On June 29 at a Citywide Pride event, Elizabeth Myers and Jennifer Ecklundpartners in the Dallas office of law firm Thompson Coburnshared insight about the unprecedented amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation passed this year and how it relates to other legal challenges to human rights via a virtual panel.
"The same groups taking on critical race theory are taking on reproductive rights and the public-school system," Ecklund said. "These are all the same people employing the same strategies, so these issues are intertwined. As a group of people who want to protect the gay community, we have to coalesce around other marginalized groups and stand together."
Myers and Ecklund are married to each other and have spent more than 15 years advocating for human rights through litigation.
Although the majority of U.S. residents support LGBTQ+ people, Myers said 283 anti-LGBTQ+ laws were filed in the first quarter of 2022. Some of these laws prevent school personnel from speaking about LGBTQ+ people, restrict trans children from playing sports and criminalize gender-affirming care, among other things.
Myers explained that Texas tends to serve as a "testing ground" for these kinds of restrictive laws where politicians try out different forms of messaging to see what's effective.
For example, when Republicans realized targeting trans children themselves wasn't effective in gaining support for bathroom bans, they changed their rhetoric to address adults with different laws targeting teachers, librarians, parents and doctors, Myers said.
Ecklund also warned of a potential increase in laws that allow citizens to target each other in civil suits following Texas' law that allows people to sue those who "aid and abet" abortion.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Ecklund said she expects red states to start trying to enforce laws that go against other human rights protected by the same constitutional reasoning used in Roe v. Wade.
"All of this sounds surreal and crazy, and it is," Ecklund said. "The reality is, there's going to be real people at the heart of each case. There are real kids impacted when politicians target trans kids. There are real people who will be arrested and prosecuted under old sodomy laws. We're going to have to fight for these rights all over again because of what the Supreme Court has done and it's likely going to be a dark process."
However, those living in states like Illinoiswhere residents' rights are largely protected, for noware best equipped to help other people, Ecklund said.
"Your voices are incredibly important to these fights no matter where they're occurring," Ecklund said. "If Texas and Florida feel like they're going to lose out on business or tourism and they have to grapple with that, it actually does impact how things happen. Folks who feel relatively protective need to help folks in other places because you won't be as targeted for doing it."