Former Texas House Speaker Shares How His Republican Values Motivate His Support for LGBTQ DignityBy Adam Polaski • November 19, 2019 • 3:33 pm
Today, November 19, Joe Straus, the Texas Republican who served as Speaker of the Texas House from 2009 until 2019, published an op-ed in Newsweek voicing strong support for protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.
He wrote about the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently considering three cases brought by LGBTQ Americans who faced employment discrimination.
He wrote: “As a lifelong Republican, I believe all Americans should have the opportunity to work and the freedom to go about their daily lives without the fear of discrimination. Some of the most prominent Republican-appointed federal judges in the country have already recognized that existing federal civil rights laws extend to gay and transgender Americans. The Supreme Court should likewise reaffirm these protections for our LGBTQ neighbors, who deserve the same opportunity as everyone else to be judged on their merits, and to work, earn a living and contribute to their communities.”
For the past several years as Speaker of the Texas House, Straus showed leadership in dissuading lawmakers in the Lone Star State from passing legislation that would have restricted freedom and liberty for LGBTQ Texans. One of the most high-profile fights was over a bill that sought to restrict restroom access for transgender people. Legislation like that was defeated multiple times during the 2017 legislation session.
Straus recalled this fight and how it helped him better understand the need to affirm and support dignity for all LGBTQ people. He wrote:
Even more than the potential economic fallout, I worried about the human cost of discrimination. During this fight, I got to know many LGBTQ Texans, and especially transgender people, and their families. That summer, as some in the state repeatedly demonized transgender people, we learned that calls to an LGBTQ youth crisis hotline hit unprecedented levels. I met children struggling in school because they weren’t allowed to use the bathroom, and I watched as parents gave impassioned testimony at late-night committee hearings while holding sleeping children in their arms. It became clear that, to many families, this was about something much greater than the economic impact.
Straus’ support is in line with the majority of conservatives nationwide who support LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. Many of those Americans have actively joined the fight with Conservatives Against Discrimination, a program of Freedom for All Americans dedicated to elevating the voices of conservative Americans who support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. The truth is that conservative support for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people is growing – and so many conservatives know that their values motivate their belief that every American should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living, and provide for their families.