The Texas Senate is trying to ram through a bill that LGBTQ advocates call the “most extreme anti-LGBT” legislation filed this year.
The “Save Chick-fil-A” bill would bar the government from penalizing a person or a business for any actions that they claim are tied to their religious beliefs. Last week, the Texas House nixed a bill with similar language.
Earlier this week, though, the state senate waived the rules on public notice for the bill, allowing it to have an unannounced hearing. Minutes later, the Senate Affairs Committee held a hearing on the bill in a room that the Dallas News described as “nearly empty,” because there was no notice that the bill was up for debate.
“The bill as filed ensures religious beliefs are protected from discrimination,” said state senator Bryan Hughes, who filed the bill. “It’s about the First Amendment and freedom of speech, freedom of religion — those uniquely American rights.”
While the bill is about much more than just Chick-fil-A, the bill’s supporters cited the San Antonio City Council’s refusal to give Chick-fil-A a contract to do business in their local airport as a reason the bill is needed.
“We’ve heard disturbing stories about folks being punished just because they choose to contribute to a religious organization that shares their views or values,” Hughes said.
“It’s appalling to hold a ghost hearing and then take a snap vote that leaves virtually no chance for anyone to tell senators how such a sweeping discrimination bill would affect individuals and families across the state,” said Kathy Miller, president of Texas Freedom Network.
“The lieutenant governor is so desperate to pass a bill that shields discrimination against LGBT Texans that he no longer even pretends to care what anybody else thinks about it. But ramming this bill through doesn’t change the fact that the majority of Texans oppose laws that allow the use of religion to hurt people simply because of who they are or whom they love.”
The state house session ends on May 27, so it still has time to take up the bill and send it to the governor.