Luke Schulte is a featured contributor to local San Antonio print and television media. He is an actor, activist, and equality advocate.
The following is the content of my recent letter to Governor Abbott, Dan Patrick (Texas Lieutenant Governor), Ken Paxton (Texas Attorney General), Donna Campbell (State Senator) and Joe Straus (State Representative). Feel free to copy the text and help #StopSB6 and #FlushHate.
The Honorable Mr. Greg Abbott,
Governor of the Great State of Texas
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Friday, March 3, 2017
Dear Governor Abbott, et al.,
Today I write to you, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, my State Senator and State Representative, urging each of you to reconsider your positions and withdraw your support of Senate Bill 6 and the State Supreme Court challenge to Obergefell v. Hodges. My contention is that both the bill and the challenge of a US Supreme Court ruling are unconstitutional, wasteful of legislative resources, and that supporting either measure violates your oaths of office to uphold the law and represent all Texans, no matter our ideological differences.
Senate Bill 6 and the State Supreme Court Challenge to the Obergefell v. Hodges Ruling
- Senate Bill 6
Read the official text of the bill here.
- Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
Read the official Supreme Court decision here.
The US Department of Justice interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections for transgender men and women against employment discrimination. While there may not yet be a federal law which ensures blanket protections against any form of discrimination for those who are transgender, a legal precedent should not be necessary. It should be the default position of the Texas legislature to include, support and protect every citizen regardless of how they identify. Senate Bill 6, while touted as a public safety measure, does nothing more than incite fear, prejudice, and intolerance. Hypothetical, fear-mongering statements about the potential for lewd conduct and child endangerment are the tools of ignorance. I challenge each of you to educate yourselves on what it truly means to be trans.
From a purely fiscal perspective, San Antonio alone stands to lose at least $250 million if Senate Bill 6 passes, but the NCAA is not the only vocal opponent of the measure. The losses Texas could experience as a direct result of any anti-LGBT legislation could very likely total hundreds of millions of dollars. North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a similar piece of legislation to Senate Bill 6, cost the state in excess of $600 million in total lost revenue.
Governor Abbott has stated that potential boycotts would not affect his decision to support Senate Bill 6. However, allowing personal ideologies to negatively impact our state economy and endanger the livelihoods of those Texans who work in hospitality, tourism, and entertainment is both irresponsible and an incredible abuse of power.
The passing of Senate Bill 6 and the pursuance of an Obergefell challenge are clearly nothing more than political overreaching. As stated in the Constitution of Texas, both actions violate the law.
“No citizen of this State shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, privileges or immunities, or in any manner disfranchised, except by the due course of the law of the land."
— Texas Const. art. I, § 19
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Supporters of Senate Bill 6 and the Obergefell challenge seek to exploit the latter portion of Section 19 and utilize its potential for misinterpretation in order to legitimize systematic discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Texans. This is wholly unacceptable.
Any argument that the rights of LGBT Texans and their spouses are not guaranteed by law is rebutted by the US Constitution.
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
— US Const. amend. IX, 1791
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
— US Const. amend XIV, § 1, 1868
Furthermore, in the majority opinion of Obergefell, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy supports that the pursuit of liberty as outlined in the Preamble to the US Declaration of Independence, includes our inalienable right to self-identify and freely make choices which affect that identification.
"The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach…a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity."
— Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015
In that same opinion, Justice Kennedy explains that the Fourteenth Amendment further supports this position, stating the Due Process clause protects “certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.”
It is also clear that the recognition of marriage equality was intended to extend to all benefits afforded to same-sex couples as a result of legal union.
"For that reason, just as a couple vows to support each other, so does society pledge to support the couple, offering symbolic recognition and material benefits to protect and nourish the union. Indeed, while the States are in general free to vary the benefits they confer on all married couples, they have throughout our history made marriage the basis for an expanding list of governmental rights, benefits, and responsibilities."
"These aspects of marital status include: taxation; inheritance and property rights; rules of intestate succession; spousal privilege in the law of evidence; hospital access; medical decision making authority; adoption rights; the rights and benefits of survivors; birth and death certificates; professional ethics rules; campaign finance restrictions; workers’ compensation benefits; health insurance; and child custody, support, and visitation rules."
— Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015
A Texas Supreme Court challenge to Obergefell is nothing more than an attempt to circumnavigate the will of the United States Supreme Court in order to impose certain religious ideologies on the public at large, legitimizing discrimination against the LGBT community. Such an action is not only unconstitutional, it is unconscionable.
As public servants, as those sworn to uphold the Constitution, as decent human beings, I urge you to withdraw your support of Senate Bill 6 and the Obergefell challenge. Let Texas lead the way in inclusion, tolerance and the true spirit of democracy. That’s the way to “make America great again.”
Luke Anthony Schulte
CC: Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas;
Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas;
Donna Campbell, Texas State Senator;
Joe Straus, Texas State Representative
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.