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For Immediate Release: Bills Bad and Good for LGBTQ Texans Advanced Today in Legislature
Posted on March 25, 2019 at 5:32 pm

Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512-289-2995, angela@redmediagroup.com

Bills Bad and Good for LGBTQ Texans Advanced Today in Legislature

SB 17, the #1 Attack on LGBTQ people this session, is voted out of Senate State Affairs, while Rep. Mary Gonzalez’ ‘Lovebirds’ bill, HB 85, is voted out of House Criminal Jurisprudence.

Austin- March 25, 2019- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans, today pointed to overwhelming and diverse testimony as evidence that SB 17, the #1 threat to the LGBTQ community being pushed by the Lt. Governor, as evidence of bill’s widespread opposition. 

Dozens of witnesses representing various faith communities, medical and counseling specialties, parents and the business community testified against the bill. Support for the bill was sparse with only a handful of people in support including Texas values Jonathon Saenz.  Despite the overwhelming opposition, the Senate State Affairs Committee voted the bill out of committee in a 7 to 1 vote. Senator Judith Zaffirini (D) Laredo was the only no vote.

While SB 17 was being heard by Senate State Affairs, supporters of LGBTQ equality cheered when HB 85 was voted 5-0 out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

While LGBTQ Texans are still under attack in Dan Patrick’s Texas Senate, the House is a different story.  Today, Rep. Mary Gonzales’ HB 85 was voted unanimously out of committee. HB 85 would allow same-sex teen sweethearts the same legal protections as their opposite-sex peers.

“Dan Patrick’s attack on the LGBTQ community has snowballed — from bathrooms two years ago to this year’s license to discriminate for every licensed profession in Texas. But the new mean-spirited attack, like the old one, will be rejected by mainstream Texans.”

The newly-prioritized SB 17 would create dangerous “religious exemptions” for virtually every licensed occupation in Texas – hundreds of professions, from tow truck operators to public school teachers 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 (unless immediate live-saving measures were needed), based just patient’s identity. Lt. Gov. Patrick has placed this bill on his “top 30” priority list, signaling his intention to pass it.

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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.