All this because San Antonio didn't want a Chick-fil-A in its airport. The Texas House of Representatives signed off on Texas Senate Bill 1978 on Monday, saving Texas Republicans from their worst fears about religious discrimination or opening the state's LGBTQ community up to further discrimination, depending on who's talking.
The "Save Chick-fil-A Bill," as it came to be known during the 2019 legislative session, protects individuals from "adverse actions" by state or municipal governments when those actions come as a result of an individual's religious associations or donations.
While it might sound a lot like Texas Republicans, the party behind the bill, re-invented the First Amendment without realizing it, the bill became a priority for Republican leaders like Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when San Antonio refused to give Chick-fil-A a slot in its airport, because the city council didn't like the chicken-sandwich chain's history of funding anti-LGBTQ groups.
When House Bill 3172, the lower chamber's "Save Chick-fil-A" legislation, came to the House floor for a vote May 9, the House's newly formed LGBTQ caucus killed the bill with a procedural maneuver called a point of order. The House's action spurred the Senate to resurrect its version of the bill, which had yet to move so far in the session.
Senators held a committee hearing for the bill without any public testimony and passed the bill back to the House two days later.
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Monday, the LGBTQ caucus again led the fight against the bill, which they think will protect those who discriminate against those who, like the LGBTQ community, aren't protected by Texas statute. They lost the fight, 78 votes to 62.
Rep. Jessica Gonzalez, a Dallas Democrat, invoked the recent death of Muhlaysia Booker, a Dallas transgender woman who was shot and killed in East Dallas over the weekend after the House passed the bill.
“Her death occurred hours before 78 members of the Texas House of Representatives voted in favor of Senate Bill 1978, a bill that codifies discrimination under the guise of religious freedom," said Gonzalez, who is a lesbian. "Ms. Booker’s death is a tragic reminder that bills like SB 1978 foment hatred and endanger the lives of all minority Texans.
"As the vice chair of the House LGBTQ caucus, I will continue to fight against any legislation that attacks Texans for who they love or how they identify."