AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas lawmaker filed two bills to make Texas a more inclusive place for people who date members of the same sex. One of the bills would remove statutes that state same-sex sexual relationships are criminal offenses, and the second would change the family code to be less gender specific.
“I find it offensive that this stuff is still on the book, frankly,” Texas Senator Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas), who filed the bills, said.
Johnson’s Senate Bill 82 would remove some language from laws on how educators must instruct sex education in Texas schools and repeal language stating “homosexuality” is illegal. Senate Bill 81 also removes language related to the criminality of same-sex sexual conduct and changes the family code to say “spouse” instead of “husband and wife.”
“Homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06,” one of the current statutes reads.
“Emphasis, provided in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense,” the second statute related to how educators should teach students about sex is Texas reads.
Up until 2003, consensual sex between two people of the same gender was explicitly illegal in the state under the Texas Homosexual Conduct Law. The United States Supreme Court invalidated the law in their 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. Six of the nine justices joined the court’s ruling, while three dissented, saying the Texas law should remain.
The bills remove “the current unconstitutional Texas ban on homosexual conduct,” Johnson said.
“Although the Texas law is unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedent, the Supreme Court of late has a tendency to overrule precedent. And we could be in a situation where the unconstitutionality of the Texas laws is reversed, in which case, just like with the fall of (Roe v. Wade)….we will have an effective Texas ban on homosexual conduct,” he continued.
Currently, Texas law says educators instructing sexual education or courses on sexually transmitted diseases must state that “homosexuality” is illegal not an acceptable lifestyle.
“If any teacher is saying that kind of thing to a student, I don’t want it to happen anymore,” Johnson said. “I think that so long as we nurture a culture of fear, bias and discrimination, we contribute to the problem.”
Johnson said he’s uncertain if these bills will pass in the next session, but he remains hopeful. He added he thinks if Republican lawmakers have primaries on the horizon, they may be hesitant to support them.
“I’m not a fan of just filing ridiculous statement bills. But number one, these aren’t ridiculous. These are serious, and I’m serious about it,” he said. “I also think we need to give people an opportunity to do the right thing.”
“Why would we have something on the Texas books that we know is unconstitutional? And that we know it is so hurtful and disrespectful to such a significant portion of our population?” he added.