Secular Americans Vote Texas “License to Discriminate” Legislation Worst State Bill in the Country

Washington, D.C.-- Today the Secular Coalition for America announced that Texas Senate Bill 651, a discriminatory "religious freedom" bill, has won the title of "Worst State Bill in America." The legislation would allow for religiously-based discrimination by individuals employed in 65 different licensed professions, including therapists, doctors, teachers, and police officers.

The announcement marks the conclusion of the Bad Bill Madness campaign, an educational campaign that parodies the popular college basketball tournament. The Secular Coalition for America placed 16 bills introduced in a variety of state legislatures into a tournament bracket and asked supporters to vote on which bills most violated the separation of church and state. Voting took place in four rounds over a two week period which saw more than 1,200 votes cast.

SB 651 would prohibit the state from taking action against licensed professionals who refuse to comply with professional standards due to their religious beliefs. If SB 651 were signed into law, doctors with religious objections could refuse to perform certain medical procedures, teachers could refuse to report religious bullying, and therapists could subject patients to the dangerous and discredited practice of gay "conversion therapy."

"Under the guise of defending religious freedom, this legislation enshrines religious bigotry into law," said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. "By granting licensed professionals, including doctors, therapists, social workers, and teachers the right to discriminate, this bill threatens the civil rights of the most vulnerable Texans. Lawmakers are codifying their religious beliefs into law with no regard for how it will impact the LGBT community, members of minority faiths, or the nearly one-fifth of Texans who belong to no faith at all. By voting SB 651 the worst state bill in the country, our supporters chose a bill that exemplifies the religious right's twisted and abhorrent vision of ‘religious freedom.'"

SB 651 is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. The Secular Coalition for America has issued an Action Alert to its supporters in Texas, urging them to contact their state representatives about the bill.

CONTACT: Casey Brescia, Communications Associate, [email protected], (845)-380-6201

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The Secular Coalition for America is the nation's premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 19 voting member organizations.

 

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