Dallas Stars, 32 Dallas arts and culture organizations voice opposition to discrimination
With less than a week left in the Texas Legislature’s special session, the anti-transgender “bathroom bill” appears to be stuck in committee and unlikely to make it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. But activists working against the bill warned opponents not to start celebrating too soon.
Some news outlets were reporting earlier this week that the Senate version of the discriminatory effort was “faltering amid mounting opposition” after Republican state Rep. Byron Cook, chairman of the House State Affairs Committee said he did not intend to hold a hearing on the bill, which passed easily in the Senate where it was pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and that he considered it unnecessary, a waste of time and a distraction from actual important issues the Legislature should be dealing with.
Attention then turned to the House version, according to the New York Times, but state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Republication who was one of 46 co-authors of the bill, said he didn’t expect that bill to reach a vote, either, because “the Straus team has already decided they are not going to let it out.”
He was referring to House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who has been a staunch opponent of the discriminatory legislation since it was first introduced.
But Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, said in an email on Wednesday, Aug. 9, “We are not out of the woods yet.”
Smith said, “Remember, Dan Patrick made anti-transgender ‘bathroom bills’ his top legislative priority on day one. And you can bet that, as the end of the special sessions looms near and discriminatory ‘bathroom bills’ continue to stall, he’s doubling down — ready to bully his colleagues with threats of primary challengers and smear campaigns. Whatever it takes to force them to pass his discriminatory bills.”
Warning that “anything can happen in seven days,” Smith urged opponents of the measures to contact their state representatives to ask them to “vote no if this legislation reaches their desks.”
Big business has been among the most visible and most vocal opponents of the bathroom bills. The Texas Association of Business claims that more than 650 businesses, chambers of commerce and convention and visitors bureaus oppose the legislation. That list includes at least 50 Fortune 500 companies and more than 400 small businesses.
Corporations have come out against the bathroom bills include IBM, Amazon, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Intel, Capital One, Ben & Jerry’s, Facebook, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.
And more names were added to the list this week when the Dallas Stars professional hockey organization declared its opposition, along with 32 Dallas arts organizations.
With their statement issued Wednesday by President and CEO James Lites, the Stars became the first professional sports team in the state to publicly oppose the bathroom bills.
“The Dallas Stars stands strongly opposed to any legislation perceived as discriminatory, including proposed bathroom legislation,” Lites said. “We welcome fans from all over the globe, and our roster boasts players from half a dozen countries. Dallas welcomes all, and we welcome all.”
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet in an email that the league also opposes the bathroom bills. “We strongly oppose the bill in its original form,” Daly said. “ We hope and expect that bill in that form will not be passed into law. We would obviously have to reassess the situation in the event that happens.”
Also on Wednesday, Chris Heinbaugh, vice president of external affairs for the ATT Performing Arts Center, announced that 32 Dallas arts organizations had signed on to a letter to Straus, Cook, Abbott and the Dallas delegation to the Texas House expressing their opposition to the bathroom bills.
“The arts and culture community welcomes diversity, fosters creativity and celebrates our differences. So-called ‘bathroom bill’ laws target and stoke fear against people who are different, a hallmark of discrimination,” the letter said.
Noting that “Discriminatory laws may also have a damaging effect on the dynamic business of arts and culture in Dallas,” the letter continues, “Dallas has spent decades investing in arts and culture and has built a reputation as one of the top cultural destinations in the nation. It is a city that welcomes and embraces everyone. Discriminatory laws say the opposite. They are bad for the arts, bad for business and bad for Texas.
“Please, join us in saying no to anything that promotes discrimination in our city and in our great state.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.