A series of truly terrible legislative efforts in Texas are targeting women, gay adults, and gay children. Like, even more than usual. Really, notably, unusually bad, even for a state that prides itself on extreme levels of this sort of badness.
Let’s start with abortion: the Texas legislature is considering HB 3130, which would take abortion off the list of procedures covered by private health insurance plans purchased through the federal health care exchange. That’s right: a health insurance plan that covers abortion in any other state wouldn’t in Texas; people who wanted abortion coverage would have to buy an add-on supplemental plan. The bill passed the Senate last week and is supposed to be considered in the house today.
The Lege is also mulling over HB 3994, which is designed to make it slower and harder for minors seeking abortions to get a judicial bypass, the court permission that allows them to get a legal abortion without parental consent. As a fun bonus, the bill would also make it mandatory for anyone seeking an abortion to have a government-issued ID. One study showed that one in five low-income Texans lacks a valid government-issued photo ID meaning — you guessed it! — this bill hurts already poor and vulnerable people.
Texas legislators are also setting their beady sights on LGBT children, with a bill that would protect welfare providers who force them into discredited anti-gay “conversion therapy” programs or anything else motivated by religious faith. The bill would make it so that foster parents, social service workers, and other people who take care of children with government money couldn’t lose that funding if they provide the child with a “religious education,” if they refuse them access to abortion or contraceptives, or if they take any other action motivated by a “sincere religious belief.” As the HuffPo’s Dana Liebelson points out, several LGBT organizations say that could apply to things like “reparative therapy,” which is certainly motivated by religious belief and not, say, an understanding of how human sexuality works.
Finally, and most comically, in a very dark sort of way, we have House Bill 623, which would keep gay marriage illegal in Texas even if it becomes legal at a federal level. The measure would make it illegal for any state or local official to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. State Rep. Cecil Bell, who filed the bill, told the Associated Press that the bill would put Texas in a position to “challenge” the Supreme Court if SCOTUS votes to legalize gay marriage.
That’s not how the Supreme Court works, Texas. That’s not how state versus federal law works. Or as very bemused-sounding University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told the AP, “Any kind of appeal or challenge the state would bring would bring a fairly summary rejection by the Supreme Court. I don’t know what purpose it serves.”
In summary: Texas, still a leader in the vast and crowded field of terrible politics.
Rep. Cecil Bell, sponsor of the anti-gay marriage amendment. Image via AP.