforcement.

Balch Springs police have fired Officer Roy Oliver, who shot and killed their son.  

This Saturday, thousands are expected to turn out at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for a chance to be a part of a television institution, Wheel of Fortune.

Prospective contestants will fill out applications at the ‘Wheelmobile’– and hopefully be picked for an on-site audition for the televised game show.