Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512-289-2995, firstname.lastname@example.org
Equality Texas Calls SB 17 the #1 Threat to the LGBTQ Community for the 2019 Legislative Session
Dan Patrick has Moved his Attack Out of Bathrooms and Into Every Licensed Profession in Texas
Austin- March 22, 2019- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans, today condemned Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s new attack on LGBTQ Texans. The Lt. Governor has scheduled a hearing Monday morning March 25th in the Senate Chamber for a Senate State Affairs Hearing at 9 a.m. for his priority anti-LGBTQ bill, SB 17, which Equality Texas calls the #1 threat to the LGBTQ community this legislative session.
We urge Texans to demonstrate their opposition to SB 17 now that it has been elevated to priority status by the Lt. Governor.
“Dan Patrick has moved his attack out of bathrooms and into every licensed profession in Texas,” said Samantha Smoot, Interim Executive Director of Equality Texas.
The newly-prioritized SB 17 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 (unless immediate live-saving measures were needed), based just patient’s identity, or that of their parents. Lt. Gov. Patrick has placed this bill on his “top 30” priority list, signaling his intention to pass it.
There are an additional 15 bills that 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.
“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.