In present day Texas, our community and its leaders continue to speak up for their equal rights, privacy, and safety in their everyday lives. In an article titled, “Meet Dave Welch, the ‘Pastor of Pastors’ who Mobilizes Texas Churches Against LGBT Rights” by Michael Barajas, Houston conservative Dave Welch, fights for the abolishment of same-sex marriage couples’ benefits, gay rights, and abortion. After several defeats against Houston Mayor Annise Parker, his main issue being the passing of a bathroom bill, no proposal was able to pass with success. The citizens of Texas, including the LGBT community, continue to attempt to push their agenda in order for them to feel safe, comfortable, equal, and welcomed in public facilities.
Dave Welch formed the Houston Area Pastor Council in 2003, and later established the Texas Pastor council and U.S. Pastor Council. These organizations bring their congregations together to become politically involved and discuss related issues. According to Barajas (2017), in 2013, the organization sued Houston Mayor Annise Parker for “extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples who work for the city” and later in 2017, the court concluded that “same-sex spouses of government employees still aren’t guaranteed the benefits of marriage in Texas.” Welch also fought to overturn Parker’s ‘Houston Equal Rights Ordinance’, also known as HERO, which protects Houston citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, and religion in certain areas such as, housing and occupation (Barajas, 2017).
Another main issue Welch pushed was the “No Men in Women’s Restrooms” message. Dave Welch persuaded his congregation by warning them of “biological males, with no alterations, entering a woman’s restroom” and a campaign ran by Anti-LGBT activists “featuring TV ads of men stalking little girls in public bathrooms.” With the help of his group and the Anti-LGBT activists, he was able to convince 61 percent of Houston voters to repeal HERO. However, Welch and his group failed to pass a bathroom bill. He claims they will continue to fight against what they believe is wrong (Barajas, 2017).
Although I disagree with same-sex relationships, I do not comply with discrimination or disrespectful conduct towards any person. Any law abiding couple should be able to receive the benefits of marriage, and equal rights, regardless if they are same-sex or opposite-sex partners. Focusing on the passing of a bathroom bill, the proposed Senate Bill 6 in the Texas legislature prohibits citizens from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The bill states that they must use bathrooms according to their biological sex (Ura and Samuels, 2017). According to a Houston LGBT activist, “When a trans-woman asked Welch what bathroom she should use, he asked her about her genitals. When she said it wasn’t his business, he replied, ‘You’re making it my business.'” I agree that accommodations may be necessary if the LGBT community feels unsafe and uncomfortable using restrooms opposite of their gender identity, just as others may feel the same way about sharing the bathroom with the LGBT community (Barajas, 2017).
At the Texas Republican Convention, LT. Gov. Dan Patrick stated, “we will pass legislation out of the Texas Senate this session to keep men out of ladies’ rooms and locker rooms and showers and bathrooms at our schools and public buildings.” I agree with Patrick and Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst when they stated that their intentions are not to start a controversy, “but to end one and give solutions to a very tough issue.” A transgender woman reported how she felt about this issue stating, “It sends the message to me and my transgender community that we’re not welcome here, that we’re deviant, that we’re dangerous, and that if you see us in the bathroom or out in public that we’re deserving of harassment and assault (Ura, 2017). Woman and children, including men, should be able to take care of their business in public at peace, as well as the LGBT community. A solution that will both protect the privacy of woman and children as well as having bathrooms available for the LGBT community may be a difficult task to do; however, it is not impossible. For example, a transgender-friendly bathroom may violate the privacy of women and children, so perhaps the solution would be that all public places provide a single-occupancy bathroom intended for use by one person at a time, designated as unisex or for use based on biological sex (Ura, 2017).
Although the passing of a bathroom bill continues to be at hold, it is great to see that our Texas citizens acknowledge their freedom of speech and speak up for their rights and beliefs. Disagreements will always arise and may seem inevitable, but that’s what creates our political socialization. Our generation that makes up our society today is living at different times than the traditional, conservative, and religious influence that we find when we look back in the roots of Texas. Values and traditions may change as we grow and may be passed to the next generation, but that doesn’t mean it must be tolerated. As editor of the article wrote, “just because the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage doesn’t mean people like Welch will stop fighting it” (Barajas, 2017).