For Immediate Release
March 10, 2015
Contact: Chuck Smith, 512-474-5475 x1
AUSTIN – Yesterday, Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) announced that he has determined to reconsider HJR 55, his proposed state constitutional amendment to the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed in 1999 by a bipartisan majority in the Texas Legislature and signed into law by then Gov. Bush. For 15 years the state RFRA has worked well to protect religious freedom for all Texans. HJR 55 would lead to abuse of the law, allow people to use religion as an excuse to harm others, undermine the fundamental principle that laws should apply to everyone equally, and result in harm to Texas businesses and the Texas brand.
Bill Hammond, CEO of the Texas Association of Business, lauded Villalba’s action. “Representative Villalba has always been a strong supporter of and thoughtful advocate for Texas businesses. We need more of his brand of common-sense conservatism in the Texas Legislature,” Hammond said. “The Texas Association of Business is grateful for Villalba’s careful re-consideration of HJR 55 and we look forward to working with him to ensure that Texas businesses and jobs are protected,” Hammond continued.
Chuck Smith, Executive Director of Equality Texas, said, “Rep. Villalba has done the right thing in announcing he can no longer support HJR 55, which would harm Texas business and allow religion to be used as a weapon. Texas’ existing RFRA has worked well for 15 years to ensure the protection of religious liberty, and serves as a model for other states. Any proposed amendment is unnecessary.”