The Texas Senate has preliminarily approved a bill allowing social workers, attorneys and others with state-issued licenses to deny services because of religious beliefs -- despite stiff opposition from top businesses.
The proposal by Republican state Sen. Charles Perry of Lubbock protects professionals citing "sincerely held religious beliefs" should they face potential state sanctions for refusing services to some people.
It is among several proposals in Texas' Republican-controlled Legislature that corporate giants including Facebook and Google have urged state lawmakers to reject as discriminatory.
Many powerful firms teamed up in 2017 to oppose a "bathroom bill" mandating that transgender Texans use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates.
Tuesday's 19-12 approval means Perry's bill requires only a largely ceremonial final vote before heading to the Texas House.