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Anti-LGBT Texas Officials Claim They’re Being Bullied By Pro-Civil Rights Group

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Lawmakers Blast Records Requests Seeking Links To National Hate Groups

Anti-LGBT Texas officials claim they’re being bullied by a Washington, D.C.-based organization that’s filed records requests in an effort to determine whether they’ve conspired with national hate groups. 

The Campaign for Accountability, a pro-civil rights watchdog group, wants to establish a link between anti-LGBT Texas lawmakers and groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, the Liberty Counsel and the National Organization for Marriage.

But Texas officials who’ve received the records requests, including tea party state Rep. Debbie Riddle (photo), apparently don’t think the public has a right to know the public’s business. Either that, or maybe they just have something to hide. Riddle filed two bills this year that would have made it illegal for transgender people to use public restrooms in accordance with their gender identity. 

“I am proud of my legislative record, and I am proud to work side by side with people and organizations in defense of Texas’ heritage and tradition of religious liberty,” Riddle said in a release responding to the records requests. “We cannot be bullied by groups who would shame us for standing up for our faith. This coming legislative session I will continue to stand strong on these issues and will file legislation to keep men out of women’s bathrooms in Texas. This is clearly a politically motivated attack because of my staunch opposition to the HERO ordinance in Houston.” 

Daniel Stevens, deputy director of the Campaign for Accountability, said the group sent records requests to numerous state legislators in Texas, where more than 20 anti-LGBT bills were filed this year, the most in the history of any state.  

“Frankly, I find it sort of laughable that this would be considered bullying,” Stevens told The New Civil Rights Movement. “These records are public, and the public should have access to them.” 

In its request to Riddle, the Campaign for Accountability cited media reports suggesting national hate groups are shopping model anti-LGBT bills to legislators across the country. 

“These organizations appear to be coordinating directly with elected officials and public employees to push so-called ‘religious freedom’ laws in states like Texas as part of their nationwide effort to codify discrimination under the guise of ‘religious freedom,'” the group wrote. “The public deserves to know the extent of this coordination and the extent to which its elected officials are doing the bidding of outside organizations seeking to advance their own agenda.”

The Campaign For Accountability also sent records requests to Houston City Council members who voted against the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance last year. 

On Tuesday, Houston council members Michael Kubosh and Dave Martin staged a press conference outside City Hall, where they blasted the records requests, which they claimed are being orchestrated by Mayor Annise Parker, according to The Houston Chronicle. (The press conference was conveniently timed four days before the Houston city election runoff.) 

“I felt like when we received this open records request for over tens of thousands of emails and 51 names of individuals and organizations that we’re going to have to search through, this is a type of bullying,” Kubosh said, calling the requests a “lump of coal” from the mayor.

Stevens called Kubosh’s allegation “outlandish,” and Parker spokeswoman Janice Evans said the notion that the mayor is behind the requests is “totally unsubstantiated.” (Indeed, if Parker were coordinating the effort, it seems doubtful she would have included state legislators.)

The US Pastor Council, which worked to repeal HERO and is also named in the records requests, said they amount to “harassment.”

“It is clear that the false front of ‘accountability’ this organization works behind is a thin veneer for an activist LGBT advocacy group that is now attempting to intimidate a Texas legislator for sponsoring legislation which would protect the privacy, safety and freedom of Texas women in particular,” Pastor Council Executive Director Dave Welch said in a release. “We will stand firmly with Rep. Riddle and other legislators who stand for decency, religious freedom and the rights of all people, not cater to a radical, tiny fragment defined by sexual behavior and gender confusion represented by Campaign for Accountability.” 

Welch is also named individually in the requests along with other anti-LGBT activists including Dr. Steve Hotze, Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz, Texas Eagle Forum President Cathie Adams and others. 

 

Image: Screenshot via Debbie Riddle/YouTube

 

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