Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512-289-2995, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anti-LGBTQ Bills are Moving in the Texas Legislature
Important Hearing Expected Next Week — Now it’s Time to Gear up for a House Hearing on SB 17 and Stop Bills
Austin- April 23, 2019- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans, today sounded the alarm for the LGBTQ community to ramp up our engagement and activism during the final month of the legislative session.
SB 17 could be headed to committee as early as next week and would create dangerous “religious exemptions” for virtually every licensed occupation in Texas – hundreds of professions, from barbers to tow truck operators to doctors. If an occupational license holder were to call on “sincerely held religious belief” in taking a discriminatory action, the licensing agency that oversees the occupation would have no recourse to remedy that discrimination. This includes health care providers, who could turn away sick and injured people seeking care.
Preemption Bills SB 2485, 2486, 2487 have been referred to House State Affairs. We continue to have significant concerns that this legislation as currently written will expose municipal NDOs to being overturned.
HB 1035 and HB 3172 remain pending in the House State Affairs Committee. These bills and others would make a mockery of religious freedom, guaranteeing that discrimination will be permitted. The bills would allow businesses, licensed professionals and even government officials to use religion to exempt themselves from nondiscrimination laws and policies, including licensing and professional standards.
During the overnight hearing many supporters testified against the bill.
“All my life I have loved being a Texan. I was born here. I went to school here. I go to a Christian Church here, I got my first job here, I started my business here. But, bills like HB 1085 & HB 3172 make me question whether I can continue to call Texas my home and my place to do business, these bills, if passed will treat people like me like second class citizens,” said Emily Copp, of Austin, an Equality Texas Board Member.
“Yesterday was my 15th anniversary of meeting this wonderful husband of mine and it is also the 5th anniversary of our wedding. This bill is very discriminatory because it singles out same-sex marriage and it singles out transgender people,” said Johnny Bennet.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, but it is not a license to discriminate,” said Smoot. “SB 17 would create a religious litmus test and open the doors to discrimination and to real harm to LGBTQ Texans–that’s why Dan Patrick supports it, and why it’s the #1 threat to LGBTQ people this session.”
Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.