As state legislatures get ready to reconvene after the election, lawmakers in several states are poised to introduce new measures allowing discrimination on religious grounds. ASAE is preparing to fight a bill in Texas, where the first is likely to emerge.
Texas will be the next battleground in the ongoing state-level debate over so-called religious freedom laws that ASAE and others view to be discriminatory and harmful to the economy.
Some Texas Republican lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have said they plan to prioritize legislation that ASAE and many business groups believe would encourage discrimination and harm the state’s tourism and convention business.
“ASAE firmly believes—and I think there is ample evidence of this in other places—that when you adopt laws that permit discrimination, you’re not only harming your reputation as a welcoming state, you’re also setting up your economy for a decline,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “We have many members and partners in Texas, and we don’t want to see that happen there.”
ASAE is already working on strategy and identifying potential advocates to combat the bill when the Texas legislature kicks off its session in January, said Jim Clarke, CAE, ASAE senior vice president for public policy.
Over the past two years, ASAE has opposed the proliferation of similar legislation in Georgia, Indiana, and Arkansas, among other states. ASAE’s advocacy efforts in this area are guided by and consistent with the organization’s diversity and inclusion policy, Clarke said.