AUSTIN — The Texas version of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” is on its way to the state’s House of Representatives after final approval in the Senate by a 20-10 vote on Wednesday, March 15.
The only Democrat to vote in favor of the measure was Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, who has said, as a Catholic, his religious beliefs affect his vote on the issue. His son, state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, has voiced his opposition.
The Senate’s approval Wednesday, following a preliminary vote on Tuesday that also came in at 20-10, happened despite the objections of big businesses including Amazon and American Airlines, celebrities such as Lady Gaga and warnings from the NFL and NBA.
Microsoft, Intel and United Airlines are among dozens of companies that signed onto a letter that says the measure will hurt its ability to recruit top workers, and the NBA and NFL have lobbed similar warnings at Texas. But Republicans are undeterred.
The measure, pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, was authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhurst, R-Brenham, who said Tuesday, “Don’t think that I don’t pray about this, that we’re making the right decision.”
But the bill, which requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate, still faces big obstacles that could ultimately derail the proposal in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Republican Speaker of the House Joe Straus says he has no appetite for a bill he has likened to a job-killer. Straus has stopped short of declaring the bill dead on arrival in the House, but his public and repeated denouncements are significant.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has also yet to definitively take a public stance about the most high-profile bill in Texas this year. Abbott has taken broadsides at the NFL for wading into the debate but has not said whether the law is needed.
The North Carolina law prompted the NCAA to pull seven championship events out of the state, the NBA to move the All-Star game from Charlotte and contributed to former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory being voted out in November. McCrory has recently complained about having a hard time finding work now, because potential employers are worried about hiring someone who has such a high-profile reputation as an LGBT bigot.
Lobbying Cornyn in D.C.
The Texas delegation to the Human Rights Campaign’s Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., on March 9 met in person with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, although, delegation member Samuel Tornabene noted, the senator “didn’t say anything to encourage us regarding LGBTQ legislation.” (Photo courtesy of Samuel Tornabene)
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 17, 2017.