A rare moment of rational debate broke out in the Texas Senate last week in the most unlikely of places — a committee hearing on a proposal to ban Texas courts from imposing “foreign law” (code for Sharia law) on citizens. Hearings on this contentious subject in previous years have been marked by open bigotry and wild accusations against Muslim Americans. But the Senate Business & Commerce Committee’s consideration of SB 1639 by Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, took a different tone.
There were, to be sure, several testifiers who warned of the threat of a “hostile system of laws that has crept into our community” and peddled thinly veiled paranoia. But after these folks had their say, the committee heard from a parade of informed, thoughtful testifiers who systematically took apart the case for the bill. Pastors, interfaith groups, civil liberty organizations and attorneys specializing in family law each in their turn challenged the need for — and motivation behind — the proposed bill.
The key exchange came at the end of incisive testimony by Karl Hayes of the Texas Family Law Foundation:
Hayes: “None of the proponents who have come forth to testify on this… Read More
This week began with the Texas Freedom Network mobilizing supporters of public education, family planning, LGBT rights and religious freedom for big battles at the Texas Capitol. We’re happy to report good news on a number of fronts, but hard work remains ahead of us.
Public Education On Thursday the Texas House voted overwhelmingly, 103-43, to bar spending any public dollars on voucher schemes that subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. This is the third time in the last four legislative sessions that House members have slammed the door on private school vouchers. TFN is still working to block voucher bills being pushed in the Senate.
Family Planning Two years after the Texas House declared war on birth control, House members this week passed a state budget that reverses most of those funding cuts to family planning services for low-income women. Your calls and emails to lawmakers helped stop any repeat of the frenzy to cut family planning funds that occurred during House debate of the budget in 2011. TFN will continue to monitor this critical issue as the House and Senate budget bills go to a conference committee.
LGBT Rights An effort to amend the… Read More
The Texas Freedom Network will be busy, busy, busy at the Legislature this week. Sex education, religious freedom, LGBT rights, and family planning funding are on legislative calendars. Click on the links in the Take Action box on the right to help our efforts at the Capitol.
The Texas House Committee on Public Education is set to take up House Bill 1057, which could effectively end sex education in many school districts in Texas, the state with the fourth-highest teen birth rate in the nation. HB 1057, by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, would add burdensome new bureaucratic requirements on schools districts and undermine the ability for communities to make their own decisions on sex ed materials and instruction. Learn more about what’s wrong with HB 1057 here.
This legislation’s companion bill, Senate Bill 521, has already been heard by a Senate committee, where it became clear during the hearing that some politicians were more interested in dragging schools into a debate over abortion than they were with responsible teen sex education.
Three bills relating to religious freedom are scheduled for committee hearings at the Texas… Read More
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, the East Texas Republican who thinks our nation’s enemies are coming here to birth babies who will grow up to commit domestic terror attacks, has a new argument against gun laws: stopping Islamic law! Rep. Gohmert had this to say today on the web-radio show The Voice of Freedom:
“[The Second Amendment] is for our protection and the Founders’ quotes make that very, very clear. Including against a government that would run amuck. We’ve got some people that think Sharia law should be the law of the land — forget the Constitution. But the guns are there, that Second Amendment is there, to make sure all of the rest of the amendments are followed.”
UPDATE: Rep. Flynn apparently has pulled HJR 43 from committee consideration today. We’ll keep an eye on it.
The absurd campaign to ban the mythical threat of Sharia law (Islamic law) in Texas has returned to the state Capitol. Today the House State Affairs Committee will consider a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that says state courts “may not enforce, consider, or apply any religious or cultural law.” Efforts in 2011 to pass similar measure failed, although proponents kept trying into the summer.
HJR 43, by state Rep. Dan Flynn, is based on similar measures that have been pushed in various states. (In 2011, we looked at the man behind the anti-Sharia bills around the country.) Earlier efforts in other states ran into constitutional problems because they singled out Sharia law, making their anti-Muslim bias obvious. So supporters dropped those specific references to Sharia law and, like HJR 43, seek a broad ban on “religious or culture law.” But hysteria over Islam typically take center stage during debates over these measures.