Texas businesses join forces with LGBT activists to fight potential religious liberty legislation being proposed for the 2017 legislative session. The business leaders seek to avoid retaliation from gay rights activists if such legislation were to be passed.
The Texas business leaders appear anxious to avoid actions that could lead LGBT activists to cause events like Bruce Springsteen’s Dallas concert, the NCAA Final Four event, or even next year’s Super Bowl, scheduled for Houston, to be threatened, the Dallas Morning News reported. Reporter Mitchell Schnurman wrote that even economic job creation issues like Facebook’s planned facility in Fort Worth could be endangered if Texas joined with other southern states in passing religious liberty legislation.
Texas business leaders fought hard against religious liberty bills during the 84th legislative session in 2015, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported. Texas Association of Business CEO Bill Hammond joined with the American Civil Liberties Union to work against new legislation and in support of Houston’s “bathroom ordinance” that would have allowed men to enter women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and dressing areas.
Hammond told legislators that then Houston Mayor Anise Parker’s bathroom ordinance was good for business in Texas.
Schnurman wrote for the Dallas newspaper about the efforts by business leaders to block religious liberty legislation:
Texas has dodged such controversies so far, largely because business leaders pushed back against so-called religious liberty bills a year ago. A coalition of companies and civil rights groups helped to hold off proposals that were widely seen as state-sanctioned discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender people.
As a result, other states, not Texas, are dealing with a public firestorm and a backlash from business and beyond.
He cited PayPal’s decision to scrap their plans for a new operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the state passed this type of legislation. “Our decision is a clear and unambiguous one,” PayPal CEO Dan Schulman wrote, according to Schnurman. That move stopped 400 jobs from being created in that state.
LGBT activists have flexed their muscle and won on these issues in the past. After Indiana legislators passed a religious freedom bill in 2015, activists went to work protesting in advance of the NCAA’s 2015 Final Four tournament. The state’s legislators scrambled to make changes, but activists were successful in stopping 20 conventions from coming to the Hoosier State. This cost the state up to $60 million in revenue, Schnurman reported.
Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz wrote, in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, “This type of hostility and religious discrimination is dangerous and harmful to Texans, particularly faith-based nonprofits that provide charitable social services and small business owners that would be put out of business by costly litigation.”
In support of religious liberty legislation, Texas State Senator Joan Huffman, chairman of the Senate Committee on State Affairs, told Breitbart Texas in February, “There should never be an excuse for government to force individuals, organizations, or businesses to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Late last month, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal bowed to pressure from the LGBT activists and vetoed his state legislature’s effort to protect religious liberty, CNN’s Ralph Ellis and Emanuella Grinberg reported. “I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all of our lives,” the Republican Georgia governor said during a press conference. Legislators in Georgia vowed to call a special session to override the governor’s veto.
“It is regrettable that the merits of this measure have been ignored in the days since its passage by critics who had not taken the time to read the bill or understand the legal issues involved,” Georgia House Speaker Dennis Ralston, also a Republican, told reporters.