News (USA)

Several Texas lawmakers, top business leaders vow to kill proposed anti-LGBT bills

Texas state capitol in Austin.
Texas state capitol in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas — Several Texas lawmakers and top business leaders vowed Tuesday to kill two proposed constitutional amendments they say will promote anti-LGBT discrimination and could lead to backlash similar to recent reactions in Indiana and Arkansas.

Opponents say the proposals, sponsored by Republicans Rep. Matt Krause and Sen. Donna Campbell, would morph the business-friendly Lone Star State into a costly state for corporations and negatively affect tourism.

Texas’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1999 allows a Texas resident to sue state and local governments if he or she feels that a government entity is burdening their religious beliefs or practices.

The proposed amendments do not explicitly say the laws can’t be used to justify discrimination based on sexual orientation, mirroring the original language of the laws passed recently in Indiana and Arkansas that sparked boycotts and strong opposition.

Critics say that opens the door for the law to be used as a defense for refusing goods and services to LGBT individuals under the guise of religious freedom.

In both Indiana and Arkansas, the states’ Republican-controlled legislatures revised their laws to close that loophole.

The Texas measure would also trump local laws, including LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

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Flanked by Democratic lawmakers at a news conference, Texas Association of Business’ Chief Executive Officer Bill Hammond called the GOP-backed measures “misguided legislation.”

Dallas Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia said that, like in Indiana and Arkansas, people in Texas are concerned about the economy. He added a bipartisan group of legislators “will stop this thing in the House.”

Krause said he’s still confident in his proposal. He said the amendments wouldn’t change the protections already in the act. “Our system’s worked well for 16 years,” he said Tuesday.

But others fear that’s not the case.

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