TEXAS: State House Advances Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

The Dallas Morning News reports:

The Texas House voted late Sunday on a bill that will keep transgender public school children from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

The measure, a Republican deal on the “bathroom bill,” passed the GOP-dominated chamber by a vote of 91-50. It needs one more vote to officially pass the House. If the Senate agrees to the measure, and Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t veto it, Texas will become the second state in the nation to pass such legislation.

Debate was emotional and divisive, with Democrats likening it to a Jim Crow-era attack on defenseless kids and Republicans insisting the measure did not single out or target anyone.

The fight over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights this year has been particularly divisive in Texas. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick [photo], who heads the Senate, began pushing a bathroom bill last year, but House Speaker Joe Straus has called the effort unnecessary and damaging to business.

With the session winding to a close May 29, Patrick threatened to hold the state budget and another must-pass bill hostage if the bathroom bill wasn’t approved in the House. The bathroom measure that passed Sunday was the product of that ultimatum, a proposal more limited than Patrick wanted, but palatable enough to receive the backing of a majority of House Republicans.

The Human Rights Campaign reacts:

“This shameful amendment is yet another example of Texas lawmakers’ anti-LGBTQ agenda,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs. “Transgender youth deserve the same dignity and respect as their peers, and this craven attempt to use children as a pawn for cheap political points is disturbing and unconscionable.”

Hundreds of businesses and several Texas chambers of commerce, celebrities and performers, tourism groups and events and sports organizations including the NBA, the NFL and the NCAA have spoken out against legislation targeting transgender people for discrimination.