Texas Bills Would Protect Religious Freedom From LGBTQ Bullying

By Rachel Alexander Published on April 2, 2019

LGBTQ activists have trampled the religious freedom of believers. They think their interests outweigh the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and of religion. And it’s worked. The LGBTQ movement has gained victories in the legal system. They control many local councils and boards and push their agenda there. Believers have become afraid to exercise their faith. For example, Texas Democrats are now pushing for a bill that elevate LGBTQ movement’s interests over religious freedom.

Some states are fighting back with bills protecting religious believers from LGBTQ legal and religious bullying. The Texas state legislature is considering several bills that would protect religious freedom. The most prominent one is SB 17. It would prohibit licensing agencies from taking adverse action against those in regulated professions exercising their religious beliefs.

This would protect lawyers, health care professionals, counselors, teachers, real estate agents, barbers, pharmacists and others. It would not apply to licensed law enforcement officers, doctors or first responders who refuse to apply life-saving care.

Life, Liberty and Conservative Texas Values

The bill cleared the Senate State Affairs Committee by a 7-1 vote. One Democrat joined all five GOP members in support. It requires one more approval in the Senate before it moves to the House for a vote. Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick (R) announced that it was one of his highest priorities for this legislative session. He says it embodies “life, liberty and conservative Texas values.”

It has a good chance at passing since the GOP controls both chambers and the governorship. However, Mark Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, claims House Speaker Dennis Bonnen “won’t let it see the light of day.” That’s a bold claim considering Bonnen is a Republican.

SB 17 has been nicknamed Bathroom Bill 2.0.

Predictably, opponents say it discriminates against LGBTQ people. They throw around words like “civil rights” and “inclusion.” They claim “critical services” will be withheld. Equality Texas called the bill this session’s “number one threat to the LGBTQ community.” Google, Amazon, IBM, PepsiCo, Dell and hundreds of other businesses oppose the bill. They sent a letter to lawmakers saying the bill is discriminatory and divisive. They overlook how discriminatory and divisive the LGBTQ agenda is toward those exercising their faith.

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The businesses help defeat a bill in 2017 that would have required transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. SB 17 has been nicknamed “Bathroom Bill 2.0.”

Economic Backlash?

John Graham, the president and CEO of American Society of Association Executives, warns that the bill will result in severe economic consequences. He said celebrities and businesses will cancel event bookings. There will be a loss in jobs. He pointed to a similar law passed in North Carolina that was partially repealed after the economic backlash.

But is that right? North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said the economic impact in his state was minimal. It was only one-tenth of one percent of the state’s annual GDP. Businesses don’t really make decisions about profits based on serving sexual minorities. 

Democrats introduced their own bill, an updated version of their Equality Act.

Democrats introduced their own bill, an updated version of their Equality Act. It would elevate LGBTQ concerns over religious freedom. For example, ministries that declined to hire an LGBTQ person would be subject to legal action. The bill has little chance of passing, because the GOP controls the legislature.

Some of the other religious freedom bills include SB 1107. It would allow medical professionals to refuse to provide non-emergency services such as abortions. SB 1009 would allow judges to refuse to conduct same-sex weddings. HB 4512 would allow people to decline services or goods for same-sex weddings.

Named the “Free to Believe Act,” HB 1035 would let businesses provide separate bathrooms based on biological sex. It would also allow religious groups to limit hiring, membership and renting to those who do not agree with their tenets.

The other bills don’t have the wave of support behind them that SB 17 does. If SB 17 passes, it will put a big dent in LGBTQ bullying of those exercising their religious freedom.

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC. Send tips to rachel.alexander@stream.org.

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