The Texas Senate appears to be fast-tracking a religious liberty bill that Democrats in the Texas House killed last week with a procedural maneuver. House Bill 3172 appeared to be on its way to passage until Democratic Representative Julie Johnson raised a point of order that ultimately removed the bill from the calendar without debate or a vote.
Republican Senator Bryan Hughes had filed a companion bill that appeared to be stalled in committee. However, the bill was added to the committee docket on Monday afternoon and voted out of committee quickly. According to The Texas Tribune, the vote fell along party lines.
The proposed law states that “a governmental entity may not take any adverse action against any person based wholly or partly on a person’s belief or action in accordance with the person’s sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage.” Many have called it the “Save Chick-fil-A Bill” because it is aimed at stopping actions like the one taken by the San Antonio City Council to keep Chick-fil-A from opening a location in the San Antonio International Airport because of the owners’ views on marriage.
According to Life Site News, the Council believed the chain’s convictions regarding marriage would prevent airline passengers from “feeling welcome when they walk through our airport.”
Supporters of the bill argue that it will protect religious freedom by protecting people who disagree with gay marriage from government discrimination. They believe that people “Should be able to practice their deeply held religious beliefs without fear of persecution or losing their right to earn a living.”
Opponents of the bill think that it would legalize discrimination against LGBT persons and “erode enforcement of municipal nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBT individuals from being fired from their jobs or evicted based on their sexual orientation.” They also worry that passage of the bill could drive businesses, conventions, and tourists away from the state.
After invoking the point of order that killed the bill, Representative Julie Johnson said, “Hopefully this is the day discrimination against the LGBT community dies in the Texas House.” She added that she felt great and was “going to celebrate.”
Senator Hughes said in the committee meeting Monday that he wanted to see the bill Representative Krause initially put forward in the House move forward and that he would be working to ensure that his bill mirrors the language in Krause’s bill. He said that in introducing and crafting the legislation, Krause had “worked very, very hard, worked with stakeholders all across the spectrum, to come up with language that was not offensive, that would accomplish the intended ends without harming, without causing problems.”
The House hill would have likely passed had the point of order not been raised. Almost half of the Texas House members had signed on as authors of the bill. The Senate bill moved out of committee along a party-line vote with five Republicans voting for the bill and one Democratic Senator voting against it.
The bill could be considered by the full Texas Senate as early as this week.
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Tom Pennington/Stringer