Religious Right activists in Texas have filed two federal lawsuits designed to strike down laws in Austin that protect members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination.
U.S. Pastor Council, a group based in Houston, argues that an Austin ordinance that shields LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment is unconstitutional because it does not specifically exempt houses of worship.
Proponents of the law dispute that, pointing out that the ordinance exempts faith-based schools and organizations, reported the Austin American-Statesman.
Other backers of the law noted that the right of houses of worship to hire people from their own faith perspectives is already protected by the U.S. Constitution.
"I know of no instance in which a church or religious association has been forced to hire a gay person in violation of their religious beliefs," Dan Quinn, communications director of the Texas Freedom Network, said. "This lawsuit isn't about protecting religious freedom. This is about sweeping away anti-discrimination protections that have been on the books for decades."
"These member churches rely on the Bible rather than modern-day cultural fads for religious and moral guidance," the lawsuit, filed in early October, asserts. "They will not consider practicing homosexuals or transgendered people for any type of church employment (or position in the clergy)."
A few days later, a group called Texas Values filed another lawsuit that is much broader. This lawsuit targets an Austin public-accommodation ordinance that bars secular businesses...