National Law Group Ditches Texas Over Lege’s Anti-LGBTQ Hate
American Assoc. of Law Libraries bans TX because of discrimination
By Mary Tuma,
4:15PM, Fri. Jul. 14, 2017
Amid threats from performers and various groups promising to boycott Texas over its plans to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation, one organization this week took definitive action.
In a July 14 letter to Mayor Steve Adler, the American Association of Law Libraries announced that following its 110th annual meeting and conference in Austin (scheduled for July 15-18), the Chicago-based group will no longer host events in Texas, “due to recent moves by the Legislature to discriminate against LGBTQ people.” The event, which draws 3,000 attendees, has been held in San Antonio twice.
“This year’s legislative session ran too close to the date of our Austin meeting for us to cancel without significant financial repercussions, but we will hold no future meetings in Texas until the repeal or reversal of these discriminatory policies,” AALL President Ronald E. Wheeler Jr. wrote to Adler and Tom Noonan, president and CEO of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We cannot stand by as Texas enacts legislation that discriminates against this vulnerable community.”
Wheeler cites the recently signed HB 3859, by Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, a so-called “religious liberty” law that allows child welfare providers in the foster care system to deny LGBTQ couples – as well as Jewish and Muslim families – the ability to adopt and foster children. He also points to the hateful “bathroom bill,” anti-transgender legislation revived on the Legislature’s special session call, which begins this Tuesday, July 18. Rep. Ron Simmons, R- Carrollton, has filed two such pieces of legislation ahead of the special session (HB 46 and HB 50) and Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, has proposed a bill (SB 23) to roll back all local nondiscrimination ordinances, including those in Austin.
“In Austin, we know that inclusion and diversity are not burdens to tolerate but necessary ingredients for success and survival,” Jason Stanford, the mayor’s communications director, told the Chronicle in response to the boycott. “State-sanctioned discrimination doesn’t just run contrary to who we are as a community but threatens our economic well-being. Doing the right thing makes us money, and that’s an economic secret we learned here in Austin a long time ago. On that note, I’d like to welcome the Legislature back to town next week.”
Businesses, sports leagues and teams, celebrities, and organizations have called on the Lege to stop its attack on the LGBTQ community throughout the legislative session. In February, more than 140 musicians, actors, actresses, and artists penned a letter condemning the “bathroom bill” and related anti-LGBTQ legislation, while more than 300 local businesses wrote a similar letter urging the Legislature to lay off discriminatory bills. Conservative group the Texas Association of Business even got in on the opposition, warning Texas officials they stand to lose at least $8.5 billion in GDP and 185,000 jobs if they pass bills that discriminate against gay and transgender residents.
At a Capitol event on Monday morning – the eve of special session – TAB and other business leaders from IBM, the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, and American Society of Association Executives plan to renew their fight against anti-LGBTQ bills and stress the “multi-million dollar impact” on the Texas economy and reputation. A recently released report by Texas Competes, a coalition of nearly 1,300 employers and chambers of commerce, shows the “bathroom bill” debate generated $216 million in negative publicity for Texas from Jan. 10, 2016, through May 22, 2017. “HR executives and business leaders voice concern to us when headlines about discrimination dominate the news about Texas,” said Jessica Shortall, managing director of the organization, in a statement. “We cannot maintain the pipeline of talent needed to fuel this state’s economy in the face of national coverage that tells young workers that Texas is in the business of discrimination.”