Today Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took a big step forward in his obsession with passing a bill targeting LGBT Texans for discrimination. The lieutenant governor rushed through committee — with virtually no notice or public hearing — passage of SB1978. We just sent out the following press release.
GHOST HEARING: LT. GOVERNOR NO LONGER EVEN PRETENDS TO CARE WHAT TEXANS THINK ABOUT DISCRIMINATION
Last-Minute Addition to Committee Agenda, Snap Vote Mean No One Testifies on Sweeping Discrimination Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2019
AUSTIN – Texans should be appalled that Senate leadership today pushed through committee a sweeping discrimination bill with virtually no notice or public hearing, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said.
“It’s appalling to hold a ghost hearing and then take a snap vote that leaves virtually no chance for anyone to tell senators how such a sweeping discrimination bill would affect individuals and families across the state,” Miller said. “The lieutenant governor is so desperate to pass a bill that shields discrimination against LGBT Texans that he no longer even pretends to care what anybody else thinks about it. But ramming this bill through doesn’t change the fact that the majority of Texans oppose laws that allow the use of religion to hurt people simply because of who they are or whom they love.”
The Senate State Affairs Committee considered SB1978 on Monday, just minutes after the Senate waived posting rules to allow the committee to bring up the bill. With virtually no notice, no one testified. The committee then passed the bill to the full Senate.
SB1978 is the companion bill to HB3172, which failed to pass the House last week. SB1978 would allow businesses to use their religious beliefs as a legal justification for discriminating against LGBT Texans. The bill is even more sweeping than the Senate-passed SB17, which would shield state-licensed professionals and their businesses when they discriminate for religious reasons.
Polling from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that Texans, by a margin of 54-39 percent, oppose allowing businesses to refuse for religious reasons to provide products or services to gay or lesbian Texans.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.