Toting signs declaring “Texas Welcomes All” and “Keep Texas Open For Business,” state business and tourism representatives took to the steps of the state Capitol this morning to urge lawmakers to reject what they call a discriminatory proposed new state law regulating bathroom access for transgender people.
The rally — a day before the start of a special session of the Texas Legislature on Tuesday in which some Republican lawmakers are vowing to approve what’s become known as a “bathroom bill” — caps a recent flurry of political activity by business groups opposed to the measure.
“State-sponsored discrimination has very severe economic consequences,” Jeff Moseley, chief executive of the Texas Association of Business, said during Monday’s event.
Moseley and others who spoke cited a number of potential economic consequences facing Texas if such legislation wins approval.
Among them, they said existing Texas businesses will have trouble recruiting quality employees, while out-state-businesses won’t consider relocating here if the social climate is viewed as intolerant and discriminatory. They also said tourism-related events such as concerts, conventions and sporting events will go elsewhere.
“Tourism is part of the lifeblood of the Texas economy,” said Phillip Jones, president of VisitDallas.
He said Texans working in many professions — from hotel clerks and bartenders to caterers and florists — will suffer if the legislation wins approval.
“These are real livelihoods that are at stake, and this will affect real working families,” Jones said.
Supporters of the measure say such economic claims are overblown. They say the legislation is needed to protect women and girls from men who prey upon them in women’s bathrooms.
As the American-Statesman’s Lilly Rockwell recently reported, several tech groups have sent letters to send to top political leaders in Texas, urging them to reject the proposed legislation. In addition, IBM recently took out full-page advertisements in several of the state’s major newspapers, including the Austin American-Statesman, calling the legislation discriminatory.