Today, the House voted to pass SB 1978, widely known as the “Chick-fil-A Bill.” This legislation prevents government entities from discriminating against individuals or companies due to their religious affiliations.
The House bill was authored by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) in response to a decision by the San Antonio City Council to exclude Chick-fil-A from the city airport due to their donations to alleged “anti-LGBT” groups such as the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Zeb Pent, a spokesperson for the pro-family organization Stand for Fort Worth said, “Fort Worth residents are proud of our hometown Representative Matt Krause and are grateful that he is defending religious beliefs, as well as Texas jobs, at places like Chick-fil-A from the economic attacks of extremists.”
Nicole Hudgens, senior policy analyst for Texas Values Action responded to the bill’s passage almost immediately.
“With local Texas governments attacking businesses because of donations to religious groups, the time for this bill is now. We thank Rep. Krause for his work on getting this bill to the finish line.”
The Texas Democratic Party, however, issued a press release that dubbed the bill “Bathroom Bill 2.0.”
“The Texas House just passed Bathroom Bill 2.0, Senate Bill 1978, which was snuck through a Senate committee without any public notice last week. The move comes amidst fierce opposition from businesses and LGBTQ organizations around the state,” the release stated.
The legislative text, however, does not include any language related to bathroom policy. Additionally, during the floor debate earlier today, bathrooms were not discussed by either Republicans or Democrats.
SB 1978 is the Senate companion of House Bill 3172, which received a public committee hearing and was halted two weeks ago when the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus invoked a point of order regarding a technical error in the bill composition.
Later, legislators brought the Senate version (SB 1978) forward instead.
Representative Jessica González (D-Dallas), vice-chair of the Texas LGBTQ Caucus said, “This bill creates two classes of Texans: those trying to get an education, make a living, support a family, and serve their community; and those with the power to deprive them of their dignity in their everyday lives.”
Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), the author of SB 1978, responded last week to accusations of discriminatory intent by saying, “I would just ask folks to read the bill that the Senate passed today. There’s not an ounce of discrimination in [SB 1978].”
Hughes continued, “The bill says that whoever you are – rich, poor, liberal, conservative…your government can’t punish you for giving to a group like the Salvation Army.”
The bill passed the House today in a 79-62 vote. It was opposed by every Democrat present, as well as Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place).
Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) voted present not voting.
Should the Senate concur, the bill will head to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for a likely signature.