Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-Texas) is pressing forward with a new bill that would protect the religious rights of Texans when threatened by LGBTQ activists seeking privileges in the name of “civil rights,” inclusion, and so-called “nondiscrimination.”
If passed, the SB-17 legislation promoted by the Republican lieutenant governor as championing “life, liberty and conservative Texas values,” would allow Christians and Texans of other faiths to conduct their business and careers without compromising their religious beliefs.
“The bill would allow state license holders like lawyers, health care professionals and counselors to serve clients based on their religious beliefs without any adverse actions from licensing boards,” CBN News reported.
Prioritizing Texas values
Patrick declared the faith-safeguarding bill as one of his highest priorities in Texas’ 2019 Legislative Session, along with legislation that would apportion $800 million to border security, give teachers pay raises and add protections for taxpayers.
“The … bills are not only my priorities, they are also priorities of the majority of the Texas Senate and the conservative majority of Texas,” Patrick proclaimed in a statement on the government website. “They strengthen our support for life, liberty and Texas values, increase protections for taxpayers, and ensure that our democracy remains strong and our economy will continue to grow and create jobs.”
The proposed legislation protects Christians and those adhering to other faiths in a number of ways so that LGBTQ activists cannot undermine their ability to live out their faith in the workplace.
“[A] state agency that issues a license or otherwise regulates a business, occupation or profession may not adopt any rule, regulation or policy or impose a penalty that: (1) limits an applicant's ability to obtain, maintain or renew a license based on a sincerely held religious belief of the applicant; or (2) burdens an applicant's or a license holder's: (A) free exercise of religion, regardless of whether the burden is the result of a rule generally applicable to all applicants or license holders; (B) freedom of speech regarding a sincerely held religious belief; or (C) membership in any religious organization," the section on religious freedom for SB-17 states.
With the Republican Party having control of the Lone Star State’s House, Senate and governorship, conservatives statewide are confident that the pro-religious freedom bill will pass, yet leftist pro-LGBTQ groups are planning to fiercely oppose the legislation in the upcoming hearing, claiming that the bill is “discriminatory.”
“The panelists spoke about the religious exemption bills currently filed at the Texas capitol and how this legislation could harm countless Texans by allowing medical and mental health providers to discriminate based on a religious belief,” the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) announced in its news briefing.
The leftist group pushing for LGBTQ privileges and abortion rights argues that the conservative bills backed by Patrick will deny certain services to women and those practicing homosexual behavior.
“These bills run counter to the NASW Code of Ethics for all professionals and will deny services to already marginalized persons in the LGBTQ community or women seeking access to reproductive care and services,” NAWS contended. “The advocates called upon all Texans to oppose this discriminatory legislation and explained why providers must speak out against attempts to circumvent the principles of their professions.”
Religious freedoms need protection now more than ever
With the Democratic Party now controlling the United States House of Representatives and unleashing new threats to religious freedom nationwide to promote the LGBTQ agenda, Texas’ proposed SB-17 comes at a very critical time.
“This month, Democrats introduced an updated version of their Equality Act that elevates protections for sexual orientation over protections for religious liberty,” CBN News’ Christian Ellis noted. “The bill could threaten ministries with legal consequences if they denied an LGBTQ individual from working for their institution.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Greg Baylor argues that privileges for a select group should not usurp the constitutional rights of Christians to live according to their faith in the workplace.
"Every American should be treated with dignity and respect, but our laws need to protect the constitutionally guaranteed rights that we have," Baylor told CBN News. "Now – under the Equality Act – we will have a nationwide law, [as] we will see a proliferation of instances where Christians and others are being coerced to violate their beliefs in order to comply with such a law."
Because the blue party only controls the House, it is doubtful that its pro-LGBTQ legislation will move forward and be enforced anytime soon.
“While Democrats are indicating the Equality Act is a big part of their agenda, they do not currently control the U.S. Senate, so the measure is not expected to pass – unless they gain control of both houses of Congress in the 2020 election,” Ellis pointed out.