Paxton Amps Up Anti-LGBT Legal Fight

Texas AG leads 13-state coalition to block the Obama administration's transgender-inclusive directive to schools

Ken Paxton (Photo by John Anderson)

Attorney General Ken Paxton recently ramped up his crusade against LGBT Texans with a request for a nationwide preliminary injunction to block the Obama administration's transgender-inclusive directive to schools. Paxton and his crew are leading a 13-state coalition to combat the LGBT-friendly instructions, issued in May, which direct schools across the country to allow students to use the locker rooms and restrooms that correspond with their stated gender identity (see "Paxton Sues Obama Over Transgender Rights," May 25). "These new mandates ... run roughshod over clear lines of authority, local policies, and unambiguous federal law," reads the motion, filed July 6. "Nationwide relief is necessary to prevent the irreparable harm that the new mandates will cause."

In reality, say LGBT advocates, the AG is the one undermining much-needed federal protections for gay and transgender children, not to mention wasting millions in taxpayer dollars on ideological legal battles. If Texas doesn't follow the feds' guidelines, they could be at risk of losing billions of dollars – under Title IX, academic institutions place their federal funding in jeopardy if they discriminate on the basis of gender.

"Attorney General Ken Paxton shows an obsession with discriminating against the LGBT community," said Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas. His statements "demonstrate a shameful animus towards the transgender community, which will ultimately lead the Supreme Court to declare all laws unconstitutional which relegate members of the LGBT community to a second-class status."

So, who exactly is leading the charge at the AG's office? Turns out it's not just any lawyer, but a virulent anti-gay poster boy. Injunction author Austin Nimocks is a former attorney with Alliance Defending Free­dom, an influential anti-LGBT organization that supports criminalizing homosexual intercourse. ADF coordinates their LGBT-hate message at the local level and tries to spur grassroots action, as detailed in a new online resource "Enemies of Equality" created by LGBT rights group Freedom for All Americans ( But in reality, ADF is less grassroots and more like a giant, strategic lobby: It has more than 3,000 affiliated lawyers in states across the nation to defend those who want to discriminate against the LGBT community, and a political arm that drafts model policy language found in 17 bills in 14 different states. (Something tells us we'll be seeing that anti-LGBT model legislation in Texas come the next legislative session.)

Nimocks, who has built his career fighting against marriage equality in the courtroom, is in familiar company: Paxton's other legal culture warriors include ADF-allied attorneys Jeff Mateer and Hiram Sasser, who previously worked for the anti-LGBT First Liberty Insti­tute, as the Chronicle previously reported ("Paxton Stacks AG's Office With Anti-LGBT Culture Warriors," April 12).

And it seems their old boss has no hard feelings toward Paxton for stealing away his attorneys: According to Texas Ethics Com­mis­sion filings, Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty, contributed $1,000 to Paxton's legal aid fund, making him one of the handful of wealthy friends who have helped the AG foot the massive legal bill he's racked up defending his federal and state securities fraud charges.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Anatomy of an Understanding
Anatomy of an Understanding
How an unfortunate fitting room encounter brought Petticoat Fair to a session called 'Trans 101'

Kate X Messer, Aug. 1, 2014

AIDS Services of Austin and aGLIFF Turn 25
AIDS Services of Austin and aGLIFF Turn 25
Dobie Theater's doors open again for Big Love bash

Kate X Messer, Aug. 17, 2012

More by Mary Tuma
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Oral arguments focus on law’s vigilante enforcement

Nov. 5, 2021

Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Abortion Care Providers “Heartened” After SB 8 Hearing at SCOTUS
Oral arguments focus on law’s vigilante enforcement

Nov. 1, 2021


LGBT, Ken Paxton, transgender rights, First Liberty Institute, Austin Nimocks, Chuck Smith, Equality Texas, Alliance Defending Freedom, Freedom for All Americans, Hiram Sasser, Kelly Shackelford, Jeff Mateer

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle