Paxton Amps Up Anti-LGBT Legal Fight
Texas AG leads 13-state coalition to block the Obama administration's transgender-inclusive directive to schools
By Mary Tuma, Fri., July 15, 2016
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 (www.freedomforallamericans.org). 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.
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