Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing discrimination in the Texas Legislature again. Today the Senate State Affairs Committee took up a sweeping bill that would allow every licensed professional in the state to use their religious beliefs to justify discrimination against LGBT Texans. Check out our press release below.
UPDATE: The State Affairs Committee gave its approval to SB17 late this afternoon. Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., joined other Republicans on the committee in voting for the bill. The committee’s only other Democrat, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, voted no.
LT. GOVERNOR TURNING ANOTHER LEGISLATIVE SESSION INTO FIGHT OVER DISCRIMINATION
Senate State Affairs Committee Today Considers Sweeping Anti-LGBT Discrimination Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2019
AUSTIN – Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is calling today for the Senate State Affairs Committee to reject SB17, a bill that would bar state licensing agencies from taking action if applicants or licensed professionals use their religious beliefs as a justification for discriminating against LGBT Texans.
“It’s now clear that the lieutenant governor’s obsession with treating LGBT Texans as second-class citizens is going to be a central fight in yet another legislative session,” Miller said. “So we remind him again that religious freedom is a founding value of our nation, but it is not a license to discriminate and to hurt people who have different beliefs. It would be wrong to tell state agencies that they must stand silent or even give the state’s stamp of approval to licensed professionals who impose their religious beliefs on others and use religion to justify discriminating against people simply because of who they are or whom they love. We should treat everyone as we want to be treated, with fairness, equality and respect. It’s disheartening that we have elected leaders who seem hellbent on doing otherwise.”
State Affairs is considering SB17 today. Originally filed as SB444, SB17 is a priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Patrick spent the 2017 legislative sessions trying – but failing – to pass a bill dictating which public restrooms transgender Texans may use. But he did succeed in pushing through passage of HB3859, which allows adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBT children and families for religious reasons.
SB17 is one of at least 15 bills filed this session that would allow businesses, mental health counselors, doctors and other licensed professionals to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBT Texans and others.
Polling shows these bills are out of step with the values of the majority of Texans. The Public Religion Research Institute’s 2017 American Values Atlas survey found that 57 percent of Texans oppose using religion to discriminate against LGBT people. PRRI is set to release its 2018 survey data on Tuesday. The organization has already released 2018 survey data showing that 66 percent of Texans support laws protecting LGBT Texans from discrimination in employment, housing and public services.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.