It’s clear where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stands on allowing transgender people to use restrooms matching their gender identity. He’s about as against that idea as anyone can get.
More than a year ago, he joined an eventually successful effort to repeal Houston’s equal rights ordinance, an effort framed by is supporters and by Patrick in a TV ad as ensuring that “no woman should have to share a public restroom or locker room with a man.”
In May, Patrick lashed out at initial Fort Worth school district guidelines that could have allowed transgender students to use the restroom of their choice.
Then President Barack Obama’s administration announced proposed federal guidelines allowing transgender restroom choice. Patrick said the Legislature would to have to block any such move.
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And on Nov. 14, he announced his top 10 priority bills for the legislative session that begins Jan. 10.
He said the not-yet-filed Senate Bill 6, which he calls the Women’s Privacy Act, comes because “women and girls should have privacy and safety in their restrooms, showers and locker rooms.”
But on Tuesday, the Texas Association of Business pointed to the potential consequences should such a bill pass and be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Businesses, entertainers and sports organizations shunned North Carolina after it passed a law banning transgender bathroom choice.
TAB produced a report saying Texas could lose between $964 million and $8.5 billion in business and more than 100,000 jobs if it passes the restroom bill and another proposal that would protect religious objectors to same-sex marriage.
TAB President Chris Wallace said, “Protecting Texas from billions of dollars in losses is simple: Don’t pass unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors.”
Sen.-elect Dawn Buckingham, R-Austin, citing conversations with Patrick, told The Texas Tribune on Thursday that the lieutenant governor plans to tighten the restroom legislation so that it focuses on schools, not businesses or sporting venues.
The chances of passing any such bill — broadly or narrowly focused — are far from clear. So are the consequences should it become law.
But TAB’s point is strong: The Legislature has better things to do than focus on “unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors.”