Democrats went down with a futile fight Tuesday as the Republican-controlled Texas House finally passed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, which opponents said welcomes discrimination of LGBT people while masquerading as a bill to protect religious freedom.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott who, if his Twitter feed is any indication, will sign it into law.
Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, led his party’s final gasps against the bill as it passed on third reading.
“Religious freedom, at different times in our nation’s history, has been twisted to justify discrimination, to justify slavery,” he said.
“Religious liberty is being used to justify discrimination.”
The bill passed 79-64 with seven members either absent or present but not voting. Houston-area Republican Rep. Sarah Davis broke with her party to oppose it.
Fort Worth GOP Rep. Matt Krause, the House sponsor, said the bill stops the government from taking adverse action against a business or person for their contributions or memberships in religious organizations. The bill was born out of the city of San Antonio’s vote to boot Chick-fil-A from the airport based on its charitable donations to certain Christian organizations.
“What we want to make sure is if you donate to the Salvation Army, you won’t be labeled as a bigoted,” Krause said Monday during the House’s initial debate. He said Chick-fil-A was unfairly labeled as anti-LGBT because of its donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which also receive donations from companies such as Walmart and Home Depot.
Chick-fil-A’s nonprofit arm also donates to the “Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home” that teaches young boys that same-sex marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ and his values,” according to recent articles that shed light on the donor activity.
Democrats insisted the bill is a vehicle to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people, under the guise of religious liberty and protecting businesses.
“We can’t discriminate against one in order to protect the other,” said a tearful Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-Clint, who was the second openly LGBT member to be elected to the Legislature. “The scariest part of this bill … is the individuals who will take this bill and use your vote for this bill to perpetuate hate.”
Members of the House’s newly formed LGBTQ Caucus, surrounded by House Democrats in locked arms, offered emotional testimony, making personal pleas from the podium to their GOP colleagues to kill the bill.
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SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News, Rebekah Allen