From Lone Star Q:
Ken Paxton, the odds-on favorite to be Texas’ next attorney general, says he isn’t familiar with recent “license to discriminate” bills in Arizona, Kansas and other states even though he co-authored a similar measure in 2013.
Gay Realtor and LGBT activist Bob McCranie asked Paxton about his position on the anti-gay bills during a meeting of the Women’s Council of Realtors of Collin County on Wednesday.
It seems strange that Paxton doesn’t know anything about these bills, given that he authored a similar measure during the 2013 session. In fact, the bill by Paxton and fellow tea party Sen. Donna Campbell, called the Texas Religious Freedom Amendment, went a step further. It would have enshrined the right to discriminate against gays or any other group based on religious beliefs into the Texas Constitution. The bill was backed by anti-gay groups including the Liberty Institute and Texas Values, but it died amid opposition from groups like Equality Texas and concerns about unintended consequences. Namely, critics questioned whether the amendment would strengthen Westboro Baptist Church’s right to picket funerals or establish abortion as a religious right.
It makes you wonder whether Paxton even considered the ramifications of his own bill, or if he was just blindly marching behind the banner of “religious freedom” to score political points.
LSQ has a transcript and recording of the conversation, so go check it out. The bill in question is SJR4, which thankfully never made it out of committee. The critical bit from the text of the joint resolution is “The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest.” I think we all understand what that means. Well, all of us except Sen. Campbell – seriously, click that Texas Monthly link and get an appreciation of just how dim a bulb she is. In any event, Paxton needs to be pinned down on this. Sam Houston, please pick up this ball and run with it.