Rights groups blast TX leaders over special-session ‘bathroom bill’

Published 9:46 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

By Mark Richardson

Texas News Service

AUSTIN, Texas – A coalition of rights groups is blasting Texas leaders for making anti-LGBTQ bills a priority when lawmakers convene this week in a special session.
In a conference call with the media, the groups urged the Legislature to work on funding the state’s public schools or repairing the state’s crumbling infrastructure instead of passing a so-called bathroom bill the groups say is designed to legalize discrimination.
The measure would restrict where transgender Texans are allowed to use the bathroom.
Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, says Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing the bill to appease members of the Tea Party.
“Despite opposition from civil rights organizations, religious leaders and the business community, and despite not one shred of evidence of the privacy and safety issues Patrick claims makes this legislation necessary, the bathroom bill remains his chief priority,” Miller states.
Once lawmakers complete major legislation, Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to allow other anti-LGBTQ bills to be considered, including ones undoing local nondiscrimination ordinances and barring anti-discrimination bathroom rules in schools.
Patrick says the bathroom bill protects girls and women “from men using their bathrooms.”
Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, maintains some legislators want the support of evangelical conservatives so badly they are willing to stigmatize transgender children to get votes.
“These lawmakers are so obsessed with pushing a divisive political agenda targeting vulnerable children that they are sinking to unconscionable lows,” Smith states.
JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, says many businesses oppose the bill, fearing an economic boycott if Texas legalizes discrimination.
“Some of the concerns they have shared are about their ability to do business and support their employees and their families, their ability to recruit folks to come to Texas so people wouldn’t be worried about being able just to live their day-to-day lives,” she explains.
One business – IBM – ran full-page ads in major Texas newspapers over the weekend, warning legislators the bill could cost the state billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

The special session convened Tuesday and runs for 20 days.