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Texas attorney general pulls back threat of legal challenge to LGBT non-discrimination ordinance

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality

Texas state sealEarlier this month, we reported on Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s threat to file a legal challenge against a newly passed LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio.

As we wrote at the time, Abbott said that Texas’s supremacy clause means that local law cannot override state law, suggesting that an individual could be in danger of violating the San Antonio ordinance by upholding the state’s ban on marriage equality.  He also suggested the measure “seems to silence anyone who may have a disagreement with the ordinance,” which he believes violates the First Amendment.

This week, a spokesman for Abbott’s office said that the AG was changing course, and that a legal challenge was a much more remote possibility.  The Texas Tribune reports:

Citing a late change in the nondiscrimination ordinance that San Antonio recently passed, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office said the state is now unlikely to file suit.

A clause that disallowed appointed city officials to “demonstrate a bias, by word or deed” was deleted from the ordinance before the San Antonio City Council passed it on Sept. 5 with an 8-3 vote. The ordinance is aimed at preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We are pleased the city council heeded our advice and deleted this provision, which surely would have been grounds for a constitutional challenge to the ordinance,” Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the AG’s office, said in a statement. “We will continue to review the ordinance and monitor the situation.”

Texas already has its fair share of LGBT-related litigation these days.  This November, the Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two ‘divorce equality’ cases where same-sex couples who wed in other states are seeking access to divorce proceedings under Texas law.  Earlier this week, the LGBT legal group Lambda Legal wrote a letter to the Texas National Guard threatening legal action if a decision to refuse to process married same-sex couples’ benefits requests is not reversed.

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