House Democrats, community leaders hold rally against 'rolling back of civil rights'

Texas House Democrats and community leaders held a rally at the State Capitol Saturday advocating against legislation they say hurts minority communities. This includes topics on LGBTQ rights, women's rights, and educational debates.

"The Republican Party has prioritized threats to our democracy and our civil rights," State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) said. "The progress we have made for our most marginalized groups over decades of struggle will not be erased. We must refuse to go back, and we won't go back."

Almost two years have gone by since the Texas Heartbeat Act passed. Kaitlyn Kash says she's one of the many women who were affected. Her child's bones weren't developing correctly.

"Senate Bill 8 had gone into effect just 37 days before this appointment, and I knew I couldn't get an abortion in Texas, but it never dawned on me that my doctor wouldn't even say it out loud," she said. "I left the state to end my child's suffering before it could begin."

Audra May also had an unviable pregnancy. 

"The highest of highs devolved into the lowest of lows in an instant," she said. "Being pro-life and pro-choice aren't mutually exclusive.  In fact, in my opinion being pro-choice is the most pro-life stance a person can take. It prioritizes the health and wellness of individuals who are already here on this earth."

The passage of the bill in 2021 was celebrated by Republicans. 

"This is the best day for tens of thousands of unborn children in the state," State Rep. Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville) said then.

Kash says the vagueness made her situation even more difficult.

"SB 8 and the unclear language of the bill is preventing families like mine from getting clear medical information, from talking with our doctors about our options and from choosing how as parents we get to care for our children," she said. "The same type of mentality is being continued in bills against trans children."

"There are hundreds of facilities in the State of Texas that are ready to support women, that are ready to support unborn children, regardless of their circumstances, and once they are born," Jonathan Saenz with Texas Values said in 2021.


Those at the rally shared their stories on a variety of bills, including one that would prevent citizens from North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia from buying property in Texas.

"You're putting literally what, more than ten bills just targeting Chinese Americans," CJ Zhao with the Austin chapter of Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association said. "This is getting too much."

"This is not about racism, this is about national security and making sure that we protect our mineral interests as well as our land, our farmland, our food security," State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) said in March. 

Speakers also advocated against a bill that would close diversity, equity, and inclusion offices at public universities

"These legislators do not understand what DEI is supposed to be doing," UT Austin law student Samuel Jefferson said. "They hear an acronym, they hear three letters, they get scared, and they run for the hills trying to oppress our ability to pursue all of the academic pursuits and improve our futures for ourselves."

"If the facts show the results have not brought more diversity in faculty hiring, what are we fighting for? Mediocrity? Is that what people send us here for? To fight for mediocrity?" State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) recently said.