- Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold job protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.
The nation's top court is currently considering three cases that would decide whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act should extend to people LGBTQ+ people, protecting them from being fired for being gay or transgender.
"As a lifelong Republican, I believe all Americans should have the opportunity to work and the freedom to go about their daily lives without the fear of discrimination," Straus wrote in Newsweek. “Some of the most prominent Republican-appointed federal judges in the country have already recognized that existing federal civil rights laws extend to gay and transgender Americans."
He recommended the Supreme Court follow those judges' example. LGBTQ+ people "deserve the same opportunity as everyone else to be judged on their merits, and to work, earn a living and contribute to their communities," he added.
"This may not be a common public position for a Texas Republican politician, but it reflects majority opinion in the state, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, and people of every race and every major faith tradition," he added.
The fact that the former GOP lawmaker shared his opinion via Newsweek may be a little surprising, but his stance shouldn't be. As speaker, Straus served as a one-man roadblock during the 2017 legislative session to stop the so-called "bathroom bill" targeting transgender Texans from reaching full debate in the House.
In his Newsweek op-ed, Straus details the potential financial disaster the bill would have brought on the state. What's more, he said he now understands the human cost the failed legislation would also have carried.
"That summer, as some in the state repeatedly demonized transgender people, we learned that calls to an LGBTQ youth crisis hotline hit unprecedented levels," he wrote. "I met children struggling in school because they weren't allowed to use the bathroom, and I watched as parents gave impassioned testimony at late-night committee hearings while holding sleeping children in their arms."
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