Texas Follows Oklahoma’s Lead, Strips LGBT Protections From Uber & Lyft Bill

Uber and Lyft are poised for victory in Texas. Officials in Austin are considering legislation that would allow both companies and their ridesharing competitors to do business in the state, and the bill looks poised to pass.

(Side note: It’s funny how many politicians want to nix regulatory policies, like those that apply to cab companies. They’re eager to “shrink” government and let free-market capitalism sort things out, except when it comes to [a] the franchise laws beloved by deep-pocketed dealer networks, which have prevented Tesla from selling to consumers in many states, and [b] regulations that govern civil rights, bodies, and relationships. Think on that for the rest of the day.)

The way the bill was initially worded, it would’ve prevented ridesharing companies from discriminating against LGBT passengers. How that language got in there is anyone’s guess — it could’ve been drafted by lobbyists who’ve hammered out similar bills in other states, then copied by some word-processing worker-bee.

It’s possible that the legislation could’ve passed in that form, but Texas Representative Chris Paddie must’ve heard about Oklahoma’s plan to open up its streets to Uber & Co. and lawmakers’ subsequent decision to strip LGBT protections from that bill. That, in turn, may have caused Paddie to read through the Texas bill again and find the five words that drive fear into the heart of many Republicans: “sexual orientation, and gender identity”.

It will not shock you to learn that Paddie has submitted an alternate version of the bill that includes no reference to LGBT consumers. It simply says that ridesharing companies must adopt nondiscrimination policies “that comply with state and federal law”.

Which sounds totally reasonable, but because LGBT Americans aren’t protected by federal law or by Texas state law, that means that drivers can kick them to the curb whenever they damn well please. Which happens, by the way.

P.S. And right on cue, here’s a story that clearly demonstrates the need for statewide LGBT protections in Texas and elsewhere.

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