The bill received increased attention after the San Antonio City Council decided not to extend an airport contract with Chick-fil-A due to their donations to alleged “anti-LGBT” groups, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army.
“This bill reinforces the First Amendment rights of Texans and private businesses and ensures that the government cannot discriminate against a business based on the charities to which they donate money,” Nan Tolson, Deputy Press Secretary for Abbott, told The Texan.
Texas Democrats and LGBT activists referred to the legislation as “bathroom bill 2.0,” and were adamantly opposed to its passage.
Marco Antonio Orrantia, Texas Democratic Party spokesperson, said the bill, “will give Texas Republicans and corporations a license to discriminate.”
Texas Values, an advocacy group that aims to “preserve and advance a culture of family values in the state of Texas,” reported that over 150,000 phone calls, emails, and social media messages befell the Texas Capitol in support of the legislation.
San Antonio city officials, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg, faced intense scrutiny following the city council’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A. Nirenberg’s opponent, City Councilman Greg Brockhouse, opposed the measure which garnered him the support that many say helped force a runoff.
Despite this support, Carlton Soules, a political consultant and former San Antonio city councilman said, “Most of the voters I spoke with after the election who voted for Brockhouse did so because they detest Nirenberg. Very few had strong positive feelings for Brockhouse.”
In the standard municipal election on May 4, just over 101,000 people voted in the mayoral race, while the June runoff saw more than 120,000 voters come to make their voices heard.
Though Nirenberg raised nearly triple the amount of challenger Brockhouse, he won by a narrow 2 point margin.
SB 1978 was filed by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and carried by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) in the House. At the time of publishing, Governor Abbott had signed 949 bills and vetoed 7 from the 86th legislative session.
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