DANGER - LEGISLATURE OPEN
Austin - The 1981 Texas Legislature convened
Tuesday, January 13, and once again the future of
all Texas citizens hangs in the balance.
Rep. Wright (R, Houston) has prefiled four bills
concerning minors and obscene materials. In past
sessions of the legislature, gays have been the scapegoats during floor debates of child pornography and
Rep. Rains (D, San Marcos) and others have prefiled legislation relating to the advertising and
possession of drug paraphernalia.
Rep. Smith has prefiled a bill calling for a
constitutional amendment for initiative and referendum in Texas, which would be a loaded gun in the
hands of conservatives to use against the civil
rights of gay men/lesbians.
Dialog (Dallas Gay Political
HCfC STARTS LOBBYING
A delegation of 50 members of the Houston Gay
Political Caucus (HGPC) traveled to Austin for the
opening of the 67th Texas Legislative Session January
13. The delegation received a briefing on prefiled
legislation and has made contact with pertinent senators and representatives, many of whom received
the GPC endorsement.
The educational format of the trip was designed
to prepare the participants for future lobbying efforts. "Our concerns very much reflect the interests
of other Houston and Harris County citizens; they include education, redistricting, civil rights for all
who have been disenfranchised - with special emphasis
for the rights of women, and properly enabling law enforcement officials to provide for the safety and
security of the citizenry they serve," stated GPC
President Lee Harrington.
Future lobbying trips to Austin and grassroots
constituency organizing will receive major emphasis
by the HGPC for the remainder of this legislative
This Week in Texas
Austin Lesbian Gay Political Caucus (ALGPC) co-
chair Scottie Scott reported that ALGPC will have
City Council candidate screening early in February.
Call 478-8653 for information.
Lesbian/Gay Democrats of Texas (LGDT) gave a
reception at Austin Lambda January 13, 1981, for members of the Houston Gay Political Caucus, who were
in Austin for the opening of the 67th Legislature.
It looks like LGDT is going to have an Austin
lobbyist soon, Scottie told CONNECTIONS. The organization's name is Lesbian-Gay Rights Advocates, and
it is currently firming up statewide support for
the lobby project.
Scottie denied rumors that Bettie Naylor would
be the Lesbian-Gay Rights Advocates lobbyist, and
stated that negotiations to hire a lobbyist were still
WEAKENED ANTI-GAY AMENDMENT PASSES
Washington, D.C. - In a surprising and completely unpredicted development, the House-Senate Conference Committee of the Legal Services Appropriations
Bill has included an anti-gay amendment in the final
report of the bill. The amendment is narrower and
probably weaker than the initial "McDonald Amendment"
in the House of Representatives . But the Gay Rights
National Lobby (GRNL) indicated that they will urge
members of the House and Senate to oppose the Conference Report. GRNL Executive Director Steve Endean
also stated that the Lobby had telegranred President
Carter to urge him to veto the bill.
The amendment was believed to be dead, since
the Senate had dropped it in Subcommittee and not
re-inserted on the floor. And although the House had
indeed passed the McDonald Amendment, the wording
did not originate in committee. Informed sources
predicted that the House conferees would happily let .
it fall by the wayside as they had in 1977 under
But when the Conference Committee met, the House
conferees, spurred on by ranking minority member Rep.
George O'Brien (R-IL), remained adamant about retaining the McDonald amendment. As the Committee began
its proceedings, the conservative sweep on November
4 was clearly on the minds of the conferees.
Sen. Lowell Weicker (R-CT) and Sen. "Fritz"
Hollings (D-SC) argued forcefully that the anti-gay
amendment would constitute an abridgement of civil
rights and a denial of justice. They stressed that
the issue wasn't approval or disapproval of homosexuality, but basic fair play.
However, it quickly became clear that the House
conferees would not back down. With the House conferees present and many Senators who had supported
deleting the amendment from the Senate version absent,
it looked as if the McDonald amendment would remain
in the bill.
Faced with this reality. Senator Weicker suggested compromise language to narrow the scope and minimize the damage from the amendment. The initial
McDonald language prohibited legal services from
litigation for "promoting, protecting and defending
homosexuality." The Justice Department indicated that
the impact was unclear and that it could be interpreted to deny gay citizens access to the Legal Services
program. The Weicker compromise would substantially
narrow the prohibition to only those cases which
seek the "legalization of homosexuality."
The House conferees immediately responded favorably. Rep. John Hightower (R-TX) and Rep. Bill
Alexander (D-AK), who had pushed the McDonald amendment, agreed to the compromise. Rep. Bill Hefner
(D-NC), said that maybe even Moral Majority would
agree to the Weicker proposal. Senator Weicker smiled
and said he doubted it.
Gay Rights National Lobby Executive Director
Steve Endean said, "Let no one make any mistake about
it. Senator Weicker is deeply committed to justice
for lesbians and gay men. While we are, of course,
unhappy that any anti-gay measure passed, Senator
Weicker effectively moved, in our interests, to minimize the damage."
But Endean went on to say, "While we can take
some solace in the fact that it isn't as bad as it
could have been, we must not lose sight of the fact
that this is the first time in many years that anti-
gay legislation will pass Congress. Unfortunately,
we will face similar fights in the near future. To
avert these defeats we must organize as we never have
before. We at Gay Rights National Lobby do not want
to act just as a 'damage control1 operation."
- CAPITOL HILL (GRNL)