A bill that would allow professionals to discriminate LGBTQ+ people has been approved by the Texas Senate. Senate Bill 17 would prevent state professional licensing boards from punishing professionals if they break rules that violate a “sincerely held religious belief”.
The bill does not apply to police, and it only has an exception if a person is in a life-threatening situation. The bill was voted by almost all the Texas Senate Republicans, along with Democrat Eddie Lucio. The Republican who introduced the bill, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick had his spokesperson say that Senate Bill 17 will ensure that anyone can practice their profession in the state without compromising their religious faith.
He also said that this bill is one of his priorities, especially after he spent the last few years rallying Christians in the state for a similar bill that would make transgender people use bathrooms associated with their birth certificate gender. Over 50 people spoke against the bill, and opponents (mostly Democrats) said that it was vague and that it would allow all sorts of unprofessional behavior, as the state can’t possibly legally question the sincerity of someone’s claimed religious beliefs.
According to Texas Senator Royce West, many people have done things that were not consistent with being a Christian.
An amendment proposed by Texas Senator Jose Menendez that would have explicitly said that the bill will not allow discrimination based on someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation has been rejected.