A bill that would prevent the government from targeting Chick-fil-A and other businesses for their donations to religious organizations passed the Texas state House Monday and appears set to become law.
The bill, SB 1978, gained momentum in the legislature after San Antonio’s City Council voted 6-4 in March to exclude Chick-fil-A from the airport, in part due to the company’s donations to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as Christian Headlines previously reported. The website Think Progress claimed the organizations had a history of “anti-LGBT discrimination.”
The bill would prevent such a scenario.
“A governmental entity may not take any adverse action against any person based wholly or partly on the person’s membership in, affiliation with, or contribution, donation, or other support provided to a religious organization,” the bill’s text says.
It passed the House, 79-62, and needs to clear only minor hurdles before it is sent to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Republicans control both chambers.
“What we want to make sure is if you donate to the Salvation Army, you won't be labeled as a bigoted,” said GOP Rep. Matt Krause, the bill’s sponsor, according toThe Dallas Morning News.
Democratic Rep. Mary Gonzalez, an openly LGBT member, urged her colleagues to oppose the bill.
“We can't discriminate against one in order to protect the other,” Gonzalez said. “The scariest part of this bill ... is the individuals who will take this bill and use your vote for this bill to perpetuate hate.”
The traditional group Texas Values supported the bill. The organization also set up a website, SaveChickFilA.com, encouraging its supporters to contact House and Senate members about the bill.
“No Texas business or individual should ever be punished for practicing their faith,” Texas Values said on the website.
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, said the legislature has “an opportunity to hold the San Antonio City Council accountable” and “make it clear that you should not discriminate based on religious beliefs.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff