Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would Open the Door to Discrimination in Texas

March 10, 2015

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today applauded the decision by state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, to “reconsider entirely” a proposed constitutional amendment that would essentially replace the state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allow some to use religion to harm others, and undermine the fundamental principle that laws should apply to everyone.

“Like Rep. Villalba, we think religious freedom is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans,” Miller said. “But Texas already protects that freedom without allowing businesses, public officials and other individuals the right to use religion to ignore laws and discriminate against others. We hope other lawmakers will pull down similar legislation that would give Texas a reputation for being intolerant and unwelcoming and create a hostile environment here for business and commerce."

Rep. Villalba’s office issued a statement late Monday announcing the decision to reconsider his proposed constitutional amendment, HJR 55, following discussions with leaders of the business community in Texas. In his press release, Rep. Villalba said he agreed that his amendment would harm Texas businesses.

"I cannot and I will not support legislation, however well-intentioned, that would result in harming the job creators who are so very valuable to the Texas economy,” Rep. Villalba said.

A substantially similar amendment proposed in the Senate, SJR 10 by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, suffers from the same flaws that have troubled business leaders, civil rights organizations and supporters of religious freedom.

The state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1999 by a large bipartisan majority in the Texas Legislature and signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush, has worked well for 15 years and should not be replaced, Miller said. 


The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.


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