“Sincere” Bigotry at the Senate
Religious-refusal bill moves to the House
Senate Bill 17, the sweeping "religious refusal" bill by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, won approval from his colleagues Tuesday, April 2, on a 19-12 mostly party-line vote (Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville voted for the bill, while Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, voted against it*), and now heads to the House. The bill allows any professionals licensed by the state of Texas – from doctors to mold assessors – freedom to discriminate based on their "sincerely held" religious beliefs. Before passage, Perry amended his bill to exempt all first responders; two Democratic amendments to include specific language to protect sexual orientation and gender identity (by Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio) and to require those who exercise their right to refuse to inform their licensing agency (by Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso) failed, again by a 19-12 vote.
Editor's note: This story has been amended since publication, which originally reported a party-line split vote.