El Paso County Challenges GOP Leaders’ Anti-Trans Rhetoric

Democratic El Paso County Commissioner David Stout
Courtesy of David Stout
Democratic El Paso County Commissioner David Stout.

El Paso County isn’t having any of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s potty mouth.

County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Monday condemning rhetoric used by Patrick and other GOP state leaders in the ongoing debate over transgender restroom access, even linking their words to violence against the LGBT community.

The nonbinding resolution states: “History has demonstrated that rhetoric and discourse that promotes fear, intolerance, and hate can manifest into the darkest and most horrific of human actions and transgressions against one another.”

Commissioner David Stout, a Democrat who authored the resolution, told the Observer it wasn’t in response to any specific statement by Patrick or others. Instead, Stout cited lawmakers and other elected officials’ general comments and tone on social media and in news reports over the last several months. Patrick, for example, has repeatedly asserted that LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws will lead to “men in women’s bathrooms,” even though there’s no evidence to support his claim.

“Those types of statements and that type of rhetoric, it’s ugly, and I don’t think there’s any place for that in public discourse,” Stout said. “You continue to proliferate this type of rhetoric, and you’re just opening the doors for folks to continue to commit hate crimes against these populations.”

A spokesman for Patrick, who’s arguably been the state’s most outspoken opponent of trans rights, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also Monday, commissioners voted unanimously to add LGBT nondiscrimination protections to El Paso County’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy. Stout said the statewide debate over trans restroom access prompted him to review the county’s policies to ensure they were fully inclusive of LGBT people.

Stout added he plans to hand-deliver copies of the resolution to the offices of state leaders including Patrick and fellow Republicans Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and House speaker Joe Straus. Paxton’s office is behind two lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s efforts to protect trans people against discrimination.

In addition to condemning recent anti-trans rhetoric, Stout’s resolution states that El Paso County opposes anti-LGBT legislation, including any bill that would allow private businesses to discriminate or limit access to health care, education and public facilities.

“I definitely would urge other cities and counties to do the same so the voice becomes stronger and more impactful,” Stout said.

John Wright is a freelance journalist based in Austin. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Published at 5:15 pm CST
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