This “religious freedom” bill is the latest in a long string of bills intended to protect companies who support anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
A couple of weeks ago, word had it that the bill working its way through the Texas legislature, known as the “Save Chick-Fil-A” bill, was all but dead. However, this week has shown that there’s still life in the old beast after all. And for LGBTQ people in Texas and the US as a whole, this is not good news.
As with bills in Virginia’s own bicameral state legislature, there was both a House version and a Senate version of the Save Chick-Fil-A bill. After Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives used a parliamentary maneuver to kill the bill, everyone expected that to be the end of the story. However, the Senate version of the bill passed the Texas Senate on Thursday, and now that version has been sent on to the House for its approval.
A vote on the House Of Representatives floor Monday saw the bill pass 79-62, with only one Republican voting against it. However, reconciliation of the House and Senate versions of the bill must still take place before it can go on to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Parliamentary procedures — gotta love ’em. If nothing else changes, though, Abbott is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.
This measure, one of the many “religious freedom”-related laws and statutes we’ve seen over the past several years, seeks to bar municipalities within Texas from taking “adverse actions” against individuals or companies due to their “religious beliefs.” The bill was initially proposed by Representative Matt Krause, a Republican and Liberty University Law School alumni who has been called “Texas’ Most Homophobic Legislator” by Equality Texas.
The bill got its popular name, the “Save Chick-Fil-A” bill, due Krause’s initial inspiration to put the bill forward: San Antonio’s City Council rejecting Chick-Fil-A’s attempt to open a location at San Antonio International Airport. This decision by the council was due to what San Antonio councilman Roberto Treviño called their “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
But as NBC News points out, much of the language in Krause’s bill is taken from model legislation created by Project Blitz, an initiative of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation designed to get “religious freedom” bills introduced into as many state legislatures as possible. Incidentally, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation was started by former Virginia Congressman J. Randy Forbes, who, in the run-up to the 2014 Congressional election, put significant pressure on the National Republican Congressional Committee to deny funding to gay Republican candidates for office around the country.
According to NBC News, Krause’s “Save Chick-Fil-A” bill bears a strong resemblance to Project Blitz’s “Marriage Tolerance Act,” a piece of model legislation included in the group’s 148-page “playbook” distributed to Republican legislators. Of course, none of the legislators sponsoring the bill were willing to comment about that resemblance. Of course.
Texas’ legislative session closes in one week. In the remaining time left to them, the state’s legislature must reconcile the slight differences between House and Senate versions, then have one more vote by each branch of the legislature, before the bill can go to the Governor’s desk. Will they make it?
Let’s all cross our fingers.
Photo: Texas state Capitol building, by Daniel Mayer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia