84th Legislation Session: Progress on Religious Freedom, Life
Important Stand Alone Religious Freedom and Pro-Life Bills Pass
Austin, TX, June 1, 2015 – Today marks the end of Texas’ 84th Legislative Session at the state capitol. One of the notable highlights of the session was the passage of one of Texas Values Action’s priority religious freedom bills, the Pastor Protection Bill (SB 2065), that specifically protects pastors, churches and religious organizations from being forced to perform a same-sex ‘marriage’ that violates their beliefs. Despite strong opposition from anti-religious freedom groups, including the ACLU, Equality Texas, and Texas Freedom Network, the bill passed with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate without any of the amendments aimed at watering-down the bill. Pastors from all over the state led the effort.
Another victory was the passage of the priority pro-life bill supported by Texas Values Action, HB 3994, which protects pregnant minors and parents from the broken judicial bypass system. In addition, with the help of Texas Values Action, SB 19 was defeated after it was drastically changed by some House members in an effort to silence and intimidate non-profits, and potentially churches, by requiring the groups to expose their donors. This dangerous version of SB 19 was defeated thanks to conservative leadership in the Texas Senate.
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values Action, released the following statement on the session:
“The Pastor Protection Bill and the pro-life legislation that passed are strong steps that will help Texas continue to cultivate a culture where religious liberty and life flourishes. The progress the legislature took this session was clear confirmation of Texas’ strong stance on religious freedom, marriage, and life. Despite opposing pressure from anti-religious freedom and pro-abortion advocates and some liberal business leaders, the Texas Legislature took important stands on religious freedom and life. In addition, with supermajorities in the House and Senate expressing continued support for our state’s marriage amendment, there can be no doubt the state of Texas still strongly supports marriage between one man and one woman. While there certainly is more important work to be done to protect religious freedom, marriage and life in Texas, we look forward to building on the progress made this session to ensure that our First Freedoms are preserved and that Texas families prosper.”
Another significant pro-family victory for the session is the inclusion of Texas Values Action supported budget amendments to the state budget, including an amendment that prohibits abortion providers or their affiliates from providing or teaching sex education classes or curriculum in public schools. It is also of significance that none of the anti-family agenda advanced by LGBT advocacy groups passed, including the much publicized effort to remove “Mother” and “Father” references from birth certificates (HB 537).
About Texas Values Action
Texas Values Action is the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of Texas Values, a non-profit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvaluesaction.org.