Bill Number: HB 3567
Bill Caption: Relating to the rights of certain religious organizations and individuals relating to a marriage that violates a sincerely held religious belief.
Author: Sanford, Scott (R-District 70) | Krause, Matt (R-District 93) | Miller, Rick (R-District 26) | Keough, Mark (R-District 15) | Riddle, Debbie (R-District 150)
Stance: Against
Related Bills: HB 3602
Committee: State Affairs

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Description

This bill would allow religious organizations to refuse service for the purpose of performing or celebrating a marriage if such a marriage caused the organization to violate a “sincerely held religious belief.” The bill would also protect religious organizations from criminal or civil punishment stemming from the above refusal of service.

This bill seems to only exempt people who work for religious organizations and the religious organization itself from providing services for marriage ceremonies the disagree with, not businesses.

Analysis

While Secular Texas supports the right of a church or religious organization from directly participating in a ceremony that contradicts their religious beliefs, that is not the limit of what this bill proposes.

This bill would allow any organization or individual that is associated with, but in an official capacity, a religious organization from refusing to not only participate in a marriage ceremony, but from even acknowledging a marriage that “violates” their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Examples:

  • A charter school operated by church could deny benefits to the spouse of a same-sex couple who is an employee -- of for that matter, the spouse of a once-divorced employee;
  • Or, it could mess up the taxes of an employee because an employer could refuse to withhold the proper amount taxes from your paycheck by refusing to acknowledge that you are married.

A facility or service provided by a religious organization that is for-profit or for public use -- for example a charter school as listed above, or if a church owns a community hall that they offer for public rent, even if that facility runs as a non-profit, or if a church owns a for profit business -- that receives public benefit, by being tax exempt or from protections given to businesses, must be subject to all the rules of our society and offer their services without discrimination, and treat all employees as equal as required by Federal law.

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