Conservative groups label LGBT protections proposed in Austin as

Conservative groups label LGBT protections proposed in Austin as #BantheBibleBills

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Democrats have more control in the Texas Legislature than they have had in years.

With this increased influence, a number of bills have been introduced that aim to create protected classes for the LGBTQ community. 

"I think any of us, just being human I believe we have the right to be protected," said Ann Akin, Assc. Pastor at St. Johns UMC. 

Ann has not always supported the rights of the LGBTQ community.

"When I was in college I told my very best friend, his name was Tom, and I told him that if he was gay, he was going to hell," she said. "Not long after that I got a call from a mutual friend of ours, Sally, and she said that Tom had been hospitalized the night before in an attempt to commit suicide."

In Tom's letter, Ann was one of the two people named as the reason he tried to take his life.

"The two people that he was closest to, being his mother and me, he knew would never accept him."

Little did she know, some years later her son, Cameron, would come out.

"He came out when he was a junior in high school. Fortunately he had grown up with parents that he knew would accept him and he grew up at St. Johns, a church which he knew accepted him. Even with that, I should say, he said that coming out to us was the hardest thing he had ever done."

She often says that when people come out, they are often ostracized and isolated. She said conservative family groups are not helping matter when they opposed legislation that would protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination.

"I feel like people that are the most vehemently opposed, I think it's out of fear."

Nicole Hudgens, Senior Policy Analyst with Texas Values, the group opposing these bills proposed in Austin, said she is more fearful of her rights being protected as a Christian. 

"This legislation would criminalize Christians who hold on to biblical beliefs that marriage is between one man, one woman and that sex is determined by biology," Hudgens said. "So these bills would include criminal punishments, Class A misdemeanors, fines and disciplinary actions from the state government."

There are eight pieces of legislation that Hudgens and Texas Values have labeled as "Ban the Bible Bills":

HB 244 by Rep Farrar, HB 254 and HB 188 by Rep. Berenal, HB 517 by Rep. Israel, HB 850 by Rep. Johnson, SB 151, SB 154, and SJR 9 by Sen. Rodriguez.

The bills essentially establish protective classes for LBGTQ individuals, protecting them from discrimination.

"These bills aren't taking bibles out of peoples offices but what they are telling business owners and individuals that are serving their community is that your biblical beliefs aren't welcome and you can be punished for holding on to those biblical beliefs," Hudgens said. 

Akin said the bible teaches otherwise, though, and these groups are missing the point of loving each other.

"Jesus just says that we love," Akin said. "So do we put law above love or do we put ostracizing people over including people. Do we make it us and them? Do we make anybody feel like those people or that person."

She said the efforts by groups such as Texas Values do little more than molest what the bible says.

"It's taking the bible and using it as a weapon, not using it as a means of peace or a means of grace or a means of reconciliation."

Hudgens said more than 23,000 people have signed on opposing the "Ban the Bible Bills."

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