How Will the Religious Belief Bill Affect Members of the LGBT Community?
In April of this year, Texas passed a religious belief bill that allows state-licensed workers to deny services to people based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The law protects workers such as doctors, teachers and counselors.
This law essentially allows licensed professionals to deny service to anyone, based on their religious beliefs. The law doesn’t really provide a way to determine what is considered a religious belief, and what is considered simple bias.
Members of the LGBT community fear that this law will give people a license to discriminate. To tell people that they can refuse to take care of people simply because they offend your religious beliefs is scary.
While the law does require people to help those at risk of death or imminent serious bodily injury, that doesn’t offer much comfort. Not only is it hard to define when these situations may come up, the risk is just too great.
If you’ve been denied medical or professional services based on religious beliefs, you should call and speak with a Houston LGBT attorney. They can review your case and see if you’ve been discriminated against under the law.
How Do Lawmakers Defend this Bill?
Texas Senate Bill 17 has not been sent before the House of Representatives. In order to become law, it would have to be passed there. However, there are a lot of LGBT people who fear it will gain the necessary support.
When the bill was presented to the Senate, dozens of LGBT people voiced their opinions about the bill. They fear the bill will give licensed workers a license to discriminate, especially against members of the LGBT community.
Even companies like Google, Dell and Apple wrote letters expressing their opposition to the bill. Unfortunately, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas didn’t care. In fact, he refused to read their letter. He claimed that the bill has to do with a moral issue and not an economic one. Therefore, he claimed, it doesn’t matter what these companies have to say about it.
Does SB 17 Offer a License to Discriminate?
On the surface, Texas SB 17 does give licensed workers a license to discriminate. They can refuse to treat someone based on alleged religious beliefs. And, there is no way to really gauge what counts as a religious belief and what doesn’t.
The only protection offered by SB 17 is that a licensed worker can still be fired for denying services to someone. They can also be sued. The problem is, they can use this piece of legislation as their defense in court.
If you’ve been the subject of discrimination on the part of a licensed worker, you need to call a Houston LGBT lawyer. They can file suit against the workers and the agency they work for. Until the new law passes in the House of Representatives, there will be no protection for the workers under the law.
What is the Next Step for SB 17?
Houston LGBT lawyers are watching the developments in SB 17 closely. They understand what this law represents. It is essentially giving Texas workers permission to discriminate against members of the LGBT community.
The scary thing is this law has to do with people in the medical field. The fact that a doctor can refuse service to someone based on their sexual orientation or gender is appalling. And, although the law says service can’t be denied in life threatening situations, who draws the line?
What’s to stop someone from saying they didn’t realize serious bodily injury or death was imminent? Is this something we want to litigate after a patient dies? The risks are just too great.
And, while the law allows you to still fire or sue the worker, that is small comfort for an LGBT patient. If you’re the one laying in the emergency room, does it make you feel better that you can sue the doctor for refusing to operate on you? No, it does not.
Contact a Houston LGBT Lawyer
If you’ve been denied service or discriminated against by a licensed worker in Texas, you need to call an experienced Houston LGBT lawyer. They can review your case and see if you have a valid claim.
SB 17 has not passed yet. As of now, licensed workers don’t have the right to deny you treatment. If this happens, you need to protect your rights. Let a skilled LGBT lawyer at Eddington & Worley help you.
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