The Austin Chronicle

Chick-fil-A, Saved by the Legislature

Religious exemption bill heads to governor's desk despite testimony from LGBTQ Caucus

By Sarah Marloff, May 24, 2019, News

One noxious bill that didn't die in the waning days of the legislative session is SB 1978, dubbed by its supporters the "#SaveChickFilA bill" – prompted after San Antonio blocked the chain from opening a location in its airport due to the chain's connections to anti-LGBTQ organizations. The bill passed the House on third reading Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 79-64.

The House discussed the bill twice this week, with members of the House LGBTQ Caucus and other Democrats speaking against a measure they believe makes it easier for businesses to discriminate against queer and trans Texans (as well as other minorities). Authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, SB 1978 will legally protect people – and businesses – who've donated to or are affiliated with a religious organization from being penalized by government officials for that relationship, even if the organization is known to discriminate against the LGBTQ community or others.

Though SB 1978 will return to the Senate for approval of one amendment – authored by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Ft. Worth, who carried the bill's House companion – it's expected to weasel its way onto the Governor's desk, where it will likely be signed into law.

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