TFN President Warns Against New Wave of Discriminatory Religious Exemptions Bills

by TFN

Republican lawmakers in the Texas Capitol are once again pushing bills that seek to turn religious freedom into a license to discriminate. These bills are intended to slow or stop altogether progress toward equality for LGBTQ Texans. Check out our press release today.

House Public Health Committee Set Today to Hear Testimony Granting Health Care Providers a Religious License to Discriminate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Freedom Network President Val Benavidez today warned against the latest legislative efforts to pass sweeping and discriminatory religious exemptions laws in Texas.

“Religious freedom is one of our nation’s founding values and is protected by the Constitution and carefully crafted laws, but that’s not what these bills are really about,” Benavidez said. “These bills are part of a years-long effort to carve out special exemptions that allow individuals and businesses to use religion as a license to discriminate against people whose lives they don’t approve of. Much of the energy behind the bills comes from pressure groups and politicians who oppose equality for LGBTQ Americans. But once these bills pass, everybody will be subject to someone else’s moral test when they seek services and even medical care.”

The House Public Health Committee on Wednesday will hear testimony on HB 1424, by state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, a bill that would allow health care providers and employees to use religion as a justification for refusing to participate, “directly or indirectly,” in medical care they object to. Such a sweeping bill would be particularly harmful to transgender and other LGBTQ people who already face discrimination when trying to access health care.

SB 247 by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, which would grant a similar religious exemption to state-licensed attorneys, passed the Senate State Affairs Committee in March. Its companion bill, HB 3940 by state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, is pending in the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee after a hearing in late March.

A bill (HB 3083 by state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth) granting religious exemptions to pharmacists and another (SB738 by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury) that would allow judges, justices of the peace and other public officials to use religion as a justification for refusing to perform weddings for same-sex couples have yet to receive public hearings. Opponents of the freedom to marry have sought such an exemption for public officials since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on such same-sex unions in 2015.

The Legislature in 2017 passed a law allowing state-funded adoption and foster care agencies to use religion as a justification for discriminating against LGBTQ families.

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The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.

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