FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 14, 2023 – HOUSTON, TEXAS
The Texas Conservative Liberty Forum, in its mission to represent the citizens of Texas who believe in the conservative values of limited government and personal responsibility, and in the freedom of conscience and full equality under constitutional law for all citizens, has undertaken the review of key bills before our state legislature of great consequence to major issues of contention in our state. In this session, our focus is on the highly charged debate over questions of freedom of speech, religious liberty, and new civil rights laws aimed at concerns of unfair discrimination in the areas of sex, sexuality, and self-identity.
In undertaking this review, we have considered the input of members and supporters of all walks of life, demographic groups, faiths, and beliefs.
The Texas Conservative Liberty Forum does NOT support passage of Texas House Bill 1266 (or similar bills), which seeks to legally designate as “sexually oriented business” any venue that features any performances that include cross-dressing. We are sympathetic to concerns regarding much-publicized events aimed at minors featuring cross-dressing performances that also included sexually inappropriate content for minors (crude and sexually suggestive or explicit language, sexually suggestive motions, and states of undress). However, this bill is likely to be overturned on First Amendment concerns, and is not enforceable on a practical level. As it stands, this bill would literally designate venues featuring a performance by Dame Edna, traditional stagings of Shakespearean plays, a showing of Mrs. Doubtfire, or some episodes of the Carol Burnet show, as “sexually oriented.”
The actual sexually oriented content of a performance, regardless of whether cross-dressing is present, should be the focus of any bill aimed at sexually oriented content.
Similarly, Texas Conservative Liberty Forum does NOT support passage of Texas Senate Bill 12. While this bill is more restrained, it still introduces a pointless element that could be used to harass businesses that feature any cross-dressing at all. Again, this is likely violation of First Amendment rights. Perversely, the above bills may appear to provide a defense for sexually oriented content inappropriately available to minors if it does not feature cross-dressing. This cannot possibly be the intent of the authors of these bills.
The best defense of conservative values of freedom of speech and conscience is one based on principle and applicable to all.
We urge the bills’ authors to withdraw these bills as they stand today.
For more on TCLF and its positions on key bills filed this legislative session, please visit texasconservativelibertyforum.org.
Marco A. Roberts, Chairman
Texas Conservative Liberty Forum