Texas Rep. Molly White recently filed a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to people based on their religious beliefs.
The bill, or HB 2553 as it is known in the state's capitol, was filed on Friday and would allow allow business owners to deny goods and services to customers who are "in violation of that business owner's sincerely held religious or personal beliefs." The owner would be free from any and all liability for denying service.
This all comes at the heels of an Oregon bakery owner refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. There was also a case of a New Mexico photographer refusing to take the wedding photos for another lesbian couple in 2007, which the state ended up ruling as discriminatory.
“Certain small business owners, private business owners, are being sued for refusing service to people who violate their conscientious beliefs, their religious beliefs,” White said according to the Daily Texan. “We just want to put some protective measures here in our great state of Texas — giving private business owners religious liberties without fear.”
Rev. Michael Diaz of the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church told reporters that he worried that the bill would lead to more discrimination against the LGBT community, as well as racial and religious minorities.
“It is troubling when we go back to the idea that the reason why we discriminate is because of religious freedom,” Diaz told reporters at the Daily Texan. “If you want to discriminate, just call it discrimination. Don’t call it religious freedom.”
Molly White believes that won't be a problem, saying that the liberties of the business owner justify it.
“Every individual has rights and liberties to serve whom they want to based on religious convictions,” White said. “That’s pretty much just trying to reinforce my belief system on that.”
White has drawn the ire of many people before with her conservative stance. Most recently, in January when she posted a status on Facebook for Texas Muslim Capitol Day when she asked Muslim visitors to publicly pledge allegiance to the U.S.
Senior at the University of Texas and the Queer Students Alliance co-director, Rogelio Meza, told reporters that White's bill will encourage discrimination of the LGBT community.
"The LGBT community will be greatly affected by this because, not only do we go through discrimination on a daily basis, but this bill is basically encouraging Texas to say, ‘Hey, discriminate, because we’re not going to do anything to you,’” Meza told reporters.
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) tried to quell anxieties by claiming the bill does not represent Texas as a whole.
“This bill comes from the same freshman state representative who made national headlines during Muslim Day at the Capitol,” Rodriguez said. “This type of legislation is hateful and does not reflect Texas values.”
Source: The Daily Texan Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons