Dear Presiding Bishop Curry and President Jennings:
We write to share our increasing alarm about Texas Senate Bill 6 which has passed the Senate and may soon come up for a vote in the House of Representatives. As you also noted in your letter to Representative Joe Straus on January 30th, we are concerned that if this bill becomes law in Texas, the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church could take place in a context where transgender and other gender non-conforming people would be unable to safely access gender specific public facilities. We therefore wish to formally request that if this bill becomes law in Texas, then the General Convention be moved to a state that does not allow such discrimination.
We are aware that SB6 is designed (in section Sec. 769.103) to exempt convention centers such as the one in Austin, and that an argument could be made that trans people attending Convention might not therefore be impacted. Yet in considering this angle, we think of all the restaurants, hotels, motels, rest stops and public transportation-- particularly airports-- that trans people would have to navigate in order to access Convention. We consider the momentum such legislation would lend to the other ‘bathroom bills’ that are increasingly proliferating across the U.S. Most of all, however, we think of the impact of this law on Texans without the privilege to access such exempt spaces. When we consider all of this, and pray about this possible scenario, what rises to the fore is the call of The Episcopal Church to leverage its power to help transform unjust structures. In light of all of this it feels clear to us that our most impactful response as a Church, should this bill become law, would be to move General Convention.
We want you to know that we do not make this request lightly. We very much agree with President Jennings as quoted in the Episcopal News Service story of February 6th that no one wants to move General Convention. Because we know that such a move would have considerable cost and would impact many people, we make this request only after much deliberation and prayer.
We also want you to know how much we appreciate the letter of January 30th as well as the Executive Council’s resolution and your joint letter from June 28, 2016 in the wake of the passage of North Carolina’s HB 2. In an era in which trans people are being subjected to increasing dehumanization and violence, and are being used across the country as a political wedge, the support of the Episcopal Church’s leadership means so much to us. Thank you for standing with us.
Please do not hesitate to be in touch with us to talk about this matter, and know in the meantime that you and all who work so hard to make General Convention happen are very much in our prayers.
the TransEpiscopal Steering Committee: