Thursday, March 28, 2019

In Texas Religious Freedom™ Means the Freedom to Discriminate

Greetings from Texas
The latest from LifeSiteNews: Google, Amazon try to stop Texas from passing religious freedom protections. The question that they never answer is exactly why those “protections” are necessary in the first place. Protect Christians from what exactly?

A Texas bill, if enacted, would allow state-licensed professionals to refuse service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition to doctors, lawyers and accountants that includes:
  • Heating, A/C, & Refrigeration Mechanics & Installers
  • Combative Sports Promoters
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Interior Designers
  • Pest Controllers & Assistants
  • Teachers
In all, Texas issues about 100 occupational licenses. Just how impossible do they want life to be for LGBTQ people? Let us consider the conservative Catholic tax preparer. What is the big deal if he is asked to prepare a joint return for a gay couple? Does he check to see that none of his other clients are previously divorced? Does he compare the age of their dependent children to their marriage date to determine if they had premarital sex? On an itemized return does he reject a client who made a large donation to Planned Parenthood? For that matter, are any of the pharmaceutical receipts for contraceptives?

Of course not. If he qualified every client for religious probity he would have no business at all. But let's get back to the joint return for a gay couple. He does not approve. Why is his approval necessary for service by a public accommodation? The same people who have redefined religious freedom claim that he needs “conscience protections.” Really? No one is asking him to do anything evil. He's not required to harm anyone. He is not participating in an abortion. Is it really that disturbing to prepare a tax return for a gay couple?

I doubt that he can even claim that preparing that return is a sin. I have often said — and will say it again — that refusing service to LGBTQ people is a means of demonstrating disapproval. They are obsessed with having that “right” even if it means robbing others of their dignity in the marketplace.

LifeSite explains:
Authored by Republican state Sen. Charles Perry, the bill regulating licensing agencies (SB 17) was the focus of public scrutiny this week, with most of the nearly 60 people who testified Monday before the Senate State Affairs Committee opposed. Foes of the bills claim they authorize “discrimination” against homosexual or gender-confused Texans. Yet SB 17 cleared the committee 7-1, with Democrat state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. joining every Republican member.

“Living our faith does not stop when we start to work,” Perry said. “When we see what we may perceive as immoralities, those people who hold those beliefs should be able to defend their faith ... without fear of losing their livelihood and their license.”
Texas has no statewide LGBTQ discrimination protections. They are trying to preempt local nondiscrimination ordinances. What I want to know from state Senator Perry is how requiring service affects how he lives his faith. No one is forcing him to engage in gay sex. Preparing a joint return for a gay couple should be no more troubling than Mr. Perry providing services for a bar mitzvah. After all, the teen is formally joining the temple and rejecting Jesus as lord and savior. The only difference is that religious discrimination is federally barred by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
SB 17 is said to be a top priority of Texas’ Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but a coalition of corporations and business groups including Google, Amazon, IBM, Texas businesses, and over a dozen state chambers of commerce hope to derail it and the rest of the measures, the Associated Press reports.

“We will continue to oppose any unnecessary, discriminatory, and divisive measures that would damage Texas’ reputation and create problems for our employees and their families,” the group declared Wednesday in a letter to lawmakers. “These include policies that explicitly or implicitly allow for exclusion of LGBTQ people, or anyone else, as well as the preemption of municipal nondiscrimination laws, in whole or in part.”
I can assure you that this is not out of the goodness of their hearts. These businesses know that they might have to attract talent to relocate to Texas and measures like these make such a move highly undesirable; and not just for LGBTQ people. Republican business leaders loathe discrimination. Discrimination is bad for business.

State Senator Perry is not the swiftest train on the track:
John Graham, president and CEO of American Society of Association Executives warned that Texans would suffer lost jobs and economic activity if it enacted the bills. “That’s exactly what happened in North Carolina when they passed that bill and they lost billions of dollars and they’re still paying that price,” he declared.

Perry responded to the group’s threats by noting that under his bill, licensed professionals “must still follow all state and federal laws and abide by the standard of care in their profession,” and lamenting “that businesses or anyone for that matter would be against protecting one of our basic core principles of who were are as a nation.”
Discrimination does not depict “basic core principles of who were are as a nation.” I have to compliment Calvin Freiburger at LifeSiteNews. He has made an intellectually honest attempt to portray the substance of objections to this measure.

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