Oh my stars, Speaker Joe Straus wrote back.
We just got home from a Saturday full of activities, including tacos (duh), running errands, and attending Lulu’s bestie’s birthday party (complete with bounce house and rainbow unicorn cake), when my husband went to go check the mail before heading inside.
“You got a letter from Speaker Straus,” he yelled from across the lawn.
“Hmm. Must be a letter from one of those surveys I filled out during the special session,” I sighed, exhausted from the work we put in over the last year and not in the mood for another “Dear Constituent” form letter from an elected official, even if it was from someone I sincerely liked.
But just to get rid of the clutter on my kitchen table, I opened the letter, fully prepared to put it in the recycling. Once I put down the groceries and picked up the trash that the dog got into (again!), I unceremoniously opened the envelope.
Because this letter was not a form letter — it was a heartfelt note from the Speaker of the House, a man who stood by his convictions, led with dignity, and saved our state and trans Texans like my son from a crushing future. While Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick tried their hardest to erase my child’s existence from public life (because let’s be honest — that’s really what these bathroom bills are all about), Speaker Straus (who, along with Abbott and Patrick, is also a Republican) understood that discriminatory bathroom bills are bad for business, bad for kids, and bad for Texas.
I had hoped that Speaker Straus would have taken the time during the very busy special session this summer to read my open letter that I wrote to him in the Texas Tribune. I tweeted him, I emailed him, and I stopped by his office in Austin to make sure he got the message.
— Amber Briggle (@mrsbriggle) June 26, 2017
Most importantly, though, I had hoped that even if he himself didn’t know about this letter, that somehow enough Texans would have read it that it could have guided the tone of the conversation towards one of compassion instead of fear. I won’t ever say that this letter made the difference, but it probably helped a little. Combined with the much larger coalition of LGBTQ support, from trans-inclusive families like mine, transgender people like Jess Herbst, Lou Weaver, and Ashley Smith, the business community, the religious community, organizations like Equality Texas, HRC, and NCTE, and allies like y’all, together, we all made a difference.
And so, here’s the letter from Speaker Straus (and thank you for reading this far, because I know you only clicked here to see what he had to say). It’s basically amazing, but what’s even more amazing is this video of my son reading it aloud.
September 6, 2017
Dear Ms. Briggle,
Thank you for your email in late June and the very touching piece that you posted on TribTalk. I apologize for the delay in my response, but I want you to know that I have been deeply moved by all that you’ve had to say.
It’s certainly been an interesting year. I want to thank you, and I want to thank Max, for having the courage to speak up and share your experience. I’m sure that it hasn’t been easy, but your story has reached a lot of people. It was encouraging to see the broad coalition of Texans who got involved in the special session and made a real difference in the outcome, and you and your family had a lot to do with that.
Again, thank you very much for reaching out and for your public words of support, all of which i appreciate. I wish you and Max the best, and please don’t hesitate to contact me again if i can ever be of assistance to you.
Never think that what you’re doing is too small to matter. Never think that your voice is too tiny. Every small act adds up to something great. Together, we ARE making a difference. And I love ALL of you for it.