House Committee Hearing Today Offers Stark Contrast Between Those Who Want to Use Religion to Discriminate and Those Who Support Equality

by Dan Quinn

Our fight to stop the legislative onslaught on LGBTQ Texans moved to the state House today. TFN helped organize a Capitol press conference calling on legislators to reject a new package of discrimination bills. Check out our press release.

HOUSE COMMITTEE HEARING TODAY OFFERS STARK CONTRAST BETWEEN THOSE WHO WANT TO USE RELIGION TO DISCRIMINATE AND THOSE WHO SUPPORT EQUALITY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2019

 

Austin – Today faith leaders and advocates for equality gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their dismay as the House State Affairs Committee prepared to consider yet another package of bills expanding the legislative assault on LGBTQ Texans.

That package of bills stands in contrast to the committee’s consideration of a single bill that would finally update the state’s laws to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment and public services, said Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller.

“Today we see a stark contrast in views about whether all Texas deserve to be treated equally,” Miller said. “On one side are those who advocate using the force of law to turn religion into a license to discriminate and treat LGBTQ Texans as second-class citizens. But it has become clear that most Texans are on the other side, standing with those who believe that discrimination is wrong and that we should treat others as we would want to be treated, equally and with respect.”

Miller pointed to polling released last month by the Public Religion Research Institute showing that 66 percent of Texans support laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

The Rev. John Elford, senior pastor at University United Methodist Church in Austin warned that the package of discrimination bills actually undermines important religious values, like love and equality.

“There are no verses, no sayings, no words of Jesus that support discrimination. None,” Elford said. “What I hear hiding behind these bills is not Jesus, but fear. Fear stirring up more fear.”

The House State Affairs Committee was set to considerHB244 by state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, which would update the state’s nondiscrimination laws to include protections for LGBTQ Texans. Texas currently has no statewide law protecting someone from being fired or refused service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. A few cities do have ordinances that provide such protections.

On the other hand, the committee is considering HB1035 by state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, and HB3172 by state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, which would allow the use of religion as a justification for discrimination against LGBTQ Texans. HB4041 by state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, and HB1347 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R- Magnolia, assert that Texas has the right to reject federal laws and federal court rulings, such as the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling striking down state bans on same-sex marriage or any future federal legislation expending nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans.

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.

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