“Sincere” Bigotry at the Senate

Religious-refusal bill moves to the House

Sen. Charles Perry
Sen. Charles Perry (Photo by Jana Birchum)

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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

<i>A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir</i> by Edie Windsor
A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir by Edie Windsor
The life of a same-sex marriage hero sparkles in this collaborative memoir

Rosalind Faires, Jan. 10, 2020

Equality Texas Names New CEO
Equality Texas Names New CEO
Ricardo Martinez will takeover the advocacy organization on Dec. 1

Sarah Marloff, Nov. 29, 2019

More by Sarah Marloff
Rape Survivor Wins in Civil Court
Rape Survivor Wins in Civil Court
After plea deal, defendant hit with $2 million in damages

Jan. 15, 2021

TAASA Unveils First-Ever Survivor Advisory Board
TAASA Unveils First-Ever Survivor Advisory Board
Panel offers chance to shape Texas policies on sexual violence

Dec. 8, 2020


LGBTQ, Senate Bill 17, religious refusal, Charles Perry, sincerely held religious belief

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle