Equality Texas Interim Executive Director Samantha Smoot speaks during a press conference on the steps of the Texas Capitol in March. David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

The Texas Senate is set to debate SB 1978 today (Wednesday, May 15), just two days Senate rules were suspended to allow Lt.Gov. Dan Patrick’s minions to force the bill out of committee without any hearings or actual debate. And as senators are gearing up to rubber stamp the discriminatory bill for Patrick, Equality Texas Interim Executive Director Samantha Smoot is pointing out that SB 1978 has its roots in a nation-wide effort to roll back LGBT protections.

HN 1978 is the Senate’s companion bill to HB 3172, shot down on the House floor last week thanks to parliamentary tactics by lesbian state Rep. Julie Johnson and the LGBT Caucus. While HB 3172 had been significantly watered down in committee, SB 1978 has made it to the Senate floor in all its full anti-LGBT glory.

Both measures are known as the “Save Chick-fil-A” bills because right-wingers are irate that the fast-food franchise is being rejected in some places — like the San Antonio airport and the campus of Trinity University — because of its owners’ donations to anti-LGBT efforts nationwide.

Both bills — HB 3172 and SB 1978 — are “no home-grown effort to help Chick-fil-A,” Smoot said in a statement released via email this morning. “Instead, they are part of an insidious, coordinated strategy to advance anti-LGBTQ messages and discriminatory public policies.”

She continued, “These bills were crafted based on strategy and specific language outlined in ‘Project Blitz,’ a national far-right initiative to propagate model anti-LGBTQ legislation.”

Smoot said that Project Blitz is a creation of David Barton’s Wallbuilders and the Congressional Prayer Foundation.

Below are a series of screen caps showing a side-by-side comparison of the text of SB 1978 and the Project Blitz manual, which shows how concepts and even specific text from the Krause/Hughes bills were lifted directly from Project Blitz. Access the full Project Blitz manual here.

This a list of bills filed in Texas this session that were drafted in accordance with strategies and model language from Project Blitz:

Project Blitz

“Report and Analysis on Religious Freedom Measures Impacting Prayer and Faith in America,” 2018-2019 Version, aka the Project Blitz Playbook, is 148 pages with a singular focus on getting a specific set of legislation passed through state legislatures all over the country. It was written by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (Virginia) and Wallbuilders (Aledo, TX).

There are connections to both organizations inside the Texas Legislature. Rep. Scott Sanford is chair and Rep. Matt Krause is vice chair of the Texas Legislative Prayer Caucus, an affiliate of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation. Rep. Krause and Sen. Brian Birdwell are speakers for Wallbuilders. Sen. Bryan Hughes has been endorsed by Wallbuilders founder David Barton and Wallbuilders Live host Rick Green.

Project Blitz has multiple categories of legislation and resolutions. Some seem innocuous, but are designed to find a crack to exploit later. Others are blatantly discriminatory, especially in relation to the LGBTQ community. All are connected, and legislators should be aware of the broader plan and of how the bills fit into the plan. Bills filed this session include:

  • SB 1978 (Hughes) / HB 3172 (Krause): page 70 of Project Blitz Playbook
  • SB 17 (Perry) / HB 2827 (King, Phil): page 106 of Project Blitz Playbook
  • HB 1035 (Zedler): page 70 of Project Blitz Playbook (includes elements from page 98 and page 106)
  • HB 2216 (Biedermann) / SB 679 (Hall): page 11 of Project Blitz Playbook
  • SB 1776 (Campbell): page 15 of Project Blitz Playbook (has passed the Senate 31-0)
  • SB 2090 (Hughes): page 22 of Project Blitz Playbook
  • SB 1009 (Birdwell) / HB 2109 (Flynn/Miller): page 98 of Project Blitz Playbook
  • SB 85 (Hall): page 106 of Project Blitz Playbook
  • SB 1107 (Kolkhorst) / HB 2892 (Oliverson): page 106 of Project Blitz Playbook
  • HB 4357 (Sanford): page 106 of Project Blitz Playbook

— Tammye Nash