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For Immediate Release: Senate Passes SB 17- the #1 Threat to the LGBTQ Community in the 2019 Legislative Session
Posted on April 2, 2019 at 2:09 pm

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

Senate Passes SB 17- the #1 Threat to the LGBTQ Community in the 2019 Legislative Session

Dan Patrick Escalates His LGBTQ Attack from Bathrooms to Every Licensed Profession in Texas

Austin- April 2, 2019- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans condemned today’s Senate passage of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Senator Charles Perry’s SB 17, the #1 threat to the LGBTQ community.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s new attack on LGBTQ Texans, SB 17, is a sweeping bill that would empower and protect discriminatory behavior across hundreds of professional activities – including medical care, where providers or clinic owners could refuse treatment for LGBTQ people in need of care.

We urge Texans to demonstrate their opposition to SB 17 and urge the Texas House of Representatives to reject this discriminatory legislation.

“Dan Patrick has doubled down on his attack on the LGBTQ community, moving out of bathrooms and into every single licensed profession in Texas,” said Samantha Smoot, Interim Executive Director of Equality Texas. 

The newly-prioritized SB 17 will 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 protected in our U.S. Constitution.  But religious freedom was never intended to be 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.  Dan Patrick has launched a whole new war against LGBTQ people, and this ‘license to discriminate’ bill is our #1 threat this session.” 

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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.