AP NEWS

Controversial religious liberty bill clears Texas Senate

April 4, 2019

Along mostly partisan lines, the Texas Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a controversial religious liberty bill that some civil rights groups warn could lead to discrimination against people who are gay.

By a 19-12 vote, the Senate passed SB 17, which protects licensed professionals such as doctors, accountants, lawyers and counselors from disciplinary action from state boards when they act on their “sincerely held religious beliefs” in their places of business.

State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said his bill “gives a voice to those of faith” by preventing them from losing their livelihood because of their beliefs.

But opponents of the bill call it a thinly veiled attempt to protect people who discriminate against LGBTQ Texans.

The Senate spent more than an hour debating the bill on Tuesday. While the bill has cleared the Senate on Wednesday, an identical bill would have to pass the House to have a chance to become law. A similar bill to Perry’s in the House has been assigned to a committee but has yet to have a public hearing or be voted upon.