Anti-LGBT Religious Refusal Bills Abound in Texas Legislature

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This post originally appeared in our sister paper, Out in SA.

Republicans in the 85th session of the Texas Legislature are pushing a number of religious refusal bills that would codify anti-LGBT discrimination into state law.

State lawmakers failed to pass nearly a dozen religious refusal bills in 2015 and in 2017 are again trying to introduce legislation which uses religion to deny equality to LGBT Texans.

In his weekly legislative update, Brad O’Furey, government relations manager for Equality Texas, writes, “Religious refusals would redefine religious freedom in Texas by giving people the ability to refuse service to people if doing so conflicts with their ‘sincerely held religious beliefs.'”

Religious refusal bills are being proposed to cover a variety of scenarios including situations where medical care can be denied. Following is a list of bills being considered during this legislative session.

HB 428
Introduced by Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
Allows religious student organizations an exemption from nondiscrimination policies of public institutions of higher education if such policies do not conform to the student organization’s “sincerely held religious beliefs”

HB 1805
Introduced by Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney)
Allows private child welfare service providers to decline to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for child welfare services of it conflicts with the provider’s “sincerely held religious beliefs”

HB 1813
Introduced by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton)
Allows county clerks to pass off issuing marriage licenses to other certifying officials if issuing that marriage license conflicts with the clerk’s “sincerely held religious beliefs”

HB 1923
Introduced by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth)
Allows individuals and businesses tto decline to provide services to anyone if providing that service conflicts with the individual’s or business’s “sincerely held religious beliefs” about marriage.

HB 2779
Introduced by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler)
Allows broad-based ability to decline to provide services to anyone if providing the service conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Applies to adoption and foster care, employment, housing, marriage-related licensing, ceremonies, and services; sex reassignment, psychological, counseling and fertility services; sex-based dress, grooming, and bathroom access; licensing and accreditation.

HB 2795
Introduced by Rep. Mike Lang (R-Granbury)
Allows county clerks and deputy county clerks to decline to provide a marriage license if doing so conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs

HB 2876
Introduced by Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney)
Allows wedding industry professionals and employees the right to refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs.

HB 2878
Introduced by Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney)
Allows health care professionals the right to refuse to treat patients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs.

HB 3571
Introduced by State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress )
Allows a religious exemption from any civil action claiming discrimination, or violation of a municipal ordinance for discrimination, based on any characteristic other than race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.

HB 3856

Introduced by State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving)
Allows providers of psychological and counseling services the right to refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs.

HB 3859
Introduced by State Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls)
Allows the providers of child welfare services the right to refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs.

HB 4097
Introduced by State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park)
Prohibits any local authority from providing nondiscrimination protections not otherwise provided in state law; repealing any existing local protections that are broader than state law.

Equality Texas issued a brief on how to discuss the issue of religious refusals and encourages LGBT and allied voters to contact their state representative to express their opposition to religious refusal bills.


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