My friends, I am still in deep mourning over Charlottesville and the evil manifested there. But as I often have occasion to say during worship services, “We are a large family, and even as we mourn with some we celebrate with others.”
Today there is reason to put on our dancing shoes. At the end of the special called legislative session, Texas does NOT have a bathroom bill! It appears we have turned a corner.
I remember how hard we worked back in 2005 to try to defeat Warren Chisum’s amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. He didn’t think that a federal DOMA was enough, and he wanted to enshrine hatred in the Texas constitution. We marched and called and testified to no avail. The house voted 101 in favor and 29 against the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. The senate voted 21 in favor and 8 against. That put the amendment on the November 8 ballot, and 76% percent of Texans voted in favor of the amendment and against marriage equality.
As I signed petitions and made calls and testified with colleagues against this year’s anti-transgender legislation—the bathroom bill—I couldn’t help wondering if we were about to experience the same kind of crushing defeat. Though testimony often ran 20 or more to 1 against the bathroom bill, GOP lawmakers didn’t really seem to care. A part of me was preparing for the same kind of onslaught we experienced in 2005.
I believe things started to change when clergy began to unite and speak out unequivocally against the bathroom bill and in support of the transgender community. In saying this, I don’t mean to discount for one moment the bravery and witness of the trans community themselves, nor do I mean to discount hundreds of lay persons who joined the cause. But when clergy finally stepped up—and not just MCC and UCC clergy but Methodists and Baptists and Jews and Muslims—our allies in the Texas legislature had a resource they’d never had before. They had an answer to their conservative counterparts who claimed to have a solid mandate from the “religious leaders.”
Yes, another special session could be called. Yes, this particular ugliness could rear its head again in two years. But for today we celebrate. Today we dance.
Always in Hope,