15 November 2014

Texas Anti-Gay Move Lauded By Many Americans

A Tea Party-affiliated Texas state legislator introduced a measure in early November aimed at making it legal in the state to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lone Star Q News reported that state Sen. Donna Campbell (R) proposed an amendment to the state constitution to protect the "religious freedom" of Texas Christians.

"Conservative values have made Texas a great state to raise a family and start a business," Senator Campbell said on her website. "I will continue to fight for these values."

To that end, Campbell has proposed Senate Joint Resolution 10, which enables Texans to refuse to provide goods and services to individuals or groups if they feel that to do otherwise would violate their religious beliefs.

The resolution would amend the state’s constitution permanently to allow these types of religious exemptions. It says, in part:
”Government may not burden an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief unless the government proves that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. For purposes of this subsection, the term “burden” includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, and denying access to facilities or programs.”
These types of laws have been proposed and enacted across the country with mixed results. Some have been overturned in court on the grounds that they are a license to discriminate even if they are actually protecting individual’s right not to associate with despicable behavior.

Advocate.com pointed out that Texas already has one such statute on the books, the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but Campbell’s law, say experts, could have even broader implications and result in satisfying what the majority of Texans actually wanted to happen all along.

Other state is studying the proposal carefully and may soon follow suit.