Tarrant County business and civic organizations — primarily chambers of commerce and local convention and visitor bureaus — face a moment of truth about how they respond to bills pending and proposed in the Texas Legislature to curb the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Governing bodies of these organizations, the largest of which are the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, should adopt resolutions opposing the bills.
Indiana and North Carolina have passed similar legislation and suffered for it.
Indiana amended its SB 101 after public outcry and loss of business.
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North Carolina is still reeling from the impact of its HB 2. The NCAA canceled championship events. The NBA withdrew its All Star game. Entertainers canceled performances and businesses dropped expansion plans.
The Texas Association of Business says similar reaction in Texas, including lost tourism and business recruitment, could cost the state as much as $8.5 billion, the equivalent of 185,000 jobs.
But this is not just a dollars and cents calculation. It’s also about individual dignity.
Fort Worth passed an anti-discrimination ordinance in 1967 declaring the city’s policy “that all of its residents and persons subject to its jurisdiction should enjoy equal freedom to pursue their aspirations and that discrimination … is detrimental to the peace, progress and welfare of the city.”
The original ordinance banned discrimination based on “race, creed, color or national origin.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says one of his highest priorities is passing a bill to ban transgender individuals from using bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity rather than their gender at birth.
Patrick’s stated reason is that “women and girls should have privacy and safety in their restrooms, showers and locker rooms.”
Fort Worth’s ordinance brought no such problems. Privacy and safety are protected by other laws, and legislators can increase penalties if they see a need.
What’s being proposed is discrimination, and local organizations should oppose it.