Friday, June 3, 2011

Worst 5 Texas Senators on LGBT issues

The 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature has come to an end. It was perhaps the best legislative session for queer Texans ever with not one, but two anti-bullying bills passing and the HIV Medication Advisory Committee's future protected by statute. Multiple bills and amendments targeting the community were introduced but were all defeated. Although we didn't get everything we needed, and are still waiting for the Governor's signature on the three bills mentioned above, all in all it was a very good session for LGBT issues.

We here at Legislative Queery have crunched the numbers and ranked the 31 Texas Senators based on their votes and authored legislation from the 82nd regular session. The rankings do not take into consideration past votes or legislation or public statements by the elected officials. You can read how we arrived at the rankings HERE.

#27 (tie)
Glen Hegar (R-Katy)
Score: 40 points
Grade: F

What can you say about Glen Hegar? He supported the compromise anti-bulling "super" bill HB 1942 that came out of the House and... no, that's it, that's the only nice thing you can say about Glen Hegar's voting record on LGBT issues this session. Hegar voted against both HB 1346, the teen suicide prevention bill and HB 2229 which insures public input in the Texas HIV Medication Assistance Program. At least he didn't file any anti-LGBT bills, which is more than can be said for some people on this list.
#27 (tie)
Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands)
Score: 40 points
Grade: F

Poor Tommy Williams, he really thinks that he should be in charge of telling people what their gender is. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for everyone else), that's not the way the law works. So Williams decided to change the law and filed SB 723 to insure that whatever gender people where assigned at birth would be their gender forever. It's only because of the tireless efforts of thousands of LGBT activist and allies across the nation that he was unsuccessful.
SB 723 would have guaranteed Williams the bottom spot on the list, if not for his support of both HB 1942, the anti-bullying "super" bill, and HB 1386, the teen suicide prevention bill.
#29 (tie)
Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville)
Score: 30 points
Grade: F

If you're asking "who is Robert Nichols?" you're not alone. Nichols, who's served in the Senate since 2007, hasn't made waves this session the way some of his colleagues have, but it's the quite ones you have to watch out for. Nichols opposed both of Rep. Garnet Coleman's queer issue bills that came through the Senate (Coleman was ranked LQ's best member of the Texas House on LGBT issues): HB 1386 (teen suicide prevention) and HB 2229 (insuring public input on the Texas HIV Medication assistance program).
#29 (tie)
Dan Patrick (R-Houston)
Score: 30 points
Grade: F

In contrast to Nichols, the other #29 seed, Dan Patrick has been very visible this session. Patrick is considering a run for the U.S. Senate and spent most of the session polishing his "small government" bona fides in preparation, and by small government he means cutting programs to children, the elderly and the poor while ensuring that the oil and gas industry keeps its tax breaks and the state keeps paying Hollywood to produce movies that make Texas look good. Patrick did support HB 1386, the teen suicide prevention bill, but opposed both HB 1942 (anti-bullying "super" bill) and HB 2229 (insuring public input on the Texas HIV Medication assistance program).
Incidentally, Patrick represents David and Amy Truong, the parents of Asher Brown who's suicide inspired HB 1386. The Truongs diligently lobbied Patrick for his support of the bill, proving the value of personal contact between constituents and elected officials.
#31
Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury)
Score: 0 points
Grade: F

Birdwell was the only freshman in the Senate this year and he came to Austin with a simple mission: vote against things. Birdwell managed to vote against more bills than any other member of the Senate this session including all three bills used in this ranking: HB 1386 (teen suicide prevention), HB 1942 (anti-bullying "super" bill) and HB 2229 (insuring public input on the Texas HIV Medication assistance program).

We've already published the Top 5 Senators and the Top 10 House Members and Worst 10 House members and will get the complete lists up soon, but in the meantime take a look at how LQ arrived at the scores and tell us what you think. Any ranking system like this naturally involves the biases of the people compiling the list. LQ welcomes comments, suggestions, rants and criticisms regarding the rankings.

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