Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is condemning offensive comments from Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, that equate allowing individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans with protecting Jewish and gay shop owners from serving people who hate them. Here’s the press release we just sent out:
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is condemning offensive comments from Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, that equate allowing individuals and businesses to use religion to discriminate with protecting Jewish and gay shop owners from serving people who hate them. TFN is issuing the following statement from Miller:
“Making such bizarre and wildly offensive comparisons to justify passing a bill that allows people to use religion as a weapon to discriminate is beyond cynical. Even worse is that Rep. Krause callously ignores the real-life consequences of reopening the door to the kind of unfair and cruel discrimination our country rightly turned its back on decades ago. His bill could lead to individuals being denied jobs, housing and even public services we all take for granted simply because of who they are and whom they love. And it would suck Texas into the whirlwind of criticism from businesses and faith leaders that we’re seeing in Indiana.”
Speaking to the Austin American-Statesman for a story published today, Rep. Krause argued that proposed constitutional amendments from himself and state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, (HJR 125 and SJR 10) would protect religious freedom:
“Should a Jewish bakery have to bake a cake for the neo-Nazi convention coming into town? Nobody would say that. Nor would anybody say a gay florist couple has to give flowers to a Westboro Baptist protest at funerals,” Krause told the American-Statesman. “All [his bill is] saying is that if you feel like it has been burdened, that gives you a chance to go to court to say the government is infringing on my religious freedom because they are forcing me to do this.”
Either constitutional amendment would essentially replace the current Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was passed by a large bipartisan majority in the Legislature and signed by Gov. George W. Bush in 1999. The current Texas RFRA allows individuals to challenge laws that “substantially” burden their practice of religion. It also includes a provision to ensure that the law can’t be misused to disregard civil rights protections against discrimination.
Major companies and organizations have criticized the Indiana legislature for recently passing a RFRA that doesn’t include such a provision protecting against discrimination. The proposed Texas constitutional amendments also don’t include that provision. In addition, the Texas amendments allow challenges to laws that someone thinks burden his or her religious beliefs or practice in any way at all, substantially or otherwise.
The two amendments are among 20 proposed bills in the current legislative session that protect, promote or mandate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Texas.