Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz (Patrick Michels)

Anti-LGBT Leader: Texas Association of Business Waging ‘War On Values’


The leader of an anti-LGBT group is accusing the Texas Association of Business of supporting “the homosexual agenda” and turning its back on values like faith, family and religious freedom.

In a radio interview last week, Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz blamed the state’s powerful chamber of commerce for the demise of anti-gay legislation, including Senate Bill 1155, by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), which would prohibit cities from enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

The TAB made headlines when it came out against two religious freedom proposals, but it did not publicly take a position on SB 1155 or other anti-LGBT legislation. However, in an appearance on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch program, Saenz accused the TAB of working with “radical left” groups to defeat Hall’s bill, which never got a hearing.

“The business lobby, the Texas Association of Business, has decided now they’re going to put all their investment in the homosexual agenda, and that’s one of the things they did,” Saenz said. “It was a big surprise to a lot of lawmakers, and when they did that it had a very negative impact on the impression of what this law was really about. The Texas Association of Business has clearly turned their back on the values of Texas.”

Saenz couldn’t be reached for further comment. He told Washington Watch host Craig James he doesn’t think many TAB members are aware of the group’s opposition to anti-LGBT legislation. He called on people to find out if businesses are members of TAB and demand answers from the chamber’s leadership, which he said would result in a “shakeup.”

“It’s absolutely absurd, and the way that they’ve distorted legislation and misled people about what our legislation really does, some of the proposals we had during the session, it’s really not right at all,” Saenz said. “I think if a lot of members of the Texas Association of Business were aware of how left-leaning and liberal the organization’s leadership here at the Capitol has become, I think they’d be shocked.”

TAB President Chris Wallace confirmed in an email that the group took no position on SB 1155, but didn’t respond to a request for further comment. TAB’s opposition to the two religious freedom proposals was part of a national trend, most evident in Indiana earlier this year, of backlash from business interests over anti-LGBT legislation.

Saenz also criticized Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), chair of the Senate Committee on State Affairs, for not scheduling a hearing on SB 1155, one of more than 20 anti-LGBT proposals introduced in the 84th Legislature. With two weeks remaining in the session, none of the anti-LGBT legislation has passed, and a high-profile anti-gay marriage bill died in the House on Thursday. Huffman couldn’t immediately be reached.

Saenz said TAB and other groups have convinced lawmakers that “family values are bad for business,” while the opposite is true.

“Texas has been No. 1 for business for 10 straight years—that is during the same 10 years that our marriage laws have been between one man and one woman,” Saenz said. “It appears to me those policies have helped Texas and been a part of what makes Texas great. … This type of war on values from the Texas Association of Business within our state has got to end, and it’s been very damaging, and it’s been misleading, and it’s been disruptive.”

Listen to Saenz’s full interview here. Saenz is also scheduled to appear on Michelangelo Signorile’s Sirius XM Radio show—which is in Austin this week—on Monday afternoon.