Texas In Its Own League With Anti-LGBT Discrimination Bills This

While outrage grows over potential discrimination allowed by religious refusal laws in Indiana and other states, Texas lawmakers are considering at least 20 bills in the current legislative session that would subject lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to discrimination and even criminal prosecution.

Read the full press release from ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, and Texas Freedom Network: http://www.aclutx.org/2015/03/31/never-mind-indiana-texas-in-its-own-league-with-anti-lgbt-discrimination-bills-this-year/

The Texas-Sized Anti-Gay Backlash

Over 20 anti-LGBT laws have been proposed in Texas this year, including one just like the maligned bill that passed in Indiana this week. But advocates say they’re not going to pass.

Read the full article by Jay Michaelson in The Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/29/the-texas-sized-anti-gay-backlash.html

Lawmakers should retreat from amending religious protections

Aside from the civil rights issues with the resolutions, there are functional problems with both of them. The state already has a Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was enacted in 1999 by a bipartisan majority in the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush. The act has been used with success in protecting the rights of religious groups of all faiths, while ensuring that certain laws apply to everyone equally and that the civil rights of all are protected.

The amendments reduce the state’s current protections of about 2,000 words to a tidy and vague 106 or 79 words, depending on which version you pick. The result eliminates many of the important protections included in the 1999 act and opens a black box of legal pandemonium on civil issues long settled by the state’s civil courts.

Read the full editorial from the Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/opinion/lawmakers-should-retreat-from-amending-religious-p/nkSz2/#0ae6235d.3673151.735670

GOP Lawmaker Drops Religious Freedom Bill

A House Republican will no longer seek to amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit state and local governments from “in any way” restricting the free exercise of religion, leaving several conservative legislators hustling Tuesday to file an alternate bill.

Read the full article from the Austin American-Statesmen: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/gop-lawmaker-drops-religious-freedom-bill/nkST6/

Villalba to Reconsider Religious Liberty Bill

Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, announced yesterday (Monday, March 9) he would reconsider HJR 55 after the Texas Association of Business, Equality Texas and others expressed concern it would discriminate against LGBT people.

He also announced his intention to work with various stakeholders, including TAB, who came out against the joint resolution and SJ 10, its senate companion, filed by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, at a meeting last month.

Read the full article from the Dallas Voice Media Source: http://www.dallasvoice.com/villalba-reconsider-religious-liberty-bill-10191460.html

The Opposite of Religious Freedom

Religious freedom isn’t about the freedom to discriminate.

Two proposed constitutional amendments threaten to make it precisely that in Texas. More than unnecessary, they are dangerous because they depart significantly from cherished national precepts that no one’s religion can be imposed on another.

They masquerade as blows for religious freedom — hey, who’d vote against that? — but they pervert the meaning into grotesque license to use religion to deny equality in public accommodations to those who offend certain sensibilities.

Read the full article from the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board: http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/editorials/article/The-opposite-of-religious-freedom-6119439.php

'Religious Freedom' - The New Name for the War on LGBT Rights

Yesterday, the Georgia Senate approved a “religious freedom” bill which, if signed into law, would prohibit the state from infringing on personal religious beliefs — effectively legalizing discrimination against gay and transgender individuals. The bill, however, is but one of many “religious freedom” bills being introduced by Republican lawmakers across the country in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling that would legalize same-sex marriages.

Read the full article from Raw Story News: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/religious-freedom-the-new-name-for-the-war-on-lgbt-rights/

States Weigh Legislation to Let Businesses Refuse to Serve Gay Couples

As it looks increasingly likely that the Supreme Court will establish a nationwide right to same-sex marriage later this year, state legislatures across the country are taking up bills that would make it easier for businesses and individuals to opt out of serving gay couples on religious grounds.

 Many states are now reliving a version of events that embroiled Arizona in February 2014, when Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to use their religious beliefs as a legal justification for refusing to serve gay customers.

Read the full article from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/us/anticipating-nationwide-right-to-same-sex-marriage-states-weigh-religious-exemption-bills.html

'License to Discriminate' Bills Pile Up in Texas Lege

Two days after the Plano City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, a Texas legislator filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the ability of cities to enforce such laws.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) filed House Joint Resolution 55, which is similar but not identical to Senate Joint Resolution 10, filed last month by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels).

Read the full article from the Texas Observer: http://www.texasobserver.org/license-discriminate-bills-pile-texas-legislature/

State Lawmakers Are Filing Against HERO and Other Non-Discrimination Ordinances

The City of Houston hasn't had much luck with Mayor Annise Parker's attempt to enact Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance, (aka HERO) an ordinance to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents against discrimination, but now it looks like the Texas legislature is getting involved and all of the ordinances could be in jeopardy.

Read the full article from the Houston Press: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/news/2014/12/state_legislators_are_filing_against_hero_and_other_equal_rights_laws.php