Texas Senate Bill 17 was introduced by Charles Perry, a state senator from Lubbock.
The bill allows anyone with a state license like doctors, lawyers and even cosmetologists to deny their services, based on their religious beliefs.
SB 17 passed through Wednesday by a vote of 19-12. It now moves on to the House.
Senator Perry says he wrote the bill to protect a person’s religious beliefs.
Meanwhile, it concerns members of the local LGBT community, who say this bill will allow a licensed professional to discriminate against them specifically.
“We’re fighting for equal rights, we’re always fighting for equal rights and we’ll continue to fight for equal rights,” said Liz Musella-Robledo, president of CC LGBT.
Musella-Robledo says SB 17 concerns her not only as an LGBT member but also personally.
“That goes from health care to jobs to any kind of service provided and that affects so many people,” she said. “I’m a mother so that even affects my child who is not LGBT.”
She explains that under Senate Bill 17, a medical provider could deny service to her son by claiming it goes against the medical provider’s religion, to treat a same-sex couple or their child.
KRIS 6 News asked for a comment from various local health professionals and providers.
Corpus Christi Medical Center released this statement:
“Corpus Christi Medical Center respects the dignity and pride of each individual we serve. We comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws and do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, disability, race, color, ancestry, citizenship, religion, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, medical condition, marital status, veteran status, payment source or ability, or any other basis prohibited by federal, state, or local law.”
CHRISTUS Spohn Health System replied to our request with:
“There are a number of proposed legislation that we monitor and although we have no official comment for you on this specific bill please know, We are supportive of all open and respectful dialogue on the variety of issues, bills and discussions currently happening at our state capitol.”
Kitana Sanchez, who has been a key voice for the transgender community says the LGBT community has struggled to be accepted for many years. She believes SB 17 is a step back from the progress the LGBT community has made.
“We’re not asking for special treatment, we’re not asking to cater to us in any way,” Sanchez said. “We want the same rights that every American has been given whose been born here, to be given the same rights.”
It’s important to note SB 17 excludes licensed professionals, like police officers, firefighters or emergency medical personnel, who provide medical services in a life or death situation.