Major Dallas Companies Slam Bathroom Bill in Letter to Governor

The fight over Texas' bathroom bill isn't over.
The fight over Texas' bathroom bill isn't over. 355A/shutterstock
Executives from 10 of the United States' biggest companies joined growing opposition to Texas' pending bathroom bill Thursday. Prominent North Texas industry heads have signed a letter urging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to drop his support for the bill, which would require public school students to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates and strike down municipal nondiscrimination ordinances.

Two North Texas executives, Karen Katz, CEO of Neiman Marcus, and Vivek Sankaran, president and chief operating officer of Frito-Lay, signed the letter, along with higher-ups from Uber, Lyft, PayPal and the Houston oil field services company Baker Hughes. The bathroom bill, the letter said, would hurt all of their businesses and the state's economy.

"The fact is that no industry will remain untouched by the unnecessary harm that discriminatory laws will do to our competitiveness, to our ability to attract talent and to our employees and their families," the executives wrote. "We know that when Texas thrives economically, our public schools can thrive, our infrastructure can be strengthened and millions of Texas families can see a brighter future for themselves right here in the Lone Star State."

Including the companies that signed on to Thursday letter — leaders from Bain and Co., JP Morgan Chase, Bazaarvoice, Vizient Inc. and TPG Holdings also lent their names to the project — 34 members of the Fortune 500, including Dallas' American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have officially expressed opposition to the bill.

"We also have ample evidence of the long-term economic harm that these so-called 'bathroom bills' will cause." - Letter from executives to Gov. Greg Abbott

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Pointing to the school districts, law enforcement agencies and faith organizations from across Texas that oppose the bill, the business leaders urged Abbott not to fight for a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

"These seem like reasons enough not to pursue this unnecessary type of regulation. But we also have ample evidence of the long-term economic harm that these so-called 'bathroom bills' will cause," the letter said.

The Texas Senate, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the bathroom bill's biggest supporter in state government, passed its version of the bathroom bill during the first full week of the special session. The Texas House, however, seems to be doing everything it can to keep the bill from coming up for a vote on the floor.

Speaker of the House Joe Straus believes the bill is unnecessary and dangerous, and the House State Affairs Committee, to which the lower chamber's version of the bathroom bill is assigned, has done nothing to move it closer to a final debate and vote ahead of the scheduled adjournment of the special session Aug. 16.
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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