A Texas bill intended to prevent the government from “discriminating” against religious businesses that aren’t LGBTQ-friendly has failed.
HB 3172 would have blocked any city from taking “adverse actions” against companies acting on their religious beliefs (because corporations are people, of course). It came months after the San Antonio City Council voted to approve a slate of new restaurants at a local airport only after Chick-fil-A was removed from the list of options because the company and its owners have a history of anti-LGBTQ activism.
This new bill was blocked only after a Democratic freshman representative, State Rep. Julie Johnson, killed it through a clever procedural motion:
No sooner did [bill sponsor State Rep. Matt] Krause step to the rostrum to explain his bill, Johnson interrupted him with what in parliamentary terms is called a “point of order,” questioning whether all House rules were followed as the measure made its way through the legislative mill.
After consulting with House parliamentarians, Speaker Dennis Bonnen struck down Johnson’s point. But she was ready with another — this one asserting that the official analysis of the bill’s implication was misleading.
Again, Bonnen huddled with the parliamentarians on his high perch at the head of the chamber. Lawmakers from both sides crowded to watch the deliberations, which lasted several minutes.
Bonnen then announced that the second point of order was valid.
The ruling effectively killed the measure because Thursday was the deadline for preliminary passing of the House bill before the 2019 legislative session ends May 27.
It may have been a better ending if legislators voted down the bill, but the end result is still welcome. This was always a bizarre controversy because there’s no such thing as a “Constitutional right” to have your preferred restaurant installed in an airport food court. Even if a handful of places say no to it because of its connection to groups opposing civil rights, it’s not like Chick-fil-A is hurting for business. There are plenty religious people willing to fork over money because of their owners’ beliefs and even more potential customers who don’t care either way.
This bill shouldn’t have been proposed much less passed. But conservatives have something else to complain about, so they’ll inevitably count it as a victory.