The Texas Senate passed SB 1978, otherwise known as the #SaveChickfilA bill, by a vote of 19-12 Thursday afternoon, The Dallas News reports. The bill “would prevent any government entity from taking ‘adverse actions’ against an individual or business for their ‘membership in, affiliation with, or contribution, donation or other support to a religious organization,’” according to The Dallas News.
The bill is widely recognized as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, given proper religious affiliation. It will now head to the House on Tuesday for more debate.
“This bill is part of an insidious, coordinated strategy to advance anti-LGBTQ messages and discriminatory public policies,” says Samantha Smoot, Interim Executive Director for Equality Texas. “It’s an outrage that the Texas Legislature is advancing bills that harm LGBTQ people, in defiance of public support for equal rights and violation of pledges made in January that there would be no attacks on the LGBTQ community this session.”
SB 1978 earned its nickname after San Antonio City Council ruled to exclude the poultry fast food giant from its airport renovation plans, citing the company’s “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.” The council’s decision is likely linked to news of an increase in annual donations to anti-LGBTQ+ groups like The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — a sports ministry that requires strict “sexual purity” from its members and bars its employees from any “homosexual acts.”
Chair of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus Rep. Mary González affirmed the caucus’s commitment to the bill’s amendment or elimination. “Our caucus remains firmly opposed to the bill,” González said in a statement, “and we are asking our colleagues to put a stop to this divisive piece of legislation, which should never reach the Texas House Floor.”
Of the personal testimony given to oppose the bill, LGBTQ+ youth played a vital role, Smoot said. Queer youth in Texas struggle with the “normalization of the misuse of religion to question their identities,” Smoot tells Out.
“In 2017, 42 percent of LGBTQ teens in Texas said they had considered suicide,” LGBTQ Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Jessica González said in a statement. “This rhetoric has real, lasting harm on young Texans.”
According to Equality Texas, the caucus has prepared several amendments that protect LGBTQ Texans’ right to “marry, adopt, and live free from discrimination.” The amendments will be proposed during Tuesday’s debates.