A coalition of companies and the LGBT Caucus have attempted to lobby for the discrimination of the LGBTQ community not to be legalized in Texas, but legislators have approved the measure for the time being.
This “religious freedom” bill would allow all state-licensed professionals to refuse to serve LGBTQ people by invoking their religion.
Texas Competes, a coalition of over 1,000 Texas and national businesses, including large groups such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, or IBM, have lobbied against this discriminatory legislation.
If adopted, the bill could have significant economic consequences since some companies stipulate that they will no longer work, or no longer organize events in Texas with a law that goes against their employees.
Dale Carpenter, a constitutional law professor at the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, said that the bill would allow a lot of companies to discriminate LGBTQ people:
“There are literally hundreds of them in Texas ... They include athletic trainers, doctors, nurses, surgeons, dentists, orthodontists, physical therapists, counselors of all kinds, accountants, engineers, landscape architects, real estate agents, tax consultants, air conditioning repair personnel, electricians, on and on and on it goes.”
A few weeks ago, after 3 hours of debate, the Texas Senate passed the “religious freedom” bill by a 19-12 vote, but, over the fierce opposition of Democrats, they had to approve a “light” version.
The LGBT Caucus has defeated the original version of the bill after it was introduced in the House at the beginning of the month.
According to The Texas Tribune, the original version prevented government retaliation against an individual based on that “person’s belief or action in accordance with the person’s sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage” — language advocates feared would embolden businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans.
The revision outlaws government retaliation against someone based on his or her association with or support of a religious organization.
That revised language is largely duplicative of existing protections for freedom of religion and freedom of association.
On Monday, the “religious freedom” bill returned to the lower house where legislators approved it by a preliminary 79-62 vote. The House must now again rule on the law before it returns to the Senate for a second vote following a change to the text.
So if the House and then by the Senate approve the bill in its current version, it will go to the Office of Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who uses to oppose LGBT rights and will undoubtedly sign it into law.
Texas is going to grant the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people to state professionals despite the efforts of companies, Democrats and the LGBT Caucus who will have done everything to prevent this.