DALLAS, TX (August 4, 2023) – The North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce has united with the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) in a legal challenge against Senate Bill 12 (SB12) – commonly known as the "Drag Ban Bill." The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) filed the lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs, including the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce, other Texas LGBT Chambers, VORTEX Repertory Company, and individual performers.
SB12 directly targets LGBTQ+ Texans and infringes upon the civil liberties and freedom of expression for all individuals in Texas, stifling their ability to participate in performances.
This law, which will take effect on September 1, 2023, unjustly criminalizes drag performances in the presence of minors, imposing fines of up to $10,000 per violation. Furthermore, its vague language opens the door to the punishment and criminalization of various forms of entertainment, including theatre productions, cheerleading events, concerts, and any artistic expression that may be deemed sexually oriented.
"SB 12, as it is, is an ineffective and ambiguous law that places unnecessary burdens on our members and their customers, limiting the rights of Texans, including small businesses and nonprofits," stated Tony Vedda, President & CEO of the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce. "Rather than primarily focusing on broadening the economic inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community, this legislation forces us to educate our members about SB 12’s restrictive nature. I firmly believe that SB 12 infringes upon all Texans’ basic First Amendment rights."
This misguided law will significantly impact multiple industries, performers, and businesses, hindering their revenue generation. Businesses that support these performances in the presence of minors may face severe fines that burden their ability to operate and succeed. Moreover, the law paves the way for discrimination by business services, such as denying insurance coverage to venue owners.
We fervently believe that drag is not a criminal act, and it is essential to overturn this law to safeguard the right of all Texans to express themselves freely.
“The free expression of the LGBTQ+ community has always been targeted by those in power. SB12 is no different from old discriminatory laws that used to criminalize women who wore pants,” said Dustin Rynders (he/him), Criminal Injustice Program Director at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “But despite what some Texas politicians believe, we know that drag is not a crime.”
In collaboration with the Texas Civil Rights Project, the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a "Know Your Rights Session." This event aims to educate our members, businesses, nonprofits, and individual performers about the implications of this law. The session will take place on August 21st from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at a location to be announced. Chamber membership is not required to attend.
We are committed to fighting against this law because the state government should not have the authority to strip its citizens of their fundamental rights. Everyone deserves to live in a Texas that embraces authenticity and allows people to truly be themselves. Our members and our community deserve the freedom to run their businesses without fear of unwarranted repercussions caused by baseless legislation.
The right for individuals to live, work, and perform authentically is a fundamental right that must be protected for all Texans. We believe everyone should feel safe in their communities and places of business. Unfortunately, this law only serves to embolden harassment and hate.
The North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce remains steadfast in our mission to advocate for the rights and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in North Texas. We will work tirelessly to ensure that every individual has the freedom to express themselves openly and without fear of discrimination. We strongly believe that cultivating an environment of diversity and inclusivity is morally right and beneficial for the growth and prosperity of Texas as a whole.
The North Texas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Chamber of Commerce is the largest LGBT business organization in Texas, with a membership of more than 350 business entities and community organizations located throughout the North Texas region. The Chamber works to foster an inclusive business community that promotes economic vitality, connects members, and advocates on their behalf. We work to achieve equality through business. Chamber programs are designed to promote policies and practices that value a diverse and inclusive business community, workforce, and supply chain. Since 2004, the Chamber has worked to achieve equality through business by focusing on its members' success and the region's economic vitality.
For more information, contact the Chamber’s President & CEO, Tony Vedda, CCE, IOM, at 214-865-6516. https://LGBTChamber.com
About the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP)
The Texas Civil Rights Project is boldly serving the movement for equality and justice in and out of the courts. We use our tools of litigation and legal advocacy to protect and advance the civil rights of everyone in Texas, and we partner with communities across the state to serve the rising movement for social justice. We undertake our work with a vision of a Texas in which all communities can thrive with dignity, justice and without fear. Visit www.txcivilrights.org to learn more about TCRP.