Currently, the country is moving towards an elimination of all formsof discrimination and ensuring equality amongst all groups in thesociety. The idea has provoked a number of legislations and legalamendments for equal treatment of all individuals irrespective oftheir sexual orientation, age or gender. Texas is still in theprocess of transitioning its legal practices to guarantee that itsdiscrimination laws align with those of the federal requirements.This article will examine the discrimination laws in the state basedon sex, age, and gender.
Sex and Gender Rights in Texas
In Texas, lesbians, bisexuals, gays, and transgender peoplediscriminatory. The state denies lesbians and gays the freedom ofmarrying partners of the same sex by both constitution and statute.Despite the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States thatdeclared the ban of same sex marriage to be against the federalconstitution, Texas continues to challenge the ruling. In addition,the state has hate crimes statute, which reinforces penalties onvarious crimes stirred by the sexual orientation of the victim.Furthermore, the hate crimes law does not include age and genderidentity (Fredman, 2014). However, despite the absence of state lawthat prohibits these kinds of discriminations, some localitiescontain ordinances that theoretically provide legal protection tothese vulnerable groups.
The State Law on
The state law in Texas does not provide protection to employees fromdiscriminatory practices based on gender, age or sexual orientation.Since the year 1999 when efforts of passing legislations againstdiscrimination intensified, no single bill has managed to make itsway out of the committee stage in the legislature (Fredman, 2014).During the regular session of the legislature in 2013, House Bill 238presented by Mike Villarreal, Senate Bill 237 presented by LeticiaVan de Putt, and House Bill 1146 presented by Eric Johnson would haveabolished this discrimination but the three bills ended in therespective legislative committees. In addition, Fredman (2014) notedthat the state law in Texas does not protect individuals inpublic accommodations or housing from discrimination based on theirgender, age or sex. Representative Jessica Farrar presented the HouseBill 2215 in the regular session of the legislature in 2009 toprohibit this discrimination but the bill ended in the CivilJurisprudence and Judiciary committee of the representatives’house. Furthermore, the state law of Texas does not protectindividuals from insurance discrimination based on gender, age orsexual identity. Representative Senfronia Thompson presented theHouse Bill 206 during the regular session in 2013 but it died in itsrespective committee. In addition, other similar bills such as HouseBill 541 by Representative Alonzo Robert and Senate Bill 73 by EllisRodney that aimed at abolishing this discrimination ended in theirindividual committees.
Laws Regarding Sexual Activities
The Department of State Health Services of Texas developed a model onthe education program regarding HIV/AIDS but the laws in the staterequire that the content in the programs be for persons under the ageof eighteen. In addition, the laws state that homosexuality is not anaccepted practice and thus, it is a crime to engage in same sexpractices (Maxwell et al, 2015). The state punishes offenders by afine that does not exceed five hundred US dollars. The State, as ofApril 2011, remained amongst the ones criminalizing homosexuality inthe country. Moreover, Texas has an affirmative defense to anindividual that engages in undesirable sexual intercourse with achild that is below seventeen years of age if the individual is notmore than twenty years of age. Nevertheless, the defense does notextend and apply if the child and the person are of the same sex.
Regarding the National Guard, the decision of the Supreme Court inUnited States versus Windsor to invalidate Section three ofthe Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013, the Department of Defenseissued commands asking state units to enroll homosexuals in theprograms of the federal benefits (Wardle, 2012). However, Texasrefused to comply until November 26 when it agreed to comply with thedirectives. In May 2001, Governor Perry signed the House Bill 587that strengthened penalties for various crimes motivated bydiscriminatory acts such as age, sexual preferences and other basesbut did not cover gender identity (Fredman, 2014). House Bill 3324 byColeman in 2013 aimed at including gender identity but died in thecommittee stage. Up to 2011 resident agencies reported an average ofonly two hundred crimes in every year. Nevertheless, less than onecase in every year successfully prosecuted as a hatred crime becauseno emphasis on the application of the law.
Texas lags behind on enactment and implementation of laws that aim atending discrimination based on gender, age, and sexual orientation.Even with the available laws that aim at combating thisdiscrimination, lack of emphasis on the use of the law leads to fewcases filed in court, which fuels the presence of discrimination inthe state. Therefore, vulnerable groups such as homosexuals, facesevere legal challenges in accessing their rights necessitating theneed for urgent changes in the law and the process of application toend this discrimination.
Fredman, S. (2014). law. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.
Maxwell et al. (2015). Texas Politics Today London: CengageLearning,
Wardle, L. D. (2012). Involuntary Imports: Williams, Lutwak, theDefense of Marriage Act, Federalism, and`Thick`and`Thin`Conceptionsof Marriage. Fordham Law Review, 81(5), 771-828.