I’m saddened to hear about the Texas legislature’s decision to bring to the floor bills on gay adoption and transgender bathroom restriction. I have spent a good amount of time in Texas, putting on the ER&L Conference and the Library IdeaDrop House and visiting family and friends. Even before California decided to prohibit their state employees from spending state money in Texas, I’ve been thinking about the impact of all of this on our ER&L community.
We made sure to include gender neutral bathrooms during our conference in 2017. This was the first time this was done at the AT&T Center and while they did not prefer we do that, we insisted and I’m proud of that. Last year we had an international attendee cancel his registration because he didn’t want to spend money in Trump’s America. I understand individual’s and state’s decisions to take a stand and I’m working with ER&L staff and our friends in CA to find ways for them to be involved and engaged, even from a distance.
From a conference planner perspective, we’re doing what we can to create an inclusive, accessible conference in a great city and we’re partnering with local nonprofits to fundraise to support activists working on lgbt legal issues. We work closely with the library staff, many of whom have gone through Allies in Action training.
I’m not too worried about getting our Californians involved with ER&L. We’ve run a pretty nice online conference for years so they will have the opportunity to view content with us.
From a business perspective, I turned ER&L into a company when I lived in California. California will get business taxes and fees from me for a conference where California employees are not allowed to attend in person on state money. I find that a bit ironic but I hope that means Californians won’t miss out on all the great content.
From a personal perspective, I lived in CA in 2008 when my fellow Californians voted for Prop 8, which eliminated my right to get married. While most people I knew were celebrating the Obama victory, I was so sad that the state I lived in didn’t accept me. The taste of that rejection is still with me and so California’s stand is bittersweet for me. But just like California since 2008, views evolve and I believe Texans will eventually be on the right side of history.
I know I am committed to being the best steward for ER&L while keeping in mind the values of our profession. Feel free to contact me or ER&L staff if you have questions as you prepare to attend ER&L.