Texas ‘Free to Believe Act’ (HB 1035)
This law was last updated on Sep 18, 2019
HB 1035 would create protections for sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions, which a person or entity may then use to discriminate against same-sex couples and transgender individuals.
The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this bill would be the belief or conviction that:
- marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; and
- the terms “male,” “man,” “female,” and “woman” refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth.
Activities of Religious Organizations
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a religious organization because the organization:
- makes an employment-related decision, including firing, disciplining, or not hiring an individual whose conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent with the beliefs of the religious organization; or
- makes a decision concerning the sale, rental, or occupancy of, or the terms and conditions of occupying, a dwelling or other housing under the religious organization’s control.
Sex Reassignment or Gender Identity Transitioning
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a person who declines to participate in providing:
- treatment, counseling, or surgery related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning; or
- psychological, counseling, or fertility services.
Marriage-Related Goods and Services
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a person who has declined to provide the following for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration, or recognition of a marriage:
- photography, poetry, videography, disc jockey services, wedding planning, printing, publishing, or similar marriage-related goods or services; or
- floral arrangements, dressmaking, cake or pastry artistry, assembly hall or other wedding venue rentals, limousine or other car service rentals, jewelry sales and services, or similar marriage-related services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges.
Employee and Student Policies
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against a person who establishes sex-specific standards or policies concerning:
- employee or student dress or grooming; or
- access to restrooms, spas, baths, showers, dressing rooms, locker rooms, or other intimate facilities or settings.
Governmental Employee Speech or Conduct
The bill would prohibit the government from taking any discriminatory action against an employee because the employee lawfully speaks or engages in expressive conduct, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction so long as:
- if the speech or conduct occurs in the workplace, it is consistent with the time, place, manner, and frequency of any other expression of a religious, political, or moral belief or conviction that would be protected; or
- if the speech or conduct occurs outside the workplace, it is in the employee’s personal capacity and outside the course of performing work duties.
The bill would permit civil servants to seek recusal from authorizing or licensing lawful marriages if such marriage conflicts with the person’s religious beliefs or moral convictions. The person making a recusal would be required to provide written notice to the Department of State Health Services prior to the recusal. Additionally, the person making a recusal would be required to ensure that the authorization and licensing of a legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of the recusal.
The bill would permit civil servants to seek recusal from performing or solemnizing lawful marriages if such marriage conflicts with the person’s religious beliefs or moral convictions. The person making a recusal would be required to provide written notice to the Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System prior to the recusal. Additionally, the person making the recusal would be required to ensure that the performance or solemnization of any legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal.
Accreditation, Licensing, and Certification
The bill would protect the religious beliefs or moral convictions of a person, accredited, licensed, or certified in the state.
Claim or Defense
The bill would allow a person to assert a violation as a claim against a governmental entity in a judicial or administrative proceeding or as a defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding without regard to whether the proceeding is brought by or in the name of the governmental entity, a private person, or another party.
Similar to HB 2779, which failed to pass in 2017.
1/23/19 – Introduced.
- Cody Harris
- Mayes Middleton
- Jared Patterson
- Kyle Biedermann
- Cole Hefner
- Mike Lang
- Valoree Swanson
- Justin Holland
- Tom Oliverson
- Briscoe Cain
- Jay Dean
- Terry Wilson
- Brooks Landgraf
- DeWayne Burns
- Tony Tinderholt
- Travis Clardy
- Chris Paddie
- Greg Bonnen
- Phil King
- Rick Miller
- Matt Schaefer
- Jonathan Stickland
- Drew Springer
- Steve Toth
- James White