Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. Bob Daemmerich for The Texas Tribune
It’s a bit much to suggest that the middle in Texas politics is blossoming into a giant political force, but there are signs of life outside the most progressive and conservative corners of the electorate.
Some of it is rhetorical, as in Joe Straus’ recent essay on LGBTQ rights in Newsweek. The former Texas House speaker was writing to say the U.S. Supreme Court should side with those who believe civil rights protections include LGBTQ Americans.
“This may not be a common public position for a Texas Republican politician, but it reflects majority opinion in the state, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, and people of every race and every major faith tradition,” he wrote.
He recalled his opposition to the so-called bathroom bill in 2017 — legislation intended to require people to use the public restrooms that correspond with their sex at birth.
The monthslong debate over that legislation was unusual for a social and cultural issue in Texas, pitting not only Republicans against Democrats, but also socially conservative Republicans against socially moderate members of their own party.
In a moment for the middle, that legislation failed. And it was clear the social conservatives in elected office heard the crowd; no serious attempt was made to revive the battle in this year’s legislative session.
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