The Liberty Institute, a Plano-based group which fights for freedom of religion, promised today in a registered letter to members of San Antonio City Council and 1200 WOAI news that it will file a federal lawsuit immediately of the non discrimination ordinance is approved as written, 1200 WOAI news reports.
President Kelly Shackelford said the NDO is 'a cloudy and confusing collection of poorly thought out and conflicting statements.'
He said Council's refusal to insert a 'broad religious liberty exemption to protect free speech and religious liberty rights,' makes the NDO an 'unconstitutional regulation of speech in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1992 R.A.V. vs. St. Paul ruling.
In that case, the high court ruled that bias laws which seek to ban so called 'fighting words' are illegal under the First Amendment.
The court wrote that a 'valid basis for according different treatment to a content-defined subclass of proscribable speech is that the subclass 'happens to be associated with particular secondary effects of the speech, so that the regulation is justified without reference to the content of the speech.'
The court said using that precedent, the could outlaw any live performances that include obscenity.
Even thought the infamous 'word and deed' provision has been removed from the NDO, Shackelford says it 'remains problematic' because it could incite discrimination by appointed officials who fear being accused of 'malfeasance' should their neutral position on any given topic, such as zoning or allocation of medical resources, be 'interpreted as demonstrating a bias' agaisnt one group or another.
"For example, an appointed official may find that allocating city medical funds to skin cancer prevention would save more lives than allocating that funding to HIV/AIDS prevention but chose, instead, to allocate the funding to HIV/AIDS to avoid any false perception of bias against the homosexual community," Shackelford said.
He says provisions 'mandating that persons with religious objections to supporting homosexual weddings could be required to do so, in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution, the Texas Constitution, and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.