This week GLAAD provided support to the “All In For Equality Advocacy Day” and rally at the Texas statehouse in Austin to join a growing chorus of hundreds of Texans opposing the anti-LGBTQ bills currently pending in the legislature. The current bills being considered by lawmakers would restrict or ban lifesaving healthcare for transgender Texans, ban or impose heavy penalties on drag artists, or take other actions to harm LGBTQ and particularly transgender people in Texas.
The all-day event was organized by six statewide Texas organizations over the past six months: Equality Texas, Transgender Education Network of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, ACLU of Texas, Lambda Legal, and the Human Rights Campaign, with support from additional groups like GLAAD, Organización Latina Trans in Texas, PFLAG, Drag Out the Vote, and others.
GLAAD partnered with author, host, and Austin resident Jonathan Van Ness. Van Ness galvanized the crowd when they went off-script with an emotional and heartfelt plea for supporters to continue the fight for LGBTQ rights and existence:
“I’ve been blessed to be in Texas for over three years – I love it here, I’m so honored to be here, and I’ve met so many people that have shown me so much beauty,” said Van Ness. “I also find that at a time when we have child poverty at an all time high, we have access to health care at an all time low, people are fighting like they have never fought before for basic human rights; and we’re out here debating trans issues that these legislators have no idea about. … We will have to be back on these steps, in those chambers, protesting and fighting for our rights. This is the first of many times.”
@equalitytexas So honored to have @jvn_official join us at the All in for Equality Advocacy Day and get the crowd fired up during the rally! #AIFE2023 #LGBTQ #LGBTQRights #TransInTexas #TXLege #TexasLegislature #TexasCapitol ♬ original sound – equalitytexas
Anandrea Molina, executive director of Organizacion Latina Trans in Texas gave remarks as well (translated from Spanish): “We will win this fight. We might have lost a few little battles but we are going to win this fight. Our sisters and our brothers continue to die during this battle, and it is up to us to stand up and fight for them. … We are seeds and we will grow.” OLTT is a local Texas group providing direct services and support to Latinx trans Texans; and a grantee of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative which fights HIV stigma across the South.
Ana Andrea Molina, the director of Organización Latina de Trans en Texas, says in Spanish that the #txlege has oppressed the trans community in the state, but that trans people are “semillas”, seeds, and that they “florecerán,” will flourish. pic.twitter.com/FWOb0Zqjvz
— Sergio Martínez-Beltrán (@SergioMarBel) March 20, 2023
Other speakers included Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas; Adri Perez, Texas Freedom Network; Ash Hall, ACLU of Texas; Shelley Skeen, Lambda Legal; and Joseph Brooks, Rainbow Connections ATX.
Before and after the rally, attendees participated in additional activities in support of LGBTQ equality including office visits with legislators, trainings and briefings with LGBTQ advocacy experts, and more.
Texas legislators are currently considering 140 anti-LGBTQ bills, compared to 142 pro-LGBTQ bills by lawmakers seeking to advance equal protection. Last session, the overwhelming majority of anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas failed to pass or even advance: of 76 anti-LGBTQ bills filed, only 20 moved, and only one passed.
To view more footage from the event, watch the full recording here on Equality Texas’ Facebook page. To stay updated on the latest news in Texas and how you can get involved and take action, sign up for Equality Texas’ mailing list at www.equalitytexas.org. To find your individual lawmakers in Texas or elsewhere and send a message in support of equality, visit www.glaad.org/protect.