Yesterday, the city of Plano voted to extend the city’s Equal Rights Policy to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Thanks to the 5-3 vote, it is now illegal in Plano to discriminate against LGBT individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations. Religious, political, non-profit, and educational organizations are exempt from the law. Plano is the 6th city in Texas to pass this kind of law, following major cities like San Antonio and Houston.
The passage of the new ordinance is the culmination of nearly a decade of discussion–Plano City Council members determined that the city’s discrimination policy needed to be updated. As Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock told Lone Star Q, “These changes I believe are reflective of the values of Plano as a diverse, inclusive community that values and respects the rights of all of our citizens.”
The ordinance was vocally opposed by many prominent Texas Republicans, who did their best to spread misinformation and fear to try to stop its passage. Texas Values, the conservative Christian organization who previous said that the “gay agenda” is to imprison those who disagree with same-sex marriage, was one organization that spoke out against Plano’s law. They forwarded the Plano City council a letter expressing their concern that the law violated religious freedom by taking away their right to be bigoted, and their fear that it “may place women and children at risk.” The letter was signed by several Republican lawmakers, including Attorney General-elect Ken Paxton and State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg.
Meanwhile, the Liberty Institute, a Christian legal defense organization, has promised to sue Plano for religious discrimination.
The other Texas cities who have passed non-discrimination ordinances have also faced vocal opposition from the religious right. After San Antonio’s ordinance passed last year, Greg Abbott threatened to sue, until he read the ordinance and admitted it was indeed constitutional. In Houston, right-wing groups have staged massive protests against the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, and are fighting to have their challenge to the law approved despite not receiving enough signatures on their petition.
Those kind of backwards views were defeated in Plano last night, the latest in a series of cities making protection for LGBT individuals into law. As much as conservatives want to protest, they are on the losing side of history. The tide is changing, and equal protection is becoming the law across the state and the nation.