AUSTIN, Texas -

 In Texas, where attempts to expand gay rights have run into strong opposition from Republican leaders, lawmakers are considering new legal protections for sexually active gay teens.

Texas laws governing crimes of indecency with a child cover sexual contact with minors under the age of 17. They include a "Romeo and Juliet" legal defense if the couple is older than 14, in a consensual relationship and within three years of each other.

The law also says the couple must be of the "opposite sex."

Bills scheduled for public hearings in House and Senate committees on Tuesday seek to remove that language to give gay teens the same protection as heterosexuals.

Gay rights advocates call the distinction in the current law unfair and discriminatory.