June 2015 will go down as one of the most historic months in this nation’s history, and one of the most promising for progressive Texans.
Late this month, SCOTUS protected more than 830,000 vulnerable Texans from losing the health insurance tax credits – or subsidies – that are afforded to all Americans under the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have denied Texans the option of a healthcare exchange and they have declined to expand Medicaid. This decision is a victory for those who were threatened with significantly higher premiums or, worse, loss of coverage.
Last month the court also ruled to protect working families by keeping our Fair Housing Act intact. Meanwhile, here in Texas, our misguided governor signed Senate Bill 267 into law, a bill that prevents Texas cities from enacting amendments to local fair housing laws that would protect renters from income discrimination by landlords. Many families rely on housing vouchers as a source of income in their rental applications. Currently, no city or county is mandated to adopt ordinances, but local governments like Austin that choose to protect certain individuals from discrimination should have that choice. Protecting families is the right thing to do, and the Governor and his allies should respect the local control of cities like Austin.
In major victory for reproductive rights, our highest court helped Texas avert some of the worst legislation ever devised in the form of House Bill 2. Without a temporary stay on HB 2, clinics would have been forced to become ambulatory surgical centers, a costly requirement that likely would have closed at least 10 of the remaining 18 clinics in Texas, leaving about 1 million women more than 150 miles from the nearest provider. Prior to this anti-choice legislation, our state had 41 clinics where women could access a safe and legal abortion.
And finally… love has won and the freedom of same-sex couples to get married is now the law of the land. I’m relieved that my gay and lesbian friends are now able to fulfill their lifelong commitments to each other.Yet, the work doesn’t stop here. Marriage equality is simply a milestone in the long road towards full justice. We still need to combat the homelessness and suicide rates amongst LGBTQ teens. We need to tackle the plight of employment discrimination. We need to adopt non-discrimination ordinances to protect every community. We must put an end to the fraudulent and harmful “gay-conversion” therapies. We have to address the many other problems compounded by the intersections of gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status and other life factors.
A Successful Town Hall
On Saturday, I hosted several dozen neighbors at El Gallo Mexican Restaurant on South Congress for a community town hall on the ups and downs of the legislative session. We discussed my legislation as well as the hotly-debated issues ranging from health care to public education. Keep reading Notes & Noticias for details of my next town hall!