In January of 2015, Neel Lane stood before a panel of judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and presented arguments on why same-sex couples should no longer be denied the freedom to marry in Texas. Six months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide, handing Neel’s clients a victory. While he was excited to see the freedom to marry established nationwide, he knows that LGBTQ Americans – including the very plaintiffs he represented in the marriage case – need full nondiscrimination protections. In Texas in particular, anti-LGBTQ legislation continues to threaten the state and roil the economy.
“I want to be able to recruit the best talent in Texas to our firm,” he said. “If someone won’t feel comfortable in Texas because of the perception of legal discrimination against gays and lesbians, then they’re not going to come here. And we’re going to lose that edge in top talent to competing law firms in other states. From an employer’s perspective, you cannot have a drain of the high-performing, best candidates to your competitors solely because they will face hardships in your home state due to an immutable characteristic they happen to have. We want the best lawyers of any race, gender, national background, or sexual orientation. From that perspective, it’s not only morally wrong to discriminate against gays and lesbians, it is also sure to hurt your bottom line.”