Austinites have a long-held reputation of being active, concerned and progressive—people who care about their fellow community members. City law reflects those values when considering the rights of LGBT and minority citizens. Austin is one of the few cities in Texas where it is illegal to fire or refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation/gender identity.
Title V, Ch. 3 of the city code not only prohibits unfair hiring and firing practices, but it also protects LGBT workers from being denied membership into labor unions.
Additionally, the city’s economic development office allocates part of its budget towards funding the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce as part of an effort to promote the city’s values of inclusivity and equality.
Some Austin city council members have said they will work to pass a law later this year that would require companies that receive economic incentives from the city— for example, the deal struck with Apple Inc. in May—to provide same-sex partner benefits to its employees.
Some groups against policies of tolerance, such as the American Family Association, cite religious freedom as the main reason for not including sexual orientation and gender identity in local, state and federal workplace protection. However, following this line of reason, some religions perceive gender (a protected class under the Civil Rights Act) as a factor that might hinder job performance as well. In other words, to ensure a fair democracy, lawmakers and voters must be careful to remain objective and consider all possibilities when crafting law that affects everyone and not allow a limited worldview to shape the experience of others. Our elected officials have made strides to put into place laws that reflect the values of the republic, where the struggle of one citizen affects all.