Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Rolls Out Texas' Gender Bathroom Bill

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is going to do this, apparently. Patrick formally announced Wednesday his plans to shepherd a so-called bathroom bill through the Texas legislature.

If passed the bill would require visitors and workers at Texas' public schools, government buildings and public universities to use the restroom consistent with the sex listed on their birth certificate, regardless of the restroom a person feels more comfortable using.

“We know it’s going to be a tough fight,” Patrick said Wednesday at the Texas Capitol. “But we know we’re on the right side of the issue. We’re on the right side of history. You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no.”

Patrick's bill is modeled on North Carolina's House Bill 2, which, so far, has cost the Tarheel State an NBA All-Star Game, seven NCAA Championship contests and multiple concerts. The cancellations came as organizations and artists declared that they wouldn't do business in a state they feel is discriminating against its residents and visitors.

In December, Chris Wallace, president of the Texas Association of Business, made it clear that his organization opposed Patrick's efforts to regulate where people use the bathroom. “The message from the Texas business community is loud and clear,” Wallace said at a press conference. “Protecting Texas from billions of dollars in losses is simple: Don’t pass unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors.”

According to a study commissioned by Wallace' organization, the state could lose as much as $8.5 billion in revenue and 185,000 jobs if Patrick's bill passes. Speaking after Patrick's announcement, Texas politicians pounded the lieutenant governor as being unfriendly to Texas businesses and families.

“Texas cannot afford discrimination. It’s bad for business, bad for Texans, and just downright wrong,” Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal Perkins said.

Under the law, cities like Dallas which have already passed contrary ordinances would not be allowed to enforce restroom protections. What isn't clear is whether the bill would void the rest of Dallas' non-discrimination protections as well. When asked Wednesday about the situation in cities with ordinances on the books, Patrick would only say that "[t]his bill stops local cities, local governments from passing policies that allow men in women's restrooms."
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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