Are Shopping Bags More Important Than the Rights of LGBT Texans?

Rep. Drew SpringerY'all, someone who puts the rights of shopping bags over the rights of human beings has a real serious problem.

Freshman Representative Drew Springer was elected last November to HD-68 to represent a sprawling North Texas district. Yet his most high-profile legislation seems fixated on telling Travis County communities what they can and can't do.

First, Springer introduced a bill that would deny state health care funding to independent school districts that allow employees to add domestic partners to their health insurance. Springer's bill is aimed squarely at Pflugerville ISD, which became the first school district in Texas to offer insurance benefits to same-sex and heterosexual domestic partners.

Fear not, homophobes hiding behind a veneer of "fiscal conservativism" - the premium for these non-dependents' insurance policy is paid for by the employee or non-dependent, not the school.  

This kind of open bigotry against LGBT Texans is nothing new from the Republican Party, and it's a cheap way for Springer to score points with the lowest common denominator of his primary electorate.

Now, of course, Springer has sprung to the rescue of the much-oppressed single use plastic bags with his "Shopping Bag Freedom Act," designed to restore the rights of flimsy petroleum-based sacks that were recently banned here in Austin. How can Texans truly be free if each individual canned good purchased from an HEB is not double-wrapped in a single-use bag? (Oh, it turns out you can put all of your groceries in sturdy, reusable bags that hurt your hands a lot less than overburdened plastic ones. Cool.)

I doubt Springer has done much polling on the plastic bags' feelings on the matter, but when it comes to the Pflugerville ISD policy, recent Equality Texas polling showed that 65.7 percent of Texas voters support extending domestic partner benefits to government and university employees.  

It's all very curious.

Psychologists talk about the concept of projection: the unconscious transfer of one's own desires or emotions to another person or object.

It strikes me as odd that Springer is so intolerant towards LGBT Texans that he wants to legislate away all school districts' abilities to let any non-dependent family member of an employee buy their way onto the district's insurance policy. There seems to be a tendency in the Republican party for those that most vehemently oppose LGBT rights to wind up in compromising situations with members of their same sex. There is a long history of our society's most militant, unhinged homophobes later coming out or being outed as gay. Heck, half of you are probably wondering the same thing already - me thinks the homophobe Republican (redundant?) doth protest too much!

Look, if Springer is indeed gay, bi, or simply curious or looking to experiment, that's fine with me. But it's not cool for him to use his latent homophobia - whether it's directed only outward or secretly, even subconsciously, inward as well - to curtail the rights of others.

I'm sorry that the homophobic culture Springer was likely raised in makes him think that he needs to lash out at others to prove or secure his hetero-masculinity. I hope that soon, all Texas children can grow up in an environment in which they can be free to explore all aspects of their identity. Unfortunately, legislation such as this attempts to situate that day further in the future.

That being said, I'm not sure about where Springer's equal obsession with ensuring a ready supply of plastic bags comes in.

Springer grounds his concerns in fears over "public health" and how diseases and bacteria might be transmitted through reusable bags. Springer evidently wants us to practice "safe shopping." Maybe certain folks oppose the bag ban because they're worried about needing them to dispose the evidence of any secret sexual encounters. In this age of scandal-mondering and opposition research, I can understand anyone's desire not to leave DNA, ahem, behind.

Hypothetically, if any of our visiting Republican legislators are really worried about this, here's a tip: you can wrap your used prophylactics from your anonymous sexual encounters in a page ripped from the Austin Chronicle - and touching the liberal weekly won't burn your fingers, I promise. If that doesn't work, there are copies of InfoWars everywhere. Just don't flush them - it's bad for our state's already beleaguered water infrastructure.

Perhaps it's time for Representative Springer to use some of those excellent mental health benefits he receives from the State of Texas and sit down with a trained professional to work out his strange fixation with legislating rights away from LGBT Texans while defending the rights of plastic bags.

Because anyone who got elected just to come to Austin and try to pass a "Shopping Bag Freedom Act" while working to prevent Texas schools from promoting basic equality has some serious issues they need to work on.

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