Transgender Texans live with a sense of dread as the 2019 legislation approaches. Thousands of us experienced first-hand last year the stupefyingly vicious bigotry of the Texas legislature as they passed discriminatory bill after bill.
But wait, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon as Amazon searches for their second headquarters.
Amazons employees have pushed execs towards LGBT friendly cities and for good reason. Should they move to Texas they would be subjected to the statewide lack of protections with the likelihood of much worse to come.
Is there a chance that Amazon may convince Gov. Abbott to stand up against the far right as Amazon searches for a “culture community fit” for their HQ2 consisting of eight “key preferences and decision drivers?”
Is Amazon going to build a new headquarters in a state with anti-LGBT legislators working hard to discriminate?
— planetransgender (@planetrans) April 22, 2018
Dallas is among 20 cities shortlisted by Amazon, but we are also among the eleven states that don’t have legal protections against firing an employee based on sexual orientation.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Amazon has decided to limit its criteria for choosing a second headquarters to states that have laws in place to protect gay and transgender people.
The Post attributed the decision to two unnamed sources.
How much weight will Amazon actually place on this factor is unknown. And given the economic might of Texas how will this affect decision makers?
Will Gov. Abbott’s ego and drive to be number one in all things make him a better man?
Amazon needs to know what they are facing.
Just last year we faced unrelenting attacks by Lt Gov. Dan Patrick, backed by a seemingly acquiescent Gov. Greg Abbott strongarmed by Southern Baptists who have populated the Texas Legislature. They refused to heed the advice of the American Federation of Teachers of Texas, theCombined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas and Texas Municipal Police Association, the Texas Convention and Visitors Bureaus theTexas Association of Business a American Psychological Association board member and 18 mayors of major Texas Cities, all of whom voiced their opposition to discrimination.
The legislators even discounted compassionate pleas from hundreds of allies fathers, mothers and transgender children who waited overnight in cold halls of the legislature to have 3 minutes of their time.
Then inexplicitly on the last attempt, the bathroom bill was tabled by the House State affairs committee Chairman Byron Cook.
Then the two Republican moderates who opposed the bathroom bills announced their retirement. With that announcement, any sense of confidence in my ability to live fruitfully in a future Texas evaporated like a puddle of water on a July day.
I then began considering ways to increase the prospect of gainful employment should I need to leave Texas in 2019. Others transgender people hadn’t waited. They have already left Texas.
But it just came to light that contrary to what he said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t really want a bathroom bill on his desk!
The Dallas Morning News reported on March 13th, 2018 that earlier in the 2017 session, Rep. Byron Cook said then-Abbott Chief of Staff Daniel Hodge told him and leaders of Texas industry that “the governor did not want that bill on his desk.”
The bill to restrict transgender Texans’ use of restrooms posed a big threat to the state’s prosperity, according to Cook.
Cook, a Corsicana Republican, said in an interview that Abbott nevertheless remained silent about the bill’s risks. Of Republicans controlling the Capitol, House leaders alone had to shoulder the politically painful task of killing the measure, which they did, Cook said.
Abbot called the special session listing the bathroom bill as a top priority. Was Abbott was afraid of these right-wing Baptist. Was he playing a game of political football with transgender lives?
The political winds can shift in the year to come.
And given Abbott’s propensity to tweet touting Texas’ economic success he needs to know this. Texas does not have an unlimited pool of low wage workers especially with his targeting of immigrants.
Abbott should also know that I, along with other LGBT people have been highly recruited for Amazon’s current Texas operations.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my state. The people are amazing and I only wish the best for it but Amazon needs to get a solid guarantee from Abbott he’ll rein in Dan Patrick and his religious cable. (those that are left after the midterm)
Amazon promised their employees they would find a safe place for HQ2. They need to ensure the Texas Legislature won’t try again to strip our cities of LGBT, veterans and elderly of protective ordinances before committing to DFW for its next HeadQuarters.
For what it’s worth both Abbott and Amazon should also know that if he wins re-election this fall and signs a bathroom bill I won’t be here either.