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Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. I somehow got the feeling that the good ol’ a strong desire that I’d stay out of sight \(for sure, gay/lesbian issues were not on their If it was uncomfortable for them then, they have a treat in store in 1989. Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas is back, and we expect to be taken seriously. We’ll have a full-time lobbyist at the Capitol, supported by grassroots letterwriting and lobbying and topped off with participation in a four-day weekend of events, culminating with the March on Austin for Lesbian/Gay Equal Rights to be held April 30 and the Lesbian/Gay Lobby Day on May 1. LGRL is a statewide organization of individual members and lesbian/gay organizations or alliances from Houston, Dallas, Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, San Antonio, and Lubbock. During the 1987 session, our group had legislation filed to repeal the law in Texas that criminalizes private, consensual homosexual conduct. We also led the effort to begin addressing the problems of the AIDS epidemic. We were not surprised that issues dealing with the rights of lesbian/gay Texans were unceremoniously brushed aside by the legislature. On the other hand, LGRL was much more successful in obtaining passage of a complete re-write of the Communicable Disease Act. In doing so, we repealed the unconstitutional quarantine laws and replaced them with due process procedures to deal with persons who have communicable diseases and do not act responsibly. Laws prohibiting mandatory AIDS testing were enacted, as were laws protecting confidentiality and privacy in these matters. But most importantly, LGRL helped push through the first state funding for AIDS education and services a two-year appropriation of $3.4 million. In 1989, LGRL sets out a legislative agenda with three areas of emphasis: civil rights issues for lesbians and gay men; AIDS issues; and lesbian issues. My favorite question came from a rural legislator in 1987: “Just what is it that you people want?” Well, it was a shock to him that my answer was just about the same one he would have heard if he had asked the representative of the Kiwanis Club or the Women’s Club of Small Town, Texas. Gay men and lesbians in Texas want to be free of government interference in their private lives. Gay men and lesbians want decent educational and economic opportunities. Gay men and lesbians want adequate health care, with a strong emphasis on cost effectiveness. Therefore, LGRL will be promoting an aggressive legislative program. We will have filed a lesbian/gay civil rights bill to protect against discrimination in housing, employment, and accommodations, based on sexual orientation. Once again, repeal of the homosexual conduct statute will be attempted. We will push for laws that enhance our relationships and rights in the various civil statutes of the state. “Hate crimes” legislation will be a priority issue with our lobby. Headlines across the state tell gruesome stories about a frightening upswing in violence, harassment, and vandalism against minority groups. The Jewish community is the target of vandals in Dallas. Blacks and Hispanics continue to suffer racial violence. Offices of AIDS groups have been torched. National surveys show a horrifying increase in antigay violence. And we even see it condoned by a sitting district judge in Dallas, whose inflammatory remarks last month were interpreted by many to mean that violence against gays would not be taken as seriously as violence against others. LGRL will push for statutes which increase penalties for this type of violence. LGRL will also work in the broad coalition of groups supporting issues of concern to women. We place reproductive freedom and educational and economic justice for women as top priority issues. The lesbian/gay community of Texas will speak out on funding issues for women’s centers, child care, and family service issues, as well as violence issues such as rape, spousal battering, and sexual abuse. The AIDS agenda alone is staggering. Texas still ranks at the bottom of the list in per case funding for AIDS treatment. We rank near the bottom in all types of AIDS education funding. Local and county governments and the private sector in many areas of the state have been as lethargic as the state and national government. In 1987, when lawmakers first dealt with AIDS, there were only a few thousand cases in the entire state. Now there are more cases in Houston than 45 other states; more in Dallas than in 40 other states. As of January 1989, there are over 5500 cases in Texas. By the time the legislature meets again in 1991, that number will have increased to at least 30,000. Texas cannot wait to act. The cost in lives and in dollars will be too great. Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and House Speaker Gib Lewis appointed a Legislative Task Force on AIDS last year which has held dozens of hearings and done in-depth research on the crisis across Texas. The Legislative Task Force has submitted over 120 recommendations to the legislature. It is a good blueprint for legislative action. LGRL will endorse and support almost all of these recommendations. We put emphasis, however, on enacting the laws intended to end discrimination against persons with AIDS or HIV \(Human Immunodeficiency modations; on funding community-based organizations through service delivery and education grants; and providing access to drugs and treatments for those who desire them. The major issue that comes clearly into focus when dealing with AIDS is that Texas’ whole health care delivery system is inadequate, costly, and ineffective. Therefore, in order to deal with the spiraling caseload of AIDS and the funding necessary to deal with it, we must go to the root of the problem and fix the Medicaid system; make basic health insurance available to people; and focus on preventative health education. Coalition building with other health delivery advocates will be a priority. The situation not only seems bleak, it is bleak. But yet, in a political sense, it looks much better than two years ago. Leadership in the Senate continues to focus on dealing with AIDS as the epidemic that it is. We hope that the Speaker of the House will lead the members of that body toward a rational legislative response. And more importantly, the lobby groups that own the legislature, such as the Texas Hospital Association and the Texas Medical Association, have begun to take a responsible lead in educating members about this disease. If everyone pulls together, reasonable statutes and adequate funding will provide help for those who are ill, will begin to stop the spread of the infection across Texas, and will keep costs at a manageable level. I really hope a lot more Texas legislators ask the same question I was asked in 1987. And that they are prepared to listen. CI Glen Maxey is Executive Director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. If you want to help, call or write: LGRL, P.O. 5475. Privacy Rights, Death Penalty Among TCLU Concerns BY J. RICHARD AVENA THERE IS A saying among civil liberties workers that when it comes to govern ment and your civil liberties, government is probably up to no good. While I would hate to paint the Texas legislature with such a broad brush, we at the ACLU plan to keep a close eye on the democratic process at work here in Austin over the next several months. History has proven that when there are severe problems facing a nation, state, or local community war, disease, crime, etc. government tends to react in ways that disregard the civil rights and liberties guaranteed in the Constitution. There are many issues before the legislature that we will work on with other organizations. These include reproductive rights for women, school finance and desegregation, prison reform, and the All are important, but there are four issues 18 JANUARY 27, 1989