Donna Campbell reintroduced a joint resolution to amend the state constitution to allow legal discrimination based on religious beliefs.
A conservative Texas lawmaker is trying for the second time to pass a state constitutional amendment that would allow businesses to refuse to serve LGBT customers on the basis of religious belief.
State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, introduced a resolution that would ostensibly bolster religious freedom in the state, a measure nearly identical to one she introduced two years ago.
“Conservative values have made Texas a great state to raise a family and start a business,” Senator Campbell said on her website. “I will continue to fight for these values.”
To that end, Campbell has proposed Senate Joint Resolution 10, which enables Texans to refuse to provide goods and services to individuals or groups if they feel that to do otherwise would violate their religious beliefs.
The resolution would amend the state’s constitution permanently to allow these types of religious exemptions. It says, in part:
Government may not burden an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief unless the government proves that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. For purposes of this subsection, the term “burden” includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, and denying access to facilities or programs.
These types of laws have been proposed and enacted across the country with mixed results. Some have been overturned in court on the grounds that they are a license to discriminate.
Advocate.com pointed out that Texas already has one such statute on the books, the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but Campbell’s law, say experts, could have even broader implications and result in unintended consequences.
Even some conservative activists like Joe Pojman of anti-choice group the Texas Alliance for Life believe that Campbell’s law could be so widely interpreted as to make anything — even abortion — into something protected by a person’s professed faith.
“We do not oppose the concept of a religious freedom amendment,” Pojman said in 2013. “Rather, we are concerned that a future court could misconstrue the expansive language…our concern is that abortion will become a religious right.”