Texans love their sports. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on sports every year, building stadiums, buying team memorabilia and watching playoff games.
But imagine if the National Football League decides never to bring the Super Bowl to Texas, or the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Final Four is no longer played here. It’s exactly what state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, says will happen if Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s so-called bathroom bill is signed into law this legislative session.
If passed, the bill would require anyone to use the bathroom corresponding with the sex listed on their birth certificate.
Not only will sports organizations like Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association ignore Texas, Johnson warns, but Texas could lose more than $8 billion annually and more than 200,000 jobs if Patrick’s bathroom legislation becomes law.
“It’s a job killer,” says Johnson, who points out that the conservative Texas Association of Business also hates this bill. “Our revenues are down, and we don’t need to kill our tourism industry. That’s what this bill would do.”
Johnson recently filed House Bill 225, an “employment non-discrimination act” that would make it illegal in Texas to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He’s hoping to elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to the same protective level as race and religion.
Patrick introduced his bathroom legislation to keep transgender women out of women’s restrooms on Jan. 4. It’s an issue that gained national attention in North Carolina when the state passed a similar bill.
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Patrick told reporters at the Texas Capitol, “You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no.”
Johnson says it’s an unenforceable bill because transgender women look like women not men (and vice versa). “He’s trying to convince folks that there are people who look like me who are going to put on women clothing and claim they’re women to use the lady’s restroom," he says. "He’s confusing that, which doesn’t happen, with transgender people who have made all the necessary changes to their physical appearance to match their gender identity.”
Johnson also claims Patrick is causing a public safety issue if he passes his transgender bathroom legislation. For example, if a transgender man who looks and sounds like man is forced by law to use the women’s bathroom because he has a vagina, then a public safety issue arises because people will see a man trying to enter the woman’s restroom, he says.
“This is political theater,” Johnson says. “We’re going to have do everything we can to keep this bill from seeing the House floor. That’s my goal.”